Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (06/12/2013) - 31200km cycled

23 May 2012

Cycling to Warsaw: It’s getting hot out here!

Posted by Will

This week I cycled several hundred kilometers from Vilnius to Warsaw in temperatures that had me wishing for the Scandinavian snowstorms of a month ago. Every day except one has surpassed 30 degrees celcius, the cool wind that blew in the Baltics has disappeared and the so-called fridges in the Polish supermarkets barely get the Coke cold. I want to make it clear I’m not complaining. I’ve fantasized about weather like this for a long time now. All I wish is to inform my dear readers of the various problems that have cropped up as a result of this ‘dreamy’ new weather.

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Problem 1: There’s no power-shower in the woods

When the sun is out in full force and there’s no shade to hide under, a cyclist sweats. Usually a cyclist is able to perform his hour or two of physical activity, get nice and sweaty, and then return home to jump in the power-shower he feels like he so desperately deserves. ‘Usually’ doesn’t apply in my case though and as you might have guessed I have not yet stumbled across a power-shower in the forest. “Ah”, I hear you say, “but nature can provide. You have the streams and lakes to bathe in which are more refreshing than even the mightiest of power-showers”. To which I say: “idealistic nonsense”. For the most part streams look even filthier than me, are in full view of the road and hold a horde of bloody-thirsty insects waiting for an easy target. To cut a long story short it’s been difficult to wash and cool myself down after a hot day’s cycling. My rather feeble solution has been to buy a bumper pack of Softino baby wipes and use them very liberally in the tent as the sun goes down. Not ideal though.

Problem 2: Mosquitoes

Washing properly would be easier if I could camp next to a charming little brook, collect the cool water in my folding bowl and sponge myself down in the shade of the trees. However, if I were to do this the mosquito bites as a consequence would probably have me itching forever more. Nowadays, the mosquito presence in my camp ranges from annoying to life-threatening. Perhaps the most annoying part is that the forest never inititally looks like it’s swarming with these pests. It’s only when you walk through and disturb the undergrowth that they show themselves and you realize you’ve walked into a trap. I set up camp as quickly as possible and then dive straight into the tent. Again, not ideal as the tent gets sticky and makes for the rather unpleasant sensation that you are sitting inside a large plastic bag. The mosquitoes wait patiently until the next morning knowing full-well they can have another crack at me when I pack everything away.

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Problem 3: Drinking water

In this heat I’m having to drink about 3 times the litre-age I was consuming up in the north of Sweden. My two to-hand water bottles only hold 1.5L between them and even if they were initially full I have to refill them at least twice during the course of the day. So far I’ve dealt with this by a combination of buying bottled water from stores and pumping water using my micro-filter. The former method is easy and at about 30p a litre probably makes the most sense. The latter is rather amusing for a spectator but extremely frustrating for me, the user. Using the micro-filter consists of dipping a little hose into a stream or lake and then pumping a lever to force water through a ceramic element which acts as a filter. In theory, about a minute of pumping yields about a litre of water. So, pumping my requirement of approximately 5 litres takes about 5 minutes right? Wrong. It takes about 10 times longer. Many a Polish farmer has had the pleasure of watching me crouch in an excruciating position pumping ferociously only to produce a faint trickle of clean water while all the time cursing the hopelessly optimistic author of the instruction manual.

Problem 4: Sunburn

This one is a problem entirely of my own making. In Vilnius I forgot to buy suncream and unfortunately for me I haven’t found a supermarket in Poland which sells the stuff. So, fair enough, on the first day my exposed legs and forearms became burned and since then I’ve had to cover up. This has served to increase the severity of problem 1 and has led to quite a bit of the dreaded peeling that all Brits seem to suffer when exposed to sunlight.

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So, there you have it, a list of my botherations over the last 7 days. And remember, I’m not complaining … merely stating the facts. Of course, I could’ve written all about the amazing churches I’ve seen, the great people I’ve met, the wildlife, the wildflowers, the smell of summer and the wonderful feeling of knowing tomorrow will be a beautiful day. But that wouldn’t be much fun to read now would it?

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4 Comments already on “Cycling to Warsaw: It’s getting hot out here!”
  1. 3:26 ampermalink
    24 May 2012

    Mark E Martin

    You should come to Louisiana, Baton Rouge specifically. You’d feel right at home. The heat, mosquitoes, and dubious water we’ve got. The good thing would be the air conditioned room you could duck in to. Does it help that Baton Rouge is the capitol?

    Mark

  2. 4:52 pmpermalink
    24 May 2012

    Mumsey

    We canl bring more wipes! xx

  3. 9:58 pmpermalink
    24 May 2012

    Emma&Mike

    sounds like you are catching up with us ,as far as heat,power showers, mosquitoes goes!
    We are now in Cameroon,in fact in Buea at the bottom of Mt Cameroon,thought about climbing it like you did,,but it,s the rainy season now and visability isn’t so great,at least that’s our excuse!
    Sounds like you are having a fab time,as our we,still though only getting occasional wi-fi,so not communicating very well ,including with those at home.
    Wheel came off in giant Cameroonian pothole/puddle today….lots of fun and games !! xxx

  4. 10:06 pmpermalink
    24 May 2012

    barry Raab

    enjoy your posts Will. Go to Ostrava! You will enjoy it!!