Blog #0020 May 21 2022 – Along the Curonian Lagoon

On a grey and wet day, I cycled south from Klaipeda. Along the coast of the of the Curonian Lagoon I passed Kintai, at the northern end of the river delta of the Neman, and then went inland, always hugging the Russian border.  I passed the city of Silute and although it was raining cats and dogs, and I was wet as a dog, I still managed to get altogether 85 km to the village of Kugeli were I spent a wet night in a wet forest.

Getting out of Klaipeda was easy, and on surprisingly well-maintained cycle ways. My experience is, that in Lithuania, once you are on a very specifically built cycleway, it is smooth and well maintained. However, if you happen to be on a sidewalk, which has been also signed as a cycleway you may encounter the most awkward obstructions possible, like a tree stump in the middle of the way or raised roots or extremely high kerbs, which make it impossible to drive. I was cycling south, along the Curonian Lagoon which is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian spit. The landscape was very rural with a lot of agriculture and had quite a charming character. While on the way of my first 20 km it started to rain, and it really rained hard. Knowing that rain was coming, I immediately was off the bike and into my heavy rain gear consisting of hard-shell rain jacket, a rain shoe cover, and rain trousers. Since I am an extremely clever chap, I forgot my waterproof socks in the deepest crevice of my biggest pannier. I was not in a mood to rummage through my cloths and electrical equipment during a rainstorm, and consequently my normal socks had to do. Big mistake as I discovered only a few kilometres later.

When you cycle in rain, it is not simply that the water comes from above. It comes from a multitude of directions and sources. There is the plain old rain, coming, depending on the strength and direction of the wind, from above or different degrees of angle from the side. Then there are the cars, buses and lorries, with their drivers sitting comfortably and dry, who have no worries about the mayhem they release on poor cyclists who happen to be on the side of the road. They are being splattered by torrential amounts water, coming from a slight angle upwards and most of the time containing a light oil film and soot particles to boot.  Then there is your own bicycle which lifts water from the street, and depending on the availability of a mudguard, throws it at you from below. And finally, your most evil water source is your very own body. Cycling in rain jacket and rain trousers usually raises the production of sweat. If your ventilation is not optimal you will soon be drenched in your own sweat and be as wet as without any rain gear. Consequently, if you are only protected against one or two of these sources you are really in deep trouble. For me that day it was the shoes. Despite the overshoes, the splashes coming from below soaked my soles and shoes and at the end I had soaking wet equipment of my feet, which were sloshing with each step.

It was time to activate the wonder-drug: endorphin. I have experienced, that when working out the music I listen to becomes much more stimulating. I attribute that to the production of endorphins, which are produced by your own body, when doing strenuous activities. So, I put in the pods, selected the Stones and Radiohead on my phone and started to cycle, and to sing and rock along without care about the rain, the cars, and the annoying wetness I was subject to. Singing and rocking in the rain, I was happy, and I reached the little hamlet of Kugeli, where I found a small rest area in a forest detached from the road, with a sheltered picnic-table. I set up my tent, crawled in, had a nibble to bite and a beer to drink and soon was in the land of the unconscious.

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