Day 4 - 63 miles This was the longest ride of the trip. We were in the saddle for 6 hours (do you like the new biking lingo?) breaking our own personal records for most miles cycled! We rode through the Latvian forest, toured two community libraries, visited a castle, and stayed the night at a rehabilitation spa in the mountains.
We were welcomed at every single library we visited, but the Alluzi Public Library greeting had to be the best! The neighborhood kids made us signs, the librarians fed us delicious soup for lunch, and then the kids led us on the library tour.
Inside, the Alluzi Library is bright and cheery - we loved the open doors and fresh air.
Following a beautiful concert in one of Latvia's most architecturally significant churches, we rode to Sigulda where we went through a beautiful botanical garden and stopped for a few minutes at a castle. Check out this amazing view, it even includes yet another castle. The entire day was like cycling in a fairy tale. We even had cake and coffee in the beautiful forest. It was truly magical, even if we did have to stay out of the wet grass to avoid ticks and Tick-borne encephalitis. Every fairly tale has it's dark side, right?
The Sigulda Public Library is a shining example of a new community library and it had all the latest equipment and the cutest children's room. They welcomed us with a beautiful selection of fresh berries. Just the pick me up we needed in the late afternoon.
When we got to Sigulda we thought we had made it to our stop for the night. Not so fast! Turns out this was just a short stop.
Karen had to make a much bigger stop after this library due to her second flat tire of the day. Because we didn't have the necessary equipment with us to make the repair, our excellent bicycle repair team of Patrick Otton and Michel Guegan (to whom we are eternally grateful) wasn't able to change the tire. So, Karen's bike was transported on top of a Yugo that was traveling with our group, and Karen got to ride the last few km in style in the Yugo.
We were behind schedule and a couple hours late so we didn't get to tour of the paper mill, but we were not too late to catch the band playing for us on top of the mountain. Not a great picture, but if you look up you can see the railings and the band is on that stage. We were exhausted by this point, but there were a few diehards that even did a little polka.
Then, we were back on the road, or shall I say mountain, to get to out hotel outside of Ligatne for the evening. I don't think the last few hills were that steep, but you should know that the previous 20 miles were on a washboard dirt road and did I mention just moments before we thought were done riding for the day? That will mess with your head. After a great dinner and a warm shower, we were were ready for bed. We had done it. We completed the longest day of the tour, but we had 7 more days to go.
Stay tuned for more of our cycling adventures!
By April Kessler and Karen Holt of Librarian Lifestyle. April and Karen are librarians at the University of Texas at Austin and they are missing their cycling buddies and the deep library discussions they had on the road.