Thursday, 15 June 2017

Circuit Rider returns!

Yes, after a hiatus of almost six years, I have at last carved out enough time to attempt to complete my perimeter ride of the Czech Republic.

In just over two weeks' time, barring disasters, I will embark on the long-planned Stage 7 of my Circuit Ride. I've booked time off work, I've bought my rail tickets and I've finalised my itinerary. On 1 July, I will catch the train to Břeclav in South Moravia, where I ended Stage 6 in September 2011. There, I will meet my great friend Ryan (who accompanied me on a highly entertaining section of Stage 3 back in September 2010) and together we will cycle to Hodonín. I'll then continue on my own for a few days through the White Carpathians and the Moravian-Silesian Beskids to the tripoint where the Czech Republic meets Slovakia meets Poland. From there, I'll turn north and head along the Czech-Polish border to Cieszyn, where my wife and her cousin and 10-year-old son will, I hope, be waiting for me. The next day – on 6 July – the four of us will cycle together to Bohumín, where my Circuit Ride adventure began (in the rain) in May 2010.


Setting-off selfie seven years ago

Stage 7 start point

Many things have happened in my life since I completed Stage 6.* As a result, my Circuit Ride has been on the back burner. Yet I've never given up on my plan to finish it. In the meantime I've been cycling regularly and I've been replying to many e-mails from – and meeting up with – fellow cyclists who have contacted me through this site with their questions about cycling in and around the Czech Republic.

I have a new bike for this final stage. It's a Kolos No. 4 assembled to my specification in British racing green (or, less glamorously, John Deere green, as Ted and Cosmic Ray – my new cycling buddies from the USA – kindly pointed out) by local firm Citybikes. Technology has, of course, moved on since I last rode under the guise of Circuit Rider; unlike last time, for example, I will be guided by satnav on my smartphone. The network of cycling trails in the Czech Republic has also expanded a great deal since I first planned Stage 7 and I've been fine-tuning my original route in recent months to make the most of this.

Me and Kolos No. 4 in Tuscany last October

The one thing (okay, two things) that won't be new are my legs, which are approaching 50 years of age all too quickly. I'm not at the peak of fitness either, due to various distractions in recent months, but pain and suffering are all part of the fun of circuit riding. I can't wait to get going!

Some of them, to be honest, would probably have made for a more interesting blog than this one.