Day 85 - Wroclaw to Witoldowo: Enchanted forests - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

April 10, 2015

Day 85 - Wroclaw to Witoldowo: Enchanted forests

I have one month left on this bicycle and I'm very aware of it. Something in my mind has shifted; even with a month to go, I feel like I'm pedalling toward the finish rather than through Europe. Seeing as how my bike is still not pointing in the direction of my destination and I have a huge distance left to cover, I have to abstain from further route changes and stick to a schedule. No matter how windy it gets. I might regret saying that. Though I have no more mountains to cross, so, in theory, I should be able to handle large daily distances for a while.

Rested up from days of wind and snow, and once again ready to fight whatever the weather wanted to throw at me, I stepped outside and... it was sunny, kind of warm, and the air--incredibly--was still. I was immediately suspicious, and therefore relieved when something almost immediately went wrong: the bike path I tried to follow out of Wroclaw was more of a rocky dirt lane decorated with broken glass, and it was hard to navigate.

I once again had reason to be suspicious when I came to a stretch of busy road outside Wroclaw and saw it had a wide shoulder. But I soon forgot my misgivings and had been happily pedalling along for some time when I noticed a bike path on the other side of the road. Wow! I switched to it, knowing what the deal was: soon it would end and I would be back on that busy road, but probably without a shoulder and with plenty of potholes, and the wind would pick up. Soon, the path did end, but the sidewalk continued, which was nice because the shoulder had disappeared. But then something unexpected happened: the path started again, and continued most of the way to my turnoff, and that short section after it ended had a shoulder for me to ride on. Nice.

Justifiably optimistic by this point, I started onto a back road through the forest. I made it about ten metres before my back tire slid out without warning and I very nearly crashed. What the...? Oh, I see. This road is made of sand. And I have several kilometres of this. No longer so optimistic, I thought, 'Ha, I bet the bridge is out and I'll have to come back through all this.' I proceeded through the forest, discovering I was now following Eurovelo 9. Some soft sand, some rideable sand, then an overgrown section with grass and debris. Then the bridge, which was indeed out, being under construction and completely fenced off. Crap. I didn't have to backtrack all the way, but I did have to go another 5km in that forest before I reached a road. I will cautiously conclude that EV9 is not quite ready for the big leagues.

Finally back on a road, I think I took the longest possible route to wherever it was I was going. I'm finding Poland to be nearly impossible to navigate. It's so bad that a driver stopped me--obviously a tourist, Polish people know better than to take loaded bikes on Polish roads--for directions a few days ago. It doesn't help that every fourth village has the same name; I constantly feel like I'm going in circles. It's so bad I can't imagine how anyone actually managed to successfully invade Poland. Well, I suppose I can imagine...

Invader: Pardon me, sir, but could you tell me the way to Warsaw?
Polish man: Why certainly, my good man. Just take a right at Janowo around the loop and back through Domanowice toward Janowo but turn left just before you reach the turnoff to Szerzowo and then go right again on the main road that looks like a secondary road, then cross Janowo and turn around three times before taking the secondary road that looks like a main road--
Invader: Oh dear, that sounds so complicated. However shall I get there?
Polish man: Ha ha, if I had a zloty for every time I heard a tourist say that.
Invader: But sir, it's even worse than that. I'm here on business. My boss expects me in Warsaw by tomorrow evening, and he can get terribly angry when things don't go as expected. I'm a bit worried, actually.
Polish man: Ah, yes, we've all had a boss like that. Might I be so bold as to make a suggestion?
Invader: Certainly, sir.
Polish man: I see you're driving a tank. It would be far more straightforward to simply cut right through all those fields. In fact, the roads being as bad as they are, it would be much easier on your suspension, too.
Invader: Indeed, why didn't I think of that?

I finally got where I was going, to a nice little patch of green on the map, surrounded by farmland. The road was terrible beyond description, and I couldn't imagine anyone making the effort to come disturb my rest. So I set up my tent in the forest, not too far from the road, walked out to watch the sunset, then settled in for the night, listening to the symphony of birds gradually get quieter and lonelier with the fading light. Then it was silent, except for the faint hum of distant machinery and the gentlest of breezes. I slowly drifted off to sleep. And that's when the footsteps started. Crunch, crunch, crunch in the dry leaves on the ground. Crunch, crunch. Deer? Crunch, crunch, snuffle, thud, crunch, crack. Those were certainly not deer. Boars? Are there wild boars in Poland? (Some quick research the next day revealed the answers to be 'yes' and 'yes'.) Whatever they were, they were really noisy. And there were a lot of them. I waited, wide awake. Eventually satisfied they wouldn't try to get in my tent, I tried to sleep. But every time they drifted away and I drifted off, they would come back, crunching in the leaves and sometimes fighting with each other.

Saw a bunch of nests, and several storks that didn't want to be photographed
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Wanted to get a photo of myself sitting here, but no passersby. You'll have to keep waiting!
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Road made of sand
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Leaving the forest without a bridge
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Must have been some fierce competition if the bag of garbage only got 3rd place
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Today's ride: 110 km (68 miles)
Total: 4,023 km (2,498 miles)

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