Words by Alexa Daugherty
Photographs by Samuel Copeland and Luke Batten
From the hills of Lake Lucerne or the red roofs of Fribourg, Switzerland’s endlessly beautiful terrain makes for one of the most stunning, unforgettable bike rides imaginable. And yet, this beauty is not only beholden to monumental or natural accomplishments, but also to the sheer variety of the Swiss landscape where a ride of 30 kilometers can bring you in contact with three different dialects, many different architectural styles, and endless types of cuisine.
Recently, TSH had the chance to visit Switzerland and experience some of this linguistic, aesthetic, and ecological variety. Our trip started off in Zell, at a converted farm house and barn rented by TSH Fans Judy (the) Wolf and Simon Diener, who are also a graphic designer and professional downhill mountain bike rider, respectively. Amazingly, we at TSH had only met Judy and Simon through social media. Judy was one of our first Fans ever, buying the first batch of socks and newspapers we ever made while still a very small, developing company (not that we aren’t still small and developing). Once we arrived in Zell, it was pretty amazing to think that a pair of socks shipped around the world eventually led us to us meeting Judy and Simon.
While the focus of our trip was to cycle and take photographs, Judy and Simon also helped us to explore life in the Swiss countryside. First, we learned that if you’re in Switzerland you should always take time to share a pot of fondue with friends, this meal will be filling, delicious and really messy. Next, Judy and Simon showed us that in Switzerland, one should always take a day to climb up an Alp, whether on bike, on foot, or by tram. For us at TSH, we actually climbed the same Alp, Säntis, once in a tramcar and another time on a bike (well, Dani rode a bike and some of us photographed). Dani’s climb up Säntis, which is so tall that there are houses in Germany’s Black Forest named after it, happened on our last day in Switzerland. This required the TSH crew to get up at 4 a.m., a bit delirious and more than a little chilly, in order to capture Dani’s ascent as the sun slowly shown through clouds and began to illuminate the rolling valleys of Swiss farmland.
Here, sports imitate life imitates sports. And not only when you’re on a vacation (or living) in Switzerland. In fact, life in the Swiss countryside can translate over to urban dwelling in many ways. Make that fondue pot a big potluck meal shared with friends; the trip to the Alps a trip to the beach, or a park, or somewhere vaguely natural even if constructed by city planners, and that 4:30 a.m. training ride can happen anywhere (though, we’ll be honest, getting up at 4 a.m. is always a little bit harder when you’re not biking through the Alps).
Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing we realized while in Switzerland, is that we do TSH in order to make connections with people. People from all over the world, whether in Zell or in Tokyo, who love art, cycling, design, and/or socks. We did kind of know this about our company already, but meeting Judy and Simon and sharing a bit of their life really reaffirmed this mission for us. We are focused on you TSH Fans and all of the people in this life that make a sock empire a viable enterprise. We are so happy to have the chance to share our patterns and designs with you and hope the next time you eat fondue you think of us! Don’t leave it for only New Year’s Eve!