2012-An American Cyclist in Poland

(Random notes tossed together back then)

Selecting your flight is a key component, especially if you don’t have a direct flight. You need to have enough time with each transition for the bike to make it, because it’s usually the last thing off each plane, but not so long that it doesn’t get lost in a corner somewhere. Additionally, the more direct the flight, the more likely your bicycle will make it, since each transition is a chance for your luggage (aka your bike) to not make it.

Carry your clothes on the plane, so if your bike doesn’t make it you at least have something to wear while you wait. The camping equipment can typically be packed in with the bicycle, because without the bike it’s usually hard to get to campgrounds anyway.

Don’t lose your luggage receipt! About the only way the airline can look for your lost bicycle is with that luggage tag.

<how to box bicycle>

When selecting your airfare, keep in mind how much the airline will charge to ship the bicycle. Shipping charges are based on the airline you board with, even if your flight is across several airlines. That can lead to your charges being different with each direction. I once paid $50 on the trip from the US to Krakow, Poland on a flight that was Canada Air > Lufthansa, but on the return flight it was Lufthansa > Canada Air, and the shipping charges on Lufthansa were considerably higher ($200).

Note that regardless of how much you prepare, or what you expect to pay, for the cost of the bicycle on the airplane, it cane be completely different when you arrive at the counter of the airline  on the day of your flight. The person behind the counter will likely have never checked a bicycle before, and will have to go ask someone. Whatever answer the get is what you’re going to have to deal with at the time. There will be 200 people in line behind you, and the person at the counter isn’t going to care how much you complain or how much documentation you have. You’re best off to just pay whatever they tell you, and deal with the airline upon your return.

Some notes on the trip:


  • Hostels            5
  • Camping          10
  • Hotel   4
  • B&B    1

Airfare was $973, plus an additional $250 to move the bike.

Daily $ spent on trip (non-airfare): $857, or about $43/day. That number is significantly affected by the hotel stays, as the 4 hotels were ~ $35/night.

So total out of pocket was roughly $2,080 for 3 weeks in Poland.

There’s another $425 in buying a new tent and camera, but both of those have long-term usage associated with them.

People interact differently with a cyclist than they do pedestrians or those on a car or a train. The loaded bicycle itself declares its occupant a wanderer. The cyclist is non-threatening. Cycling is a commonality for those from Europe. And if they are threatening, they’re no ready way for them to escape; who’s ever heard of a police chase after someone on a bicycle?

Standing by the side of the road holding a map is an open invitation for conversation:

  • Where are you from?
  • Where did you start this morning?
  • Where are you going?
  • How far to you ride every day?

I’m terrible at small talk, yet those are questions I’m asked every day. But instead of tiring from it I revel in it. For those simple questions are just the beginning. They immediately lend themselves to discussions of difference in national transport, healthcare, and cuisine.

  • Are you crazy?
  • It’s too dangerous!
  • You could be attacked by a pack of wild dogs!
  • You’ll be killed!

The first thing I do when I arrive is leave the big city. Whether that means starting from the airport and cycling away from town.

To quote a good friend of mine: “You just have to dig randomness.”  However, I prefer to think of as practicing the ability to deal with what life hands you.


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