Stage 1

Bohumín to Náchod
(363 km, completed 14-17 May 2010)

Stage 1 route plan
Stage 1 of my route around the Czech Republic starts in the northern Moravian town of Bohumín. The first section is fairly flat and gentle, passing through Opava and around the Osoblaha Hook. It then goes around the back of the Jeseníky Mountains and ramps up steeply through the Rychlebské (Golden) Mountains into Poland. Once back on the Czech side of the border, I'll turn north into the Orlické (Eagle) Mountains before dropping into the finish town of Náchod. World War II is a recurring feature of this stage. The eastern section takes in a number of towns that were badly damaged during the German retreat in 1945, and the western part features a series of border defences that failed to stop Germany invading Czechoslovakia in 1939.

Stage 1 route

Bike route 767423 - powered by Bikemap 

Stage 1 slideshow

Stage 1 here I come!
At long last - after months of blathering on about my trip - I'm about to set off. It's time to kick aside the keyboard and get riding.

Stage 1 blogging on the go:
Official start!
Day 2 dawns...
Bon appetit from Zlate hory
Shelter from the storm
Full teeth
The show goes on
Audio postcard from Eagle Mountains
I'm coming home

Days like this
Stage 1, day 1 (Friday, 14 May 2010): Bohumín to Opava (50 km)
Bohumín railway station, 3.25 pm. Here at last, after months of planning and blogging about planning. The rain is pelting down - not quite what I'd envisaged. A guy in a white vest is leaning out of a window in the building opposite and staring down at me. I feel self-conscious dressed in my wet-weather cycling gear and taking an arm's length photo of myself with the station sign behind me. Still, I've got to have a record of the official start. Line it up, smile, click.

Ups and downs
Stage 1, day 2 (Saturday, 15 May 2010): Opava to Zlaté hory (104 km)
I'm wrecked. I'm still only half way up this climb, but there's steam rising off my back, snot streaming down my nose and I'm gasping for air. It's been gloomy all day, but it's even darker now as I enter the misty forest and dusk starts to fall. I round the last of three hairpins and grind to a halt. Serves me right for blogging on about loving the hills. Idiot.

From Golden Mountains, through the Golden Mountains to the Golden Swan
Stage 1, day 3 (Sunday, 16 May 2010): Zlaté hory to Králíky (111 km)
I'm up and over another climb. This should be the easy bit: the descent into the Polish town of Lądek-Zdrój. But it's not. The driving rain obscures my vision. There's a hairpin ahead. I squeeze the brake levers, but nothing happens; I'm still hurtling into the turn.

The forty-nine steps and other thrilling tales
Stage 1, day 4 (Monday, 17 May 2010): Králíky to Náchod (98 km)
I peek nervously out of the window first thing on Monday morning. The rain has stopped. My clothes and boots have (almost) dried out overnight. So far, so good. The weather forecast on breakfast TV is not too bad, although they’re showing footage of catastrophic flooding in areas I’ve been cycling through over the past couple of days. I’m feeling much refreshed after a good night’s sleep. At breakfast a fine cup of tea with fresh milk cements my decision. The owner of the hotel is just going into a monologue on the bleak future of “the whites” in Europe when my wife rings from Prague. I tell her I’ve decided to keep going. She doesn’t sound overly impressed.