Ahead By A (Metric) Century

By Stephen Ewashkiw | May 16, 2013

1978 km so far.

There I was thinking I would have nothing to write about today.

We rode the short distance from Balatonfüred to the Thiany ferry, which would take us from the peninsula’s point across Balaton to Szántód.

Taking the ferry meant we didn’t have to continue riding around the lake today, so we were only too happy to do it.

The part of the lake the ferry let us avoid.

The part of the lake the ferry let us avoid.

We were joined on the ferry by a teenage couple with a small tent getting away for the Whit weekend (translations: UK: May Bank Holiday, Canada: Victoria Day/May Two-Four), a car of four teenage boys who were hoping (but had no hope) to find anyone of the opposite sex at whatever campground they were headed to, and a few locals with their cars.

We spent quite a bit of time picking our favourite stickers.

We spent quite a bit of time picking our favourite stickers.

As we headed south, with our ultimate destination of Pecs more than a day’s ride away, we cycled through vast fields of farmland. I have never been to Canada’s prairies but I feel I am getting a taste of it in Hungary. The wind really picks up some power across wide-open spaces. It is much harder cycling with the wind pushing you back the whole time (no duh!).

So glad not to have to tackle this bridge in the wind.

So glad not to have to tackle this bridge in the wind.

It is annoying, takes a lot more effort, and is tiring. Plus, the land is so flat you can see that there is no end to the current conditions anywhere near you.

Even so, I was thinking I would have nothing to write about today.

Off Road To Nowhere

We were just riding and riding and despite the wind the day was going pretty well. I was really thinking that all I would have to write about was that we biked a lot.

And then… Pocket Earth wanted to send us down a dirt road again today. We had spotted it on the map earlier and were watching out for it. When the road appeared we decided to give it a try. It was a dry double-track dirt road clearly only used by farmers. Why not give it a shot?

This road looks nice, right?

This road looks nice, right?

We were almost all the way along the dirt track and out the other side to the road again when we met a locked gate. Across the road. What? With no way around we could only go back from whence we’d come.

On the way back, just off the dirt track, Jane’s tire went flat.

It appeared the tube had a long fault in it, but we patched it up nonetheless. This was our first flat of the trip, so after almost 2,000 km that’s not bad going, but it also means we don’t have much experience patching tires. It took a little longer than it should have with this being our first joint flat repair (yes, there was some minor bickering involved), but it seemed to be holding air, so we continued.

Pump it up, pump it up.

Pump it up, pump it up.

If the dirt track hadn’t been locked (!), it would have knocked 13 km off the paved road route, but more importantly it was also cutting out many, many rolling hills. In all, the detour and flat added 23 km and almost 3 hours to our day’s ride.

Push On, Keep Moving

Around 5:30pm, 25 km from Dombóvár we discussed how far we would attempt to go before finding somewhere to camp. We decided we should push on to Dombóvár as it seemed like a fairly large town and would have camping, food, and hotel options when we got there. 10 km later it began to rain. Not hard rain, but enough rain that it was just one more thing to add to the list of annoyances today.

We rolled into Dombóvár as the sun set, making this one of the few days we have cycled in the dark. And it was raining. We found the only hotel in town, and decided to splurge. If we had camped tonight it would have made seven nights straight in the tent, a new record for our trip, which I was looking forward to setting.

And then we mapped our route. What we had initially planned to be about 60 km of biking had turned into 101 km, including all the wind, the repair, the hills, and the rain. No wonder we both so easily agreed to get a hotel room! The good news, of course, is this gets us only a short ride away from Pécs where we will head tomorrow.

Soundtrack: Open Mike Eagle, Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes | Grinderman, Grinderman 2 | The Chain (Spotify playlist) | Wilco, Kicking Television | The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow  

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Mauricio

    Mauricio May 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Excellent, seems that Hungary is really testing you both, but in a good way :-) An update over here on the bike lanes on Figueroa. Seems that the cycling community came out in force last night for the discussion on making dedicated bike lanes, but the opposition is fierce. Will keep you posted. Big hugs from everyone on Great Oak Circle

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