Start: Krakow, Poland
End: Tarnów, Poland
Elevation Gain: 1339ft
Elevation Loss: 1391ft
Reading Material: Red Cavalry and Other Stories – Isaac Babel
Audio Material: Elvis Mitchell’s The Treatment (interview with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss); WTF podcast; On The Media
Almost hit 100km on the nose!
My new routing method seems to be working well. Using Google Maps pedestrian directions (while not documented, over long non-urban distances seems to preference small roads and might also try to minimize elevation gain; in practice, finds sideroads which parallel main arteries). I use these as a base, then import them into GPS software and make tweaks and sanity checks. On the bike, I use the resulting route as a guide and improvise as conditions dictate. Today’s ride was mainly on low-volume roads with decent pavement and quite flat. Even with multiple stops, I averaged 15km/hr.
Stopped at a hamburger stand/convenience store for lunch. Tried a Mike Tyson “Black Energy” drink. Tasted like Red Bull but appeared to leave a metallic taste in my mouth the rest of the afternoon. (Only later, do I realize the drink is marketed as “Sex Energy” — not sure you really want to be like Mike in that department). Hamburger was awesome and the woman who owned the place was super friendly. She didn’t speak English, but was able to inform me about a salt mine about 10km down the road in Bochnia. Her daughter (who spoke excellent English) stopped by and helped translate. When I told her I was trying to reach Tarnow today, she told me I should come back and visit them in the future because Bochnia is really nice.
With the hot salt mine tip, I took a small detour to the Bochnia city center. While the salt mine sounded impressive, the tour takes three hours and I decided it was time better spent biking.
Passed an impressive church in Szczepanów which I believe is the birthplace of St. Stanislaus. Had the entire church to myself for a peaceful 10 minutes. Met a granny who was visiting as part of a tour. She told me about her children (one lives in Chicago, one in Ontario) and gave me good wishes for my journey.
Met packs of dogs several times that chased after the bike. I’ve learned that as long as you keep moving they won’t bite but I worry about mistakenly running one over.
Made it to Tarnów in time to explore before the Champions League Final.
Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being is by far the saddest human-dog love story I have read.
From this jumble of ideas came a sacrilegious thought that Tereza could not shake off: the love that tied her to Karenin was better than the love between her and Tomas. Better, not bigger. Tereza did not wish to fault either Tomas or herself; she did not wish to claim that they could love each other more. Her feeling was rather that, given the nature of the human couple, the love of man and woman is a priori inferior to that which can exist (at least in the best instances) in the love between man and dog, that oddity of human history probably unplanned by the Creator.
It is a completely selfless love: Tereza did not want anything of Karenin; she did not ever ask him to love her back. Nor had she ever asked herself the questions that plague human couples: Does he love me? Does he love anyone more than me? Does he love me more than I love him? Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.
And something else: Tereza accepted Karenin for what he was; she did not try to make him over in her image; she agreed from the outset with his dog’s life, did not wish to deprive him of it, did not envy him his secret intrigues. The reason she trained him was not to transform him (as a husband tries to reform his wife and a wife her husband), but to provide him with the elementary language that enabled them to communicate and live together.
Then too: No one forced her to love Karenin; love for dogs is voluntary.
Gallery of Czech dogs I have met