I reached the Baltic today, at Frombork, Poland
There is a big statue of Copernicus in front of a big church complex in Frombork
Frombork must be where he did his work
Today was a very special day. On this tour, I start in central Europe and ride to three seas: the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea, and, the Baltic Sea. I reached the last of my three seas today and, moreover. did so where Copernicus studied planetary motion and, in a very important sense, set in motion the end of the European middle ages.
Leaving Braniewie on 504
Since I got in late, had a damaged camera and was beat up from riding 20 km of 512 hell, I didn't get most of my day 39 web page done last night, so I spent about n hour working on it after breakfast this morning. It rained a lot last night, so it was also good to take a delayed start to let the roads dry out. Today was to be a short day. It is 100 km from Braniewie to Gdansk and I expected to stop before Gdansk so I can ride into, and around, Gdansk on Sunday instead of Saturday. Today was also the day to take small roads that ran along the sea rather than the shorter, smoother, and faster big roads than run inland. Unfortunately, that only worked to Elblag since there is no reasonable route except the big road, E77, for getting from Elblag to Gdansk.
Bike Route 1 sign on 503
504 also had a Bike Route 1 sign
The first half of my ride today was on small roads - 504 and 503 - through small towns near the sea. Although some parts of 503 were quite bumpy, the overall ride was excellent. This is all part of Poland's Bike Route 1, which might give you some idea of how nice a bike ride it is.
A tourist boat coming into dock at Frombork
The 9 km ride from Braniewie to Frombork has a bit of climbing and a long downhill to Frombork (Wasn't Mork from Bork?) . Frombork is a really nice little town with lots of services for tourists. It looked like a fun place to be. My focus was on getting to the Baltic - it really isn't the Baltic since there is a big sand bar, which has an opening in Kalingrad, that creates Zalew Wislany, the body of water, from the Baltic, which I saw today - which turned out to be quite easy to do in Frombork.
Coming back from the water to 504, brought me face to face with Copernicus. Well, not really since this statue of him must be 30 feet tall! I saw the Kopernik Hotel in Frombork and rode by the statue without realizing that Frombork must be where Copernicus did his work. I remember something about it being on the Baltic because the Baltic coast certainly seems like a less than ideal place to do astronomical observations.
After Frombork, 504 heads south and stays inland on its way to Elblag
I left 504 at Pogrodzie, going on 503 which goes over to the coast at Tolkmicko. Leaving Pogrodzie, 503 is not nearly as nice a road as 504. It is much more like 512 in its good part. That got me a little worried about what I might be getting into, but 503 never got any worse than its first part and about 50% of it, mostly on the coast, was very good road. more importantly, it is a very good ride along the coast.
The port at Tolmicko
Good pavement and great riding on 503 on the coast south of Tolmicko
Tolmicko reminded me of a town south of Sines on the coast of Portugal, It was pretty, small, and only semi-touristy. I left 503 and rode into town and down to the port and then back out the same way. I should have stopped to check out the town map, because, after riding a bad section of 503 over a hill, I came to a road with nice pavement coming from the centrum of Tolmicko. That good pavement continued down the coast to the top of the hill after Suchacz. That was very nice riding with long flat sections punctuated by two sizable hills.
Climbing the first hill
In many ways, it felt like I was climbing on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The first hill is 1 km at about 5%. It winds its way up through forest, and riding it reminded me of riding on some parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then there is a downhill - back to near sea level and another flat section to Suchacz. Then I was surprised by near 10% grade climb out of Suchacz. It probably climbed less than the first climb - 50 m? - but it did it in half the distance. The good pavement is over after the top of that hill. It starts again 10 km or so later, near Elblag.
A view of the water from just south of the top of the second climb
Riding into Elblag is OK, if bumpy in parts. I choose not to go into the center of Elblag but just to get on the expressway to Gdansk. There is a restaurant at a fancy service station just before I actually rode onto that expressway. I had an over priced and not very good lunch there. Then, somewhat fortified, I got on the expressway and headed fro Gdansk.
That lasted for about 100 feet, then I stopped to help a Pole who needed a bicycle pump. His old tires had adapters on the huge old tire stems so that a presta pump head would work. It took a lot of strokes with my frame pump, but he was able to ride home on the bike path next to the expressway. I tried that path briefly but it was brick - bumpy - and slow, so I rode. illegally, on the nice shoulder for the 10 km that the bike paths - one on each side - lasted. Then I rode legally on the same shoulder.
Heavy traffic, almost all of it cars, and a strong south wind coming across the road, made riding toward Gdansk hard and unpleasant. I wanted to get about half way between the two cities before I stopped. I figure that the traffic level will be a lot lower tomorrow morning and I hope that the wind will be weaker as well.