Day 53 - Rzeszow to Tarnow: Sorry, Poland, if I keep misspelling all your place names - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

March 9, 2015

Day 53 - Rzeszow to Tarnow: Sorry, Poland, if I keep misspelling all your place names

Instead of writing an introduction and lead up to my point, I'll be blunt: do not take Route 94. Just don't. No good alternate route, you say? How about that out-of-the-way network of minor roads that will add untold kilometres and navigation effort? No, you say? How bad could the 94 possibly be now that the nearby motorway to Krakow is open?

I would tell you how bad, but I don't want to talk about it. Given the traffic volume, I have to assume that 1) the parallel motorway is a toll road and 2) Polish people are cheap. [Update: My assumption was wrong, the motorway is not a toll road.] Suffice it to say that in many sections there is no real shoulder, nowhere to go off the road, and no room for the steady stream of fast heavy-haul traffic to move over when passing. Don't take the 94.

Surprised I was still alive by lunchtime, I noticed a park on my map, and, determined to have a proper lunch break (which has been elusive lately), I rode into Debica. I was not disappointed. The park had paved paths among the trees, was calming, and was definitely the highlight of my day.

I originally intended to ride as far as I could in order to set up a short day tomorrow, but I had to stop at Tarnow, so took a room at the first hotel I passed, after walking the bike because both the road and sidewalk were unrideable by that point. The middle-aged woman at the front desk was curious about what I was doing but said she'd never want to do that. I readily admitted it's not for everyone, but I'm glad I'm showing people that it's possible--if they want to, which I certainly do. Apparently I have an extremely short memory, which I'm guessing is a very common thing among bike tourists.

I went for a walk in the evening, along a main road on the outskirts of Tarnow, and I could smell the first intoxicating hint of spring in the air. The traffic--still--was nonstop. I thought about how in Rzeszow, I walked and biked behind those sound barrier walls for the first time, amazed at how effective they were at blocking the traffic noise and how I immediately felt more relaxed behind them. I was reading a bit about this before I left home, about how cars make people miserable. Yes, that's an oversimplification, but I'm out there on those roads every day, exposed to the full effects of traffic, really becoming aware of the various negative impacts. Those days where I haven't had to deal with trucks and buses have been the best of the tour. I need to put more of an emphasis on finding tranquil routes--I'm looking forward to taking real live long distance bike routes soon. But how do I reconcile this increasingly negative attitude toward motor vehicles with my reliance on vehicle infrastructure (roads, gas stations) to do this trip?

Almost forgot: one little incident when I arrived at the hotel left me wondering, again, how I possibly could have gotten this far. The front desk lady gave me my key, along with both verbal and hand gesture directions to my room. I smiled, thanked her, turned, and promptly walked into a corner.

Park Awesome, aka the best part of my day
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Behind the magical walls that block traffic noise
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Today's ride: 79 km (49 miles)
Total: 2,365 km (1,469 miles)

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