Riga – Birzai(Lithuania)
The only downside of the Schengen Agreement is that it robs cyclists like me of the Kodak moment when I cross a border. I looked for a sign saying LITHUANIA, but there wasn’t one. The only certainty that I’d crossed something was the changing quality of the road surface….on the Latvian side, it had recently been resurfaced with a beautiful smooth finish, on the Lithuanian side it was definitely the beginning of the off-road section of my ride…better known as the ‘rocky road to Vilnius’.
It’s taken me only three days to ride across Latvia north to south and no, that is not through some superhuman effort on my part, it just happens to have been quite narrow at that point. Had I been going east to west, it would have been a different story. In case you are baffled about the geography of this area, here is a reminder….
…and if you are dying to be reminded of the Lithuanian flag, here it is…
…and yes, they do speak their own language (one of the oldest in the world), and the country has far fewer Russian emigrés than its neighbour, Latvia. And did you know that on St Patrick’s Day they dye the river Vilnia green, and that there is a ‘dark secret’ swing society that goes around placing swings in unexpected places….and yes, you can have a swing on one to your heart’s content?
I was impressed with this sign, but soon learned it had absolutely no effect on driver behaviour because it wont be the driver that breaks his leg (or any other part of his body) but the unfortunate cyclist. Like the chilling pictures on cigarette packets, these images only serve to scare off the cyclist, the very person they want to protect and encourage.
And for the selfie record, here is a gratuitous reflection I was confronted by when I parked my bike outside a wayside shop….don’t be misled by the smile….I was actually gasping for a coffee….🙃
Today’s distance: 105km