Carpatia Divide 2019, Day #2 How can one zapiekanka change the whole race
Even though I slept 1200 metres above the sea level, I wasn’t cold. It was better than in a valley next to a river. I had four walls, with little holes, and it gave me enough isolation from the outside. I had a bird family that was protecting me from the danger outside. Or at least, I believed they were.
Getting up, I ate one müsli bar and a few pieces of dried pineapple. I had to persuade myself to eat. I still wasn’t feeling well. But the broken hut wasn’t a good place to rest, so I continued on the rocky terrain of Carpatia Divide.
The road wasn’t going to get better. The overgrown singletracks changed to wide rocky roads and wet meadows. I was stepping in puddles and muddy pits and I was thankful for my waterproof socks that protected me. It was cold, but I wasn’t.
I had to get off and on the bike as I was struggling in unbearable slopes. Clipless pedals were getting stuck. It wasn’t easy to climb off the mountains. Mud, roots and rocks and harder and harder sections. I believe it’s just the way that Beskydy mountains are.
Through the Polish trails
Korbielów village – finally the civilization. At least some kind. I refilled on water and ate half a bag of chips. I couldn’t eat anything better and this was at least crunchy. I couldn’t find anything tasty so I made myself eat just heavy dense calories.
After a short road section, I went back into the hills. And they were so steep!!! That isn’t the way how you build the roads! You build a few hairpin bends to make it bearable. Not straight to the top. I would take a smaller chainring next time. Or did my leg just go through sudden death?
Every biker has a different sleeping strategy. I was trying to get up as early as I could. So I was surprised when I met one rider on a bus stop, it was 7 in the morning and he was only starting to get up! I just greeted him and pedalled and pedalled.
After the northern point of Slovakia, there was the first bike trail on the race track – Tabakowy. That was a ride. At places, that are forbidden to enter on foot, I met many mushroom pickers. Probably the season.
There was a lot of trails around Babí hora. The problem was that if I wanted to go down I first had to go up. Even that the trail Mosorny had a comfort slope fot climbing, I just couldn’t pedal. I forced myself to eat another bar to get some strength but I needed some real food. I hoped the track will go by a trail centre, but nothing was there.
We don’t want any vagrants here!
The trail Wilcza łapa was the last one. I needed to climb again, this time on a wide asphalt road with heavy traffic. It was not pleasant at all, but I swallowed some extra altitude metres at least. When I got to the top I found out that there was no food again. Just some souvenir shop for not-hungry tourists.
One couple asked me if I’m on the Carpatia Divide. It was nice to meet these people. I had no idea how they knew the race. The first two days a lot of people were asking, but after that, it was only wilderness.
Going down was easy. It was asphalt, so it wasn’t a problem to hit 60 kilometres per hour. If I could only keep that speed to finish, that would be a ride.
But after a short time, the insane mud was back. I couldn’t even go through the road, because it was covered by muddy pits. I was just pushing the bike through the forest looking for holes in bushes. One of my wheels almost disappeared in that mud. All my gear was screaming and grinding. What I have done??!!
It was getting better when I arrived in Podwilk. I finally found a good shop and bought something that looked like some kind of pizza. It wasn’t a real pizza, but it was good anyway. When I sat in front of the shop to eat, some lady from drugstore stormed out and told me: “For god’s sake, sit at the table.”
I was getting over my food problem. I liked the food, I only had some pain in my throat.
There’s flashing over the Tatras
With a portion of food in my belly, I continued to Suchá Hora in Slovakia. Roads were fast and I was able to eat a hotdog in a small buffet. But the border path was going through wet meadows with muddy pits which were left by forest machinery.
I heard thunder. That was bad. It was far far away, but thunderstorms can be really fast and be here any minute. There was no shelter, so I was just hoping it will not catch me. It must just be a shower over the Tatras.
Under the Magura, when I was entering the forest, it started raining. On one side, I liked that my bike will be washed, on the other side, I will make the bike dirty in a few minutes again.
There was a stream in the middle of the road and my wheels were slipping on mud. The only advantage of all this walking was no saddle soreness.
It was getting dark when I arrived in Zakopane. I stopped at the petrol station to get some food. It’s my favourite place. I feel safe when the bike is watched by cameras and long opening hours give me the option to resupply at any time. There I bought a classic polish zapiekanka. That was the moment that changed the whole race for me.
It was so tasty. I found love for food again. I restored my strength and got the first good food in 30 hours. I put two baguettes into my saddlebag to have for a late dinner and early breakfast.
I was looking for zapiekanka at every petrol station I visited but that was the first and the last time I tasted it. Maybe if I ate zapiekankas only, I could win the race!
Cyclists aren’t welcome
I continued on the main road. Traffic was heavy. This town was having a huge party. As I read, Zakopane is the capital of Poland in winter. I wanted to get through the town as soon as possible. There were distractions everywhere. I could spend a lot of time in shops and markets with nice smelling tasty goods.
In this chaos, some fan of a race (not sure) took a picture of me. I must say I look really happy. That must be the zapiekanka I ate.
The traffic wasn’t much better behind the town borders. It was even worse. There were a lot of cars passing me very closely and one bus pushed me out of the road. The day after that some other racer was hit by a van.
After the end of the race, I talked with local racers. They told me that around Zakopane, drivers are the worst. Not that Poland itself would be full of nice, polite drivers, but Zakopane is just a special chapter. I was happy when I got far away and all the cars disappeared.
As it was completely dark by then, I started thinking about where to put myself to sleep. I was on endless road section so I still had several hours of a fast ride. I was going through a thick fog. I felt like I was going through light rain. That is definitely not a good sleeping condition.
I ended up near Lapszanka village at 1000m above the sea level. I didn’t find good shelter, but it wasn’t going to rain. I put my sleeping bag on a wide table. It had only one disadvantage. It was so cold! And I had no sleeping pad. I just tried to use my rescue foil, but to be honest, I didn’t feel any difference.
Despite the cold, I slept like a happy Egyptian mummy.