Yesterday I reported on lindanieuws.nl/wereldwijven
that the extreme cold in northern neighbor Latvia caused 150 cases of frostbites and hypothermia during the January month. Well, we certainly had our share of coldness as well, but that seemed to have stopped for a couple of days. Temperatures rose above zero and even though some fishermen still risks their lives on thin ice, the rivers pretty much fully flow through Lithuania’s landscape again. I’ve been a little ill these days but after having eaten a full jar of honey I noticed staying in bed would only make me feel more miserable. So, time for some fresh air! I decided to take my dusty old bike with me in order to fill up its tires. It had been standing around here during the time I was in Estonia and when I came back it was surprisingly still standing at the very same place, minus some tire air. I went to the gas station because my tires are equipped with car valves. I was struggling around a bit and eventually asked one man for help. He wore a very tidy suit and totally didn’t look like filling up a Dutchman’s bike tires, but still he did, which was very kind. He was a bit surprised why on earth I would be interested in riding my bike in this weather (hardly any snow on the streets and +4 degrees Celsius). I told him I’m from the Netherlands and that it’s absolutely normal for me to drive around on my bike in these weather conditions. “Ahaa, in that way, I guessed you were from Finland actually!”, he said. Was this a hidden Finnish stereotype? The crazy Finn riding its bike when the weather isn’t cycling-in-Lithuania-proof? Oh well. I’m at least very thankful I got some assistance. Afterwards with a huge smile decorating my face I drove around though Kaunas. Nobody normally ever cares about bikers on bike lanes and especially not now when you more seldom than usual can spot a cyclist. I drove over the oh so nicely designed bike lane at Freedom Street. Normally it’s quite dangerous, since nobody ever watches back when crossing the lane. It only took me two ‘oh come oooooon’-s during my entire ride now. Good score.
My Kregzdute, made in the USSR
People looked at me with question marks in their eyes. A girl, on a bike, with this weather? Interestingly enough during my whole morning cycling trip I haven’t seen any other brave cyclist defying the cold and the small amount of snow still laying on the streets. Once again it’s shown that cycling is just an integrated part of my Dutch functioning system. I see no harm in a nice ride on a chilly but sunny Sunday morning. It was lovely in fact! For the ones wanting to try it out as well, especially in Kaunas, I have to warn you: don’t head to the city center taking the path next to the Nemunas river. Dozens of dirty teeth having, smoking and like alcohol smelling (and looking) fishermen were standing in a long line trying to catch their prey.
The green speed devil made in the USSR and a pair of warm Swedish farmer gloves which I definetely needed today
Before I continue let me explain how my bike rides normally look like. I really enjoy cycling to and from University during weekdays. I usually cycle along ‘Freedom Avenue’ where a special path is created for cyclists only. However, even though there is enough space to walk, people always seem to have the urge to walk exactly on that little piece of soil which is actually meant to be used by cyclists. ALWAYS. Half of the population walks around with mobile phones and is not aware of anything happening around them. Frustrating. They always cross the cycling path without looking if the way is actually free. Exactly the same counts for the other half of the population walking around with headphones. People don’t see anything, people don’t hear anything and worst of all, people don’t undertake any action when they seldom do spot a cyclist. It’s just not in the system of a Lithuanian to move aside or to be aware of the dangers of the actual speed of a bike, especially driven by a Dutchman. I hardly ever arrive at University without having spoken out loudly being annoyed by the ones crossing my way. I need at least 10 extra pairs of eyes in order to feel a little safe on my bike. Unfortunately I have to accuse at least 3 (sometimes even a lot more) people, often car drivers, of being an asshole when they once again hit the pedals too fanatically, completely missing out the poor cyclist having priority.
The place where Neris and Nemunas come together
Enough about my frustration now. Let’s get back to this morning, the fishermen and the fact you should not ride your bike nearby them. Besides the above mentioned characteristics these men might also be a bit deaf. My bike is close from falling apart and therefore it makes a lot of sound. However, the men didn’t connect this sound with the idea someone was actually approaching them. Seriously, one third of them decided to swing their fishing rod in the water again the moment I nearly passed by. Just when I hoped to make a nice little tour without any silently outspoken accusations to anyone I was attacked by all these men and their fishing hooks. So dangerous! I expected to be lifted into the water by a hook in my nose or jacket any time. Brrr. But, I survived, just a few sighs, ‘oh come oooon’ and frowned eyebrows later. It was a nice trip after all. Even though it’s not always easy here, cycling just adds a little happiness to my day. A bit incomprehensible after the struggles mentioned in this blog post maybe…