Day 4 – Germany to Poland – for real this time
Swatting Elephants, Humility and Rain.
Because I was so disgusted with my miserable 100KMs yesterday I set my alarm for 6:00 to try to get a good run at the day. I was determined to make up for being a big girls shirt. I checked out, and was on the road by 07:30. It was absolutely glorious to be on the Africa Twin, early and feeling like I was ahead of the rest of the world.
Bike Ready to go – 07:30
The goal for the day was to get to Poland. That is 676 KMs to cover. Should be no problem. It was raining from almost the moment I hit the road until I reached Poland.
The German Autobahn is just truck after truck after truck. They trundle along like a wagon-train of elephants, plodding, plodding, plodding. The only reaction they have to me on my tiny bike in the rain is to throw up spray and create even more buffeting than the regular wind is giving me. What is so disheartening is that you pass ten or twenty of these dammed elephants, and it feels a little like swatting flies, each one you pass is a success, each time I ride pass one safely I say ‘yes, I am still alive’, the spray, the buffeting, the blindness and the high pitched whine did not take me this time. Then eventually after an hour or two, you have to stop for a toilet or fuel and you come back out ten to thirty minutes later and you have to swat the same dammed elephants all over again.
Even though the rain was incessant, I was determined not to get sleepy like the previous day and to make Poland before it was too late. Now we all know that performance-enhancing drugs are to be frowned on but I learnt a trick to the shoulder ache I was starting to have and the bit of sleepiness. I took one soluble Solpadine. We all know, most of the young Mammies in Ireland can empty a box load of Solpadine in the course of a single coffee morning, so me with my one tablet should probably be ok. Well guess what, it works. About 15 mins after taking it, my speed picked up and my judgement felt razor sharp. I attacked a few more of those trucks with glee and felt that I could conquer the German Autobahn. Riding one, slowly but surely the autobahn wins though, it just seems to never, ever end. Eventually the Solpadine wears off and you feel humble again and you know you had five minutes of conquering but the autobahn is the champion.
What is nice to see when you drive across Germany is the long haul to get to Hanover; it feels like you are riding up hill for hundreds of KMs. Eventually you start seeing signs for Berlin and you start to descend again and the whole place changes. You come across new roads only built since 1990 and you realise you are entering former East Germany. It is a relief after the crowded cities earlier in the journey.
Then finally, when you get past Berlin, you start to see forest and it feels like the air changes, you can almost sense Poland is in shooting distance.
Rain, Rain, Rain
I crossed into Poland in plenty of time and went looking for a hotel. I did a bike trip on this route ten years ago, so I had a go at finding the same hotel as last time. I remembered it as a big marble, luxurious affair. It took about an hour or so to find it, still all the time driving in the rain. Seems my memory is over generous, it is a small tiled hotel, no marble and definitely not luxurious. I checked in and got a room up two flights of stairs (happy not). I had a Polish Goulash for dinner and a single pint of beer. I was in bed by 20:30 and set my alarm for 05:00 this time.
My father had an expression that he said when he saw something interesting, it went
“The quare things you’d see when you’re out and your wouldn’t have your gun with you”.
Of course it originated with men walking in the forest and seeing birds or game and being disappointed you could not take it home. He used to sometimes mutter that also when driving along and seeing a pretty girl. As a young teenager I used to be embarrassed and disgusted but as I grew older I knew that it is a great expression and apt in the right situation. The Peugeot in the following pics reminded me of that expression, I did wish I could take that car home.
A Quare Thing