So it turns out I’m not the only family member stupid enough to want to ride a slow bike through foreign countries. My cousins Rhys and Rhodri also appear to have been missing a few brain cells when deciding they’d like to ride from Budapest to Berlin. Good on them!
Rhys was riding to raise money for Prostate cancer (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rhysprice) and Rhods for Great Ormond Street Hospital (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rhodri-price1). I joined them in Prague with 230 miles left of a 700 mile journey for what proved to be some of the best riding I’ve ever experienced.
Fitting this all in a long weekend from work, I arrived at the designated hostel at midnight. I throughly enjoyed assembling my bike in front of an intoxicated audience, all too keen to capitalise on my misfortunes with the occasional jeer… My sense of humour evaded me on this occasion and I swiftly made my way to bed. The morning brought a warm sun and clear skies. It was time to ride.
Rhods (left), Rhys (centre) and myself all donning fresh jerseys for the occasion.
The surface was top notch and a few rolling hills set us right into the mornings cycling. It was great fun to ride as a unit and this chaingang was making some solid progress as the temperature crept into the low 20’s. It was hard to believe that a day earlier I’d been cycling into work in Cambridge, to now finding myself working on a solid cyclists tan.
We passed into Melnik and made for the river Elbe. Riding by the water, we weaved our way through the Czech countryside, our route thankfully dissecting some severe looking peaks. We had been warned by one of the hostel staff that a decent sized mountain range lay on the Czech-German border, we hoped this might be our way through. A couple of miles down the road my inner tube decided it didn’t want to hold air anymore, as did my spare after I expertly severed it with my new tyre levers. Besides this the riding was stellar, with smiles on faces all round. Smiles soon turn to grimaces as the competitive side came out. A couple of small undulations unwittingly hosted the fully laden ‘three-musketeers’ hill climbing championships, to which a variety of dirty-tactics were employed to the others detriment. Such tactics led to an incredibly scary rider-down situation, as Rhys got personal with some tarmac after falling the wrong way into the road. All this happened as a car passed us, with its wheels appearing to trim his already short hair, the antics were quickly abandoned and cuts were attended to at the roadside.
The weather was on point as we lapped up the glorious Czech roads.
We rode on to find a pretty stone building, complete with mote and an inviting drawbridge. Without much thought we unanimously decided to ride across it, finding ourselves inside a strange courtyard with groups of children dotted about the place. Promptly we were informed that we’d taken the staff entrance to an old Nazi concentration camp and asked to pay the entrance fee. The fee was gladly paid and we were taken for a tour of the site. It’s amazing how those pretty stone walls quickly morphed into a dystopian prison once the stories began to be told… Soon we continued onwards with our moods respectively less jubilant than before and in need of some food and drink.
Continued in PT. 2