On a bike - Stockholm to Linz 2015
July 10 - July 30
July 31: Linz
The first day from Prague was tough. I wanted to reach a campsite about 140 km from Prague but I almost gave up that idea. It was very mountainous, I climbed 2000 meters totally and was exhausted when I got to the campsite. Taking a bike weighing 50 kg up the mountains is hard work. Day 19: 143 km.
My last day on this trip was again very hilly. Highest point was at 824 meters above sea level. The last 14 km to Linz was downhill and I reached the highest speed; 51.5 km/h. Day 20: 108 km.
July 28: Prague
The first kilometers from Kudowa was easy because of the downhills, but after a while it was really windy. I had to push it even in the downhills. The sky got darker and it started to rain, I took a paus in a village where I could take cover in a shop. The distance from Kudowa to Prague is about 150 km and I wanted to do 100 of them to get to Prague early the next day. With 50 km left to Prague, I found a campground where I could stay in my tent for the night. Day 15: 103 km.
It was still very windy when I woke up and started for Prague. I think I had my lowest average speed so far. I got to my Hotel in Prague before 2 pm so I had much of the day left to explore the city. Day 16: 53 km.
I’ve had a great time in Prague even though there are too many tourists. I will start the last part of the trip tomorrow and will hopefully be in Linz on Thursday evening.
July 24: Czech border
I enjoyed the two well needed days off the bike I had in Krakow. The first day, I just walked the streets in the old town. On the second day, I took a look at my bike to see that everything was alright. The back tire was worn out so I spent some hours to find a bike shop where I could buy a new. After I had changed the tire I went to the salt mine just outside Krakow. It was really interesting and cool to see the history of the now closed mine, how they worked to get the salt up from hundreds of meters under the ground.
Because of the weather forecast, thunder the whole week, I changed my planned route to Prague. My plan was to make it in 4 days but I decided to take another route and make it in 5 days so that I’m less dependent of the weather. This time I only used my GPS to find the roads to take. On my first day from Krakow I reached Gliwice and I got help from a bike shop to find a cheap place to stay. Day 12: 116 km.
I had much headwind on my second day toward Prague. I stopped for lunch at a McDonalds along the way. The last kilometers were really hard and the sky got darker. I stayed in Nysa at a B&B owned by a very nice couple. Day 13: 116 km.
From Nysa to the Czech border I had tailwind for the first time since Vilnius. It was such a big difference, so much easier. I knew it would be hilly to reach the border. The highest point was at about 670 meters above sea level. I’m now staying at a spa hotel in the city Kudowa Zdroj, just 3 km from the border. Kudowa seems to be very popular among domestic tourists. Day 14: 95 km.
July 20: Krakow
I spent the day in Warsaw doing what tourists do. I even took one of those silly tourist trains to save my tired legs from walking. I also did some shopping, new biking shorts, hopefully better for my butt than my old ones.
I started cycling towards Krakow on Saturday. I took the main road out of Warsaw and after some time it became a highway. I would only need to be on the highway for three kilometers before I would make a turn to a smaller road, but when I had 700 meters left, a police stopped me and told me I couldn’t be on the highway. He asked me three times for money but when I didn’t want to give him money he went back to the car and left me on the highway. The road was much hillier than before and I had headwind the whole day. I arrived in a small town called Konskie and got in to a hotel just before the thunder started. Day 8: 133 km.
I wanted to make it to Krakow on my 9th day so I started early. I took some small roads that Google Maps picked for me, still having headwind. I crossed a little river which you can see in a photo. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than that, I was wrong. I ended up in a swamp with frogs and everything. I tried to find a way around but was almost lost in the forest instead. I had to turn around but before I crossed that small river again I met a guy who was out running. His name was Robert and he showed me a trail to a village from where I could carry on. I had to walk with the bike so it took a long time. We paused to take a bath when we crossed the river. I lost about 2 hours because of Google and my GPS. I have to thank Robert for helping me find the village! At about 3 pm it started to thunder, I went on for a bit but at last the thunder came too close and I had to take cover under a bridge. I was sooo scared, the lightning hit just next to the bridge and the sound was so loud. I stayed there for almost an hour before I could see the sky brighten. I got to the camping in Krakow at about 9 pm. When I had put the tent up it started to thunder and rain really heavily. The soil couldn’t swallow the water so it ran in to the tents. The thunder went on for 5 hours. My worst day, Day 9: 155 km.
I’m now taking two days of rest, then I have to decide if I will carry on. It will be the same weather the whole week and I don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a thunderstorm lasting for hours.
July 17: Warsaw
After one day of rest in Vilnius I started going southwest towards Poland. I took a detour to avoid a long unpaved road. It’s a big difference between cities and the countryside. In Vilnius it felt like any other European city, but the countryside is much poorer and people are not always friendly. New big luxuries houses can be built next to a house that looks like it’s falling apart. The last part to the border was unpaved and took a long time, but I was really happy to see the border sign. I put up my tent next to a lake at the borderline. You can see from the photo that the tent is pretty much on the border. Day 4: 155 km.
So I crossed the border and started for a city called Lomza, halfway from the border to Warsaw. I had headwind the whole day and it was going really slow. When I arrived in Lomza I took the drive In at McDonalds. While I was eating I used the Wifi there to find a hotel. This was the first night not sleeping in my tent. Day 5: 158 km.
I thought it would be a shorter distance to Warsaw than from the border to Lomza, but I had to take a long way around because of the highway the last part in to the city. It was really hard to get to the city central because of road construction so I had to ask for directions. A nice guy guided me for some kilometers until I could find my way with my GPS again. I was really tired and I had to take a break and eat two snickers before I could get to the camping. Day 6: 164 km
Now I’m in Warsaw taking this day off the bike. My butt hurts really badly so I don’t know if I can continue tomorrow. It will be hot here tomorrow and on Sunday there will thunder.
July 13: Vilnius
I began with a boat trip to Riga from where I started the cycling. My plan was to reach Vilnius in Lithuania within four days, but I hoped that I could make it in three. I have planned all routes with Google Maps. It’s not possible to choose “bike” when you search for road directions in Europe, so I took the “by foot” alternative to avoid dangerous highways. It started nice and easy as I had tailwind. When I had reached the first day’s target it was just 5 pm so I thought I could continue for a few more hours. Google had picked some unpaved roads that gave me a hard time. All bags were jumping up and down on the bike. It started to rain and thunder just minutes before I reached a lake where I put up my tent. At 2 am I woke up hearing something from outside the tent. It sounded like someone tried to steal my bike. I opened the tent but couldn’t see anything. It might have been a dream but it was so real there and then. There were a few houses just 200 meters away and I think the people there saw me when I was putting up my tent. I think they ran off when they realized that the bike was locked… but it might just have been a bad dream.
Day 1: 172 km.
The unpaved roads were even worse on my second day. It was not even a road, it was just a trail for horses. I had to walk with the bike for some kilometers. It was much hillier than the first day, I made almost 1000 meter ascent. I was so tired at the end of the day and I just kept thinking of all the food I would eat in Vilnius. At 6 pm I arrived at the Hostel/camping. After a shower I went to the first restaurant I could find and had a pizza. Day 2: 138 km.
I arrived in Vilnius 1-2 days earlier than planned so I took Monday off to “rest”. I walked 20 000 steps according to my phone. On my way to Vilnius I thought that Latvia and Lithuania was really boring countries. It was exactly like I had imagined it. But Vilnius is quite a nice city. There’s so much more to say but we can take that when we meet…