I was not disturbed by the revelry at my pension last night. I have good earplug! But I was so tired when I tried writing at 7 PM, I gave up and took a 'nap' till 9:30 PM. Then I wrote till 11:15 and slept, mostly, till 7:45. Tonigth I'll try to make it till 10 PM to, mostly, get this report done. It won't be easy, but a light supper and no beer tonight which will help.
In Poland 2 km after leaving the pension
The small Polish town before the park
The great pavement ends
Today, I took a road less travelled, choosing to ride - starting with climbing for two hours - through the Polish National Park that is right across the border from Nachod. That choice added several hours to my riding day and led to great riding in the park and along the Poland-Czech border after leaving the park. I got the main road I could have taken about 3 PM this afternoon. If I had taken it I would have been there several hours earlier and I would have missed a lot of great riding. Tonight I would have been 25 km farther east and a lot less tired, but not nearly as pleased with today's riding. To be fair, the last 25 km of today's ride, which would also have been part of the direct route, is really nice riding. However, the ride through the park was really special, and the ride along the border after the park really brought home how great riding is along all of Polands borders. The middle of Poland can be a bit boring and too built up, but the borders are some of the best riding I've ever done.
The forest near the top where I took a break
Riding through the Park is a little like riding the longer climb in the Blue Ridge Parkway. Only there are no long range views on the climb up, but there are great short range views of very nice forest, and there is almost constant shade which really helps with the long climb. The grade is always about as steep - 5- 6% - as the Parkway ever gets - but that is a gentle grade compared to the roads in CZ. More importantly, with shade and relatively cool temps, I could could comfortably ride that grade until I needed to stop for food near the top. The only annoyance on the ride were flies that didn't bite or get in my face, but tickle a bit on my hands.
Neat rocks on the way down
Near where I ate lunch
There is tourist town, Kartow, at the top of the climb - after 10 km - and a regular town, or set of towns, Radkow, starting at the bottom. I ate lunch in Radkow Dolne, the last of that set, which I reached about 1 PM. While the ride from Kartow to Radkow is a lovely downhill, the ride through the rest of te Rakow towns is nice ride along a river valley. The riding stays flat, easy, and very pretty most of the way to Klodzko, a big city. Things start getting hilly before Klodzko, where I crossed 33, the road from Nachod to Wroclaw. I would have taken that road if I had chosen the direct route.
Views in the river valley
In Klodzko, I stopped at a McDs. I'm pleased to report free open wifi that is quite a bit faster than the AT+T version in the US. The also have good coffee - the kind made with an espresso machine - and, better than the US version, hot apple and cherry pies. Coffee and pies cost me about twice what they would have in the US where I can get a senior coffee and two pies for less that $2, but they were worth it. My lunch was pretty good, but the horrible nescafe I had after it left a bad taste in my mouth which McDs coffee removed ;-}.
After Klodzko, it was 'only' 20+ km to Packzow. That turned out to be a very hilly 20 km with long hills at 8% grade and some great descents. It was also very fine, if hard, riding. Before Klodzko, cars were the, usually quite light till near the big city, traffic on my route. After Klodzko, big motorcycles were the most common vehicle. Some of them were riding this superb section of road at speeds several times the speed limit;-}. It is a bit exciting to get passed by an 'organ donor' bike going over 100 mph, but, in the context of todays ride, I enjoyed it.
The hardest long hills occurred not in the park, but on this last section of my ride. In the park, when I stopped to snack, my bike fell over on its derailleur side. I didn't think anything of that until I tried shifting into my smallest cog when I was heading down hill to Radkow and discovered that I couldn't do it. I only use that cog on fast downhills so it was no big deal. I can fix it with a minor adjustment of the limit screw. When I was climbing the long steep hills on the way to Paczkow. I had to stop and check to make sure I was actually on my lowest gear. I was, I just hadn't run into a big hill that steep since CZ.
The land got flatter, but not flat, for the last third of the distance to Paczkow. The last 6 km was flat, with a tail cross wind, and the only good shoulder I've seen in quite a while. I was cruising at 25+ kph, less than a sixth as fast as this motorcycles were going, but more than twice as fast as my average speed for today.
Coming into Paczkow
In Paczkow, I had hard time finding a place to stay - there were signs for no longer existent places and I had language problems when I tried to get local help. The last possibility - I was heading for the woods if it didn't work - worked out nicely and I'm staying at an inexpensive hotel - 85 Zlotys or about 22 E with breakfast - run by an English speaking bicycle enthusiast.
Poland is playing CZ tonight in Euro 2012, so I may need earplugs again...