Day 41, Between Elblag and Gdansk to Koscierzyna, PL

I rode to and in Gdansk today, and that means I have a lot of good images - it is a stunning city - on my camera's SDHC card and I can review them in the camera, but I can't download them because the FAT filing system on that SDHC card is corrupted. I may be able to retrieve them (and other images from the last 3 days] when I get home but, for now, I have no images to put on this page. I've switched to a different SDHC card and - if I can keep my camera working - probable but not certain - then I should have images for the rest of the trip

I have now figured out an easy way to do a 'security cable' when carrying the TX-3 in my pocket. While better late than never, I should have figured this out as soon as I started carrying the camera there. I had not planned to carry the camera in that pocket because I was afraid it would fall out. I had planned to carry it in a pocket on my handlebar bag, but when it turned out that I had to carry that bag in a rear pannier rather than on the handlebar, I quickly grew tired of having to stop to get the camera out, take a picture, and put the camera back. I discovered that the velcro tab on the pocket is quite strong and, the camera is secure as long as I properly press together the velcro. My camera is now damaged from falling out of the pocket when I didn't do that properly. Now , when it falls out, its wrist strap, which is secured with one of the buttons on my shirt, keeps it from falling far. This system would have prevented the damage to my camera on this trip had I just thought about it sooner..

[morning] I figured out how to get to yesterday's images and will put some of them into this report.

It was a beautiful morning with cloudless skies and the wind out of the north. I reached Gdansk about 10 AM after a fairly easy ride. Traffic, even at 9 AM on Sunday, was not light. It was, however, much lighter than on Saturday. There were several places going into town where I think riding would have been dangerous in heavy traffic. Sunday morning was safe, but any other time of the week would be less than safe. I'm sure there is a lower traffic way to ride into Gdansk from the east and I would certainly use it on any day but Sunday.

In Gdansk, I rode to the centrum and found out why everybody who knows Gdansk. loves it. It has a neat, and very large, old city surround by neat new stuff. I spent about two hours just riding around, taking pictures, and eating. Even on Sunday morning, it was a very lively place and great fun.

I left the centrum and headed over to the old port area to visit the Solidarity memorial to the 1970 dock workers strike. This was one of the seminal events leading to the fall of the Soviet Union. The memorial is is very powerful. There were a dozen or two people there and I could feel, and see, their strong emotional reactions. It brought tears to my eyes as well.

After visiting the memorial. I headed for Gydinia thinking I might stay there tonight or go further north along the coast. It was 12:30 or so on Sunday and traffic was now bad. It was bad in the sense that there was too much of it, but also in the lack of civility I've come to expect on most Polish roads. Big cities everywhere bring out the worst in drivers and Gdansk was no exception.

I made it to Gydinia, but I was not having a good time so, when I saw highway 20 heading off to the west, I stopped and checked my map. I could take 20 and ride down to Koscierzyna - as close as I got to Gdansk in 2006 - or I could continue on through what looked like another 20 km of very bad riding. I turned onto 20 and, several big hills and half a dozen km later, passed under the new autoroute and was back in decent riding conditions.

Nice riding on 20

A traffic burst and rain ahead on 20

Traffic on 20 was surprisingly heavy, but most of it was headed towards, rather than away from, Gdansk. Where are all these folks going on a Sunday afternoon? Things got a bit better after I got well south of Gdansk, but there were still heavy burst of traffic that weren't fun when riding on a highway with narrow lanes and no shoulders. Fortunately there were very few big trucks in the traffic mix.

Then I noticed that it was dark ahead of me. I stopped to put on the Townie rain cover and get my rain gear ready for easy access. My legs were quite tired by that point - hilly country! - so I would have stopped if there had been any place to spend the night. I rode on and, in the 20 km of construction before Koscierzyna, hit light rain.

I put on my rain gear, leaving my RainLegs rolled up and my GoreTex jacket unzipped. The rain got heaver so I deployed the RainLegs and zipped up my jacket. Then the rain got really heavy, but there was no wind or thunder. The combination of heavy rain and those heavy traffic bursts made riding unpleasant. I saw a sign for a restaurant and decided to stop and try to wait out the rain. As I pulled into the restaurant, I saw that two, Dutch style, bikes with panniers were already parked in front of it. I went in, dripping, and found a place to sit by a window to the outdoor dining area.

A waitress brought some drinks over to the door to that area, looked out, and then took off her apron and put it over her head before carrying the drinks out into the rain. She came back in with the drinks followed by the couple who were riding the Dutch bikes. Michal and Aneta had seen me ride up and asked if they could join me at my table. I ordered some tea, and we talked and ate, for the next hour, waiting for the rain to stop. It never did and, as I write this five hours later, it is still raining.

My new friends, who live in Torun and sell Dutch bikes there, had no rain gear, so we asked the restaurant for garbage bags and improved some rain gear. They had planned to ride some 9 km further to a park which contains the high spot in this part of Poland, and hike up to a fire tower on that spot - I saw that tower riding down - to enjoy the view. then they would take the train through Gdansk, where her brother lives, and back down to Torun, Now they just hoped to be able to bike, in the rain, to the train station and get the train. I'm sure they got very wet and cold on that ride, and I hope to find out more about it from them the next time I'm in Torun.

I rode on, 11 km, to Koscierzyna in moderate to light rain. Traffic was a problem, especially because the road had kilieny - depressed ruts in the pavement - which were now long linear rain puddles. I got a good bit of road spray from the traffic coming north and, again, had to deal with strings of vehicles passing me on while I rode on wet, uneven, pavement. The rain had slacked off a lot by the time I reached Koscierzyna, but picked up again later. Tomorrow I'll decide if I go west and south, towards Wroclaw or west and north towards the Baltic.

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