Posts Tagged With: Big city

Day 31: Jelenec to Bratislava – 120k

2,669km down: 3,556km to go.

Highways 75, 562, 62, 572

I was hoping for a shorter ride today, and the information “It’s like yesterday afternoon” did not actually help, considering I was lost in the middle of nowhere yesterday.

Not sure why but I was one of the last out of camp today. The first 20k was up and down hills, but not rollers – in my definition a roller you can get two thirds of the way up it from the downhill beforehand. These were not rollers. Lots of ups and three big towns to navigate through before Bratislava: Nitra, Šaľa, and Galanta.

Lunch stop was at 70k, there was a boring 15k before it that was flat / slight gradient uphill and a cross wind, I was nearly blown out onto the road a couple of times. At 60k Michele came up beside me, he had made a wrong turn in the previous town, and we rode into lunch together. The 10k of highway was like it had been poured in 10 metre segments at time, each one allowed to dry before the next segment was poured as there was a lumpy crack between each of them, it was uneven and unpleasant to ride – but as I kept telling myself, it was still way better than a 12% hill.

After lunch Michele and I rode the rest of the way to Bratislava together. It was hot and windy, slightly uphill and I just concentrated on keeping up with him. There was nothing of great significance to see during the day until we got to Bratislava.

We are in Bratislava for two nights, with a rest day tomorrow. We are staying in a Botel (hotel on water) called Botel Gracia! Thankfully the boat is firmly fixed to the bank so it’s not a sailing sensation (thankfully as I get seasick as well as carsick) unless of course you look out the windows and see the Danube River flowing past!

Botel Gracia

Once we had unpacked and cleaned up we met up the top in the bar for a cold beer. A group of us went out for dinner to a local place, but for the first time we chose badly. The food was fatty, cold and unpleasant, but the company was fun. I had an early night, and I was looking forward to sleeping in.

I was talking to Ciran who had been the sweep yesterday when I got lost and it turned out he had also gotten lost where I did. He only found his way because his phone was working and he was able to ring, which made me feel a bit better.

Only a short time now before over half the group leave us. We have six more riding days then another rest day and then three more riding days till we arrive in Venice. Walli, Daphne, Shirley, Gen, Rob, Brian, Louise, Gareth and Ciran all leave in Venice. This leaves Jan and Danya, Brett, Scott, Daniel, Michele and I going all the way to Lisbon, and David and John who go until Barcelona.

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Day 12: Riga to Biržai – 102k

991km down: 5,234km to go.

Not sure how it passed me by but there are SNAKES in Europe!!! Only found out after a couple of days of happily going for rest breaks in long grass, my biggest concern had been ticks! But sitting at camp one of the riders was showing other riders the picture of a stork slurping up a SNAKE! Oh my god!

Those who know of my totally ridiculous worm phobia are no doubt smirking right now. To my mind SNAKES are big worms but more vicious! The Aussie guy Brett said helpfully MOST (!!) of them are not poisonous.

Anyway I got it in back into context after an hour or two and a remedial wine (or two). The biggest danger is cars, or as I found out yesterday other cyclists! However no more long grass rest stops for me!

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So today up at 6am and back on the road again. The day was overcast and looking like rain, it looked like it might but actually didn’t! The traffic coming out of Riga was a bit hideous but thankfully we turned off the main route after about five minutes. The road today was through farmland with a constant up gradient. Lots of vegetable gardens, some were huge!

Today we crossed from Latvia to Lithuania. Once again no sign of the border, this time did not even see the Lithuania sign apparently it was there but was not in English!

As we were riding out of Riga today I saw a dog trotting along the street with that purposeful look on its face and important business trot that dogs have. While we were riding along I was thinking about this, like what is the purposeful look and trot all about? I was imagining what was going through the dogs mind: “So, I’m going to look for the neighbour’s cat to chase, then I’ll pee on the brown fence, and after that I’ll check out the rubbish behind the dairy” etc!

Anyway lots of run down houses, falling down barns etc still. The ride today never really got going and feeling good today, still feeling the effects of the fall off the bike coming into Riga.

Coming into town we somehow missed a turn and added 3k to our ride as we found the flags and followed them but worked out after coming past the same shops again that we had been following the flags from the wrong direction. Anyway sorted it out and got to the hotel. Once again we got to the camp site and there were rooms available, so it was a very hard decision to make – warm, dry room, no tent to put up, no worry about rain during the night, inside toilet and shower, for 20 euro. Took me all of 0.1 of second to decide to get a room.

I am sharing with Walli so will see how that goes, I am a bit concerned because there is a TV in the room but at least I have my music on the phone. I am really pleased we have a room as it is really cold here tonight and windy, only about 8 degrees! It also looks like it will rain.

Europe is having an usually cold and windy summer (which I have mentioned previously) which is hurting their tourism – but it does mean that so far there have been vacant rooms at each place that has accommodation. So far I have only slept in my tent twice – both places did not have extra accommodation on site.

To give you an idea of the temperature when we are riding, in the past few days I have been wearing biking pants (2 out of 3 days over boots), my ice breaker t-shirt, a riding top, arm warmers and at least 2/3rds of each day a rain jacket! So it’s not just New Zealand that did not get much of a summer this year. I’m hopeful that the weather will improve but as I was reminded today: I am on holiday. Also you generally keep pretty warm when moving.

Tomorrow weather forecast is not great but I have my full clothes now. I had been able to get my not-daily bag until yesterday, as we only get access to our permanent bags on rest days, so at least will not get cold wet soggy fingers.

Towororrw we are cycling 118k to Anykščiai, staying at the Zve Jo Sapnas campsite. There are rooms available there so we have rung ahead and booked 🙂 Otherwise the fast riders get in first, and if it is limited there may be nothing left.

Rob and Jenny tent every night, no matter what the weather is like. Then there are a group of riders – Michele, Dan, Scott, Yarn and Dana – who tent every night except the really wet miserable night. Then the rest like me who jump into a room if available.

Tonight at tea there was a comment and congratulations that I had gone an entire day without an injury! The wind caught the whiteboard that our instructions are written on for the next day, Jen said she was surprised it had not ended up on me!

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Day Five: Kasmu to Tallinn – 95km

461km down: 5,764km to go.

So off we set from Kasmu to Tallinn – 95k – with the lure of our first rest day and staying in a hotel at the end. Good riding day, not too hot, through forest, lots of interesting churches etc.

Interesting sign between Kasmu to Tallinn

Got to the lunch stop by about 11:30 then into Tallinn. Even with the orange flags and directions I still went the wrong way a couple of times but realized quite quickly. We went past a beautiful cemetery – it went on for miles, in a forest. Getting into town was a bit scary as there was traffic everywhere and as in most large cities the motorists were not as courteous. The “in” thing appears to be roller blading – there were a number of people racing along the foreshore.

I got to the hotel, luckily my room was ready so I went up with the intention of sorting some stuff out but I ended up having a nap for a couple of hours. I woke up and set off to the laundromat to get all the washing sorted, unfortunately there was also a line of people with the same idea so it took a while. Also it had started pouring – luckily it had held off while we were riding.

After finishing the washing I went and looked around the malls – it was great to be back in a place where there were friendly people and stuff to buy. I met up with Walli from Canada and Jenny and her Dad Rob from Australia for tea. We ended up having tea at the mall due to the relentless rain however it was surprisingly good. I had stuffed chicken breast and rice with a lemon sauce – it was really good. I checked out the supermarket on the snap lock bag hunt but still no luck.

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