I remember from my childhood the glory days of the Peace Race, a popular
cycling event in which socialist Poland competed against our neighbouring
friendly states. Each year the towns would empty as everybody found a
television to watch our brave boys compete against the best cyclists from
around the Eastern Bloc.
The race did not go through the town of Koszalin, where I grew up. I never
really dreamt of seeing it live, with my own eyes. But if it only had passed
by my neck of the woods, I would have been there with my father, mother and
sister, watching the great untouchables roll past on their colourful bikes,
an armada of cars carrying mechanics and spare parts following close
After the end of the Cold War the Peace Race lost some of its popularity.
Today, the Tour de Pologne, a 1,200 kilometre race that has become part of
the international cycling calendar, is the bigger event. In 2009 it
traversed the country from North-East to South-East, and I followed on my
I found myself captivated by the view that the bikers have: of people
standing on the sides of the road, for one short moment seeing the great
happening pass them by. It was as if they all stood up to pose for a photo,
happily waving from their neck of the woods to the great world whizzing by.