Bytow to a Motel on E1 near Digacz, Poland

Wheat fields and woods near Bytow

Wheat, a lake, and rolling hills near Lakie

I had a good day today - 80 miles with 1400 feet of climbing in 6 hours - because, when I had the choice, I took the route with tailwinds ;-}! My ride started with several miles of climbing - over 100 feet vertical per mile or a bit more than the Blue Ridge Parkway - and it was not good. I do OK when I'm cranking along at a pretty good clip on the flat, but when I have to put out the extra power for a climb, I'm still more limited than I was a week ago. After an hour or two of riding, things get better, but I still can't climb well. For now, I think I'll avoid mountains ;-}.

I had to make a routing choice at Koscierzya. I thought it would be between going north-east to Gdansk on 20 or east to Tczew on 221 and 224. Given the strong wind from the north north-east, I chose a third option, going south-east of 214 through Zblewa and Skorcz. I planned to change from 214 to 231 at Skorcz, but ended up riding 214 to its end at Warlubie and then going south a bit more on E1. Tomorrow I'll try going east-north-east on 16 toward Olsztyn. If that doesn't work well, I'll try to go east on small roads. I can't go south-east since I'd run into Warsaw and I don't want to ride there! I could go south, but I've been to Torun - nice place - and I want to ride in north-east Poland. East or, better , slightly north of east, will put me in pretty country. Of course, most of Poland I've seen on this trip is pretty country, and that certainly includes most of today's ride.

Leaving Bytow on highway 20 means a long climbit is 38 km to Koscierzya but the first 5 have 80% 0f the climbing

After the initial climbing, 20 settled down to a gently rolling route through very pretty county with a string of lakes just south of the road. I was on roads without shoulders until I reached E1 near the end of the day. Often the traffic was light, but even when it became heavy near Koscierzya, there was no problem. It is so much nicer to ride here than in most of Gremany because, although the roads here are not as smooth as the roads in Germany, they are smoother than German bike paths ;-{ and they go where I want to go. The drivers here are used to having bicyclists on the road with them. The drivers, both car and truck drivers with very few exceptions, seem not to mind bicyclists slowing them down. It is almost as polite a place as Nova Scotia!

Poles in Germany get the no-good-lazy-dishonest rap just like black folks in the US. I hear it every time I'm in Germany and, since the first time I rode in Poland, I always protest that is racist and not true. As a group, I like Poles better than I like Germans. My experiences here, both on and off the road have been very positive. Poles have been honest, generous, kind ,helpful, fun, and nice people to be around. They put up with my strange clothing and uncouth behavior and actually often smile or even grin at me.

Today, in Koscierzya, a small city, I stopped at a service station to get some Coke. When I left the station, I pulled into two way turn lane at a stop light. I wasn't paying enough attention - I was looking of 214 - and pulled too far forward, so that I was blocking a bike lane. I saw that and rolled back out of the lane, but I was still well in front of the two lanes of cars waiting on the light. There was a gentle honk from the car in the right turn lane. I looked at the driver and he looked like he wanted me to do something, but I wasn't sure what. Then he honked gently again and I realized that, when I rolled back, I had moved over a bit into his lane and was keeping that lane of traffic from turning. I eaned my bike over toward the other land and he and several of the cars behind him. squeezed by before the light changed allowing me to get out of their way.

If I had been in Germany, the honk would not have been polite and I expect the driver would have been glaring at me making gestures for me for ME to get out of HIS way. Poles, at least in the places where I've been riding, don't behave that way. Germans blasted their horns and almost ran me down for not being in the bike lane. Poles just ask nicely and wait patiently when I'm not only not in the bike lane - there was one and I should have used it - but I'm actually blocking their lane on the road for no good reason.

On my way to Torun!

Once I turned onto 214, I was heading for Torun. Not really - as they say in Poland or Germany, I was going in 'direction Torun.' For the past three days - since Szczecinek - I've been close to Torun and therefore seeing roads that go in 'direction Torun.' Today I took a road to Torun. With the good tailwind, If I had been willing (and able) to really push it, I could have been in Torun tonight. since I enjoyed Tourn last summer, it was fun to think about it today.

The first place I could have left 214

The view from where I stopped for lunch on 214

I thought I would see how good 214 was and, perhaps, leave it on 22 to head toward Malbork. That would have been a better route to the Mazur - the lake region of north eastern Poland, but 214 was good riding and 22 would have meant a long ride into the cold wind. I stopped for lunch at a roadside 'Bar? which featured chicken. The sign said BAR with a drawing of a chicken. It was a good choice and I was lucky. I managed to guess what was chicken on the Polish menu ;-}. The bar was in a bus that appeared to have been permanently parked in a pretty spot. I was able to buy a nice dinner, with a big beer of course, for about $4. And the lady running it filled my water bottle so I didn't have to worry about stopping again today . I stopped for pastry before I left Bytow, so I was fully equipped for snacks. When I was at the 'bar', I put on my wind vest and I left it on for the rest of the day. The weather turned cooler, and windier, yesterday. It was cool enough today that I would have needed my extra knee warmer if I had ridden into the wind.

Getting close to Skorcz, my next routing point

The 'truck filter' 8 km before Skorcz The pavement was mostly bad from here to Skorcz

Coming into Skorcz from the north
There were many more people coming in from the south where the road was much better

My next routing point was Skorcz where I planned to leave 214 and head east on 234. 214, for 8 km before Bar, was mostly very bumpy. It wasn't just the patched parts either. It was bumpy for edge to edge. I was looking forward to a smoother 234, but I didn't find it. Instead, I found a big rock concert. It looked, and sounded like fun, and the band was singing in good American English ;-}, but it also made it a bit tricky to navigate. I stopped for a snack - my second pastry - and decided that, rather than trying to find 234 in that mess, I would ride on on 214. Not long after Skorcz, 214 improved a lot and the ride from there to E1 was smooth and fast. At Warlubie, I headed south on the excellent shoulder of E1. I probably averaged 20 mph - peaked at 30 on a downhill - from there to this motel.

On the shoulder of E1

Supper tonight was interesting. One of the reasons I stopped here was that they have a restaurant. I went down to eat after working on the images for this report, and they gave me an English and German menu. That was the first English menu I've seeen in Poland on this trip. I ordered a Chef's special pork dish from the menu. The waitess looked a little confused. I noticed that the Germany part of the menu didn't have that dish listed. Odd. Then the Chef showed up to ask me, in German, what the Chef's special was! I said I had no idea since the menu didn't say, and to ease the confusion, ordered a different dish from the German part of the menu. It was good and so was the, slightly overpriced, beer. Now I get upset at 6 zlotys for .5 l of beer. That is almost 1.5 Euro. That is too much for half a liter of beer!

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