Lubsko - Giro d'Italia 2007

     Day 1. So it begun. I had memories of the previous trips all in my head. I tried to ride and relax although it is really difficult to do so when the wind is blowing right into your face and it is raining. The first kilometers are like getting to know your bike which with the luggage placed on a special mounting (it was an idea of a professional MrAntoni running a bicycle shop, called WANPOL, in Lubsko). The loaded bicycle is very difficult to ride, I mean maintaining balance, especially when stepping on the pedals. The worst was the fact that after 60 kilometers a spoke broke in the rear wheel. I noticed it right away and fixed it quickly, circa 1 hour, luckily for me the spoke was not at the ratchet side.

I make a few stops for rest, I lost a bicycle lock . I would have not noticed it but a stranger in a car slowed down and had showed it to me. I was really grateful. After that I thought to myself, I am fed up with such adventures for today.

So far I have been saving energy. Having considered different scenarios I made up my mind and decided that the best for me and my health would be to have shorter daily stages as I had originally thought of (circa 150 km). Moreover, this would allow me to reach my destination - Pinerolo and await the Giro d'Italia cyclists only for two days not six as according to the maps and my calculations of the daily stages that I had prepared.

I spend the night in a resort in a really small town in Czech Republic. The hosts are really nice, the place in perfect order and the price is a real bargain, compared to others that I would pay later on. 

     Day 2. 

Since now the elevations become a regular part of my journey. The are not tough yet, none of them longer that one kilometer but there are dozens of them, my way reminds me of moguls not only because of the shape of the landscape around but also because of the poor condition of the very road - the ruts. I head for Ceska Lipa, Louny, Rakovnik. Luckily, this day I did not have any breakdown. I pass a few cyclists who prefer slower pace without any luggage, surely they are local folks.

I decide that the town of Hredle is a good place for today's rest. By some coincidence I have the luck to spend this night at a Polish-Czech marriage for free. I spent the evening talking about Poland, me and the life in Czech Republic, I have an opportunity to try and taste delicious Czech cuisine plus a few sips of refreshing beer, straight from the keg, served by the host. I fall asleep at about 11pm. 

     Day 3.

More and more elevations, this time they do not exceed three kilome of eters in length each. I make two 20 minute pauses (one in a forest and the other on a clearing. I devour my “energy” food (chocolate, halva, a banana and a roll with jam). I am looking forward to having better weather, so far it is only a wish because heavy clouds are over my head and there are occasional showers, I am feeling OK, my health is good. I stop for the night at a hotel; they serve pancakes for the supper. I am thinking over the next stage. Sometimes I feel some kind of inner strength and peace before facing the challenges that are ahead. 

     Day 4. 

Those uphill stretches are just a mere prelude to those that I am going to struggle with in the Alps. The first 100 kilometers come without a single flat parts. My calves do not seem exactly right today they are feeling about to cramp which worries me quite much but I am keeping a good and even rhythm, just not allowing the pain to take over my mind. I am riding in the direction of the historical Passau, which is in lower Bayern, where three rivers meet: DonauInn and Iiz. I take whose series of pictures, I visit St. Stephan's Cathedral built in 1662. I learn that the church has the biggest organ, 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. I really enjoy the picturesque landscape. My next destination is Scharding, but I will hit the road the next day, for the time being I am staying at a beautiful village called Suben. I guess that I am a really lucky one, once again I meet an interesting and a decent man whose name is Reinhard, I spend the night at his place. His hospitability is really extraordinary, he takes me to an old gothic church to witness a quire rehearsal for the Sunday mass, I am really under impression, next, go to his house through a wonderful old park. There is a pond in the center of the park, it is surrounded by dozens kinds of trees and hundreds of different flowers. The sunset gives the pond's surface a magnificent look. After the dusk we go home and have an interesting conversation.

     Day 5.

The sun is shining, even burning, all the day. The weather is similar to that of the end of spring and beginning of summer, I consider it as a good sign. The road is easy, no hills, only plain terrain for the first 80 km, later on some small hill that I would grade "a piece of cake”, moreover, I take some minor roads to avoid traffic. It is simple as that, the less trucks the safer I am, I do not have to worry about my safety. The roads are in really good condition I hope we have such as these in Poland some day. I very often ask people for directions, they are really nice and willing to help. I keep passing other cyclists, who train in this area, plus I meet some roller-ski users, I guess that they may be training before the winter season comes. As I already have said, the roads are really good plus there are lots of roads for bicycles only, I come across whole families there. That is a really beautiful view, I would like to witness similar things in Poland, maybe one day...

I stop for the night at a really nice family who run a hotel, the only one speaking English is their daughter, at the beginning I learn that room rate is 15 Euro, but after a few hours the owner says : nicht Geld!" The room is awesome there is even a balcony with magnificent view. I have a long shower later, I go downstairs to the kitchen and I am trying to talk with my hosts, time flies, I have to go to sleep.

    Day 6. 
I wake up at the sound of rain, heavy raindrops are hitting the window, it is about 8,30 AM. I wash, get dressed and go downstairs. I suffer from knee ache and I ask the owners if I can stay one day more, this time I insist on paying the bill but again I hear "nicht Geld", this makes me happy I must be lucky. I take the opportunity have a walk. In the meantime, I am sending text messages to my family and friends and taking a lot of pictures. I am fully enjoying warm sun, everything seems so lazy and slow, and everything happens without any haste, this is the rest I need after having gone 800 kilometers. Rebuilding energy is something crucial. I spend almost two hours walking, and then I return and help the housewife at her daily chores and duties. After the supper I have a chance to watch Robert Kubica during F1 Grand Prix qualifications  in Spain. I go to bet at about 9 PM. I am thinking about the next day, my lucky trip to Italy and my health; I hope I do not have any injuries. Tomorrow's thirteen will be lucky one.

    Day 7.
The weather is nice, almost as in the summer. Unfortunately the wind is blowing right into my face and keeps slowing me down. I go up and down small hills through 85 kilometers and I am feeling pretty well. With a smile on my face I am riding without any effort. I quickly find out that yesterday’s pause was a great idea, my calves do not hurt at all. I am heading towards Kuffstein, Schwaz and Innsbruck. I take a lot of photos during my way. I stay longer in Innsbruck. I am having a delicious pizza and coke. I am going to see Bergiesel Ski Jump but the ticket price is far too expensive for me. I stop for rest in small cafe in a some beautiful village, the Italian border is only 6 kilometers away. I meet an elderly couple, we chat in English. They appreciate my achievements. The man mentioned that a long time ago, when he was young, he also loved cycling. He told me that he used to ride a steel bicycle called Bianchi. His story about his adventure with cycling really made a huge impression on me. Well, there are still six kilometers to go to reach Austrian - Italian border, I quickly reach it.

There is nothing but a small sign on a one of the buildings that informs me that I am in Italy now. The road begins to go down. I am going to Sterzing–Vipiteno, I am staying there for two days. My plans for the next day are simple: a long and tough ride uphill - the famous Passo dello Stelvio, but I am going to do it without any luggage on my bike. Unfortunately the reality turns out to be quite the opposite. I reach my destination at about 7:15 pm, luckily two young people direct me to Haus Hilbe hotel I am staying there for two days. The owner as reasonable prices, no breakfast, only bed for 15 Euro per day, this is the lowest price I can get.

     Day 8. 
I am in really high mountains, my average speed is 20km/h, it is slow but the most important is the fact that I rise to this challenge. I start and ride quite fast. I attack the mountain pass Passo monte Giovo (2094 meters above sea level). I am riding fully convinced and sure that I will make it to the top of Passo dello Stelvio, therefore my biggest surprise when I find out at a roadside bar, while having a not so good omelet, that there is 70 kilometers more to go. I look at my watch and it is almost 2 pm. I call it a day I will not be able to do it today, I feel bitter. I have to turn back and go down all along the same road. Nevertheless, I do not consider this day a great loss or failure because any training in the high mountains means stronger legs. I am riding lazily and take loads of photos, for the second time I am riding through picturesque Rifiano and head for Passo Giovo. This time I have to climb the other side, which was a way down not so long time ago. I do not notice any difference but for the weather, it is getting worse. The wind and the rain make me put on all the clothes I have, plus, I am running out of food which is crucial for efficient cycling in the mountains. In the final part of my uphill climbing I feel exhausted, my legs are really weak. I reach the summit, I am cold, exhausted and hungry like a beast. I am resting for some time in a bar. I am having a piece of cake and milk, next I ride to Vipiteno.

     Day 9.

I wake up after dead sleeping 9 hours during which at a terrible cramp in thigh biceps wakes me up. I look through the window and all I can see is only a raging storm outside, the raindrops are hitting loudly the panes in the window. My first idea is to wait till the storm ends and then go, but the weather is only getting worse. After two hours I come to the conclusion that today is not a good day for riding and I give up, the only positive aspect of this decision is the fact that my muscles and joints are in need of a decent good rest. Having studied the map I go out for shopping that will enable my survival here. I buy a loaf of bread, butter, jam and bananas (for tomorrow), juice and chocolate. I got a lot of time for thinking and regenerating my whole body.

The rain stops in the afternoon, so I go walking in the neighborhood, I can see magnificent landscape all around. I am under the impression of the old, small, and restored tenements that have this "fairytale" look. Admiring beautiful architecture and design makes me wonder when they were built. All this together composes perfectly. I move along narrow and carefully cobwebbed streets. I am enjoying fresh mountain air and send text messages to friends. I spend some time in the garage to pump tires, oil the chain and replace rear brake pads with new ones. In the evening, I am having a light supper, recharge the batteries in my phone and camera, and eventually go to bed at half past ten. I must leave tomorrow at all cost because I may fall behind my schedule.

     Day 10.

The beginning is really fast. The morning air is very chill but it is sunny, I look forward to late spring weather this day. The terrain is flat as I ride the first 80 kilometers, next are hills. The eighty-eighth kilometer marks the beginning of climbing Passo de Mendola whose top is at 1363 meters above the sea level. It may not seem very high but it is really misleading, the average grade of the slope is 6% and the maximum is 10%. I make a stop and admire the view three kilometers before reaching the top. After a moment, I get back on my bicycle again and go up again. Having ridden one kilometer a stumble upon a barrier, with a note saying that trespassing is forbidden from 8 am to 6 pm, there also a man who looks after it and the barrier and he does not allow me to pass. I am trying to explain and beg that this is the only way, nothing can convince him, and he only keeps pointing at the note. I loose my temper, I grab my bike and cross the barrier. This does not go without being noticed, the man makes a phone call, I guess that he may be calling the police, I am getting worried a bit but soon I am too tired to be anxious any more. I reach the summit quickly and in good shape. It is time for short brake to rest and have something to eat (jam, rolls and a chocolate bar) I refill the water bottles and have a quick glance at the map. Finally, there is some road that goes down, I take the opportunity and relax my neck and legs plus regain energy and motivation to struggle with forthcoming mountains. I spend the night at a small local hotel where I meet kind people. 
 

     Day 11.

This is a real plunge-in. After a few kilometers of flat road I stop and do shopping at a roadside market, then go climbing Passo de Tonale. The way up is completely different than Passo Mendola, mainly it is far much longer. Later on, I go to the famous Aprica, the finish line of last year's Giro d’Italia's stage. Contrary to professionals I choose the easier way up. When going down I meet many brave cyclists who slowly and arduously are climbing up this 10 kilometers long stage whose grade reaches 10%. During reckless and risky way down the pass I take many photos and I meet two bikers whom I give the cards that I have taken with me. I reach the town ofTirano(there was the finish line of this Giro’s stage) at about 5 pm. After many trials I finally meet a young beautiful lady who agrees to help me in finding a cheap place for the night. It turns out that she has a friend, a Polish girl, who works in a nearby hotel named Corona, luckily. I am able to stay there for two nights and pay only for one. Only a hot bath before going to bed plus a short walk in the nice town and I call my mom.

     Day 12.

I will never forget this day. But let's start from the beginning. The sun, the unbearable heat -even in the morning, I am about to face the famous Passo dello Stelvio (2757 AMSL), this is the top third asphalt uphill stretch in Europe. I face real difficulties at the very beginning. First three kilometers whose grade above 10%, at times it reaches 15%. On my way there I violate a few NO ENTRY signs. The road that used to be a one of the stages of the Giro, now it is closed but it does not prevent me from making my dreams come true. Every next sign makes me more nervous but this feeling passes away as I get more and more tired, indeed sometimes it is almost too hard. The road surface - asphalt is damaged, I am riding on gravel, luckily my bicycle endures such a kind of road. I go through many dark and dangerous tunnels, one does not know what exactly is inside. Every time when I leave those concrete constructions I can see beautiful alpine landscape. There is 10 kilometers to reach the top and the road begins resembling the well-known L’Alpe d’Huez. There are dozens of bends that reach 90% and they look like asphalt shelves. I feel a great relief when I look back, all that is behind me but what is ahead? There are a lot of more similar to those that I have seen before. The road has longer straight stretches that end with a bend. My legs are getting weaker, I am considering a short stop for a while, I am trying to ride lightly not to push hard but at high pace. I meet two brave cyclists who contrary to me are going down, I am getting a bit jealous, I wish I would be in their shoes. I know I can make it. Beautiful and wild mountains surround me. Their tops seem to be in my arm's reach when I look at them. There is a sign painted on the road "5 km", I decide to stop and rest, as usually I take hundreds of photos and enjoy the view. After next 45 minutes I reach the top. I meet there some groups of hikers and again I take some photos. I spend 25 minutes on the top before I decide that it is high time went down. I put on warm clothes. I have a lot of stops on my way down and each time it is a good opportunity to take some more photos. The thrills have weakened the need for food and I am severely suffering from hunger at the end of my way down - when finally I reach some flat road, I had last meal when I was on the top and I am out of any food now. All I can do is to carry on. I ride but slowly. I arrive to Tirano at about 7 PM, I am starving. I have a quick shower and rush downstairs. I meet Alicia, a girl from Poland - Szczecin, we talk for a long time. There is a lot to talk about: Italy, Italian life, people and their mentality, the Culture. I learn a lot of new things. In the meantime she orders a pizza. I decide to go to bed after three hours. Tomorrow I am back on the road.

     Day 13.

I am still exhausted after yesterday's climbing. My muscles are aching and legs feel really heavy. I go to Sondrioandthen Lecco. The front wind is definitely not helping me at all, at least the weather is sunny. I am riding at a steady pace and stop rarely. Bikers and truckers make me feel nervous, they drive really dangerously at times. I get lost two times. It is a hot and sunny day, at least this keeps me in high spirits but physically I do not feel so well. My knee joints are feeling a bit different, happily today's stage does not include tough uphill cycling, I get some rest that I do need to regenerate my body. There is still 160 kilometers to go today. I give up and call it a day at about 6.30 PM. I stop for night in a small town Limbiago. I have a sandwich and juice for supper. Later on, I make some notes in my diary plus I study the map and try to choose the best route for tomorrow finally I do some laundry.

     Day 14.

Never in my life have I dreamt that such a day would ever come. Today something beautiful has happened, I will always remember it! I go to Novara. I get lost few times, I keep repeating "those damn signs!". By a complete accident 5 kilometers before reaching my destination I meet an extraordinary man, whose name is Elio. He is on way back from his Sunday cycling excursion. I ask him for direction and I get the right answer - he suggests that I follow him so that he personally can show me the way and I agree, when we are riding he makes a call, after a while we stop and he says that he and his wife would be glad if I had dinner with them. Elio and his wife live in a beautiful suite on the third floor they are really hospitable and nice. He offers the bathroom and the shower but I refuse having the following kilometers on my mind. So, I meet his wife and son - Alessandro. After a while we all are sitting in the kitchen at the table and eating delicious spaghetti, fish, egg paste, and tasty desserts, we all are in high spirits. They want to know, and demand it, as much as possible about me. The ask how did it all begin, how many times I had a similar tour, how do I get money to afford all of that... and they find it difficult to believe when they hear my answers. After the feast we go together with Alessandro to his room, He is going to let me use his computer and record on a CD those 1200 pictures that I have already taken and by the way we are looking for the cheapest hotels in Vercelli and Pinerolo, they both offer 25 Euro room rate. Elio is trying to be as helpful as possible, he keeps asking "Is there anything I can do for you?”. At his garage door I feel tears coming to my eyes, he takes some money and gives them to me, I refuse but he keeps insisting, I take them, I am really touched. I give him a strong hug for goodbye, after a while I am on the road again, I am going to Vercelli. I feel positive energy running through my veins, I feel that I could ride 100 kilometers more but I stop after 33. I stop at the hotel, that I chose before, it is about 5 pm. Soon turns out that these are going to be the worst accommodation conditions I have had so far.

     Day 15.

I wake up early in the morning but I leave relatively late due to some problems with stomach, I am having them all the day, and I leave without having any breakfast. I heading towards Turin and then to Pinerolo which is only 40 kilometers away. I am thinking about the next day when I am going to take on a real challenge and try my luck with the famous Sestriere. I am saving energy so that I can face exhausting climbing in the mountain range ofDolomites. My average speed is circa 21 km per hour. I stop to refill my water bottles, there is still 10 kilometers more to go. Suddenly I feel that I am completely exhausted, I feel extremely weak, this makes a clear sign that I am experiencing a crisis. Nevertheless I am proud of myself, I wish I could ride the way back home at the same speed and pace. Now, I am looking for La Muraglia hotel and I am finding it. The room rate is 100 euro, the room itself is a double room with a bathroom and a shower. At the first glance the conditions are poor but the bargain price is the key factor. I have good memory for room rates.

     Day 16.

This night I had the sleep that I needed, long and deep. I woke up really late this morning, at 9. I do not need to hurry today. I leave for Sestriere just after 10.30am. The weather today is sunny and warm and it is really great feeling to be riding today. After initial 15 kilometers I beginning climbing but the grade is circa 4-5%. I eat some high energy gel plus I have some fruit with me and Isostar for drink. I make only two ten minutes stops, I feel tired but happy. I reach the top of famous Sestriere at about 1.30pm. I am exhausted and in high spirits. This is the place of a Lance Armstrong's glorious victory back in 1999, with a single small difference. he was going uphill from the French side of the hill, far more difficult than mine route. As usually, I take some photos. Luckily there is a boy who takes some photos for me so I am lucky to appear on some of them. After 30 minutes I begin going down. The wind is getting stronger. I am not pedaling so I can relax my muscles a little bit. I buy some fruit, like bananas, strawberries, peaches and sausages in a market just 10 kilometers before reaching Pinerolo. I slow down and have some time for thinking. The very Coll de Sestriere pass came out not that very demanding as I thought. The real challenge, my ultimate trial is going to take place on Thursday - Coll de Agnello (the top of this uphill stretch ends at 2744 meters above the sea level).

     

     Day 17.

I am doing everything today in the way that requires the least possible amount of any effort and energy, I am as lazy as possible. I can feel electricity in the air, hundreds of cycling fans and spectators are waiting for the race. I can see whole families, it all makes a grand view which I hope will be visible on my photos that I take. A sudden rain just 45 minutes before the pack comes. I give up my place at the fence and seek shelter from the rain, the place is occupied when I come back, I wouldn't have happened if hadn't been so lazy! The pack arrives at 6 pm,Alessandro Petachi is on the lead and wins after a wonderful finish. Suddenly, just after the finish line, the cyclists fall down, they knock each other and fall like domino bricks, those who see it are doing the same but on purpose, they do not want to hit or ride over the others. It is a really strange view, unfortunately I am not quick enough to take any photos.

     Day 18.

Today, I am to face a real challenge. I have to cross the mountain pass between Italy and France. The first 25 kilometers are totally flat, I am trying to keep my pace. I meet some groups of other cyclists, but my attention is drawn by a strong Italian boy. He came with his father. He is pedaling at a hard high gear. At first glance one can tell that he has very powerful legs. We talk a lot. My stomach is aching which is not any advantage while cycling in the mountains. I am watching many elderly people who are also cycling in these tough mountain conditions and it seems really unbelievable for me. I dream about being at their age some day and actively touring the world. I keep high speed. I feel powerful, it is just another step in my journey. There is 30 kilometers left to reach the top, I meet an awesome guy from Columbia. It is impossible. The grade here is 7%, the actual stretch that is in each and every profile begins in the town called Casteldelfino (1292m) and the distance to the top is 21 kilometers. It is a real killer, a few times the grade reaches 15% (actually it happens two times at stretches which are 300 meters long each). I am cycling and overtaking whole groups of other cyclists who have come to see the race. For most of them, cycling at my speed is far too hard. My speed at those stretches of 15% grade is 9-10 km/h. There is only 3 kilometers to go. I run out of the water in my bottles. I am trying not to thing about the great thirst that I suffer from. I look up, the top is so close, I build up my motivation and shout You can do it! At last I reach the gate that is the mountain bonus of the highest rank and the highest uphill during this year's Giro. I am happy and deadly tired. I start taking pictures and some films. I change my clothes for warmer and sit on a concrete wall, I am enjoying the surroundings I am loving the moment. It is beautiful. Unfortunately the weather breaks down. At last! the riders are coming! They are riding at totally different pace than us - amateurs. I take photos of each of them, till the last one comes. Then I go down along with other few thousand fans, the descent is steep and it is still raining. I am riding really carefully, at such a weather the brake pads wear away quickly, and mime look really poor. The cars are going in lines and I am among them. After 40 kilometers I reach a relatively flat road, I change my clothes again. I have to ride 50 kilometers till I am in Pinerolo. I have to struggle the front wind that makes me lose the tempo, though I keep 30-34 km/h speed. I reach today's finish at 7.30 pm. I am hungry as a horse. I have a cold shower, eat jam, chocolate and make notes in my diary. I go to bed at 9pm.

     Day 19.

I do not feel well toady. As the time passes I begin feeling better. Unfortunately, I get lost a few times. I head forCaselle, Rivarolo, and Biella. The last one is going to be my stop for the night. When I enter the town I meet a nice Italian girl named Lucia, she has a big heart. Together we ride to her home where her husband, Max is waiting. They both are thinking how they can help a poor cyclist like me. They decide to put me up in their small apartment. Lucia shows me the way driving her small car. All of a sudden, another car appears just out of the blue and hits me, I bounce like a ball and fall down, lots of people run to me, the ask if I need a doctor, call police? I answer and refuse. When we finally reach the house I take a hot bath and fall asleep.

     Day 20.

I do not sleep well. I wake up a few times; it is raining like cats and dogs, so eventually I get up late. I make the decision and stay in the house. I am having breakfast, listening to music and studying the next stage. In the meantime I am calling Max and inform him that I have not gone today, he says that it is OK and asks when I would like to have the supper. I am having a delicious pizza in a remarkable Italian restaurant; I am talking about Poland, Polish customs and Polish people all the time. I find that my new friends are good listeners and ask some questions from time to time. After an hour we go to their place and have delicious ice-cream. I take photos and leave at 9 pm. Max gives me a lift to the apartment plus I get bananas and juice.

     Day 21.

It is the same old history again, just as it was yesterday. I even do not have to look in the window to make sure that it is some kind of nightmare. I am checking my bike, fix the wheel, grease the chain and pump the tires. Later on, I go back to bed and stay in it for a long time. I am thinking a lot. Max comes in the afternoon. He invites me for dinner, this time we feast at his place, the meal is prepared by his wife. The table is full. There are only the most delicious meals: pasta, salads, desserts and many more. I devour as much as I can, when I finish I feel 3 kg heavier. In the meantime Lucia invites Max's parents, they are elderly and happy people and they are interested in me. They ask a lot of questions and I am trying to answer each of them according to my best knowledge. The questions mainly concern cycling. We take a lot of photos. I am enjoying a jolly and family atmosphere. It is hard to leave such people, we say goodbye for the second time and Max takes me back to the flat. I am trying to get appropriate motivation for tomorrow when I am lying in the bed. Tomorrow, I must go those 200 kilometers at all cost.

     Day 22.

I make a quick start and soon I found that it was the last good thing that day. A sudden storm comes after 20 cloudy kilometers. It is raining like hell. It is a real test of my motivation and cycling, waterproof (at least the producer said so) clothes. After 40 kilometers in the rain I am all wet. In the 70th kilometer, having ridden 9 kilometers uphill I make a stop and seek a shelter under a shed. I am shivering, cold. I jump plus do some exercises to warm up. It is still raining and I am forced to continue my ride in the heavy rain. the road is mountainous and I am afraid of going down the steep slopes. In such difficult conditions, slippery road, a cyclist balances with his whole body in order to take a turn and a single mistake, wrong choice of the track may result in a dangerous fall. I am riding super carefully, I completely wear off the brake pads, which had already been worn. In the 70th kilometer of this rainy stage I decide to look for a dry place for a longer time. I find help at random in a house. A young man lets me use his garage, brings hot tea, hairdryer to dry my clothes and a plastic raincoat, which occurs to be a great help in riding in such conditions. I stay there for about an hour and half. I say thank you to the man and once again sit on the bike and carefully go down the road. My ambitious plans misfired. I could not ride over 200 kilometers. I finally finish after 106 kilometers in Verbania where I quickly find a cheap hotel.

     Day 23.

I wake up quite late in the morning, at about 9,30 and I go in the direction of Locarno. The road is flat and the views are really picturesque. I am going along lake Maggiore, I stop very often to take as many photos as I can. I am riding very carefully, taking care of my health not to strain too much. My average speed is circa 25 km/h. I am going to Bellinzona, now some small hills begin. I decide to use bicycle road which gives me an opportunity to enjoy even more interesting view than the one from the main road. I meet a cyclist in Bellinzona who is going in the opposite direction. He gives me some valuable clues about Passo san Bernardino which I am going to ride through. Its beginning is tough: the grade is 12-13% for the distance of one kilometer, then it falls down which allows me to take a breath. 13 kilometers to go and my rear cassette brakes down, it takes me about 45 minutes to fix it. 4 kilometers to the top, I meet three brave bikers who are going down, they are Germans. We are talking for a while, I am really impressed, they all are going to go through the off-roads of Switzerland and Austria and they use simple and basic MTB bikes. I am generally exhausted when I reach the summit. It is raining and I am trying to eat anything. The weather is not good and I am able to eat only a roll. When I am going down I get frostbites in my fingers and toes. I cannot feel my hands and I am afraid that my hand may slip off the handlebars. I am asking myself: When does it all end? If that has not been enough the brake pads stop working, totally worn out they squeak. There is only a dozen of bends and I am down there. 

I quickly manage to find a cheap hotel in the first village. The owner agrees to my proposal, 15 euro for the night, the regular rate is 20. I put my hands in lukewarm water without any hesitation, I feel terrible stabbing pain, I retrieve blood circulation in my hands ten minutes later. I have a shower, then have supper in cozy room with an interesting fireplace. I am having warm rolls with some jam and milk. I replace the damaged front brake pad for new ones that my friend Piotr gave me.

  Day 24.

My legs are feeling weak since the very beginning of the today. I go to Chur, Liechtenstein and then to Feldkirch. The road is folded with many of 2-3 kilometers long uphill stretches. I meet other fellow cyclists. Two Germans impresses me the most. They are going to Austria and they have simple mountain bikes plus each of them has a load of 35 kilos. The most peculiar thing is that they are going to go through Passo san Bernardino, furthermore, they chose the same way I did. I admire them. Later on, I take some photos and give them a business card and hit the road. As usually, I get lost and go wrong way for a while. I am dazed toady. Dazed and confused, that's what I am today and I accidentally fall in some one way road just in front of a police patrol car. They make sure that I am all right and make a comment that I am going in the wrong direction, luckily, I don't pay any fine. At last, I reach the right hotel, I negotiate and again get a bargain price, hot bath, notes in the diary and the sleep that I long so much.

     Day 25.

I sleep really badly, I wake up a few times. I eat delicious but light breakfast. I adjust the gears just before I leave. It is getting to rain, so far I have never left so late. I choose minor roads and go to Krumbach, Immenstadt and then to Wertach. There are lots of uphill stretches but they are not the same as in Dolomites. It is really hard to keep going, mainly due to the front wind. I am feeling a nasty pain in a right shin ligament. I notice the 100th kilometer just at 4.15 pm. I come across an interesting man, we are riding together for 15 kilometers, we are talking a lot. He tells me about riding the castle track, he says that it is a beautiful route that encompasses cycling activity with cultural attractions, getting to know the historic places. The man is traveling with 8 kilos of luggage on his back, I admire his persistence and perseverance. We part after a dozen of kilometers. I am feeling as if new energy is filling me again, plus my mood gets better, I can feel that my legs are a bit stronger. I am pedaling at even pace at last! I cut any stops to a minimum. I reach my destination, Lechbruck, at 7 pm. Luckily I meet a young marriage. We talk in English. They give me all the information about possible accommodation that I need. I meet really nice people in the hotel, as usually I negotiate the room rate. The owner of the hotel gives me a very detailed road map of Germany, which later on proves to be really helpful.

Day 26

I wake up at 8.30, the landlady did not agree for breakfast at 7am. I am having a very delicious breakfast, rolls with jam, honey and chocolate cream, ham and cheese, and coffee with milk. I do not eat much to avoid stomachache while riding. The first 25 kilometers are like going up and down then it goes flat. I speed up. I still remember yesterday's pain so I try not to overdo with effort and speed. My ride today goes through Schongau,Landsberck and Furstenfeldbruck, I choose local roads only. The roads are in good condition but the side wind keeps slowing me down. I make an effort and manage to do 80 kilometers in 3 hours. Having gone 180 km I make the final stop in Zooling. It turns out that today I have just made the best average speed of a daily stage: 24,93 km/h. It is really constructive taking into account the future stages. I meet a young boy, at one of the houses that are near the road, who takes me to a hotel, it happens to be quite cheap and cozy, the boy is really sincere and does a little shopping for me.

Day 27

Although all adversities (strong wind, rain, fatigue) I am really satisfied with today's stage. I have been riding at a good and even pace, without any breakdown and minimum stops. All that together results in the fact that now I am ahead of the schedule. The 100th kilometer appears at noon, and this is a record! At half way I stop for shopping and buy some chocolate milk bars, fruit, juice and mineral water at a shop nearby the road. My today's stage goes through Mainburg, Regensburg and Schwandorf. I am thinking about the last day of my journey when I am going to meet all my beloved ones and friends. The rain is getting heavier and riding is really dangerous now, I am trying to ride carefully, especially on the bends, I am fed up with falling down. The roads are marked well and I do not get lost. at 7,45 pm I start looking for a place for the night, I have gone almost 200 km today. I find it.

Day 28

Originally, I was going to enter Poland today but due to bad weather I have to change my plans and I set off two days later. I had a good day, no crises, showers and strong wind are anything new to me, I got used to it, my motivation is at good level.

I do not get lost today. I am going straight in the right direction. I got images of my past journeys in my head. I make a few stops, drive carefully and send some text messages plus I study the map. I reach my destination just before 8 pm, I find a hotel and the owner agrees to 25 euro. I am lucky and the restaurant is still open, the pizza is delicious. Hot shower, quick glance at the map, and then deep sleep.

Day 29

It has been a difficult stage. I had some problems with my leg till 120th kilometer, I am not feeling well I have cough and running nose. I am trying to maintain even speed at all cost and on the flat road I keep 27-29 km per hour. My bodily reactions are really weird, one I feel cold and then hot. My today's stage goes through Mainburg,Regensburg and Schwandorf. Between the two last towns I struggle with 10 kilometers long stretch of stone paved road, I am really concerned about my wheels. It is not the same pavement as in other western countries, it is really badly made. I slow down to 12 - 15 km/h. After a long while I am riding on asphalt surface again, I speed up, my destination is town called Hoyerswerda, I was there twice in 2005, the friendly landlady and family atmosphere, hot shower and TV. I rebuild my stamina. The awareness that I am going home tomorrow makes me feel mentally perfect, far better than physically.

Day 30

It was supposed to be a light walk home, but the reality turned to be different. I wake up at 9.30, I slowly do morning toilette and have a big breakfast, the landlady prepared so much that I do not have any idea where to start, fresh rolls, jam, honey, some meat, eggs, plus coffee with milk. I eat and take some food with me (sandwiches a banana and an apple). All of those 29 days I have never left so late yet. I go first to Bad Muskauand then Łęknica. There are no equipment failures, no wind, sunny weather. I am enjoying the trip plus the eye catching surroundings, in the meantime I receive a number of calls but I leave them unanswered due to expensive roaming rates. At last, my homeland, now I am calling myself just to calm down my beloved ones. I head to LisiaGóra, there are waiting my brother, sister, friends and TV reporters(Marek Sienkiewicz and Andrzej Drobniak), I am feel excited and looking forward to meeting them.

Suddenly, circa 7 kilometers from Lisia Góra I notice a familiar Opel Astra and my two friends PrzemekSiemion and Tomasz Kuziara, they give me a really warm welcome, just a second later, my sister -Aleksandra appears out of the shop, I feel tears in my eyes. Again I mount my bike and go ahead. I am being filmed by the TV crew. Later on, they assist me to hometown Lubsko, one more teardrop when I pass the sign: Welcome to Lubsko. Having gone 3651 kilometers, I can surely say: VENI, VIDI, VICI !!!