1.853 km ridden in Slovenia, Northern Italy, France + Monaco.
(15.194km in total)
To think of it now, "MONEY STEALERZZ" would be a more apropriate title for this part of the trip. I can tell you already, out of 21 countries, the richest ones showed me the darkest and dumpest side of a human nature.
I've noticed some positive changes in the north of Italy since I visited this region in 2009. It is way cleaner now, to such degree that when looking for an empty plastic bottle and a piece of cloth (which I'm using for weekly bike cleaning) I had to dig inside the trash cans. Normally such things just lay near the road. All this way I could find almost everything I could use on the roadside (food, clothes, medicine, pieces of equipment). When I needed scissors (in Greece) it took me only two days to find working pair just in front of my wheel and here... nothing. And I like it. Throwing trash out of a car window is really moronic. In Turkey I saw a car that stopped immediately after exiting the tunnel. Passengers window opened and a woman slowly and deliberately threw away everything that she found useless. She needed to do it right there, at that particular moment like having to keep those papers and plastics inside was a torture. No matter the age, sex and religion, idiots are among us and probably they already gained the majority.
Although one thing did not change and I mean the way that rest of Italy refers to the north: "money stealerzz". Although it was somehow true in the past, I wanted to confirm or bust this myth once and for all. And you know what? It seems to be true. Most of the time I like to stay independent and don't have big needs. Water, sometimes compressed air to inflate the tires above 4 bars, sometimes a specialized tool for the bike, because I carry only essentials with me. It was in Italy when for the first time I heard on a gas station:
" You want water, you pay. You want air, you pay."
One day I got the package from Poland with replacement parts for the bike. I can handle all the work myself and needed only 3-4 tools that are either too heavy to carry or used rarely. In a recommended bike service in Crema I was told that I cannot use ANY of their tools and cannot even work there. But I can pay for all the work, even the simplest one and leave my bike... for two days. Two days!? It turned out that I managed to do the job the same day and even rode 100 km more. But that was because I met an exceptional person, whose good heart shined like a pearl in the mud.
EXCEPTIONS. Carrying additional 10 kg that day I looked like a bicycle prepper (you can see the photo). After no luck in two bike services I started losing hope for quick resolve and began preparing the plan B when I found Morgan Cicli. It was already 5 minutes to siesta brake so I offered Morgan a deposit for leaving me some tools outside while the shop will be closed for two hours. He did not want anything. Later, after coming back from the siesta, he helped me with blocked freehub. Thanks to him, giving me an address of a courier, I was able to send some of the stuff back to Poland the same day (I got there 15 minutes before closing time). Morgan did not want any money for all his help, but finally accepted the gift :) I didn't want to just throw my old tires away and Morgan immediately found a purpose for them. Sometimes immigrants come to him with completely ruined bikes and want to have a mean of transport but are not able to pay for it. Morgan uses such parts as my tires to reanimate their bicycles for free. Like I said, a pearl in the mud. Thank you again Morgan.
France. So far the most expensive country on my way and honestly, I don't know why. In my opinion, it seems overestimated and way overpriced. Luxury and tourism draw oportunists creating the feeling of unsafety. Groups of people doing nothing, watching the surroundings. In the past, I visited Paris once, not for holiday but for work. I was astonished how different it was from the postcard image I created in my mind. In reality the district I was living in, resembled ghetto. Now I can tell that some cities in the south have the same problem.
It is also the place where everything was stolen from me. Middle of the day, shopping centre full of people, my bike attached to the concrete pillar under the surveillance cameras. 15 minutes later I come out of the shop and can only see the cut lock on the ground. First, I ask security, they don't know anything. Then I ask people, nobody seems to care. I go back inside the shop and ask for surveillance cameras. Turns out, that some of them (including the one pointed on my bicycle) are not working. I call 112 and ask for police help. The only response I get is to go to the police station, where I spend the next couple of hours. The next day, not waiting for the police, I start my own investigation. I go around the block asking for other camera footage, I search the trash containers looking for my stuff, then I go back to police station reporting what I found. And basically that was all I could do. With no bicycle, no clothes, no food, no equipment I didn't want to stay longer in this unatractive place. I went back to Poland to collect my thoughts and make some decisions.
What hurts the most is the fact that majority of the equipment has no resale value (used clothes, camping and cooking equipment, panniers with holes in them) and will land on the landfill. But for me it was everything. I lost all the written memories, data about the trip that I precisely collected every day. All I was left with was my phone, wallet and cycling clothes I had on me. To perform somewhat normal I had to buy myself shoes and some warm clothes. I managed to block all the passwords and other phone number that was in the panniers, but still my personal data from the trip was lost. Fucking bastards. Didn't even care that they were ruining my dreams.
I know my lock was not enough, but starting this trip I cared more about the weight and space knowing that I won't leave my bike unattended. For the first month I never took my eyes off it, but slowly became more trustful and calm about it. France woke me up. Now I'm assembling everything from scratch, this time better prepared, with no middle ground. And winter is coming, so get ready to see well loaded carrier bike. And what about the money stealerzz? Fuck them!
Last minute comment from the money stealer:
"You want to fuck, you pay."