Day 58 - Another village name I can't spell: Sneaking into (and out of) Slovakia - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

March 14, 2015

Day 58 - Another village name I can't spell: Sneaking into (and out of) Slovakia

I woke up at my host's place with a purring cat curled up next to me, to a view of fresh snow delicately covering all the tree branches, fenceposts, the whole landscape. But by the time I finally pulled myself away from an interesting conversation about rich Norwegians and annoying mosquitoes (I was also told that Putin hasn't been seen on TV in a week, leading to speculation that something happened to him), that fresh snow and its magic was gone, leaving me to bike in a drab landscape in something that might have been light snow and might have been light rain, but was definitely wet.

I planned on a short day, getting myself 40km closer to my short term goal and setting myself up to climb a big hill tomorrow, in better weather (I hope).

During my research, I read a bit about a hiking-biking path along a scenic stretch of the Dunajec River, starting from Poland (fine, I'll be helpful and look up the town name--Szczawnica), entering Slovakia on the south bank, meandering west along the river's goosenecks, and ending in Cerveny Klastor (which is essentially where I am tonight, only I crossed the pedestrian bridge back to Poland where I found a room). There are three things I read that made me want to take this path:

1) The scenery, which I assumed would be good because they run rafting trips in the area specifically to see the scenery.

2) No roads, no vehicles. Just Polish nature on one side and Slovak nature on the other.

3) The international aspect, the ease of access which wasn't possible in pre-Schengen days. In fact, I didn't even see a Welcome to Slovakia sign, not in any language I would recognize, anyway.

Due to the recent snowfall, I had some doubts about taking this path, doubts that proved to be well-founded. It was a difficult mix of every type of slush and heavy (ie. wet) snow, nicely mangled with footprints. I think I walked at least half of the 9.5km trail, part of that because of sharp rocks and--I don't want to admit this--me without a spare tube at the moment. I had plenty of time, so walking was absolutely fine, except for a couple exhausting sections. I could see where a bike had been through, but that person obviously wasn't riding a loaded bike.

So I took my time, stopped for photos, enjoyed my surroundings. I did take advantage of the opportunity to practice biking in slushy snow (more accurately, I practiced skidding in slushy snow) with nobody watching, and I found I could get through more than I thought, but it was too demanding, mentally as much as physically, to keep up for long, especially with trail conditions as variable as they were.

What a great afternoon.

Shortly before the end, I saw the cyclist who made the track. He was doing laps. I guess he likes slush more than hills. I do too.

Sometimes Europe seems overly complicated to me
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Conditions deteriorated rapidly on the Dunajec path
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Pay no attention to my poor composition and total lack of scale: this is the star attraction on the Dunajec path.
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Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 2,565 km (1,593 miles)

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