1,109km down: 5,116km to go.
Well lucky we got a room because it poured most of the night last night! When we set off we promptly made a wrong turn and added an extra 2k to the trip. It did not seem like much at the time but by the end of the day…
For the first 10k there were spots or just wisps of rain. After about 5k I stopped to take a photo of milk urns sitting at the side of the road. Daphne and Shirley didn’t stop, and I didn’t see them again until just before lunch. Now that I am a bit more confident I am actually happier riding by myself as I can stop and take photos, and just look around, and be in the moment. I am unlikely to ever visit most of the places again. I then stopped to take a photo of a women sitting in a paddock milking a cow, just further on there was a lady going to feed her cow, and it was wagging its whole body in welcome as she walked up to it, something I have not seen before.
I have not yet mentioned the fencing here, or should I say lack of fencing. Each cow is tethered either by a halter or a foot chain and they get moved each day to a new feeding spot. By the numbers of cows and the numbers of houses it looks like each house has one, or occasionally two, cows. While I was taking a picture just further up the road of this huge garden in front of a small house, the lunch truck went past. About another 3k up the road the sweep was waiting for me, due to our wrong turn coming out of camp the rest of the riders where all ahead of us. I rode along with Ciran chatting about nothing in particular for a few kilometres and then caught up with Rob, then Jenny, then Walli.
After that I was my own again for about 2 more kilometres and then the rain started, and it rained and rained. About 7 kilometres before lunch I caught up with Shirley and Daphne, and after about another kilometre it started really pelting down. We came across a bus stop with a shelter and stopped to let the worst of it pass. It rained so heavily the road started flooding! It eased off so on we went in a glum convoy (Rob, Jen, Walli and Ciran had caught up and waited out the rain as well).
When we got to lunch it was pouring. A number of the riders were saying they wanted a lift, but there are only two spaces on the lunch truck. Louise said at least 5 times “Well I am going in the truck” until her husband said “Ok, I think we have all got that!”. Gregor tried to get hold of Christiano to bring the other truck (but over 70k to travel back to pick up and again only 2 spaces!). Anyway with demand exceeding space I drove off, as the last thing I wanted was to get cold again.
Daphne had given me a pair of rubber gloves and I was wearing them inside my gloves, which I had wrung out at the lunch stop. It poured for awhile and then it stopped, then it poured again. At one stage it started to really bucket down just as another sheltered bus stop came into view, so once again I took shelter. In the bus stop there was a Lithuanian women who I said hello to. She chatted away to me, I have no idea what she was saying but she was smiling away as she said it – could have been “you are a totally crazy person”. She waved at me as I drove off.
Coming into the outskirts of a small town there was a dog lying in the middle of road looking at me. Although most of the dogs have been behind fences and those that aren’t have generally been ok, we have had a couple of instances of being chased so I stopped and was not sure what to do: I waited, the dog waited, I inched forward, the dog slithered forward as well. I was aware there was another rider not far behind me so I decided to wait for them – the dog seemed a substantial size but could not tell what breed it was. Just as the other rider came into view a car came the other way and the dog leapt up and took off. Well the big dog turned out actually to be a dog with the shortest legs you have ever seen – a body the size of corgi but legs half the size.
I kept up with Garett easily on the flat but then we got to some rollers which still slow me down. When I got to 100k mark I stopped at another bus stop to have a drink and a snack, and the sun came out. Daphne and Shirley caught up and we rode the rest of the way together. It was a hard riding day and the last 15k was rolling hills, some of which you did not have enough momentum from the down to get you up.
The last 6k was up dirt roads, so we were weary when we got to camp. The first truck carrying riders passed us at about 103k and the 2nd only passed us about 500 meters before the camp, so it was much better to have ridden.
The accommodation was a four bedded room, Wally and I had to share a double bed. There were two other 6 bedded rooms – one was full and the other the owner would not let people use unless there were no beds left in the other two rooms. In the whole camp site there were only 2 toilets and 2 showers! One was in our building, the line took about an hour and a half and there was nowhere to dry clothes – and it was raining.
To add to the joy, the steps up to the room and the balcony were treacherous with slime, so I quickly got my daily injury over and done with, and slipped on the slimy balcony. Thankfully nothing hurt, just revolting slime on my clothes.
There was a large German Sheppard dog, very motley looking, chained up and incessantly barking which was really annoying. But there was also a stalk nest up on eye level just outside the building we were staying in, so it was a good chance to get really close and see the chicks, which by now look almost the same as their parents, just slightly smaller.
When we arrived, the owner told us that he did not have any beer on site – even though he had previously told the tour people that he did. He seemed a reasonable person, and he said he would go up the road and get some home brew for us, at 6 Lats a head, which we thought was pretty fair.
After he got back, we crowded around the long picnic table that sat 8, there were 14 of us drinking, but as I said – we have been sitting all day, standing is good for us. We noticed the dog was off his lead and we thought nothing of it. It came and nosed around our table but luckily as it was so mangy no one tried to pat it, and it wandered off. About 5 minutes later we heard shouting and screaming, and Miles – one of the tour guides – comes up past our table looking for the owner, with the dog in a chocker hold. The dog had gone to bite his son Kaya (who is 2) and his wife TJ (not really her name but her real name is unpronounceable), plus it bit the child of another family who were staying at the camp, and had arrived just after us. Miles wanted the owner but we could not find him. I told Miles I would show him where the chain was to hook the dog back up. Luckily Michele came with us, because when Miles did the dog up he tried to jump back away from it, but it turned really quickly and locked onto his arm – it only let go after Michele kicked it repeatedly in the head. As it let go Miles dived away from it doing a forward roll and only just got clear of its snapping teeth! One of the riders Don is an Ed consultant so he did the immediate first aid. Miles, Kaya and TJ went off to the closest hospital.
When the owner was finally located, he was a total dork. First of all he was adamant that Miles, TJ, Kaya and the other child had got bitten because they went into the dog enclosure, then he said one of us must of let the dog off. The other family with the small child left. But we had to stay as it’s not easy to find another space at 6pm at night for 24 people! By the end of the evening the owner was convinced that actually it was not his dog at all, it was a stray dog who had run away and now run off again. He was very belligerent and offended when asked about his dogs rabies status, and he sat brooding and glaring at us. It was very unsettling and I would have liked to have been able to leave. The tour people will avoid his place in future.
I went to bed early sharing a small space with three other people and a communal toilet that the door creaked and squealed each time it opened – this did not lead to a great sleep. Once again Walli’s ability to sleep was awesome – she did not stir all night!
Up again in the morning with wet shoes, wet gloves, wet arm warmers and an overcast sky, but we were pleased to be going! However, in regards to a dry bike seat, never again will I go to a hotel and not collect the shower cap – during the day you put it over your helmet when it rains, and when you stop you put it over your bike seat!
Miles and family returned from the hospital, Miles was full of shots and his arm was in a big bandage. On medical advice he will stay in Vilnus (our next town) for 5 days, and meet us in Warsaw!