Day 34 of my cycle journey – June 3, 2022
Today I reached my 2000 km cycled on this trip. Somewhere around Grudziadz the cycle computer clicked on the magical 2000 km, but that was not all. On a lovely day I cycled mostly along the Vistula river to Chelmno. I cycled 83 km, but not without the occasional problem.
It was a lovely day to cycle. About 21 C with sunshine and a moderate wind, mainly from the side, saw me cycle for the first time in full summer outfit. T-shirt, shorts and consequently, because my skin doesn’t like sunshine too much, a full coverage of factor 50 sunscreen. I don’t like the sunscreen, since it is sticky and smelly and every time I touch my glasses I have a fat stain on them, which are difficult to get rid of. In addition, if I apply the stuff to my face I must be very careful, because it happened more than once that I started sweating during cycling and the sweat mixed with the sunscreen and came into my eyes. A very uncomfortable burning sensation develops then.
Again, I cycled along the Vistula. Beautiful and serene cycling, which I wholly enjoyed. After a few miles, I crossed the river and started to cycle on the west bank of the Vistula. Suddenly my cycling path changed tack and instead of the serene cycling along the river, I had to go up a hill. A 5-6% incline for a few km let me transform the carbohydrates of my breakfast into energy in no time. I huffed and puffed, but nevertheless overtook a complete high school class running up that hill for physical exercise. There were quite a few startled looks on their faces when I rang my bell and cycled past them with a fully loaded, bulky bike. But at one point they stopped, and I didn’t. Deeper and deeper into the forest I went, higher and higher up I cycled, and my cycle way deteriorated markedly. Until I stood in front of a dirt path with an incline of 30-35% for about 100 metres. I was shocked. How should I go up there? Should I turn around and cycle several kilometres back? No way, there was no other way. I had to push my bike up that incredibly steep incline. I pondered to unload my bicycle and decided not to. You see, during these 2000 km my legs have been honed and toned into a shape not seen for decades. But on the top of these athletes’ legs still sits a sack of potatoes. I decided to give my upper body a proper workout and started pushing the bike up that hill. I never pushed a bike so heavily laden, and every push of 20 or so centimetres had to be followed by a short break to catch my breath. For a former civil servant, pushing papers, this was wholly a new ball game. Luckily the cycle way improved after experience and soon I was cycling again on good ways and sailing down the hill towards the Vistula and Grudziadz.
Again, the cycle ways were very good and brought me through the city in no time. At one point, however, in the middle of this sizeable town, I was guided onto a single track clearly used by the locals as an MTB (mountain bike) route. Cockily, I decided that I can do on my fully loaded bike what these MTB jocks can do and followed the route. Everything went fine, until I reached a 30-35% incline downwards. There was a small 30 cm cycle track going down, but right beside a steep iron staircase. I couldn’t drive this incline down. There was no other way than to bring my fully loaded bike down this steep staircase. The next upper body exercise proofed to be even more difficult and almost lost my bike on several occasions. Down the staircase I was completely spent.
I cycled further along the east bank of the Vistula and arrived in the evening in Chelmno. I went to the campground because I needed a shower. The campgrounds showers, however, didn’t work and the toilettes I needed as well, were a shame for Poland and humanity in general. When I set up my tent, a tent pole broke and I had to repair it. Tired, irritated, sticky and smelly I gave myself a wash in the handbasin, ate something and went to bed thinking that it was actually a great day.