The centrum of Szczecinek
The lake at Szczecinek, from the bike path into town
Riding back up 6 to Ploty
Today started with riding back up 6 to Ploty. I was going to ride a small road east and then go back north, but I couldn't find that road. It was probably just as well that I rode 6. It is flatter than the small roads going east and I was in such bad shape that I had a very hard time climbing even a gentle hill. By the end of the day, I was able to climb hills in my middle ring that I would have needed my granny for in the morning. Traffic on 6 wasn't too bad and I only had to bail out a few times when big trucks passed me simultaneously. I did have one exciting moment when I wasn't paying enough attention to what was coming up behind me. I heard a beep and then a big truck was a foot away ay 100 kph. I was riding the white line - there was no shoulder at that point - and instinctively fought the airblast to minimize my wobble. It was good that I did, and that the next truck, which came right behind the first one, had pulled over a little more. After that I paid closer attention and got off the road when that kind of situation was developing.
It was 12 miles back to Ploty, so I used 24 miles, or about 1/7 of these two riding days just to get to a place to stay last night. Hotel locations are tricky in Poland. Some little towns have hotels - on todays route, Radlo and Potczyn-Zdroj which are smaller than Swindwin and Ploty, have hotels, but those two bigger towns don't. The town I'm in tonight is a resort town, so it has several, relatively expensive, hotels. I say relatively because, although the very nice three star hotel on the lake that I am staying at costs almost 3 times as much as my hotel last night, it is less expensive than all but the cheapest hotels I stayed at in France. It is also as nice as the most expensive ones.
This afternoon, I realized that I could tour here for 100 Zloty a day. That compares to 100 Euro a day in France. The exchange rate is about 4 Zlotys to 1 Euro! Tonight I'm spending 200 Zloty for my room. Thats less than 50 Euro and this is a very nice hotel in a resort area. You can tour very cheaply in Poland, or you can tour with luxury and still spend less than when touring cheaply in France! And, for me, touring here is just about as nice as touring in France. The small towns aren't as charming as French towns, but the countrside is just as pretty, and the people are very friendly. Language is more of a problem here if you tour cheaply - the expensive place will have English speaking staff - but, with friendly people, that really isn't a big problem. A bigger problem is lack of services in the small towns or even some of the bigger ones. I spent an hour looking for a restaurant in Swidwin - a good sized town - today before giving up and having a Donner for lunch. I couldn't find a hotel there either, but the was an internet cafe and stores for everything you could posssibly need, and at least two dozen bars. Oh well, the Donner worked and, although I had a hard time eating it, I felt much better after eating it.
Once I got off 6 and on to 152, the quality of the riding improved greatly.The pavement wasn't as good, but, with far less traffic, I could usually ride in the center of my lane and avoid the outside third which was often in bad condition. Like yesterday, riding on 108, I really enjoyed the countrside and today I also got to see it change dramatically as I rode into hillier country - almost 1500 ft of climbing in 81 miles today - and away from the weather moderating influence of the sea.
I bought snack food - bread, cheese, and a yogurt drink, in a small town on the way to Swidwin, and stopped again after Swidwin at a service sation in Redlo to get some Hoop Cola, and again to snack at the start of the Barwice township. That last stop was in the middle of a a big forest and, sitting there cross legged on the ground, eating bread and cheese and drinking cola, was one of the high points of the day. Life doesn't get much better than that ;-}!