Today was our first day cycling in Poland and also really hard, as it rained for most of the day and we exhausted ourselves with a 98km ride.
We crossed the border from Germany into Poland at the river, about 2km from the cloister where we were staying. We took the 357 to Lubin via Wlosien on fairly busy roads. We kept on hearing cuckoos for most of the morning.
We stopped in Lubin and bought strawberries from an outdoor stand. The woman at the stand directed us to the tourist info. I waited outside while Kris went in. It was still not really raining, only dripping and getting cold, so I put my rain jacket on. Kris got a brochure about a bicycle route from Lwowek Slaski to Zlotoryja (our destination) at the tourist info and we decided to try it. We would have liked a coffee, but after riding around for a bit we couldn’t find a cafe, so decided to press on.
We worked our way over small country roads to Gosciszow and then to Lwowek Slaski, the start of the bicycle route. We discovered that the bicycle route is not an off road route at all, but rather a route along small country roads (in fact, I think we had been on some bicycle routes already as we saw little bicycle signs painted on trees along the way). Our route took us through the small towns of Dworek, Sobata, Twardocice and Pielgrzyroka. Some parts were lovely, riding along tree lined country roads – but were a bit spoilt by the rain which got heavier in the afternoon until we were soaked.
We noticed a striking ruined church at Twardocice and stopped to take a quick photo in the rain. There were plants growing on top of the walls and an overflowing recycling bin was situated beside it. Later I found out on the internet that this is the home town and ruins of a large evangelical church associated with the followers of Schwenckfeld Caspar von Ossing, a 16th century disciple of Martin Luther. His followers were persecuted in the 18th century and 500 left at night with only the clothes on their backs. They made their way to Netherlands, where Mennonites gave them shelter and financed a trip by boat to America, where they settled in Pennsylvania and still exist today.
We departed from the cycle trail to take a more direct route to Zlotoryja, our final destination, as we tired and wet. This took us along a busy road with no shoulder, alongside a ploughed field. I heard something fall off my bike and shouted to Kris to stop. He did but misjudged the edge of the road/ field and put his foot down on a steep grassy slope which dropped about 3m to the ploughed field below. Much to my dismay he went sliding down the slope with his bike! I had to help Kris pull his bike up the slope again. Luckily the bike was fine. Kris was also lucky in that he was not more seriously injured, though he did hurt his arm.
So we entered Zlotoryja soaking, muddy and worse for wear. We stopped at a supermarket as usual and Kris bought heaps of good food and some wine. We then quickly located a hotel nearby. It was a lovely, warm, modern, comfortable hotel – more than we would usually expect to pay but well worth it!