Sunday, 4 October 2009

Autumnal bike ride

It was a blustery day, the wind gusting strongly from the west. No longer a one-layer cycling day, an over-layer of Goretex jacket and trousers were required, rain always a possibility. I decided to head east, the wind in my back. But first I cycled through Piaseczno (below). You don't have to go far out of Warsaw to encounter provincial Poland!

Beyond Piaseczno and Zalesie are the Lasy Chojnowskie forests. This 10,000 hectare expanse of woodland, over ten times the size of Warsaw's Las Kabacki forest, stretches in a wide belt from the south west to the south east of Warsaw. At its eastern end lies the town of Góra Kalwaria, my destination. From there, rather than cycle into the wind, I'd take the train home. Right: cycle path in the woods, near Kąty.

The tailwind is so strong, I reach Góra Kalwaria station a lot sooner than planned. Time, then, to battle into the wind and head west to Czachówek Wschodni. From here, I can get the same train home I was intending to catch from Góra Kalwaria.

The clouds clear, and for an hour or so, I'm blessed with strong, low sunlight that makes for magical landscape photography. The forest is beginning to look autumnal.

Out of the trees, into a large clearing alongside the railway line (below). I cycle on, and soon I'm at Czachówek Wschodni station. I'm still well ahead of schedule. The weather turns; dark clouds threaten.

It starts raining as the Góra Kalwaria train arrives. As there's no shelter at Czachówek Wschodnia, I jump on board the train for the one stop. The ticket is a very reasonable 10 złotys (Czachówek-GK-W-wa Jeziorki, including bike). I photographed the innovative bike hangers last summer; not easy to get your bike on this if encumbered with panniers, mudguards and waterbottles.

The train is emptied at Góra Kalwaria as it goes into sidings beyond the end of the platform. Fortunately, there's a shelter at the station; just as I got the bike off the train, the heavens opened. A small group of people with prams, fishing rods and bicycles crowded under the shelter waiting for the train to turn around.

The rainstorm was short; by the time the train neared Warsaw, the sky had cleared. Right: Pulling out of Nowa Iwiczna station, at the unguarded, ungated level crossing. The sun has just set behind the clouds on the horizon; it is just before six. The day's already half an hour shorter than at equinox.

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