Follow the signs?!
The arrow pointed straight ahead so I pressed on. My eyes looked up to see a 30metre wide section of smoothly flowing water, corridored with steep banks which, given the season, had taken on an orange tinge. Houses and their immaculately maintained gardens curved up from the river, patiently watching boats and cyclists like myself chug past. I’d reached the 734 mile river Elbe which took me through the historic city of Dresden and onto the Czech border.
The bike path gained in quietness away from the city when there in front of me was another cyclist looking up at a second, more concerning sign. I pointed straight ahead and we began to make noises and actions which communicated very little! I wasn’t in the mood to turn around so forward I went without him. On and on i pedalled not wanting to entertain the thought of having to retrace these metres I had gained.
And then it was there! I heard first and then saw. A group of German workmen, covered in sawdust were taking chain saws to trees which were crashing down onto the bike path in front of me! I stopped and looked hopefully at them, willing them to pause and let me pass. As I waited the cyclist from earlier joined me and looked on in hope together…
An hour later and I was sat with the bearded cyclist Jens, sipping a beer and sharing stories from Germany to the UK. He had been given a day off from being Dad to his 3 week old daughter Martha. A software developer he spoke enthusiastically, when I mentioned having come through Leipzig, of the best tech museum in Europe! We’d been let through by the loggers and this time at least it paid not to follow the signs instructions!
Czech bike signs were more shy than their German equivalents. Germany has an amazing network of bike paths with clear signs which unlock their secrets. I often found myself on an unplanned quiet scenic road because of these kind directors.
As I exited the large German river the gorge before me became narrower and the roads suddenly steeper. My one night in Czech Republic was spent after a tough, end of day climb at 500m on a hill top. No signs to say no so I camped in a section of forest not far from the road.
The next morning white and red cleverly matched the colours of the land I was now in. Poland brought me my first mountains. I was led over an 800 metre pass by a series of pictures drawn creatively on the tree trunks that guided me over the top. The repetitive view was broken only at the top by a magnificent panorama of the valley below.
Descending fast down the other side a brown sign displayed the potential activities for the surrounding hills. I quietly hoped I had arrived in time for the one involving two wheels!
Friday morning came. It was to be the day of arrival at my cousins in Wroclaw where I looked forward to enjoying great company whilst resting my legs and backside! I was made to feel at home in the morning sun by a familiar blue, red and white sign from Home!
What can’t be signposted is the imminent arrival of a dog chase! Polish and Czech dogs love chasing British men on bikes! 2 small, one mid size and one large.
The first I was in Czech, meandering along eating an apple only for all of a sudden, this small, aggressive yapper to come running at me fast. I growled and pedalled hard to escape, only to look down at my apple to see half of a maggot wriggling with its last breathes… yuk!
The other memorable chase- I smugly pedalled the safe side of a garden fence as a dog went wild behind it. As I went further along I saw a gap. Before I knew it the dog had squeezed through and was barking along side me! Again the fox growl worked and myself and a polish women shook our fists as the dog thankfully retreated!
One of my favourite signs is of the clear sky above which prompts me to take off my second coat and enjoy the suns warming rays! In the back end of the week I’ve been blessed with some amazing weather and as I sit in Wroclaw on Monday the thermometer has hit 23c in the October sun!!
I’ve been reminded this week of the greatest sign for our lives. In John 14:6–7 Jesus says , “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’
I’ve been learning more and more that if we want to be guided to meaning, purpose and life in all its fullness we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the one who brings life in all of its fullness! John 10:10.
What would it take you to believe in God? Is it a clear sign? Maybe in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he has already given us one!
Week in stats:
- 2000km mark passed
- 2 wild camps
- 4 dog chases
- 2 greasy hands
- Too many signs to count!!