Set off in 4C weather with leggings and arm warmers and 3 layers. That’s a legacy of birth and life in the tropics. Thin blood. Gareth.W who is Welsh wore shorts and a single layer. Personally I thought that was bordering on disrespectful to my plight.
The first 1.5 km on cobblestones wasn’t appreciated and pretty sure I heard my spine complain more than once.
Our route took us from the hotel and down to the Vltava (main river flowing through Prague) where we joined a purpose built riverside cycle track for 7 km.
Last views of the Charles Bridge and my €10 a day bike
Leaving the river basin we enjoyed our first climbs of the day through wooded trails and pathways that led us out of the city limits.
I’ve always tried to acknowledge fellow cyclists as I pass them and as readers of my previous blogs will attest to its usually women on bikes with wicker baskets that will respond with a nod of acknowledgement. Least likely are men in Lycra riding expensive bikes. Well add to that list of “least likely “ Czech cyclists. Earnest lot that’s for sure . By lunch time the score card read 25 cyclists passed going in the opposite direction , 25 nods given, 5 reciprocated. Gareth.W lived in Prague for 2 years. He wasn’t surprised when I relayed this statistic to him.
At the 25km point we stopped for coffee. Somewhat surprised that it was by far and away the most expensive coffee (£2.10) I had so far in the Czech Republic Gareth’s response was…. “this particular outer suburb is regarded as the place to live if your monied or on a lucrative expat package. “
He wasn't telling a lie. Moments later the first and thus far only Ferrari I have seen since arriving in Czechia passed us by.
Ferraris and Tesco’s. Two sights I didn’t expect to see in the outer suburbs of Prague.
Being Australian I did not expect to see an iconic Australian shopping mall either
People are prone to bang on about the drabness of communist buildings . However if this apartment block was painted dull grey it would not look out of place in Prague pre 1990. The power of paint.
Our route out of Prague was through both wooded lanes and open parkways.
Leaving the perimeter of Prague we turned south and travelled through predominantly wooded areas bordered by bubbling brooks and small hamlets and towns that appeared desperately poor in appearance. The road surfaces were good, however the houses and general surrounds spoke volumes of an area devoid of much wealth.
A cyclists fuel in Europe. Croissants and caffeine .
Our first major river crossing.
Aside from coffee and croissants the other three ingredients to a successful bike ride are protein (meat) carbs (rice) and beer.
At lunch (1.15pm) the first smatterings of rain appeared. It stayed with us in various forms of heaviness with an irritating consistency for the remainder of the day and added a chill that I could’ve done without.
Over lunch I did learn that Czech for “Gents” is “Muzi “
And for “Women” …
…..there you go. Now you know. Can’t say this blog isn’t educational.
Our post lunch ride took us past countless “ponds” and in part beside a major river. We decided that Central Bohemia loves a pond and given my leaning to a statistic I started counting them as we passed them by. Yup…”sad“ doesn’t begin to cover it.
By late afternoon we were cold and wet and feeling a need for warmth and a coffee. The notice on the outside of this non descript establishment said it closed at 4pm. We turned up at 4.15pm. She welcomed us with open arms and a toothless smile. Inside sat 3-4 men whose faces and demeanour spoke of a life hard lived. In the 30 minutes we were there sipping our coffee (£1.10 a cup) the three gentlemen consumed 2 pints of beer each and 3 shots of something that looked like a headache in a glass.
Roadside tribute to a local who perished at a very non descript juncture of the country road. An impressive testament to a life lived.
Very late afternoon and the planned for 85km first day ride had morphed into a 100 km of which the last 50km was in the cold and wet. Given the relentless nature of the undulating terrain it would be fair to say that our pre booked accommodation at a an old disused water mill BnB could not arrive quickly enough.
A hot shower, some light stretching, 2 pints of local beer , a bout of verbal discourse with Thomas (owner of the biggest hands in the Western Hemisphere and proprietor of our BnB) and 2 bottles of this fine Czech red wine (€8 to save you looking it up) will cure most things.