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Never trust an algorithm

Although I carry a couple of Garmins, I find I rarely use them, preferring Googlemaps for my day-to-day planning. And like most cyclists, I like to use the cycling option, but in the three Baltic countries, it was not available. But it is in Poland..but that’s a potential problem. Let me explain….

I chose the cycling option for yesterday’s route, and found myself on a smooth narrow country road with no traffic. Cycling bliss. But I should have suspected something was not quite right….you know the old adage: if something appears too good to be true, it usually is. My perfect country road stopped abruptly, and continued (not even as a dirt track) but as a sandy track….so sandy, in fact, it would have needed 3″ fat bike tyres. What Google’s algorithm regards as rideable has to be interpreted in very broad terms ie. broad tyres.

When I eventually secured a data dignal on my phone, I switched over to car routing, which has the benefit of keeping me on asphalt, but sometimes the same asphalt as heavy commercial traffic. So I quickly scanned my paper map, then used the car option to keep me on the asphalt, but had to accept that sometimes I had to share space with heavy traffic, for want of any other road in the area. That happened on the final 25km of the route. With no shoulder at all for the cyclist, it was a bit nervy at times.

At one of the service stations I stopped at to find some food, Piotr heard me talking to Jenny on the phone, and came over to chat afterwards. His English was very good, but then he had spent 17 years in the UK, and only recently settled back in Poland with his new wife, and a baby on the way. He was fascinated by my journey….and offered me a free coffee so he could delay my departure and chat a little more.

I told him he was unusual in being able to speak English, because most Polish people (even amongst the under 30s) cannot (or simply won’t) speak it. After I watched a bit of their TV the other night, I discovered they voice-over all English-speaking programmes instead of subtitling them, thus losing valuable exposure to English as it is spoken. But then, of course, why should I, an Englishman, be expecting everyone else to speak to me in English….?

So here’s a start to Polish lesson number 1:

Attention! Bad dogs…

And lesson number 2:


Last night I stayed at an Agrituristika place deep in the forest, and just a day’s ride from the infamous extermination camp at Treblinka…