Monday 24 May 2010

Days like this

Stage 1, day 1 (Friday, 14 May 2010): 
Bohumín to Opava (50 km)

Bohumín railway station, 3.25 pm, Friday. Here at last, after months of planning and blogging about planning. The rain is pelting down - not quite what I'd envisaged. A guy in a white vest is leaning out of a window in the building opposite and staring down at me. I feel self-conscious dressed in my wet-weather cycling gear and taking an arm's length photo of myself with the station sign behind me. Still, I've got to have a record of the official start. Line it up, smile, click.

Official start, Bohumín railway station

Friday 21 May 2010

Circuit Rider CZ is up for an award!

Many thanks to those whose nominated this blog for a Crank award. The upshot is that it has made the shortlist of five nominees for best Commuter/Travel Biking blog (out of 44 contenders by my calculations). I must say I'm delighted and more than a little surprised by this. Please support me one more time by going to the Crank website and voting again for Circuit Rider CZ in the final round of voting (which closes on Saturday 6 June). You'll find my blog right at the end of the list of nominees.

I'd also encourage you to check out all the other blogs and vote in all the categories. People put a lot of effort into these things and deserve all the support they can get. As the Crank team say themselves, the awards are just a bit of fun. The main aim is to create the Crank Directory - a complete source of listings for our cycling blog community. I'm convinced it will be a very useful resource both for us bloggers and for anyone interested in reading our stuff.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Crank Rankings - last chance to nominate my blog

Today - 20 May - is the last chance to nominate my blog for the Crank World Cycling Blog Rankings. All you have to do is open the Crank nomination form, add the blog name (Circuit Rider CZ), the URL ( and your e-mail address, and choose the blog category (Commuter/Travel).

If you've enjoyed reading this blog I'd be very grateful to receive a nomination from you.



Tuesday 18 May 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This is my 50th post. It's also my most important one so far, as I'm using it to pay several debts of gratitude.

Monday 17 May 2010

I'm coming home

Looks like my attempt at audio blogging on the go failed. Never mind, I'll try again when I get home - in about 3 hours! Yes, I'm on the train back to Prague after a hypothermia-inducing, white-knuckle ride down from the Eagle Mountains in the pouring rain. Stage 1 completed! Am feeling drained but ever so slightly elated. Pictured: possibly the wettest pair of boots in the Czech Republic.

Audio postcard from Eagle Mountains.

Hope this gets through to the blog ok. I've never tried audio blogging before, so apologies for any roughness at the edges.

The show goes on

I've decided to continue. The rain has stopped, the forecast is not too bad, and I feel refreshed after a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast. The photo shows Kraliky, where Hitler gave a speech to the then majority German population in 1938. Today I head north to Nachod along the border with Poland. On the way I'll be visiting several WWII fortifications. In the evening I plan to get the train home to Prague, with stage 1 of my journey completed.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Full teeth

This is going to be short, as I'm exhausted. When Czechs have had enough of something, they say, "I have full teeth". Well, my teeth are full of the relentless wind and driving rain I had to endure this afternoon. One motorist felt so sorry for me, he offered me a lift. I declined, but was sorely tempted to accept. If it's like this again tomorrow, I will curtail stage 1 and complete it later. There's no point continuing in such foul weather. No decision yet though; now it's time to meditate quietly over a pint of the excellent local brew.

Shelter from the storm

It's lunchtime and I'm in a restaurant in Javornik. As I look up at its impressive castle (pictured) I can see the rain coming down at 45 degrees outside. This morning I had a cold NW wind to battle against. This afternoon I head into the hills, turning south through Poland for a while. There's a long climb back into CZ, then it's downhill and downwind all the way to my overnight stop: Kraliky

Saturday 15 May 2010

Bon appetit from Zlate hory

A day of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. Two punctures in the morning, flooded trails in the afternoon, all rounded off by a killer climb after 100 km on the road. No rain today, but deluge forecast for tomorrow. Ho hum. Big feed on chicken in beer batter well deserved!

Day 2 dawns...

...and it's still overcast, but not raining. Thanks to Keith (see comment under last post) and my wife Jitka (love u) for much needed encouragement. Today looks interesting - Osoblaha salient and on to Zlate hory.

Friday 14 May 2010


Made it to Opava as planned. In the end the cycling gods smiled on me and called off the rain shortly after I left Bohumin. Let's hope they are feeling equally magnanimous tomorrow.

Official start!

Bohumin in the rain.

Rain, rain, go away

And so it did come to pass, on the eve of my trip, that a rain cloud did descend upon the whole country. I knew that dress rehearsal went too smoothly. I'm getting nostalgic flashbacks to soggy holidays in Wales when I was a youngster.

Never mind, it's only water. At least I'll get a chance to test out my kinky rainlegs.

Final preparations now in progress. The bike is loaded up with luggage and I'm loaded up with porridge. I've double-wrapped everything (except the porridge) in plastic bags in an effort to keep out the water. In a couple of hours I'll head off for the railway station. Hopefully my next post will be from my mobile at the official start in Bohumín.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Stage 1 here I come!

At long last - after months of blathering on about my trip - I'm about to set off. It's time to kick aside the keyboard and get riding.

My bike and I are booked on the 11.26 a.m. Pendolino train from Prague to Ostrava this Friday. From there I'll cycle to the official start point of stage 1 in Bohumín and continue to my first overnight stop in Opava. If all goes to plan, I'll reach Náchod by Monday evening and catch a train home from there.

I'll be blogging "on the go" from my mobile phone, so you'll be able to track my progress by tuning in to the blog over the weekend. After I get back I'll be writing up the trip on a day-by-day basis.

Roll on Friday!

Sunday 9 May 2010

Full dress rehearsal

What is it they say in the theatre? Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night? Well, if the opposite holds for a good dress rehearsal, I might be heading for a catastrophe.

I realised the other day that I’d yet to try out my Giant Defy road bike in credit-card touring configuration. As this is the bike I’m intending to use to tackle stages 1 and 3 of my cycling lap of the Czech Republic, I decided a test run around Prague would be a good idea. So, I loaded it up with the gear I’ll be taking (more on that in a later post), dragged it down the ten flights of stairs that lead from my flat to street level, and headed off for the river.

I must confess I went pretty gingerly at first, especially over the cobblestones and tramlines that are the cyclist’s lot in Prague. But the further I went, the more my confidence grew.

My road-bike-cum-tourer: Overall impression...

...and rear end

My first worry had been that my heels would catch on the bags as I pedalled along. They didn’t.

I’d also been concerned about the handling with that luggage on the back. But the bike wasn’t frisky at all. Very well-tempered, in fact.

Then I became convinced that something was going to work loose. Sure enough, a few miles into the ride a rattle developed. I stopped and checked all the bolts, but they were all rock solid. I set off again, and the rattling continued. The mystery was solved about an hour later when I remembered that the handle of my frame-mounted pump has a habit of unlocking itself. A quick twist soon sorted that out.

Another minor rattle was coming from the map holder, but a bit of ad-hoc padding easily got rid of that as well. I’m very pleased with this bit of kit. I’d originally planned to use my handlebar bag, which has a map compartment on the top, but when I tried to install it on the road bike I found that the gear cables got in the way. The KLICKfix Sunny Handlebar Map Holder is the answer - it’s very lightweight, it allows me to navigate without having to stop and dig out the map, and it uses the same handlebar adapter as my handlebar bag. I couldn’t get hold of one in Prague, but Dotbike supplied one from the UK with the minimum of fuss.

What about the gearing? The gears on a road bike don’t go as low as those on an MTB or a tourer, which means hills can be harder work. I deliberately tested myself and the bike on the long climb from Vrané nad Vltavou to Zvole on the outskirts of Prague. Again, no problem. I didn’t even have to resort to bottom gear, which means I should be OK on all but the very steepest slopes. And if the inclines get too unkind, I can always get off and walk (oh, the humiliation!).

So, a surprisingly successful dry run. And to hell with all that superstition of the stage. I’m going on a bike ride, not putting on the Scottish Play.

Here's hoping I break a leg!

Wednesday 5 May 2010

The booming bicycle business - part 2

Part 2 of the BBC World Service's two-part Global Business report on the bicycle business - "Life Cycle" - is now out. Click here to listen to it.
"Peter Day returns to a subject close to his heart: pedal power. From two far-flung corners of New York City, here’s his second look at bikes ... and trikes."
Part 1 is available here.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

City cycling Spanish-style

I've just returned from a (non-cycling) trip to Barcelona and Valencia. I was so impressed with the cycling infrastructure in these beautiful Spanish cities that I thought I'd post a few photos I took while I was there.