1,702km down: 4,523km to go.
I rode with John today. When we set out it was nice and cool, riding through tree lined roads, even though the Tarmac was uneven and had pot holes, then 5k of dirt roads and then uneven with potholes for rest of the day, apart from a stretch about 3k at the very end. By the end of the day it felt like every bone in my body had had a really good shake. At one point I commented to John just as well we don’t have false teeth – you would hear the clack clack clack as we rode along.
Up until lunch time at the 70k mark it had been mostly a slight downhill gradient, and mainly through forest, apart from one short hair-raising stretch on a main highway. After lunch it was uphill gradient in the open and baking sunshine for about 40k. We went through lots of small towns, just about every third house has some sort of shrine outside with a crucifix and ribbons and fresh flowers, we are not sure of the significance. We asked Yarn, he is Canadian but his family comes from Poland and he speaks pretty good Polish but he was not sure either. The houses are newer and there are a few fences. We also saw the first public phone box since leaving home. There were still lots of really impressively large gardens. Poland is 98 percent Roman Catholic so having a Polish Pope was a really big thing and there are lots of statues of him and a number of new churches.
The temperature got to about 35 degrees today. We stopped at the local store in one of the small towns for a cold drink and attracted the attention of a number of the locals, they were asking John questions and giving me chocolate, luckily Yarn and Danya turned up just after us and Yarn was able to talk to them. They were pretty impressed with the extent of our bike ride, just then we were joined by Dan, Michele and Bret. The local men were then determined to get the guys out the back drinking Vodka but in the end they had to be content with giving them a bottle to take away as a gift from the village.
That night accommodation had been organized at the local college (called a Gymnasium) which turns into a youth hostel for fund raising in the 3 month summer break. The woman were in what is a Geography classroom on the first floor in 7 dormitory style beds, the men were across the hall all 11 of them in a maths classroom. The toilets were down on the next floor and there was a shared shower facility. All I can say is if this is planned again I will get alternative accommodation if I can, it was a dreadful. Although I have paid for the single supplement so I do not have to share, this only kicks in for the rest days.
The power outlets were all disabled so my phone ran out of charge and so after awhile I could not listen to the music on my phone with headphones. One of the women snored, the noise from the male dorm was a mixture of chainsaws and coughing, the town dogs barked until early morning when the rosters took over. Add to that the locals doing wheelies, a hot temperature, and duvets that would keep you warm in winter with no sheets, it was not a great experience. Because the school aka youth hostel had no cooking facilities we ate out at a local restaurant paid for by the tour. The food was really good but due to the level of exercise being done most of the riders could have eaten double. We had a chicken breast stuffed with cheese, pickle and tomato and two small mounds of white rice and a sliver of lettuce. A number of people stayed and paid for dessert, however I was quite full as had eaten my take away sandwich at about 4pm.
At lunch time I can only manage one sandwich but then if the ride is longer than 100k I get hungry at about 3pm, so I have got into the habit of making a takeaway sandwich and putting it in a snap lock bag for later. The rye bread is very dense – we joke that if you were drowning and you grabbed onto a piece it would surely drag you under. It does however stay in your stomach and keep you full for quite some time.
Most days I get to camp by about 3 to 3:30pm, but the last riders do not usually get in until 6pm. Rob and Gen (her name is actually Genevieve) are later because they take their time to explore, and Walli is much slower. It makes it a long day when we set off at 7:30am each day.
In my last update I said Dayna had had an accident – she hit the kerb the wrong way when going up onto the pavement and she fell off and scrapped her knee and got a cut above her eye that needed stitching – luckily in the eyebrow line. This is not great, not just because it is sore but also because on Friday she is meeting some of Yarn’s Polish family for the first time. This is the couple who were married on June 30th this year and are spending 3 months doing this bike trip as their honeymoon.