Start: Skidziń, Poland
End: Krakow, Poland
Elevation Gain: 2287ft
Elevation Loss: 2369ft
Reading Material: Red Cavalry and Other Stories – Isaac Babel
Audio Material: Fresh Air; The World in Words; Sound Opinions (Roger Ebert episode); You Think It’s Like This but Really It’s Like This – mirah
A fitting day to bid bye to the official EuroVelo routes. Ran into two undesirable route features not described on the maps: 1) stairs, and 2) a true death hill. Going down stairs is actually pretty feasible. But going up more than three stairs requires unpacking the bike (or, possibly, more upper body weight workouts). To navigate the water and railways just east of Oświęcim, I already had to pull a 2km long ‘S’ shape and then ran into the flight of stairs leading to the bridge over a damn blocking my escape. I lost about 10minutes unpacking and repacking.
The death hill was worse. Previously, I ran into a steep, unpaved hill that required dismounting. That hill was short, maybe 100ft and easily conquered. Today, I had to face .8km of extremely steep, unpaved, gravely ascent. The 45min ordeal gave me a good chance to practice my pushing technique: you have to get down really low and use your entire lower body to push the book. If only bike shoes had better traction! Luckily, the sun thunderstorms didn’t start until after I crested and the rain was nice and cool.
Lunch was somewhere near Frywald from a small store with an ice cream Popsicle and homemade jelly doughnut (!). I always assumed the jelly doughnut was a North American invention. (Mainly due to Bob & Doug McKenzie’s ethnographic study on the Canadian male). But, actually Poland gets the credit. They call them pączki and they date from the time of August III. Something to due with preparing for Lent and either using up unneeded ingredients or just having a blowout Fat Day. Either way, I got to eat a jelly doughnut for lunch and count it as local cuisine.
Arrived in Krakow in the late afternoon. Warm welcome from the staff at my short-term apartment rental with a special look-see at the laundry machine which is going to get a workout. Had enough time to walk down to Main Market Square after dinner. I’ll spend the next five days in Krakow resting, touristing and planning the next leg to Kiev.