Our life behind Bars for this chapter begins in far western Poland, as our sojourner and his steel conveyance rattle thier teeth and bolts loose on primitive rural roads. One can be riding along, taking in scenery and greenery and basking in the shade of immense hardwoods…….
Then just as quickly, your reality is shaken and you are rescuing your cycle and yourself from a pothole the size of a parlor stove. Or what’s worse is coming down out of shade on blacktop and hitting old stone cobble that just sends you and your bike in 4 different directions. Your teeth are clacking like a lettuce chopper, you recover the bike with a white knuckle grip ( first mistake, use a loose grip ) you recleat your left foot again as it keeps popping out of the pedal, push your sunglasses back up somewhere near the middle of your face……straiten your hair to add with forward visibility, and say to yourself with an aire of confidence……..yay, I got this. Only to look over into the blinding sunshine and see 2 grama’s who had been tending thier garden plot……… with all the rattling bike parts and suggestive language they stopped to watch another one bite the dust, ………there hips be moving, thier lips be groovin…..Oh yeah, and another one bites the dust……..she smiles with all four teeth…… and says in a laid back southern Polish drawl….”Prodiskovich dacknia kwoloensivich bicikleta heymigo”, which you just know that it means ” how do like Polish roads amigo”
Smile, you are God’s ambassador I say to myself……….you can put your own teeth in later where no one can see you. About half my roads were tree lined hardwood affairs with substantial shade and blacktop. But, allow me to point out that the majority of rural roads here are paved over pre-existing cobble. This makes for and interesting road after just a few short years. The new road is aimed at accommodating newer heavier vehicles and as such it is about 6 feet wider than the cobble….or better described as 3 feet give or take both sides. Those outside edges are not packed near as tightly as the cobbles……so the outer edges collapse into these sort of wave type undulations. This is problematic while riding in the shade and being passed, because the bike is getting tossed about as you are trying to hold a true and safe line. It will cause the the sphincter to grip the bike pants like Polydent.
Needless to say, I really enjoy Poland. Yes, I do understand it is one of the poorer countries of Europe…. but somehow I can’t get over a sense of true honesty here. A sort of…..this what we have, and it’s our best.
I am riding back towards Germany for personal reasons, work related. There is a young German bitmaker who is doing very nice work by the name Andreas Winkalham, and while I visited with him he mentioned a German brand of Flux that I want to try. Only available in Germany so that’s why I am back here before I cross into CZ Republic. Never did find the Flux. Rode on into the low lying hills that lay along the border of CZ, these are just baby hills as true cyclist/climbing freaks would say. But as steep as 17% will make you beg for baby flats. There are about 2 days worth of riding in rolling steep country and then the countryside begins to flatten out as you near Prague. CZ is a wealthier than Poland, and while I am not far into CZ yet it does seem to be visible in housing, cars etc. I guess I will know better over the next few days as I ride south of Prague. I rode quite a few cycling paths coming into Prague, while my bike appreciated it, I wasn’t real fond of the wandering nature and lack of markings or direction at times. Oh well, it’s safer and the soul rests well at night.
Riding thru Sulecin Poland I spotted a young fella and took a chance on him maybe understanding english….low and behold, he taught English in grade school. He only had a few minutes, so I asked him the state of education in Poland. His answer, if we could take politicians out of school curriculum, and place it in the hands of teachers answered parents we could win the education battle. The kids are eager, plenty bright enough to succeed, but each political wave comes in with answers better mouse trap ND a way for some portion of a burocrasy to make a little side money if they could just get there hands into the till…………I sat stunned……I thought he was talking about education in California.
While passing thru Krosno Odrazarskie Poland and of course while parked out front of a Pecarina (bakery) I happened to meet Clara and Swenson now living locally but originally from Iceland. Seen has a book published that details his walk around the perimeter of Iceland 1,485km. Full of foot massage stories and photos he has taken of the a drugs trip. Dang if someone out there knows how to turn off this damned auto spell on wordpress please let me know…..it takes forever to go back and fix all the bloody words it throws in for me……Colleen becomes Cullen, and Muskox turns into muskogee, on and on it goes. Anyways, they were a real nice couple to meet.
Prague is a great city to wander in, like many other European cities I have roamed around in. Amazing architecture, artistic nuances lay hidden or obvious everywhere it seems. The older the building, the more interesting they are to me. Just can’t find a lot of interest or appeal in the new cantilevered glass and cement edifices being designed by today’s architects. But hey, that’s just me, if If they would just install a lime green stairway made entirely of carbon fiber ……why heck then it would be worthy of its on exculsive TV show buildings are to me. Maybe run a few support cables in gayly painted red, and a tin roof with exposed duct work and industrial ceiling fans?………yeah, I could be convinced that was good work.
Spent my first rest day roaming around Prague trying to solve a bike issue. My wonderful ( better that a Son28 hub ) Shimano Alpine 6v hub finally died. I redone the wiring joints which I had last had fixed in Tetserling, Mongolia. This did not solve my issues, found some small Guage wire and new joinery and still not solved. Finally bought a low voltage tester and found the hub was not producing anything. Yes, pretty stupid of me to buy the tester last……..but it was also the store that was furthest from my downtown Old Prague location and my apartment I had rented for $37.50 @ Nite……which was perfect by the way. So then began the search for bike shops, replacement hubs etc. WOW, here I got to say God bless American capitalism, you want something and American will figure out a way to get it for you the day before you knew you needed it and SMILE while they are selling it to you. My best quote was 8-10 days to get a new hub, sitting in Stock in CZ. 5 DAYS TO GET THE PART AND 4 TO 5 DAYS TO INSTALL…………complicated process they kept telling me.
Finally, being completely fed up, and by no means excited about sitting around Prague for that many days. Yes, I do love Prague but my legs need to be moving and turning……..my feet are swelling from lack of movement. I solved my issues by calling the best bike shop on the planet Rubber Soul Cycle shop, and my man Rich will take care of things…….yes with an amiable smile. I will have Colleen bring it with her to Budapest and we will install it there. I have about 8 days with Colleen before she heads back west, leaving me to finish the rest of this journey solo. Just one mans life behind Bars, a Surly cycle under me and a foul smelling tent. I hope you enjoyed this segment of our journey as we traverse Europe from Trondhiem to Istanbul.