Greetings from Plonsk, Poland. Today was our second day of riding. Yesterday (Częstochowa to Brzeziny) we did 87 miles. Today, 62 for me: Instead of riding the last 19, I got a ride with the support vehicle because I spent about 12 miles in heavy winds on a highway with no shoulder on which there were mostly trucks pacing at about 18 miles an hour (the normal speed for the group is about 14 miles an hour). I wanted to see if I could keep up with the fast riders, and I could. The last 19 miles to Plonsk would have been fairly easy, but I was put off by the idea of getting a flat tire on the side of the highway. Tomorrow we will ride about 80 miles, but I don’t know the name of the destination. I feel surprisingly great! My legs are doing better than I thought. The only pain I’ve got is in my left wrist, despite wearing gloves. I have some road rash on my leg but it’s scabbed now.
The group I’m riding with is on a pilgrimage. They started in Fatima, Portugal and we’ll end the pilgrimage with them in šiluva, Lithuania, where they will assemble pieces of a cross that they’ve each carried for the whole trip. The whole thing is led by a priest, which is why we’re staying in churches and going to mass at 7 a.m. every morning. Everyone is very serious about crossing themselves and kneeling when they enter the worship spaces. I feel offensive doing that, since I’m not Catholic, but I’m trying to focus during mass and ask ambiguous higher powers to spare us from injuries/flat tires/mechanical errors.
Lithuanian is impossible to understand and only a few people speak a bit of Polish, so there’s lots of hand-talking; only two people speak English well. But it’s fun, and everyone has been amused by my tiny bike. They didn’t think I could keep up, but one guy who’s into different types of bikes told the group that Bromptons are serious business. Insofar mine’s been great. I miss my road bike, but I think that’s because it’s my favorite bike.
The weather is perfect—low 70s, cool breeze, sunny; I’m barely sweating—but the headwinds are very strong sometimes. Aside from that 12 miles today, we’ve been on quieter national roads, which are very well-paved. Polish drivers are much more polite than American drivers.
So we wake up at 6:30, go to mass at 7, eat breakfast, get on the road by 8:30, end by 7:30 at the latest, shower, eat dinner, drink some beer, and go to sleep. At Carrefour (the supermarket) tonight I bought matzoh, chocolate, sesame crackers, pumpkin seeds, apples, and some Czech lager. (I have never seen so much chocolate and candy in American grocery stores!) We eat snacks on the road during the day, but for meals (provided by the churches), we eat in-season vegetables, bread, cheese, cold meats, and sometimes cooked sausage. If all sausage and mustard at home tasted like it did here, I’d have a new favorite food. On the road today we had canned fish like sardines but milder and better. And before the fast-paced part of today’s ride, I took a shot of an herbal liqueur like schnapps called Triple 9. I think it helped? So: I’ve eaten pretty well.
I think that’s it. We’ve got five more days, and I’ll write when I can/have more to say.
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