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Tour "Around The Baltic Sea" report - Report 1; Miedzydroje; 7th July 2006 (2006)
Robert Laing (Szkocki Bob)

Hi and Welcome to BalticCycle 2006. This year’s major event is a 10-week ride anti-clockwise round the Baltic Sea starting and finishing at Copenhagen. The route will roughly follow Euro Velo Route 10 for approximately 4000 km through nine countries. As in 2004 and 2005 the Ride Leader is Sigitas Kucas.

On the evening before the official start day several of us cycled down to the port to welcome some of the Polish riders and the support vehicle off the ferry from Gdansk. Several old friends I remember from BC 2004; Krzysztof and his son Michal (who seems to have grown many centimetres since I saw him last), plus the lovely Monika and her 9, yes nine, pieces of luggage including party dresses and laptop computer! Also Horst and Michael from Germany also arrived separately. A quick tour to visit the Little Mermaid was followed by Guinness in the Dubliner Irish Pub.

Friday, 30th June, Day 1 of BalticCycle 2006. Instructions from Sigitas the evening before were to assemble at the Town Hall at 10am for the start-of-the-ride group photograph. Everyone finally there by 11am so BC2006 eventually got started in traditional BalticCycle time only one hour behind schedule!

Copenhagen is an excellent example of a cycling-friendly city, although as in many large cities finding the way out, despite excellent cycleways, gave some problems. But Baltic cyclists can cope and all made it eventually to a small select campsite situated in a Nature Reserve overlooking the Baltic Sea. Unfortunately it was so small and select and remote there was great difficulty in locating a TV to watch world cup football. Eventually found the only public TV in the nearby village at the back of a pizza parlour so watched Italy v Ukraine eating pizza instead of drinking beer. Later was the first of many stunning sunsets – all pinks and greens and mauve - superb. Next day was better organised for watching world cup football and managed to see Portugal v England and France v Brazil.

Cycling has been very easy so far as there has genuinely been no hills. The countryside everywhere in Denmark was very green but not very interesting. However the weather so far has been brilliant; all blue, cloudless skies and sunshine. Local weather experts say the good weather is because the wind is coming from the east. So we hope for an east wind to bring fine weather which unfortunately has a downside – we may have to cycle against the wind all the way to St Petersburg!

While waiting for the ferry to cross from Denmark to Germany Sigitas saw me writing some diary notes and volunteered me to write some BalticCycle news in English while Monika writes the Polish version. Monika also has other duties on the tour working as Translator, bossing our driver Andrew, and hopefully successfully organising our visas for Russia.

Everyday more people join and others I remember from 2 years ago include Tomas and Peter from Germany and Anna from Austria. At Rostock we were 9 from Poland, 9 from Germany, 5 from Lithuania, one Latvian, one Englishman and your scribe, Szkocki Bob. More have since joined and today, the first day in Poland, we expect another 20 Polish people.

Peter was our guide through Germany but he had a bad start getting us out of Radstock which resulted in another classic BalticCycle SNAFU (Situation Normal – All Fouled Up [or choose your own F-word]). We got organised to leave altogether as a group – which we did. Only to almost immediately cycle into roadworks and diversions which soon resulted in the plan falling apart. Fortunately Baltic cyclists are resourceful and after many roadside map-reading meetings we eventually all came together again heading in the right direction. Peter redeemed himself from then on by chalking arrows on the road to mark the route which avoided lots of time-consuming roadside map-reading conferences. Also he organised fresh bread delivered every morning for breakfast.

The days so far have been mostly cycling with frequent stops to shop, picnic, eat ice cream and/or drink beer while sheltering from the sun and heat as high as 37 degrees. We hope the cultural visits will start in Poland.

On Thursday, 6th July, we crossed into Poland and today, 7th July, is a rest day at Miedzyzdroje and the first real opportunity to do some washing and bring you news of BalticCycle 2006. More on the next rest day at Gdansk.