Riding 5 in the crosswind
The trees are leaning one way and my bicycle is leaning the other way
Today, like six days ago, I had a bad wind day. Moreover, I was riding to Zamosc! There are three Zamoscs in Poland, and I've now ridden though two of them; the big Zamosc in southeastern Poland, and a small Zamosc on the Notec river, about 15 km southwest of Bydgoszcz in central Poland.
Why, you might ask? Well, my friend Rubin was born in Zamosc and lived there until he was 7 when his family escaped to the US in the late 1930s. Very few of the Jews that stayed in Poland after 1938 lived past the early 1940s. Now, I don't know if the Zamosc I saw today was Rubin's Zamosc. I do know that it was in this part of Poland, but there are two Zamosc with a hundred miles and Rubin's finger covered that big an area on the map when he was showing me where he came from.
This time, I rode west to Zamosc from Torun. I left Torun about 8:30 and reached Zamosc about 1. Now the distance between those two points is less than 60 km - about 40 miles - so I was averaging less than10 mph. I was riding into a 15 mph - I measured it with my bike when I rode with it near Zamosc - wind blowing out of the east. It blew steadily all day today, weakening only in the late afternoon.
Another problem today was, like when I rode to the big Zamosc, the head wind was cold. Today, it stayed cold all day. My bad knee was hurting from the cold, so, this time, I put a thin plastic bag under my knee warmer. By blocking the wind, it kept my knee much warmer.
I took it, and my wind vest which I was also wearing because of the cold wind, off when I stopped for lunch. I ended up putting the wind vest back on for the last hour of riding this afternoon. It was chilly day for late July.
Speaking of lunch, today's lunch was the best restaurant meal I've had in Poland. I stopped at a 'motel' restaurant just before reaching highway 5. It looked good, and it was. It was also about twice as expensive as my average lunch here at about 12 Euros. I should have been clued by the fact that the barmaid was in costume 8-) and they didn't have a fomal menu. Still, I'm not complaining. The Zureck was great, and served in a kinky double pot that must be traditional, and my main course was also very good. The other nice feature was that, unlike this hotel or, even worse, the fancy hotel I stayed at in Lublin, this, fairly expensive, restaurant wasn't at all pretentious.
When I left Torun, I was planning to ride 15 south about 15 km, then head east on 246. I figured traffic wouldn't be bad on Sunday morning, and it wasn't. In fact, it was so light that I decided to take the more direct route to Zamosc on 10 - which runs along the Wisla - and then 5, which runs south from Bydgoszcz. That turned out to be a good choice, at least from the standpoint of traffic. I saw less than half a dozen big trucks - the real problem on roads without good shoulders - in those four hours of riding. What I didn't think about was road quality. It varied from quite nice to quite bad, with about 25 km of bad road on 10. 5, when I headed southwest to Zamosc was good.
After I visited Zamosc, I rode to Szbin, about 10 km further southwest, and reached the point where I had planned to head east on 247. Now I was heading east on small roads in order to have a better quality ride today, but 15 mph headwinds do not make for high quality rides! I decided I would continue south on 5. Since it was Sunday, trucks wouldn't be a problem, and, as long as the road quality was good, cars really wouldn't be a problem either. That was usually the case for the rest of my ride today. I rode 5 with a strong, but steady, side winds. It slowed me down, but not nearly as much as riding into the same wind would have. 5 was a better road overall than 10, and had no long sections that were really bad, but about half of what I rode today had no shoulder and perhaps 10% of that had bad ruts and patches on the outside where I had to ride when there was traffic. Mostly this was not a big deal, but a few jerk drivers did come too close for comfort as I struggle with bad pavement and a strong side wind.
The countryside today was forest along 10, and large farms raising wheat and corn along 5. 10 was flat and 5 had rolling hills. 10 was boring, but 5 was, or would have been without the wind, pleasant riding. The most interesting sight along the way was a big bicycle manufacturing plant on 5.
I thought possible of going on to Wrzesnia, the next good sized town, but decided to stop at Gniezno because I had been on the road over nine hours. I think the distance here was about 130 km or 80 miles. Because of the wind, and to a lesser extent the bad pavement, it was a pretty hard 80 miles.
I'm in a fancy - 40 Euros is fancy here - three star hotel in the old part of Gniezno. Gniezno is very old - over a thousand years - and was once the capital of Poland. the city as a whole is not impressive, but some of the old town, including the Cathedral. is.
I walked in on the start of a service at the Cathedral this evening, but quickly backed out since I was not properly dressed. There was also a service going on another big Catholic church a few hundred yards away. Both services were packed and both churches are quite large. Poland's Catholics are very big on regular church attendance.
Poland has some of most interesting new churches I've seen anywhere and, although Poland as whole is not doing well economically, its Church is obviously prospering. The church ritual and spectacle that I've seen, and heard, here is have been beautiful.
My hotel room is tiny, but well set up - sort of like a very fancy Microtel - but some of the features, like its ethernet port, aren't working yet. When it is done, it might be a good value in Poland 8-), but I like the two star place - the Kopernik - I stayed in Torun better and it cost about half as much.
The Kopernik is a nice, inexpensive, and friendly place. This hotel, the Pietrack, is pretentious, expensive, and not particularly friendly, place. It feels like it wants to make you feel superior by acting snooty. Not my sort of thing at all! It does have good sound isolation from the outside - which is good since the main square is outside and it is quite loud - but almost none from the corridors and there are some noisy folk here tonight.