I have a theory about the reasons why nobody wants to ride with us. Each subsequent route convinces me that it has something to do with the fact that we constantly get up before sunrise to finish the ride before sunset. This, of course, never works anyway, despite the fact that we give up such unnecessary extravagances as stopping in the store, eating drinking and eating, or non-synchronous peeing (which takes 2x longer than synchronous).

Most of the recently traveled routes are also the result of being an adult, a busy person and laziness. Therefore, taking advantage of the already completed Great Lakes Gravel marathon route seemed to be the perfect idea for a long, autumn weekend. Because it doesn't require anything - you leave the house and come back 2 or 3 days later without unnecessary logistics.
Especially since it is one of the most praised routes on the Internet. And then I come in, all in white.

The Great Lakes Gravel tour reminded me of some very important things:

  1. That my bike is not a gravel bike and that I don't like riding it off-road. For me, the definition of a classic gravel starts somewhere around 38mm + tires, I drive 35mm. It is an optimum that is equally free on asphalt and off-road. Thanks to it, I can also uncomfortably ride on most of the routes I have invented. And slow, especially slow - 30 km / h for me has been a serious speed lately. Regardless of whether it is morocco rocky road, California dirty asphalts, whether unknown Balkan asphalts. On Great Lakes Gravel, this solution did not work. The ratio of asphalt to gravel and forest roads on the route is similar to the ratio of fresh sweet rolls to alcohol in the shops we pass. Generally all the time it collapses with the following areas: forest, field, cobblestone, gravel, sand and any other. Gravelers are probably happy, "allroaders" like me - probably not. However, I prefer good and bad asphalts with the addition of terrain than the other way around. It is worth adding here that on such State farms, the tires turned out to be perfect for me and the asphalt-to-terrain proportions were also perfect for me. However, I do not get the theory about gravel as an off-road bike, unfortunately.
    Don't get me wrong, at 35mm it is possible to cover this route without technical problems - it just might be moderately enjoyable ;-)
  2. That Masuria is not so much. This is a highly subjective issue, but the best part of the route is by far the one where you leave Masuria. For me, the Suwałki Region wins over Masuria: fudges, hills, small lakes, other villages - everything is better. Maybe I'm on a boat or chilled by the lake with a coffee maker, I would say otherwise. But I don't do it, so I don't say that. The Suwałki Region is better than Masuria.
  3. That I like routes with the "addition of local color" much more. Apart from the Suwałki fragment, I missed something other than fields, forests and (but sporadic) lakes. For many, this may be a plus, but I like to bump into sometimes lokalsa. But the classic one that looks at you with surprise, not the one from Mikołajki.
  4. That what a head is an opinionbecause maybe I would draw the route a bit differently, but it doesn't mean that it would be better. It would just be more "under me". The vast majority gravel friends consider her to be at least very good. Long winter, there will be something to argue about.

As for the organization itself, we are very good at it. On Friday evening, I prepared my own riding clothes, mounted a 2.5-liter Decathlon seat, into which I put my pajamas and an ultralight jacket, and a bag under the charger frame, some tools, a wallet ... and that's about it. Going out in the morning takes as much as throwing all the prepared clothes onto yourself. I only knew about the route that it is. I just downloaded from official website and uploaded to Karoo.

On Saturday, we set off by train at 5:30 from Warszawa Wschodnia to Olsztyn. We get off in it at 8:30 and 8:46 we drive up to the regional 30 km to Wipsowo, which is one forest pass from the start. My expedited packing did not include food, so we decide to go to the first store. There are plenty of those on the route. If, of course, you are satisfied with an average of one, not very well equipped for about 100 km. We have a total of two on our over 500 km, at the same time buying all sweet rolls (including donuts) from them.
It goes hand in hand with the accommodation base, thanks to which we cover some 210 km on the first day - less than 10 hours of driving. Because sensible accommodation in which we will not starve to death appear only in Gołdap.

The second day is better, but again we have an overnight stay on a route longer by 2 km and covered by 5 minutes faster (counting the driving time) - in Mikołajki. A great place where for PLN 40 you can buy a small and not very tasty pizza, but fortunately there is Żabka. Maybe besieged, because it's Sunday, but it is. If PLN 40 for a bad pizza is too much for you, remember that you forgot to turn off roaming on that day near the Russian border.

In Gołdap, we sleep on the market square in a hotel / restaurant Parkova. There is a large pizza, no problem with the bike and leaving the place early, everything close so very good. Mikołajki is Cottages near the Katalpamiwhich are even better, because at a similar price (PLN 190) we get a whole house that could fit 5 people.

We have a return ticket at 18:26 on Monday from Olsztyn. When we check in at kilometer 420 of the route on Sunday evening, we change our reservation to 15:28. When we meet Michał at 5:30 in the kitchen on Monday morning, we do not know yet that 3 hours later we will change our reservation to 11:22. It was a very good move, because thanks to the fact that we are missing a bit more than 100 km to Olsztyn, we travel a bit faster than our legs allow, and we check in at the station 13 minutes before the departure of the train. We are at home after 14 and we don't know what to do with ourselves.

In my opinion, an efficient and ambitious graveler, the route should take about 2 days (i.e. one lawful sleeping on the way). At least one with dignity who sleeps when he is sleepy and eats when he is hungry. We are going when it gets dark around 4pm, and we are already in the age (or state) where you go to sleep a moment after it got dark. So in the dark we drive about 3 hours in total. Our optimal training plan, in which we use the bike once a week for a long time and spend about 100 km on it, ultimately proves that you do not have to ride to ride. It is enough that once you have ridden, and the body remembers. The average just drops by about 3km / h and the back looks a bit more. Someone has recently mentioned that it is the fault of age, but I still think that it is not driving. After returning home, I also feel quite serious slack in my wrists. A week later, the wrists are doing better, but the ankles are still swaying.

The optimal place to stay (in the case of tents, because I do not know if there are accommodation there) are around Stańczyk. The ones with the viaduct. Not only because it is more or less half of the route, but also because it is by far the most beautiful area and it is a pity to miss it at night - it must be very good at sunrise and sunset. It is also a breeding ground for cow clusters (of course, it is about groups, hehe hehe). Their eyes fixed on the cyclist always seem to know what you've been doing in Diablo. In a word: a disturbing matter.

The one-piece strategy only works a little. When we move, the temperature fluctuates around 2 degrees, at noon it exceeds 10. Michał most of the time goes "short", I too often skip putting on 3/4 trouser legs out of laziness, so my knees are still shaking with the cold to this day. The old rule says that if you're too cold, you can always run into sand and "almost capsize" - the adrenaline rush improves the situation ... at least for a while. Driving without changing clothes has such an advantage that I was statistically dressed perfectly - half the time I was too cold and half too warm.

Is it worth it?

I liked it on average but "it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't mean anything."

It's like this - if you have a bike you like to ride in (very lyte) terrain, then yes. For example, if you prefer good and bad asphalts, choose the Ring of a Thousand Lakes. If you like Masuria - yes too. If not, go to the Suwałki Region. Well, go party, not onion, like us.

A moment about the (essential) equipment

Factor Vista bike, Goodyear County Ultimate 35mm tires
Seatrest: decathlon Bicycle saddle bag 900 2.5 L, waterproof
Bag under the frame: Apidura Backcountry Frame Pack (4.5L)
The most expensive shorts in the world Assos Mille GTSwhich I bought because I thought that if you do not drive, your bum hurts less in better ones. This, of course, is a very moderate truth. I do not have an opinion yet if it is worth it. They are twice as expensive as my favorite Eroeand only a little better. He talked to the butt for a few trips what I think about it.

And above all, new shoes: gravel DMT GK1.
Who reads this blog, may remember the statement: "I will never buy lace-up shoes in my life, especially for gravel shoes." The sentence is true - the shoes are in cooperation with the DMT brand.
They are cool - especially after Shimano, where the sole disappeared after the first season and since then every stop on the rough surface has been an adventure. I still do not see the advantages of laces and I think that the most important thing in a shoe is the lining chosen for it. The shoes have such a strange patent that they do not have a "tongue", it requires either a certain amount of patience to put them on or a shoehorn. But when it does, it's great.
I don't know what more can be said about the shoes, except that they walk and ride well. Let me recommend the information that I will probably be riding them for the next 2 years…. unless less, then it means no recommendation ;-)