First of all, I’ve been training pretty hard - both on and off the bike - to get back into shape for the remaining four stages of my cycling circumnavigation of the Czech Republic, all of which I intend to complete this year. For the first time in my life, I have something approaching a physique.
Out training in Prague
I’ve also been giving my mountain bike (my machine of choice for the remainder of the trip) a bit of TLC after the battering it suffered last year. All that mud and rain put paid to the bottom bracket, so I got my local bike shop to replace that and to service the front forks, a process which, for reasons unknown, took them a week and a half. All the rest I’ve done myself: I’ve given it a deep clean and lube, installed shiny new wheels (a Christmas present) and replaced the brake pads. All that remains is to change the brake and gear cables and I’m ready for the off.
I’ve also been busy planning my annual summer cycling tour with my friends Ryan and Ciaran. Last year we cycled from Munich through the Alps into Italy on the Via Claudia Augusta. This year we’ll be taking up where we left off in Trento and continuing south towards Florence, mostly on the alluringly named Cycle Route of the Sun (Ciclopista del Sole) - but more of that in a later post.
On the run-in to Trento last year
Speaking of the sun, I’m currently in the market for some new summer cycle clothing. (In a triumph of hope over experience, I’m planning for sizzling weather this year.) I’ve given up on Czech bike retailers owing to a dearth of choice, especially in sizes that fit my lanky frame. Instead I intend to buy from Wiggle in the UK. I’m always reluctant to purchase clothes online, but the detailed sizing charts and flexible returns policy at Wiggle take most of the uncertainty out of the process. On top of that they deliver free to the Czech Republic on orders over £100.
So what’s next? Stage 4, that’s what. And it might come sooner than you think. Spring has definitely arrived here in Prague and I’m keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. As soon as a suitably warm and sunny weekend comes up I’ll be on the road again. And then, rest assured, the blog posts will start coming thick and fast.