Monday, March 12, 2012

It runs in the family

Baltic Sea in Poland

Too bad I don't have any pictures, but it still is quite a story to tell. What I have in mind is the way my grandfather used to spend his summer vacation. Usually, he would send his family to the sea side in northern Poland for a few weeks. That included my mom, my grandmother, and me. My grandfather had to stay home and would join us later. That's simply because he couldn't just take that much time off. But I think that the most fun he had during his vacation was not by lying on the beach but by getting there. He and a few of his friends would ride their bikes up north to the shores of Baltic Sea. They usually covered ~350km (220 mi) over the course of 4-6 days. As you can tell from these numbers, their pace was pretty slow. Obviously, I was too young (about 2 years old) to remember anything of it but I am sure that they had fun. That's because being on the road was the goal, not getting to their destination. The low speed can be also explained by the fact that my grandfather was about 65 at that time and definitely didn't feel like racing. And since northern part of Poland can be quite hilly, he was always taking a little helper with him - a small, 2-stroke combustion engine. It was mounted on the front rack above the front wheel and was powering it by a rubber belt. I regret I did not inherit that bike but he sold it a long time ago when he got too old for such a long rides.

I was thinking about it all recently and I realized that cycling must run in the family. If your parents or siblings don't ride a bike and never did it with you, you will likely never try and never love it. This statement may sound false to us who are 30+ years old, since we are the generation who used to spend most of their childhood time outside. But if you look at today's children, many of them get stuck in front of TV or a computer screen and may not have a bike at all.

Me and my brother used to bike everywhere. Now, we still ride our bikes to work. My father does that too and my mother, since she is retired, likes to take weekend rides once a while as well. And even though we never really rode together as long distance as my grandfather did, bikes were always around in my family.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. My wife is Polish, with her parents still in Poland. (Krakow) They frequently "go to the seaside." A couple years ago, I was fortunate enough to join the family trip. It was really fun, they have cabins to rent at reasonable rates. We rented a house for a week, as there were four of us. It was a great time. Her parents, her parents' dog, my wife, myself, and our dog along with a weeks' worth of luggage piled into their car and drove up there. You should make a pilgrimage trip to Poland and do that trip. Buy a used bike and cruise around Gdansk (Danzig). Biking in the old European cities is just wonderful. They're small enough that biking is really practical, and big enough that walking takes a good while to get anywhere.