Day 81 - Stity (CZ) to Frankenstein (PL): Easter Beatings - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

April 6, 2015

Day 81 - Stity (CZ) to Frankenstein (PL): Easter Beatings

Ah, Easter. A serious time for spring and religion and family. Where I come from, this is expressed by copious amounts of candy and chocolate. In Czech Republic, it's all about the proud tradition of beating women with sticks to make them younger and prettier.

Based on what people had told me, I had visions of drunk men jumping out of cars at street corners and viciously beating women until they gave them chocolate as thanks. Luckily the reality was more benign, mostly pairs or groups of teenaged boys, too young to be that drunk so early in the day. Leaving Stity, I was ignored by everyone, and reasoned that they viewed me as a hopeless case. That was a relief (well, sort of) as I couldn't spare any of my chocolate.

It was funny to see teenagers dressed like thugs but carrying sticks with ribbons on the ends. And instead of abuse, the ribbons gave the whole thing a flavour of light kink. Those pagans. It was entertaining and I wanted to take a couple photos (though I didn't get to witness any beatings), but the guys were starting to look at me speculatively, and I feared that stopping meant inviting a beating.

A couple times, I was semi-approached, and I found that it was indeed essential to keep moving. This was harder than it sounds because I still had a headwind to deal with, plus the road was all uphill. Any stopping had to wait until I was between villages. Finally, I crested the hill, passed the last village, the snow started, and then I was safe across the border, in Poland.

When I had previously checked the weather forecast for my origin and destination, I was pleased to see decent weather in the morning in Stity and decent weather in the afternoon in Klodzko. Then I thought about that for a second, remembered that the wind was blowing from the north, and concluded that I would have to pass through that nasty weather as it moved south.

And it was miserable: icy headwind, snow in my eyes, and I was cold. Colder than I had been in Macedonia when my water froze. It's that cold, damp wind, the one I've felt every time I've stepped outside since March 26, getting a bit colder every day, wearing me down. I thought the route I mapped was downhill, but it seemed like there was a ton of climbing. A headwind and cumulative fatigue made the hills higher, steeper, and longer. Slow, slow, then stopped, unwilling to continue.

But I did continue, of course. When I reached Klodzko, I really wanted to stop, but I had to assess the E67, which I would be riding on for a stretch. If there was a shoulder, I would stop in Bardo or go back to Klodzko (both attractive towns), and deal with the return of the truck traffic tomorrow. If there was no shoulder, I would bike the E67 today. Needless to say, I did not get to stop in Klodzko or Bardo.

The long weekend traffic was crazy and uncomfortable, especially with the wind getting stronger and pushing me around a bit. Even so, it was far preferable to riding that road tomorrow, when it would be the same way except with the addition of a bunch of trucks. One last burst of snow soaked and chilled me before I reached the town (which I will refer to by its German name, Frankenstein, rather than look up the Polish spelling), but I soon spotted accommodation that was open, reasonably priced, had an electric kettle, and had a friendly owner who spoke to me in a mix of German and English. The kettle was key because it meant I could prepare dinner from the food I had on hand and did not have to go back outside.

I'm really tired. This weather has been tough. It's downright miserable and I'm tired of being cold (before anyone lectures me, I'm well aware that being cold is due to having inadequate gear, but as I'm not bringing most of my things home with me, I am unwilling to spend a lot of money). I see I'm the featured journal this week--thanks Neil--so maybe I can look on the bright side and be glad that at least a few people are enjoying this ordeal.

I want to be dry, dry enough that I don't have to struggle with my rainpants when I stealth pee (due to limited selection of rainpants within my budget in Istanbul, I ended up with men's pants that are difficult to get over my hips. Think about how many days I've biked in rain/cold/snow and you can see how this is no longer funny).

I want to be warm, warm enough that my nose doesn't drip every time I stop moving.

The good news, according to the hotel proprietor, is that it's supposed to be dry tomorrow, and a bit warmer. Maybe in a week it will finally be as warm as it was when I first entered Poland--a month ago.

Another road well chosen
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Unusual bus shelter just over the border in Poland, good for changing into warmer clothes and shoes
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There were lots of gorgeous buildings in Klodzko
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I stopped along the stressful E67, happened to glance to my right, and noticed this cozy-looking patch of serenity
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Today's ride: 84 km (52 miles)
Total: 3,837 km (2,383 miles)

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