Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 26 Jul 2013, 4:11am

All good.... eight days done, 650 miles from home. 200 miles to Harwich was lovely - England's villages looking prosperous, as always. Zig-zag across Denmark just wonderful. Amazing infrastructure, nice people, not too expensive... and thousands of wind turbines, which I like. Copenhagen amazing... bikes everywhere (nearly all hub geared, hub braked) and astonishing driver behaviour.... quite in advance of anything I've ever seen.

Now in Sweden, at the poshest and most expensive youth hostel you can imagine.
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 8:07am, edited 2 times in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 26 Jul 2013, 4:22am

Forgive the spelling please... qwerty phone and middle-aged eyesight to blame.

Should you want daily updates, you need to "like" my Facebook page: Gordon Taylor Cycles around"

I forgot to mention Denmark's road surfaces... wow! Like riding a granite kitchen worktop all day. Such a joy.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 30 Jul 2013, 7:24pm

1000+ miles done, 12 days... the last two in Poland. Hmmm, compared to Denmark/Sweden, this is terrifying. Vehicle speeds are high (very high) in Poland and the road surfaces away from the main routes are just dreadful. However, I've come here to stretch my comfort zone and that's exactly what's happening. Heading south from Koszalin tomorrow. Good fun!
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 5:50am, edited 1 time in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 3 Aug 2013, 6:44pm

Berlin. Rest day. Ridden into city twice - interesting infrastructure for bikes, cars, buses, trams and pedestrians. Works well. 1300 miles done, averaging 80+. Pleased with that. Now heading back to Poland, trying to get to the southernmost point. Sticking to main roads here mostly, back roads start with tempting tarmac but soon deteriorate to Prussian-era cobbles or just sandy dust. Bike fine, legs fine although covered in insect bites. Some tourers around, mostly German and doing the well-mapped river and canal routes. Loved the Berlin cycle vibe - thousands around, all in normal summer clothes (hot pants, flowery dresses, t-shirts) about one in fifty has a helmet on and the only high viz jacket I saw was on a five year old. We have so much to learn...
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 5:51am, edited 1 time in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 8 Aug 2013, 6:11pm

Since Berlin... cycled through a corner of the Czech Republic. Now back in Poland, 100 km E of Nysa. 1700 miles in three weeks. Main roads in SW Poland absolutely terrifying. Cavalcades of trans-continental trucks giving no space and no mercy on narrow, winding roads. Have moved north a bit to have the option of back roads and had a fab day today. Heatwave continues... shade temp 39 deg this afternoon. Dropped miles to 60+ a day as a consequence. Poland still confuses me, so many different things around - busy churches (only one denomination, of course) busy retail parks, booming modern industries (hence trucks) yet some poor-looking towns, old derelict factories. People all nice. Wish I could speak more than a few words of the language though.

Does anyone read these posts? Am I wasting my time?
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 8:08am, edited 2 times in total.

elduderino12
Posts: 46
Joined: 23 Jan 2009, 7:02pm
Location: Stoke-on-Trent

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby elduderino12 » 8 Aug 2013, 9:48pm

I can't speak for anyone else gordy, but I'm enjoying these little updates. Your time in Poland sounds distinctly similar to when I cycled across it in 2008 - a lot of trucks!!

Hope all is well.

pal
Posts: 382
Joined: 22 Mar 2008, 11:49am

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby pal » 9 Aug 2013, 9:12am

I'm enjoying them too! (And the FB updates.) Hope you (continue to) stay safe from the trucks...

Dakkar
Posts: 47
Joined: 29 Jul 2008, 11:02pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby Dakkar » 15 Aug 2013, 8:47pm

I'm loving the posts Gordy.

Been to Poland quite a few times myself and recognise all of your observations. Hope you get to see that Bison.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 19 Aug 2013, 6:42am

Ukraine... been there, done that. Back in Poland now. Spent four hours getting across the border yesterday in the back of a van - absolutely no bikes allowed. Lovely, lovely Ukrainian couple came to my rescue as the border officer was circling another crossing point on my map, just 210 km away. Ukraine is lovely - big, huge!, beautiful, friendly. But the roads - wow. Just mile after mile of gravel, potholes and patched crumbling tarmac. Really hard going. Anyway... 2300 miles done and I've been to the most geographical N,W,S,E points in Poland. Another ten days to go... heading north towards Lithuania. Comfort zone has taken a good bashing! Phew.
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 8:09am, edited 2 times in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 21 Aug 2013, 7:33pm

Bialystok, Poland. 2600 miles, 34 days. Heading N to Lithuania. Trying to avoid arterial roads which are terrifying. Truck convoys passing a hairsbreadth away and outlandish speeds of smaller vehicles. The alternative routes involve meandering soft sandy tracks or cobbled lanes. Poland interesting... developing so fast. Mercedes everywhere, but also people selling shoes or potatoes by the roadside. Saw a bison today, but in a reserve. Haven't seen any wild ones, sadly, but two wild boar scared me stupid. No tourers out here - Poland's eastern border. Poland makes slightly more sense if you think of it region by region, rather than a whole. Good tour. V tough at times.
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 8:10am, edited 2 times in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 24 Aug 2013, 6:56pm

Lithuania this morning. 2750 miles done, including 111 yesterday, the last dozen or so looking for somewhere to pitch. Luckily found a "noclegi" farmhouse accommodation and had a happy evening with a Polish couple, a guitar and some Latvian booze. Managed just 45 miles today with a headache. Lithuania a complete surprise - wide open, much slower traffic, towns all paved with big squares and parks. The place was deserted too - everything shuts on a Saturday afternoon it seems. Very few churches too - all in complete contrast to Poland. Heading NW now to Klaipeda, to turn south there (along the spit) towards Kaliningrad. Russian visa starts Wed so I need to be there on time. Tour ok, bike and kit ok, struggling with guilt as there's some family stuff at home that I'd like to be doing. Trying to learn a few words of Lithuanian in bed now, and failing... also got far too much cash out of a machine today, bamboozled by the seventh currency in five weeks.
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 12:14pm, edited 3 times in total.

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 30 Aug 2013, 8:08pm

Done! Arrived Kaliningrad on Wednesday and left this morning (Friday). Both border crossings fine. The ride down the Curonian Spit very boring... pine forest for 60 miles with just a very occasional glimpse of the sea. Russia fascinating - Kaliningrad not bike friendly but ok with assertive riding. Some road surfaces good but others a mess of potholes. I laughed to think of what I report to http://www.fillthathole at home! Been ill with stomach problems for a few days but buzzing from a successful tour - right at the very limit of my capabilities. 3000 miles, six weeks, ten countries if you include a quick picnic about 50 m inside Slovakia. Sorting stuff for Ryanair flight home tomorrow, made harder by my bike bag not arriving, despite being posted exactly two weeks ago. I bought a raincover from Decathlon and some duct tape so will try that method. Thought for the day? I'm a lucky guy... not just because my wife let's me go away touring but because I live in a time and place where such travel is possible. I'll be glad to get home...
Last edited by gordy on 12 Sep 2013, 6:05am, edited 2 times in total.

pal
Posts: 382
Joined: 22 Mar 2008, 11:49am

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby pal » 31 Aug 2013, 9:20am

Congratulations! And thanks for all the tales from the road...

gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 12 Sep 2013, 6:32am

In conclusion: cycle tour finished... returned comfortably via Ryanair from Gdansk to Birmingham Airport. Six weeks in all, with three rest days and 3070 miles done. This summer's bike ride took me from home to Kaliningrad, via ten countries (if you include that quick picnic about 50 metres inside Slovakia.) Every one of those countries - UK, DK, S, PL, D, CZ, SK, UA, LT, RU - used a different language and had a different currency. It was a fantastic experience - not always enjoyable, by any means, but deeply satisfying. I'm reminded (again) that I'm a extraordinarily lucky guy, not only because of the amazing support from home that allows me these occasional jaunts, but to actually live in this time and in this place.

The Ukraine was the toughest place in which to travel, but perversely the most fascinating. Denmark was the most pleasant, by a country mile. Poland was the cheapest; Sweden the most expensive. Ten days after coming home, I've still not fully recovered. A hernia operation beckons and the Giardiasis medication that I bought from a Russian pharmacy took some time to work. :(

The bike worked brilliantly - just one puncture and one split tyre - both in the Ukraine and both separately caused by road conditions. No other mechanical issues at all. I oiled and tightened the chain a couple of times, that's all. I am inordinately proud of the wheels that I built, they took an awful bashing. I love touring on a singlespeed and am convinced that the rock-solid reliability is helped by having no gear mechanisms.
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gordy
Posts: 246
Joined: 2 Feb 2008, 10:29pm

Re: Poland and Kaliningrad 2013

Postby gordy » 12 Sep 2013, 6:36am

And a few more - including me on a Konigsberg Bridge... which is why I chose Kaliningrad as a destination in the first place!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6nig ... ge_problem
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