Friday 27 May 2011

Return of the Curse of Circuit Rider

Stage 4, day 4 (Tuesday, 12 April 2011)
Babylon to Nýrsko (34 km)

Today is an in-between day - a transition stage, you might say. I’m leaving the Bohemian Forest, but I won’t quite reach Šumava National Park further to the south. I’m not travelling far either, only as far as Nýrsko railway station a couple of hours away. A good thing, too, as the weather has broken. The cursed rain that blighted the first stage of my circuit ride last year has returned in earnest.

I was woken up in the early hours of Tuesday by a chill wind gusting through the open window of my hotel room. A cold front had arrived. By the time I got up a couple of hours later, the clouds were lying low over Čerchov mountain, where I’d been the day before. It was a stark contrast to the glorious sunshine of the previous three days. After breakfast I cycled out of Babylon along a tranquil woodland trail then joined the road heading west. The weather held steady to begin with, but before long a drizzle turned into a downpour and I had to pull up and put on my raingear.

Čerchov from my hotel bedroom on Tuesday morning

Before setting off, I’d had an uneasy feeling about Stage 4 of my trek along the Czech border. Now, as the gloom descended, the wind whipped up and the rain came teeming down, I realised why. Cycling along those long lonely stretches of the former Iron Curtain would have been a miserable experience had the weather been like this the whole weekend. It didn’t matter too much now though, as I’d soon be heading home in a warm dry train.

Nearly there

I took shelter from the storm on a pub veranda in Velruby. I consulted my damp maps and decided to make straight for Nýrsko along the main road rather than take the more scenic route closer to the border. After a while the rain eased off a bit, so I set off again. A stiff north-westerly wind carried me at startling speed towards my destination, sometimes even threatening to sweep me off the road entirely.

Stage 4 completed

On the outskirts of Nýrsko I checked the time and discovered I might just make an earlier train home. After a mad dash through the town, and at least one wrong turn, I arrived in a bedraggled state at the station with less than five minutes to spare. My journey home was complicated, involving four different trains, one bus, one van and one missed connection, but I arrived back in Prague in time for tea.

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