2024 km so far.
We both woke up tired after our 100 km plus ferry plus flat tire ride yesterday. But, with only 47 km to go to Pecs, we figured it would be an easy day.
The room rate included breakfast, which is almost never a good thing. We’d much rather eat our homemade muesli and the soy milk that we’ve been carrying around with us. This morning’s breakfast, which read bread, jam, and cheese on the menu came served with some bonus slices of 1970s sandwich meat. It had little chopped up bits of red and yellow peppers sprinkled through it and the meat was a pasty pinkish colour. Even if I wasn’t a vegetarian, I never would’ve eaten it.
At least bad breakfast means we don’t linger. We wheeled our bikes out of the hotel nice and early only to discover that my front tire was completely flat again. Clearly yesterday’s patch hadn’t stuck.
This time we replaced the tube with one of our spares and no bickering ensued.
Lend Us Your Bike Paths
From what we’ve seen of Hungary so far, we’d be excused for thinking it is just one huge windy farm. We’ve seen nothing but field after field of wheat, corn, and rapeseed.
Every once in a while the gorgeous view is broken up by a large-scale animal farm – not quite a factory farm, but by far the closest thing we’ve seen since we left America.
Even so, every once in a while a tidy, lined bike path emerges beside the highway, as if from nowhere. We swerve to get on and marvel at the reasoning behind it. To our eyes there is nothing around but an empty road running through farmland and then suddenly, there is an empty road running through farmland with a bike path alongside it. Even more marvellous, we always end up passing farmers and other locals blithely riding along the route.
The logic astounds us even more when we remember that our friends back home are unable to get the city to put in a bike lane on Figueroa, which is a heavily trafficked, plenty wide, kind of scary road that runs from downtown LA to Highland Park, our old neighbourhood. Maybe LA could borrow some bike paths from Hungary.
Just as suddenly as these rural bike paths appear, they disappear, spitting us back out on the highway in seemingly random places.
Not long after one of these mysterious disappearances, Stephen informed me we had now ridden more than 2,000 km!
Great Plain, My Ass!
The other remarkable thing we’ve noticed on the highways in this area is the killer hills. Just like the bike paths, you never see them coming, but all of a sudden the bike feels very heavy and you notice you’re looking up at the sky.
In several places today, trucks struggled up the road beside us, barely going faster than us because of the steep grade. I’m not ashamed to say there was one hill where I had to get off and walk, and one hill, just outside of Pecs, where I had to rest twice on the way up, since it went on for kilometres.
From the maps, I gather we are supposed to be on something called the Great Plain, but I’m not sure what has become of it. Maybe we need to head just a little further east.
Bikes, Bars, and Beds
We had no real idea what to expect from Pecs, but we’re pleasantly surprised so far. It’s the first actual city we’ve been in in Hungary, and the first time the number of Hungarians outpaces the number of Germans around.
Our hostel is old school, nothing like the modern ultra-designed places we stayed at in Slovenia. Still, it couldn’t be more centrally located, and it has a homey feel we didn’t get in the hi-tech places. We also received a warm welcome from Mirko, the man running this joint, who, as it turns out, is a cycling fanatic and yogi.
He recommended a “biker bar” for us to check out. I was kind of expecting somewhere with rough-looking people in leathers, but instead it was full of young people with bicycles.
We drank local beers and ignored each other as we caught up on the internet to the soundtrack of Tricky on the bar stereo. When Stephen went to pay, the bartender said, “You’re cycling from Rome to Russia, right?”
At last, we are famous in Hungary. ♥