Saturday 27 August 2011

Stage 5 on

Here's the map of the route I took on Stage 5 of my circuit ride in June this year.

Bike route 1218512 - powered by Bikemap 

Wednesday 10 August 2011

(Not) going to extremes

Stage 5, day 4 (Sunday, 5 June 2011)
Vyšší Brod to Horní Dvořiště (26 km)

I am - you might say - extremely inefficient. Last year I failed to visit the northernmost extreme of the Czech Republic because I was in danger of missing my train back to Prague that evening. And in April this year I got within a few hundred yards of the westernmost point before the path disappeared into an uncyclable bog and I threw in the towel. Today I’m standing on the Czech-Austrian border looking up a sign that reads “Most southerly point of the Czech Republic 300 metres” and I already know this is as near as I’m going to get. The muddy path ahead is so overgrown with nettles it’s barely visible. I’m wearing shorts and I’m not carrying a machete, so it’s effectively impassable. And do you know what? I don’t really care. First, it’s a near miss, as the actual southernmost point is only a few yards south of where I am now. Second, there’s nothing to see there apart from more nettles. And third, whatever this circuit ride is about, it’s not about ticking off places on a list. Mind you, I'll be disappointed if I don't make the easternmost point while cycling Stage 7 later this year.

The Cistercian monastery in Vyšší Brod

Thursday 4 August 2011

Channelling Šumava

Stage 5, day 3 (Saturday, 4 June 2011)
Strážný to Vyšší Brod (94 km)

First, a quick history lesson. The Schwarzenberg Timber Floating Channel (Schwarzenberský plavební kanál) was designed by forestry engineer Joseph Rosenauer and was built in two phases between 1789 and 1823. It begins on the Czech-Bavarian border, crosses the watershed of the Danube and Vltava rivers, and runs for 32 miles through the Šumava forest before flowing into the River Mühl in Austria. It is around 2.5 m wide, 1 m deep and draws water from 27 springs. During its 100-year heyday between 1793 and 1892, almost 8 million cubic metres of firewood was floated out of Šumava to Vienna. The city’s grateful authorities made Rosenauer an honorary citizen for his efforts. The channel fell into disrepair after timber floating ended in the 20th century, and it is only now gradually being restored to its former glory. Why am I telling you all this? Because I cycled almost its entire length on this day of my trip along the Czech border.

Setting off from Strážný