Ben: With yesterday’s cool temperatures, flat terrain, and enjoyable riding we felt more than prepared for today’s ride of about 110 kilometers. It wasn’t going to be nothing, but a simple repeat of yesterday would land us not too far from the Slovakian border.
We had a pretty good start too – there wasn’t much cloud cover, but thankfully the temperatures were still cool. Bree even rode in her sleevey (the sign of good weather, in my opinion). Since we are in the middle of the Great Northeastern Plain of Hungary, we didn’t expect much beside corn fields and small towns all along the way.
Our route twisted along highways as well as a few back roads. The roads here are so impressively clean and in good repair – made even more impressive after our last few weeks in Romania. If I have one complaint though – it is that there is rarely a shoulder. This means that as long as you find a good route, life is great. If you get stuck on a highway though, it is not as much fun. The driving here is also markedly more polite than Romania – but at the end of the day traffic is traffic.
The day seemed to drag on in spite of what I thought was a good pace. We pedaled past big expanses of industrial farmland plowed by tractors and peppered with neat rolls of hay – some even wrapped in plastic. This place is quite different from its neighbor to the south with its haystacks, scythes, and horse-drawn carts.
As we continued to ride, it seemed that we made little to no progress. After lunch we STILL had 54km to go. We did find a beautiful sporting goods store that made Bree feel ever so nostalgic for what seemed like her second home before we left – REI. The difference was that everything was super cheap! We picked up some lube for the bikes (only 3 Euros), some CampingGaz in preparation of the stickershock that awaits us in Scandinavia, and a few spoons and forks. We cannot seem to keep track of our utensils.
The last 20 km totally sucked. The wind had picked up, we were stuck on a busy highway, and our legs were fried. We gave it all we had and then some, and eventually made it to a surprisingly ugly city where we were to camp. It is full of potholes and is surrounded by industrial complexes. Even so, our campsite is also really inexpensive – even for Hungary. It is nestled against a quiet hill away from the main city and has plenty of tree cover and no other campers. Things could definitely be worse (though our chafing and tiredness probably couldn’t).