Start: Rzeszów, Poland End: Przemyśl, Poland Distance: 78.8km Elevation Gain: 2906ft Elevation Loss: 2957ft Time: 6h45m Reading Material:Red Cavalry and Other Stories – Isaac Babel Audio Material: Stuff You Should Know podcast; Paul Simon: 1964-1993 – Paul Simon
Another day of constant rain. It’s not so bad when riding and generating heat, but quite cold and clammy when stopped. I stay mostly dry in rain gear except the footsies which have to spend the entire day in wet wool.
The terrain is getting hilly and approaching Przemyśl I had to negotiate the steep incline and then rapid, windy descent which marks this border town’s natural defenses. I spent most of the day on beautiful Route 881 (a mostly empty two-lane road with descent pavement) until cutting across a 2km unpaved path towards the town. Unpaved road + rain = mud. I was joined by two roaming dogs on the mud path. They moved faster than me and also seemed to be conducting important daily rounds while I was just transiting.
Przemyśl is the second oldest town in this region to Krakow. It is only 15km from the Ukraine border and you will notice from the map that it is slightly south from the direct path between Krakow and L’viv. However, my intel indicates that this border crossing is the only one where non-motorized pedestrians are allowed to pass. We’ll see how that works tomorrow morning. As befits a border town, Przemyśl was split in half by invading Germans and Russians during WWII. I quickly checked out the main square, ate a full pizza and then promptly took a three hour nap.
Start: Tarnów, Poland End: Rzeszów, Poland Distance: 105.0km Elevation Gain: 2299ft Elevation Loss: 2283ft Time: 7h41m Reading Material:Red Cavalry and Other Stories – Isaac Babel Audio Material: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me; Diane Rehm Friday news roundups; Love & Radio podcast; Murs for President – Murs; Man on the Moon: End of Day – Kid Cudi
Rain and mud! First day where I faced near constant rain. Gave me a good chance to bring out the rain gear. I made good progress on pavement until I hit some offroad tracks that had turned entirely to mud. Fenders work great in the rain but when you hit mud, the gap between the tire and the fender fills completely with mud and you end up sliding more than rolling. I had to get off and push in the mud for a good kilometer. It was kinda fun but everything got entirely mud caked.
Heading out of Tarnów, I got into a staring match with a driver. Sunday morning and the roads were empty. I was on an extremely wide, two-lane road with plenty of room for motorists to pass. There was a sidewalk but it was a rough surface, so I decided to stick with the road. The car honked at me as he passed and then we both came up to a redlight. I gave him a stare-down through the passenger window as I passed and then slowly rode in front of him looking over my shoulder until making a right-hand turn and heading on my way. In my mind, I won.
For the last 25km into Rzeszów, my route had me doing detours to avoid the E-40 motorway. But, given the offroad conditions, I decided not to risk it and just ride the motorway shoulder. The E-40 runs from Krakow to the Ukrainian border but is one step down from a highway (The A4 highway from Krakow to the border is currently being constructed). The cars gave me plenty of room and while it wasn’t relaxing riding it was safe and direct.
Spending the night in Rzeszów. More industrial than Tarnów but still a nice town square featuring a Sunday afternoon festival with a bouncy-house and a live singer on a stage backed by synths doing some horrible soft pop. A few tasteful monuments to those lost in WWII (Rzeszów was another town with over 30% Jewish population). I promised the front desk I wouldn’t track mud into the room but I’m not sure I’ll be able to comply.
Just a day trip from Berlin to Potsdam to check out the bike and get a sense of the road. I followed a part of the Euro Cycling route R1 (aka German Route D3) which hits a number of iconic spots in Berlin (Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Olympic Stadium) before heading west through a forest and lake region and terminating in Potsdam proper. Cycling is mostly on urban bike lanes before hitting a nice 20km stretch of winding forest roads that reminded me of Vermont spring rides. I passed (or more appropriately, was passed by) many road weenie cyclists including a mini-Peloton.
As you’ll see in the photos, the weather was overcast and rainy. A constant drizzle had me soaked by the time I reached the outskirts of Potsdam and needed to dry off for a hot lunch. Then, to Sanssouci Park and a tour of Frederick the Great’s Palace.
Seeing as it was getting late and wet (and I began developing some lateral knee pain which will need to be carefully monitored), I opted for a train back to Berlin Hbf. Of course, as soon as I stepped on the train platform, the sun peeked out for the first time that day.