I cast my mind back to last June when it was a diverse group of cyclists who met here in the Rynek on the first day of a weeklong tour. We represented no less than six countries: Australia, England, Germany, Canada, South Africa, and Ireland. The first day is always energising and it isn’t long before saddles are adjusted, pedals swapped, water bottles filled, brakes tested and accents attuned.
The local government’s investment in cycling paths eases our way and it isn’t long before we are passing Plac Grunwaldzki , which was razed by the German Army to construct an emergency runway in the last moments of WWII. It is now a vibrant student precinct that fuses a bustling shopping district with the gravitas of Wroclaw University.
Within 30 minutes we’ve cycled past the Japanese Gardens, through Park Szczytnicki , and reached the city boundary where the picturesque villages, empty roads and expansive countryside beckon. Stopping at a small village shop, we’re immediately immersed in the world-famous Polish hospitality. Brief introductions punctuated with exclamations of ‘O Boże’ (Oh God!) thanks to our various countries of origin, are soon replaced with swigs of Żołądkowa Gorzka (herb vodka) provided by our new local friends.
Back on the road, it isn’t long before we arrive in Olesnica for a more sedate lunch. Walking into a traditional Polish cafe in lycra is a great way to blend in and makes for a sympathetic counterpoint to the white coats and hats of the dinner ladies. “What type of soup is this?” Bob asks me. It’s flaki (tripe soup) and although it’s a favourite at Polish weddings and funerals, the rest of us stick with variations of schabowy (pork schnitzel), ziemniaki (potatoes) and marchewka (carrot salad). After a quick caffeine hit in the local cafe, we leave Olesnica through its impressive 12th century town gate and weave our way through the palace grounds before hitting the road proper.
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