2.049 km ridden in Poland, Germany, Czech Republic.
(2.049 km in total)
Let me explain so you don't treat me like a fool later on. I don't like anything going to waste. Doesn't matter whether I paid for it, whether it's mine or not. That is why you can see me wearing clothes with patches and holes or cutting the sun lotion bottle to get to the bottom or even licking the plate after the meal. Using every bit of material / product and then maybe find another purpose for the package gives me an odd satisfaction. That is why I tried to sell, give away or use everything that I wasn't going to need during my travels as sitting and catching dust is also a waste. That is why I took everything else with me: half empty old cosmetics which I don't need, 0,5 kg of curry spice mix, herbs from all over the kitchen, the list goes on. Every day I ate and used some of it, making the bike lighter. I also tried to come up with solutions for simplifying my equipment and making it more versatile. It's been two weeks now since I started carrying 65 kg bike up and down, with and against the wind. I think it will take another two weeks to finally reach a sweet spot and make a review of the equipment. Great topic for the next update, but now let's get to the route itself.
I left Poznan one week earlier than predicted so planned route changed a bit. Instead of going directly south I cycled western and southern Polish border, riding 3 famous trails and a part of a fourth one.
A) Loop around Szczecin Lagoon is partially German, partially Polish. German part is shorter but much better prepared, professionally marked and overall made with a specific plan. In towns and villages it often (mis) leads you to show what this particular place has to offer. I remember riding into a festival missing sudden turn. It turned out, it was a small loop, added artificially to make me visit this festival site by accident. More chances for me to have fun, more chances for them to earn money. Most of the trails seemed paved especially for bike tourists and altogether I felt carresed. With high expectations I hit polish side and the quality plummeted fast. Marking become worse and partial, most of the way I was going on public roads with high traffic. Normally I wouldn't probably care too much, but everyone riding this loop has direct and immediate comparison and that leaves disappointment. I didn't even bother to stick to the route completely as it didn't make any difference. If you want to preserve the best experience, ride German part in a loop :)
B) Oder Neisse bike route is the shortest (and probably the easiest) way south from the Baltic Sea to the mountains. Almost all the way on the German side, with the end in Czech Republic, although you can choose alternative ending in Germany. Flat, smooth, fast. one may say even boring sometimes, but there is a remedy in a form of crossing routes towards the country. Some are small loops to the nearby points of interest, some are whole new adventures to keep you entertained for longer periods of time. All that with great marking, you can hide your maps and switch off your GPS. Sometimes it feels almost like the bike covers the distance itself, without your involvement, your grandma would definitely love riding it. Entering Czech Republic you encounter change in landscape and the route itself. Jump on the public roads (not so much traffic) and go up and down the hills all the way to the end. Marking is significantly worse, but I already learned that there is no even comparison with German bike routes.
C) Trail of Eagle Nests (?, my translation) - this one has potential. I'm surprised so many well preserved and nicely located castles stand on basically straight line between two major cities. Although it is completely in Poland, it can also be divided in two parts according to the preparation and execution: nicely done northern part (near Czestochowa) and lazy done southern one (near Krakow). Czestochowa invested into German style, in other words, family trips with some side attractions (not only castles and churches), paved bike lanes and good marking. The downside is this cancer like buildup around every castle with chemical food, worst Chinese toys and bouncing castle like attractions. All look the same everywhere in the world and all ruin the look of a... ruin. But I guess that kind of business pays the bills, so it is needed, just please blend it more into the surrounding. Southern part has a more of a "wild flow" (which you can read as prepared with the lowest cost and effort possible) and you won't see any families there. With Krakow as a pinnacle, where (except main gathering points) I find it difficult to travel by bike. Such a famous and tourist oriented city left a bad taste in my mouth. But for me cities were never main parts, sometimes I skip them entirely, so I'm not the one who should complain. Overall, I can see a bright future for a projects like Trial of Eagle Nests. For now, families can do a round trip from Czestochowa to Olsztyn and have undisturbed fun. One more thing, the signs for "turn left", "turn right" and "go straight" look the same from the distance so when you go fast, or does not pay a full attention it is extremely easy to miss the turn. It would be a much better idea to make signs like the ones described on the next route.
D) Wisla River Route (again, it's my name) as a whole has over 1.000 km but wasn't on my way this time. I did only Krakow - Wisla part, but I will add it to my bucket list. Well marked and interestingly directed with some unexpected parts (more in the videos). The biggest Polish river turned out to be more interesting than I thought.
Right now the city of Istebna is my final stand. Today (day 14) is off, I rode only 35 km and spent the rest of the time refreshing the body, washing clothes, maintaining the bike, feasting (that's the one pizza) and most of all, updating the website. This last activity is so time consuming that I think an update every two weeks is much more realistic than weekly posts. Next part (Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) will be less focused on the road, more on living on the road.
See you soon!