Author Topic: Greetings from Poland  (Read 984 times)

librarian

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Greetings from Poland
« on: November 02, 2008, 04:34:27 pm »
Greetings to you all from a Londoner currently living in Bochnia, Poland - where the weekly market is just finishing, and I'm watching a procession of bikes, laden in unlikely ways with chickens, rabbits, and even a goose, wending their way homewards. I've settled over here due to a somewhat complicated set of personal circumstances (aren't they always?), and enjoy reading this forum most days. Apologies to have lurked for so long without an introduction. It started to feel like an odd form of voyerurism to do this without saying hello myself - so hello, greetings, &c.

Predictably enough, there are many and varied contrasts for an Englishman living in a small town in rural Poland - and one of the most interesting is life here as a cyclist.

Where I am now, to ride a bike is often interpreted as a sign that you simply cannot afford a car. For many people here, a car is one of the clearest signs of "success" - the richest man around here in fact drives around in a horrendously ugly Hummer of all things. So it often comes as a shock that an English chap should choose, nay, prefer, to get about by bike. To my father-in-law, it actually brings shame on the family that I ride a bike, and he often implores me to borrow his ancient Fiat. I keep explaining that I ride for pleasure, but maybe something is getting lost in translation, as this is always met with incredulous looks.

I've even encountered sympathy from one of my local drunks. I rode to the local supermarket on my Roberts hybrid the other week, and was engaged in conversation as I parked. "No need to lock that!" my inebriated friend told me. "I'll keep an eye on it for you." My British reserve and suspicion kicked in, and I told him that I prefered to lock up. When I returned, he was beaming. "See! I kept an eye on it for you." He then paused, and looked at me somewhat pityingly. "Mind you, no one would want to steal that. It's old-fashioned. My bike is much better - it's a mountain bike, with suspension." At this point I had the nasty suspicion that my Roberts was being compared, unfavourably, to a Polish BSO...

There are some great rides around here - I ride quite regularly with a chap from a local club, and being situated where we are, where the hills and mountains of Southern Poland start, we have the luxury of being able to choose pancake flat or pleasingly hilly rides, as the mood takes us. Funnily enough, although I commuted every day in London, I never really found time for riding for pleasure in the same way in the UK. That's despite the pretty poor roads here, the occasionally insane drivers, and the quite regular chases by seriously angry village dogs (good sprint training).

Anyhow, greetings to you all, and many happy miles wherever you may all be.