A bike ride to remember…

Originally uploaded by eva_p

We stayed around 5 days in the region of Gdansk. One day we decided to take a bike ride on the Hel peninsula, which is a very narrow peninsula in northern Poland, about 35 km long, in the Baltic Sea. We went to rent bikes at the one and only place in the whole region, which happened to be close to the place we were staying (we were couchsurfing with Anna). We got some not too bad looking bikes from the guy, the brakes were fine and more than half the gears seemed to work, so we set off for our trip. We managed to get the 2 trains that took us to Hel, where we arrived around lunchtime in perfect sunshine. After a quick look at the easternmost tip (a beautiful beach) we went to look for a restaurant for lunch….. and then there was something wrong with my bike. Flat tire. Ok…. after lunch we pushed the bikes a bit and came to a shop where they sold bikes and had a good pump. Fortunately I had some patches to repair the air chamber, we found the hole (which was big), repaired it and finally set off on our bikes.
After about 20 minutes, again…. my tire was flat. By then we were on a (very nice) path in the middle of nowhere, which meant walking for about an hour pushing the bikes until we arrived to a gas station. We gesticulated to the owner that we needed air in the tire and hoped to find some tools to take the wheel off (to have a closer look at the hole) but he was just closing his gas station so he quickly filled the tire with air, listened to it, said it was “ok” and we understood that for him the problem was solved (mainly because he wanted to close his station on time…).
We went on some more, me trying to put most of my weight on the front wheel, which made the air go out more slowly. At the next village we asked for a bike store and found one with the help of some nice people in the street. When I asked for “reparatura rowerowa” the answer was “maybe tomorrow” (this is a phrase that you have to get used to in Poland…). I said “oh no, now!” and the guy agreed to let us use his pump. So we fixed the same hole again, hoping this time would be ok, while the guy phoned his brother who seemed to be a bike mechanic and who had at least a sense of business: he offered to fix the bike with a new air chamber for 30 Zloti. We declined (as it was just a rental bike and already cost 30 Zloti) and went on.
At least we were recompensated by a superb view of the sea (see the picture), with water birds taking off from the water and a beautiful late afternoon light.
We decided to forget about cycling for the rest of the day and took the train back. Good idea, because when we arrived in Gdansk the air was out of the tire again…..
The guy at the bike rental just looked at us with big eyes, “I don’t understand!”, and got less money for the bike than agreed…. (I didn’t really leave him any choice…).

So this was not one of the best days, although the region was a beauty. And the next day we were compensated with a really nice bike ride with Anna, on better (but not perfect) bikes.