Tuesday 8 November 2011

Baltic Slug

nice fellows at lunch in Lithuania
I am beginning to think that the color of the sky here in the north eastern Europe is actually grey. The conversation would go as follows. Hey Fred, hey mike, great weather we are having. I know mate, I looked out over the lapping waves of the Baltic sea today and I could barely see anything. just multiple shades of grey..... It is true however that there is a certain beauty to behold when the sun does glint through the thick stratus clouds and warms the disjointed secondary roads that we a have been following for the last week or so.

Doris waiting at the Baltic, Lithuania
Joy and I thought we would be clever and follow cycle path that cuts along the ocean but what we found was hands down the most challenging road I have come to thus far. Its fair to say that I have had my fair share of challenging riding and it is a testament to Doris that she is still ridable at this stage of the game. This road being that it was only meters back from the beautiful exposed beach was of course very sandy and in places far to deep to ride. We took our chances on a path that led away from the beach but it introduced us to a grassy road with hidden bogs lurking just under the green surface. These sometimes caught us weary bike riders off guard and at one point Doris sunk up to her hubs with little more than a squelch of warning. Once through this smelly watery mess we made a farm crossing that was so riddled with pig scratchings and cattle hoof divots that it was akin to riding over a large golf ball. At least I think it would be. And thus, out the other side we popped into Latvia and headed for Riga where we are now.

a slippery bridge
Doris has taken some TlC after breaking a pedal which I managed to completely open only to discover that the bearings were so worn they were not even round. In fact if you took a peanut M&M and dropped it from a mouth height it may start to look like these particular bearings did. Needless to say I bought a new set against my will only to discover that my foot cages would not fit until I found and used a discarded fan belt and manipulated it to my needs.

Start of the worst road ever
After a quick dip in the rather refreshing Baltic to continue my quest to swim on all sides of the Eastern Europe land mass we made a camp in the sparse pine trees adorning the coast but close enough that the refreshing and beautiful smells and sounds so familiar to the coast dweller I once was. It is great to be back where the sand is beneath ones feet and the foamy water tickles at ones toes.

 Further to my trying to fit in with the locals, as well as learning what words I can when I get into a country I am growing what I have termed a Baltic Slug. That is to say I have shaved my delicate face with the exception of a slug or soup strainer as it were above my upper lip. I have been known to give a cheeky cheer when I see a local (often swigging from a plastic bottle of beer) when they are also sporting the same facial do.

Joy and I have the good fortune to ask some lovely small towner's if we could use their fishing hut to get out of the wind for lunch. After they had created a bench and a couple of chairs by lugging large freshly cut rounds of wood under the awning they took off in their car to return a few moments later with hot water in a flask, arabian coffee and a micky of brandy to wash back the chills of the afternoon.
Riga, just in case you did not know

The weather has been extremely friendly considering the day time temperatures are and have been hovering between 0-5deg. I continue to be told by animated locals that it is uncommon for the ground to be clear of snow at this time of year so I hope we can continue to keep dodging that bullet.

Life on the road continues tomorrow. We head from Riga north to Tallinn, Estonia and get the ferry to Stockholm heading west to London where the trip is scheduled at this stage to be completed. There is however another plan in the works so I will keep the world of my blog posted as the plan formulates.

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