The ride that had to be! Kaunas - Vilnius 140 km! Algis and me, we made it together! A ride to remember, pictures will make me smile for a long time!
For the third night in a row, I am in Kaunas! As for the first time on this journey...: change of plans! Algis had to be in Vilnius quite early today for some family affairs. I joined him back and forth to the capital.. by car.
Tomorrow we both go back to Vilnius... by bike, no cheating on the road to Moscow... I go there by bike or I don't go at all! And I am really cheerful Algis will join me all the way to Vilnius, although there is some doubt (not by me!) whether he will make it till the end... We will!
Rest days and city days are confusing for me, see earlier writings. I miss the daily routine, the adrenaline of being on the road, the feeling of living on a constant high and having endless energy which I somehow lack on rest days. A day on the bike is an ultimately simple, straight forward day. A rest day is more like the daily life - in terms of dealing with omnipresent social codes, among other things. Honestly? After a day of cycling, I even see myself as a better guest! I am a cyclist!
Let's roll! And I won't stop rolling anymore till Moscow - eight days to go from now!
Who says I am cycling a lot? After four days of riding all the way through Poland into Lithuania, I had another day off-bike here in Kaunas, staying with Algis and Lina - Algis was another house mate of me in Ghent, we had some nice adventures... Rest days make me very lazy! Tomorrow relatively small ride to the capital city Vilnius and after that... I will take another day off... I am not in hurry!
I am in Lithuania! Another long ride today: 220 km from Elk (PL) to Kaunas (the country's second city). Great day again and just good to be back here!
I had a blast in Poland... I believe there is so much more to discover - it needs a life time. As a matter of fact, with my race bike I am more or less condemned to stay on paved roads as much as possible. Sometimes I had the feeling the country remains more or less hidden for those staying on the road. Really, I had this strange imagination from time to time how it would be to simply leave my bike behind at the side of the road and just run straight into the scenery, straight into the forest, straight into the wild, straight into infinity. Where would I end up, ultimately?
A little writing about Lithuania will come soon, gonna stay here a couple of days! And Moscow? Eight more days (and smaller distances) on the bike and I am there!
The longest ride... 240 km, Warsaw - Elk (northeastern Poland). I was a little stressed this morning because of the rather huge distance I had to cover and because I was somehow fearing to run out of luck. Until now, everything went perfect. Shouldn't I be paying my way?
It turned out to be one of the most beautiful rides so far. Northeastern Poland was all in green and peaceful the whole way. The air was freshly washed out, the light was bright. I was mostly on local and even unpaved roads, so I haven't seen that many cars. The road took good care of me, the road was gracious. I was not paying my way, I was riding light hearted and free spirited.
There is a lot to say about Poland... Where should I start? In contrast to the other countries of the former Eastern Bloc I was riding through, in countryside and small town Poland I really haven't noticed anything substantial that remembers about communist era. The level of prosperity seems all very equivalent to what I have seen in many regions in Western Europe. Concerning the big cities, although I only have cycled through Warsaw and the Silezian metropole, it seems obvious the communist era appartment buildings will last for a few more decades.
But there is more. Poland seems to be booming. It's the first time I am here, but it's clear the appearance of the country changed radically over the last 2 decades. I've noticed a lot of infrastructure of recent date - bridges, highways, factories,... Though, the most remarkable to my opinion is the amount of new houses. Both at the edge of towns but also in the middle of nowhere I saw countless newly built villa style houses, without too much of spatial planning or long term vision behind it.
it all reminds me very much of my own country and what we've done with our space to get where we are now. I believe we've screwed it and we've lost it. Of course Poland isn't Flanders and the amount of open space and natural wealth here goes far beyond imagination, but still, there is a lot at stake.
Don't screw it, Poland! I will be back... but first... Lithuania tomorrow!
Rest day #2. Not that I've rested that much... I had a great day with Zosia wandering Katowice and around... just like in Ghent back in the days - talking some nonsense, some wittiness, some wisecracks. and some things seriously making sense in between... just perfect! Later on, Michal joined us - all great!
Katowice is part of a highly urbanised region in Silezia - former heart of coal mine industry. City borders are vague, as one city goes in to the next one. Honestly, it looks quite a dystopian mess of high rise buildings - both from communist era and brand new ones, highways and boulevards, gentrificated areas, abandoned industrial sites and large commercial and business zones without a beginning or an end and all without real soul. As a cycler longing for the wide open world, it makes me feel quite alienated.
I was wondering how people can feel connected to an environment and a place like this, but of course they do! In the end, a place is made up by people and a lot of them do succeed in building up a community together, even if the setting is not what it should be. Thank you Zosia and Michal for making me feel at home. Silezia, or any place, it's about the people!
Tomorrow I start my four days ride all the way through Poland into Lithunia... Another home coming!
... Some of them quit, some of them stay... Sometimes blogging fits not in my time schedule I guess. Wonderful night here in Katowice, Poland with Zosia - so very nice to meet again after all those years, and lots of things to talk about. Today's ride from Zilina: 197 km. More tomorrow, it's way after bedtime!
I am in Slovakia! Today's stage: Olomouc - Zilina 162 km through some river valleys and minor mountain ranges. Slovakia will be just a meet and greet, tomorrow I am off to Poland. Never been there, looking forward very much! I am living up to my hashtag and that's a great way of living, gonna sleep tight!