Sunday 31 October 2010

Job done for 2010

Stage 3, day 4 (Tuesday, 21 September 2010)
Kraslice to Aš (68 km)

It’s decision time. Do I keep going straight down the main road to the finish at Aš? Or do I have time for one last scenic detour through the forest? Stages 1 and 2 of my journey around the Czech border (ridden in May and July of this year respectively) both culminated in a mad dash to catch the train home to Prague. I don’t want to repeat that mistake this time. On the other hand, I don’t want this ride to end yet; I want to squeeze every last bit of goodness out of it before bottling it for the blog. I check the map and check my watch and I do the mental arithmetic. And then, with a big smile on my face, I turn right and disappear into the trees.

The road out of Kraslice

Friday 22 October 2010


Stage 3, day 3 (Monday, 20 September 2010)
Vejprty to Kraslice (72 km)

Almost every day of my ride around the Czech border so far has started with some sort of climb. It’s the last thing any cyclist wants first thing in the morning. And today’s is a real beast - ten miles almost continuously uphill to the summit of Klínovec, the highest peak in the Ore Mountains. It’s a long way above my starting point, Base Camp Vejprty - a full 1,670 feet in fact, making it one of the biggest ascents of the entire trip. Worse still, it’s a decidedly chilly out here and I’m cycling into a pretty hefty headwind.

My hotel in Vejprty - The Harlekin

Wednesday 13 October 2010

2 become 1

Stage 3, day 2 (Sunday, 19 September 2010)
Mikulov to Vejprty (85 km)

Our arrival in the breakfast room at Hotel Ice-Axe causes some merriment, especially when Ryan announces - in clear Donegal Czech - that his head hurts. I phone Mrs Circuit Rider to wish her a happy birthday. She knows immediately that we were partying the night before, as my voice is down by about an octave, probably from singing Ring of Fire too loud. With just five hours sleep behind us and residual alcohol still tainting our veins, we’re not in great shape for the strenuous day’s cycling ahead. We breakfast on bread, cheese and a couple of ibuprofen.

Ryan on the inevitable morning climb

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Be nice to yourself

Stage 3, day 1 (Saturday, 18 September 2010)
Děčín to Mikulov (63 km)

The two of us are taking a breather at a roadside picnic table half way up the 90-minute climb to Děčínský Sněžník on the Ore Mountains Cycle Trail. Ryan - who is accompanying me on the first two days of this stage - is texting our friend and partner-in-cycling Ciaran to let him know we’re on the road again together, this time in the northwest of the Czech Republic. Turns out Ciaran is in Greece and has just broken his arm - after falling off his bike! One of Ciaran’s mottos is “Be nice to yourself”. Where breaking a limb - or, indeed, riding over the Alps with bronchitis (as Ciaran did with us in June this year) - fits in with that I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, we send him a message recommending he take plenty of ouzo to aid his recovery, then we get back on our bikes and continue grinding up the hill.

Official start, Děčín town square