Eastward to Gdansk

2013-05-14: 122 km to Ustka Campground
We set out along the coast with a gentle helping wind. It was a day to turn the pedals. We stopped to cook supper and pedalled on into the evening, having seen two possible campgrounds in Ustka, a sizeable town. As we hunted for one, we were joined by a young (twentyish?) Polish touring cyclist who was on the same quest. We tagged along because of his language skills. He was also equipped to the teeth with navigation technology, and kept stopping to commune with his devices. We found a well-appointed and otherwise empty campground, and dropped into bed as darkness fell.

2013-05-15: 72 km to Woods east of Wicko
Daniel the Polish cyclist was still  in bed as we left. We headed towards Kluki to see an open air museum which showcased traditional lives of the Slovinian minority, descendants  of a tribe who’ve lived along the Baltic lagoons for over 1000 years. Just before arriving at the museum, we stopped at a tiny szlep –a shop– for pierogies, and for the first time the language of communication became rudimentary Russian. It was an older fellow who ran the place, and older people were forced to learn Russian in school.

8hr Hardcore, Bike sign

From the museum, we took an adventurous route that saved us 20 kilometres of riding a more conventional route, but which involved pushing our bikes through a swamp for two kilometres, followed by 6 kilometres of double track on concrete cheese graters. This  traversed marsh and wild meadow. A deer leapt up and bounded away, and we saw some enormous wading birds, several times larger than a stork, which we have yet to identify.

Mud on brakes (memo to self: next bike must have disc brakes)

There was no accommodation in Wicko, so we wild camped up a forest lane, near some modern windmills.

2013-05-16: 92 km to Rumia

Rails to Trails … Polish style

In the morning, we stopped to chat to Monika, a German woman cycling the other way who had started in Latvia. Cyclists we met at our lunchtime pizza stop advised us to ride a section of rail bed, newly done up (with EU money) for cycling. We reached the shoreline of the shallow lagoon formed around Gdansk by a long spit, and wound our way south, opting to ride more directly to Gdansk than along the spit with its limited ferry connections to Gdansk. Some of this was on the R10, here a challenging trail along dunes and more suited to mountain bikes. We found lodgings in Rumia, the beginning of a conurbation that includes Gdansk.

2013-05-17: 40 km to Gdansk
Negotiating the built up area was an interesting challenge, but with knowledgeable advice and maps from the Gdynia tourist office, we made our way via major urban bike lanes to a seawall path, and here we fell into step with a colourful local cycling character named Adam, aged 76, who proudly appointed himself as our guide and pointed out local sights of interest in some combination of Russian and German.

Adam and Margo in Sopot

The weather became hot as blazes as the day progressed, and we became shade-seeking animals. We arrived in Gdansk with me in a pretty faded state, and needing to get into a hostel and lie down.

M

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