The Hunt Cycling is a full service bike-shop, independent journal and collective consisting of three cycling enthusiasts based in Halle Saale. We try to explore, document and share our experiences in the field of cycling and beyond. Besides drinking shandy, lots of riding and intellectual discusses about bike parts and stuff, we enjoy riding with friends and running our showroom and bike-shop located in the center of Halle.
— This was an absolutely awesome trip and we took tons of pictures but we don’t want you to look at hundreds of photos at once. So we decided to split the reportage into three parts for a more convenient read. The second reason is that two of us had to change plans shortly before we wanted to start and sadly both were not able to cycle the exact route we all had planned together. More on that later. If you are interested, check out the complete route on Strava and follow The Hunt Cycling on Instagram. Enjoy —
If you have asked me three years ago to plan a journey like this with six to eight people i would have answered that it is utterly impossible to do a self supported bike packing trip with more then two people. It simply is not that easy to align a period of time and have eight people planning holidays in advance, leaving their families and kids alone and going on a planned adventure for a minimum of 8 days. At the end we proved the opposite and we found a perfect period of time on which all of us could take a few days off.
Last years tour – our Trip along the Baltic Sea Part II – ended in the beautiful city of Gdansk so it was clear to us where to start this year. We also knew how much kilometer we are able to ride in a certain amount of time, so we calculated between 500 and 600km for seven to eight days of riding. With a look at the map we knew how far we could go without having to much kilometers packed into every day. We did not want to set speed records, we were simply looking forward to awesome routes, beautiful coastlines, hidden beaches and first and foremost to cycle as a group of friends and having a blast riding all day from sun up to sun down. So the route for this years cycling trip was set: Gdansk — Kaliningrad — Liepāja. Four Countries in seven days. This must be fun.
After two relaxing days in Gdansk with sightseeing, eating tons of pierogi, drinking a lot of shandies + beer and having a good time we finally started cycling on saturday morning leaving the city behind, heading west along the coastline to Stegna and from there on turned south via Nowy Dwór Gdański to the „Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork“ – the worlds largest brick castle. The castle, built by the Teutonic Knights and completed in 1406 is one of two World Heritage Sites and is also one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments. Definitely a must see. Shortly after we reached our destination we found a nice hidden camping ground just a stones throw away from the river and the castle.
Following the official cycling route R1 we headed directly to Frombork, a town to the northwest at the Vistula Lagoon on the Baltic Sea coast, with a short stop in Elblag. Nicolaus Copernicus, a mathematician and astronomer lived in Frombork between 1510-1543. He formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. He was reportedly buried in Frombork Cathedral but several efforts to locate his remains fail. In 2010 he was given a second funeral and to this day his remains can be visited in the same spot in Frombork Cathedral where part of his skull and other bones had been found. Definitely a place to visit and a must see. With pretty much 75km this day’s stage wasn’t our longest but we enjoyed rolling through the hinterland between Elblag and Frombork.
While we were filling our supplies in one of the small “Skleps” at the foot of the Frombork Cathedral, we got into a conversation with a young man on a road bike. He was living in the city and after a quick chat he kindly led us to a private camping ground only one kilometre away. This should be our final place to stay for the night. We got into a conversation with an older couple who also where bike packing and on their way back from Russia to Poland. We exchanged our experiences and they gave us as brief outlook what to expect on our way through Russia. The darkness came quite quickly, with all the impressions in mind we pitched our tents and tarps and quickly fall asleep. The overall condition of the R1 is really good and a mixture of classic tarmac and dirt roads mixed with gravel sections. The R1 is well signposted and we did not loose our path on our way to the Russian border.
Besides planning the route and laying down distances all other preparations got more extensive the further away we go. This time preparations for the trip took us a bit longer especially as we planned to cross the Russian area „Oblast Kaliningrad“. Sourcing informations about road conditions, camping grounds and cycling in general was really difficult. We read about lots of military, restricted areas, harsh roads and tuff border controls so we did not know what to expect on this part of the route. To make things a little more exciting travelers who wish to enter the „Oblast Kaliningrad“ need to apply for a visa at the Russian embassy but it is also possible to get a visa at a Russian travel agency. Less stress and less paperwork.
Once we arrived at the boarder the tension was rising. We choose the checkpoint Mamonowo (Мамоново). For all of us this was our first time crossing a border and leaving the european union to enter a country like Russia. We expected long waiting times and thorough border controls. To our surprise leaving Poland and entering Russia went smooth, fast and without any problems at all. Cycling unknown terrain is always interesting and we absolutely did not know what to expect from the roads through Russia. We followed the busy 27A north-west and found ourselves in the outskirts of Kaliningrad after 4 hours of cycling. Kaliningrad was awesome. We found a cheep place to sleep in a small bicycle hostel not far away from the city center. After checking into the hostel we pulled of all the bags and equipement, grabbed our bikes rode back in the city to grab some food and Vodka and had a nice time cruising around town at night. To be continued…