Today, in part to make up for recent short days, but mostly because riding conditions were very good and I couldn't find a good place to stay ;-), I did a long day. I rode from Poprad to to Stara L'ubnovna (50 km) where I had lunch at a fast food place and then north to Poland (15 km), on to Nowy Sacz (30 km) where I had my second meal, and then to Brezsko (52 km) where I stopped for the night, after riding a little over 90 miles. I might have stopped after 75 or 80 miles if there had been a place to stay, but the riding today was, with the exception of several serious climbs, so easy and pleasant that I just wanted to keep riding.
I got up late this morning - 8 AM - but still left the hotel at a reasonable, for me, time of 9:30 AM. Then I rode to the centrum of Poprad and looked for an internet cafe. I didn't see one, so I stopped at a music store and asked. The fellow there told me there was one almost right across the street in the T-mobile (as in cell phone service) store. There was no way to tell from outside, but there was a Cafe and it did have four nice systems connected to the net. I used one of them to do email and to post yesterdays ride report. I had to leave my bike in the foyer of the building where I could not see it, so I rushed a bit at the cafe. When I got back to my bike, there was a young girl rocking a baby carriage with a baby in it, right next to my bike. I think her mother left her there to look after her sibling - there were stairs at that point. I felt like she was keeping an eye on my bike for me ;-)! When I left Poprad it was about 10:30 AM. I got to Brzesko about 7:15 PM.
Riding was OK from Poprad to Kezmarok - 22 km - and quite nice after that. I was worried that I might have to deal with a lot of international trucks, but they don't seem to use this route, perhaps because it does have several serious climbs. including one that is a 10% grade for about 2 km and another that is 6 to 8 % for 4 km.
Once past Kezmarok, traffic was never really a problem. The road followed a river valley down river, but often climbed well above the river so, although the net altitude gain was negative after Spisska Bella, there was still a good bit of climbing. The road was also rough in places, especially in towns, so I was glad to have my suspension stem and seatpost. I rode past 68 - the road to the border - and on into Stara L'ubovna in search of lunch. I couldn't find any restaurant I wanted to eat in, so | went to a food kiosk and ordered two sandwiches and a large beer. The guy in line behind me helped me place my order, but I still ended up with some sandwich - it was good - I didn't order. Lunch cost about two Euros and the half liter of good beer was less than half a Euro. I'm already missing Slovakian beer and Slovakian food prices!
After lunch, I rode back to 68 and started climbing. I noticed that the road was marked '4 km' at its start. I guessed, correctly, that that meant the climb lasted 4 km, so I took off my helmet and gloves, and settled down to half an hour of climbing at 4.5 to 5 mph. The road was marked again at 1 km. 500 m and 200 m from the top. at the top, the view back down to Stara L'ubovna, was nice and the downhill - it started a 9% for a few km, then gentled to a few percent - lasted all the way to Poland!
Getting through the border was no big deal - it took less time than getting across the Hungarian - Slovak republic border - and. after a little bit of a climb, the downhill continued. I soon realized that the road - 87 - was following a major river valley down stream and that the downhill would go on for most of the way to Brzesko! I actually hadn' t planned to go through Brzesko, but I was seduced by the flat to downhill riding. There were two places, on shortly after Nowy Sacz and one about 30 km later where I could have chosen a more direct route to Tarnow which was my current destination. Of course, after I had committed on the first time, I discovered that there was a big hill where the road, now 75, switched valleys. 2 km of 10% wasn't a big deal and the downhill after the climb was great fun. Similarly, shortly after I chose to continue the last 20 km to Brzesko, I encountered another big hill. That one, which required my granny gears but was never more than 8% and mostly more like 5 or 6%, went on for several km. My knees started hurting climbing it. Still, most of the time I was riding flat to downhill roads at 14 to 17 mph in cool temperatures with little or no wind. Traffic was light, driver were, with the exception of one ass**le who forced me off the road by passing into me where there was no shoulder, polite, and the views were very nice.
This route into Poland, as compared to the route I used last time I rode from Poprad, was much easier and this is obviously a prosperous and popular area. It is really very nice riding, if you can handle a few steep hills and some stretches, none very long, of cobblestone road.
I had thought of stopping at Nowy Sacz, but it was too early, so I just rode around for a while and, after some looking, finally found a place where I could eat and keep my eye on my bike. It is a big city - it took a long time just to get to the centrum which is actually quite near the north end of the city - and, once there I wasn't to impressed. I really liked the feel of Nowy Targ, where I spent my first night in Poland two years ago, but Nowy Sacz didn't appeal to me.
While most folks would head west from here - Krakow, the biggest tourist attraction in Poland, is only 30 miles or so east - I'm heading west. I'll be visiting with a fellow phred - bike tourist on the phred touring list - who lives in Debica, a city some 40 km east of Tarnow, then continuing east and north toward Vilinus.