It was a long day today, I think the longest, in hours, of this tour. It was probably also the longest in distance, at somewhere around 110 miles - my bike computer is useless because its contacts were beaten to death in the first week of this tour 8-( - so I have to estimate based on a variety of factors. Today, I was on the road for eleven hours, riding for about eight and a half. most of the day was easy, fast riding, where I probably averaged 14 mph, but the last 70 km was slower, probably averaging between eleven and twelve mph, so lets say thirteen mph for eight and a half hours. That gives 110 miles. That is what my butt and feet feel like too...
I left Gyor at about 8:20 AM and got to Levice about 7:20 PM. It is 25 km from Gyor to the border, all of which prohibit bicycles. Get used to breaking the law if you tour in Hungary! Once I crossed the border - they singled me out for a passport check because I had a US passport - I rode over the Danube and then headed down the bike path on the Slovakian side. I've never done a tour in Europe without riding some the bike path on the Danube, so why not ride a bit of it on this tour?
The bike path was very nicely paved for 20 km or so, but then it became dirt and I headed north to Cisov. I rode the back road from there to Ton which is on the main highway, 63, going from Bratislava along the Danube (Dunaj in Slovakia) to Sturova. Riding on all these 'roads' was very nice indeed. Much nicer than the riding I did in Hungary, and nicer than much of my riding in Slovenia. There are two reasons for this. The big one is traffic - there isn't much of it here - and the other one is shoulders. When 63 had 'a lot' of traffic - like 1/100 the traffic on 3 in Slovenia the road north from Balatonfured in Hungary - it has great shoulders. When, after Komarno, it has even less traffic, the shoulders aren't so great, but they are still usually some shoulder which is not the case for either of those other roads. A third reason is that lots of locals use bicycles for transportation, even between cities.
For all those reasons, Slovakia is a great place to bicycle. It also has a lot of neat scenery and some really cool mountains and valleys, which is why it is, in my opinion, about the best country in central Europe for bicycle touring. And it is also cheap - I'm back in land of 20 Euro hotel rooms and 3 or 4 Euro meals.
In addition to a lot of bicycle group tourists in Gyro - pretty much the same kind of folks I saw on the Danau Radweg in Austria - I did see one solo self supported guy in Slovakia. He was riding a neatly loaded touring bike with 4 panniers and a bar bag, heading east on 63.
I stopped at Komarno to get some Slovakian money and eat lunch at a nice restaurant. Lunch was good, and the beer was great, better than any beer I had in Hungary. Komarno is a neat town. I think I'll route through there when I come back here after my dental appointment in Friday. I'll start that part of my tour by following the Vah, which ends at the Danube in Komarno, back to its headwaters in the Tatras.
I stopped at a service station to buy a map of Slovakia. The only one they had was expensive - about 4 Euro - but has both Solavkia and the Czech Republic at 1:300,00 printed on opposite side of the map. I had to do a refold to get the Sloakian side to be the front side when I opened the map, but, having done that, it is a very useful map for bicycling, much more useful, to me, than maps sold specifically for bicycling.
At Sturovo, I rode into the center - pretty town - and had five scoops of great ice cream and large espresso. Damn that was good! Then I headed north towards Zeliezovce, 40 km away, planning to stop there for supper, and, if I was really tired, the night. Riding was harder since it was now uphill with a head/side wind, but neither was as bad as heading north from Balatonfured.
I ended up having a good supper at a country restaurant north of Zeliezovce for less than two and a half Euro. That included a large, very good, beer and a large espresso! It was after 6 PM and I had 25 km to go.
Me and my shadow, 8 km from Levice
My shadow now has a distinctive bump on top - my LED flasher
This is useful since I now can be sure I'm looking at My shadow ;-)
The ride to Levice was fine - I like riding after supper and this was pretty country and not hard riding. When I got to Levice, I had to work at finding a place to stay. This is a big town, with many big soviet style apartment buildings, but it isn't a tourist town.
I left 51, following the signs for Centrum, and found myself on a long street of apartment buildings. I asked a young man about hotels and he said "on down this street, turn left, and ask again." No, he didn't say it in English ;-). I rode on and, right after the first major left turn opportunity, asked a young couple. They said there are two hotels, the Lev and the Atom, go up that street and you will see them.
I went up that street. It split ;-(, so I tried both ways. On one I found the Lev. It is a big - several blocks! - imposing Soviet style hotel. I couldn't find the Atom, so I asked an older man on a bicycle. He tried to tell me how to get there, then led me there. It was visible from the street, but set back behind a park so I hadn't seen it. it was another big hotel, but newer and less formal.
I checked into the Atom - German worked - and had a pretty good night. I did, for the second time on this tour, need to take painkiller to sleep. This morning, I'm stiff and sore, but | should be able to ride OK.
A side note: The Atom may be named for the huge nuclear power plant I saw on the way to Levice. It had four cooling towers in operation. I saw a similar plant near Bratislava when I rode down the Vah on my first trip to Slovakia. I think those two plants supply pretty much all of the electrical needs of Slovakia.