A Break From The City

By Stephen Ewashkiw | July 20, 2013

4359 km so far.

We rode out of Rīga this morning and the wind was already howling around us. I was sad to go, as there is still much I wanted to see and do, but I know I will be back. Hopefully next time I will get to ride up to Kolka, spend a few hours in a sauna, and visit the central market properly.

Berry Delicious

Not far out of the city, around a town I took to calling Meat Cave (Carnikava in Latvijan), we stopped for a bathroom break in one of the magnificent pine forests that appeared as soon as we left the city. As with most of the pine forests here, this one was carpeted with blueberry bushes, and it is blueberry season.

While we were stopped, we ate second breakfast, which was a couple of pastries Jane had picked up at the grocery store, along with a few handfuls of delicious wild blueberries. Yum!

Picking blueberries just outside of Riga.

Picking blueberries just outside of Riga.

Just after we started up again, we met another cyclist, Ilvars, who cycled up beside me and said hi, asking where we were from. He was out for a Saturday ride from Rīga and rode with us for a while as we chatted about bike touring and Latvija. He has done quite a bit of touring, and is planning a Baltic Sea to the Black Sea trip for next year, travelling through Belarus and Ukraine to reach the coast. Sounds like terrific trip.

He was most impressed with Jane, and her fully loaded bike, saying his girlfriend would never agree to such an undertaking. When I told him it was her idea, his level of respect climbed even higher.

He was also telling me that each year Latvijan roads get a bit safer for cyclists. More people are taking up cycling every year, which doesn’t surprise us in such a beautiful country. With so much coast close by, and an almost completely flat landscape, we’re surprised everyone isn’t always out on their bikes.

Positivusly Packed

This was good news for us, as just then we parted and headed north along the A1. The route north towards Tallinn has one real option, and it is the A1. This being the weekend of Positivus, and Positivus being 100 km north along this road, it felt as if all of Latvija drove by us today. Fortunately there is a wide shoulder, but unfortunately there is an odd local custom where slower cars drive mostly in the shoulder so the faster cars can pass them. It was never a problem, but our imaginations could easily concoct a few scary scenarios.

It also seemed as if all the police in Latvija were on the road today, looking for speeders, and presumably hoping to prevent any drunk driving on the way to the music festival.

Sleepy Stephen

I didn’t get a great sleep last night, and so I was dragging today. It was as if I never properly woke up. This afternoon I was really not enjoying the ride. The weather turned out to be much better than we’d expected, and the wind wasn’t as terrible as we thought it could be. Most of the ride we were protected by forest today, so despite the strong winds in the tree tops, we didn’t feel much of it. When it managed to find its way to us though, it was fierce, knocking what wind my sails had managed to collect all the way back to Rīga.

There was only one point in the ride where I perked up a little…

stephen and Baron Munchausen statue

Stephen catching a lift with Baron Munchausen and his cannonball.

Finally, well, it felt like finally to me, but Jane had quite a pleasant ride today, we reached the campground. Jūrasdzeņi camping is a simple spot, most of it set aside for tents, and right on the edge of Latvija’s other Western Baltic coast. The waves are impressive as the wind tosses the water around, and kite surfers are out making the most of it.

camping on the beach in latvia

Our prettiest campsite yet, just north of Riga.

Jane graciously set camp and also set about getting dinner started while I crashed out and finally got a bit more rest. This made her evening much more pleasant as I ended the day less like a zombie and more like my old self.

I really love being in cities but find they are much more exhausting than the time we spend with our tents, in the countryside, with early bed times and the wind and birds as our company.  

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