After three nights in Vilnius, Lithuania, I loaded up my bicycle and hit the road with plans of cycling for the next four days until I reached the city of Riga, Latvia (about 300 kilometers to the north). I could have easily cycled to Riga in three days, but I was in no rush, so I took my time and tried to enjoy myself as best I could.
Getting out of Riga didn’t take very long. After about 45 minutes I was well outside the city and cycling in beautiful, green countryside. The terrain, however, was a mix of paved and dirt/gravel roads. When the dirt/gravel became too soft or bumpy, travel was slow. But on the paved streets, I was absolutely flying.
I cycled all day long, loaded up on food and water in the tiny town of Panoteriai, Lithuania, and then found a place to camp for the night in a nearby forest. This campsite was probably on my best during this particular leg of my journey. It was quite, with no one around, and only a small number of mosquitos.
In the morning I packed up camp, loaded up my bicycle and hit the road. I saw a large rabbit just as I was leaving the forest, and the rabbit dashed off into the woods as soon as it saw me.
All day long I was crossing from dirt to paved roads. Dirt road for 6 km and then paved roads for 10 km. Then dirt roads for 8 km and paved roads for 12 km. It went on like this all day.
If the photo below makes you think the weather was spectacular during this particular leg of the journey, you’d be wrong. Even though the sun was out at times, it was usually very cold. The weather over the course of these four days was almost always cold (or on the verge of being cold) with the sun coming out for a few moments and then quickly going away. The threat of rain was almost always near.
During my second day on the road I slept in another forest just north of the city of Panevezys, Lithuania. The photo below shows my campsite around 4:30 AM, when I crawled out of my tent in the early morning in order to use the restroom.
The weather the next day was the worst of the entire bike tour. It wasn’t so cold, but it was raining on and off all day long. I’d get wet, get cold, dry out, and then get wet all over again. Plus, the wind was blowing like crazy and it felt like I was pulling an anchor behind my bicycle. I kept checking to make sure I didn’t have a flat tire. The wind was seriously slowling me down. But I covered a good 80 kilometers or more that day, and to my delights, was able to cross the Lithuanian border and cycle into Latvia.
The house below is the type of architecture I will forever associate with Lithuania. While many of the homes in Lithuania are quite modern and built of brick (like those you might see in Poland or Germany), Lithuania had a number of old, wooden homes like this. Many of them were painted yellow!
As soon as I crossed the bridge that brought me from Lithuania to Latvia, I was treated to this spectacular view of the Skaiskalne, Latvia. The lighting was incredible! See below.
I then cycled for another hour or so before making camp in a large forest near the side of the road. I celebrated having made it to Latvia by doing several handstands in front of my tent.
I slept in late the following morning, woke up and read a chapter from the book I’m reading at the moment (“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card) and didn’t get out of my tent until 11 AM. Once I hit the road though, I was flying!
Unlike the day before, when it had been a struggle to cover just 80 kilometers over the course of the entire day, I cycled about 80 kilometers in 3.5 hours and made it to Riga, Latvia before 3 PM.
Cycling into Riga was easy. There was a lot of traffic and the cycling lanes were far from perfect (they did not really exist on some of the larger roads), but finding a place to spend the night was easy. I was able to find a campground on the edge of the Duagava River, just across from the city center (in the recently opened Riverside Camping). I was able to pitch my tent on a small patch of grass, right on the edge of the river. This was the view from my tent!
I should have gone into the center of Riga the first day I arrived, because when I woke up the following morning, it was pouring rain… and it continued to rain almost all day long. Sometime around 2 PM, however, there was a short break in the rain, so I went into the city center, walked around, and snapped a few photos. Then I returned to my campsite and spent the rest of the night on my computer and hiding from the rain.
I ended up staying in Riga for three total nights… and during my last day in the city I met up with Ilze from en.thecrazytravel.com. Ilze and her boyfriend, Pablo, are conducting a bicycle tour around the world. They’ve already traveled for 6+ months and plan to be on the road for the next several years.
It was great meeting you Ilze! I can’t wait to hear all the stories (and see all the photos) from your bicycle tour around the world!