Stage 3

Děčín to Aš
(287 km, completed 18-21 Sep 2010)

Stage 3 route plan
Stage 3 can be summed up simply: the Ore Mountains (Cze: Krušné hory, Ger: Erzgebirge). This narrow plateau rises impressively steeply on its southern side and slopes down more gently into Germany in the north. I’ll start at the eastern end with a long climb out of the town of Děčín then stay high up in the hills almost until the finish in the Hook of Aš. For the most part I’ll be following route 23, aka the Ore Mountains Cycle Trail. The mountain range is aptly named, as tin, silver and other metals were mined here for centuries, although as far as I know there are no active mines left these days. The high points (literally) of stage 3 will be the observation towers situated on various peaks along the way. In particular, I’ll be visiting the tower atop Klínovec, at 1,244 metres (4,081 ft) the highest mountain in the range and probably the highest point on my entire journey around the Czech border.

Stage 3 route

Bike route 776103 - powered by Bikemap 

Stage 3 slideshow

Stage 3 coming right up!
Stage 3 of my cycling circumnavigation of the Czech Republic starts this coming Saturday. For the first two days I’ll be riding in the company of a very special guest - my great friend and partner-in-cycling Ryan. Having cycled the first two stages alone I’ll be glad of his company.

Stage 3 blogging on the go:
Mikulov sing-song
In awe at the Ore Mountains
Goodbye Guest Rider CZ!
Greetings from crumbling Klinovec...
Oh no, not another tower!
Stage 3 completed!

Be nice to yourself
Stage 3, day 1 (Saturday, 18 September 2010): Děčín to Mikulov (63 km)
The two of us are taking a breather at a roadside picnic table half way up the 90-minute climb to Děčínský Sněžník on the Ore Mountains Cycle Trail. Ryan - who is accompanying me on the first two days of this stage - is texting our friend and partner-in-cycling Ciaran to let him know we’re on the road again together, this time in the northwest of the Czech Republic. Turns out Ciaran is in Greece and has just broken his arm - after falling off his bike! One of Ciarán’s mottos is “Be nice to yourself”. Where breaking a limb - or, indeed, riding over the Alps with bronchitis (as Ciaran did with us in June this year) - fits in with that I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, we send him a message recommending he take plenty of ouzo to aid his recovery, then we get back on our bikes and continue grinding up the hill.

2 become 1
Stage 3, day 2 (Sunday, 19 September 2010): Mikulov to Vejprty (85 km)
Our arrival in the breakfast room at Hotel Ice-Axe causes some merriment, especially when Ryan announces - in clear Donegal Czech - that his head hurts. I phone Mrs Circuit Rider to wish her a happy birthday. She knows immediately that we were partying the night before, as my voice is down by about an octave, probably from singing Ring of Fire too loud. With just five hours sleep behind us and residual alcohol still tainting our veins, we’re not in great shape for the strenuous day’s cycling ahead. We breakfast on bread, cheese and a couple of ibuprofen.

Stage 3, day 3 (Monday, 20 September 2010): Vejprty to Kraslice (72 km)
Almost every day of my ride around the Czech border so far has started with some sort of climb. It’s the last thing any cyclist wants first thing in the morning. And today’s is a real beast - ten miles almost continuously uphill to the summit of Klínovec, the highest peak in the Ore Mountains. It’s a long way above my starting point, Base Camp Vejprty - a full 1,670 feet in fact, making it one of the biggest ascents of the entire trip. Worse still, it’s a decidedly chilly out here and I’m cycling into a pretty hefty headwind.

Job done for 2010
Stage 3, day 4 (Tuesday, 21 September 2010): Kraslice to Aš (68 km)
It’s decision time. Do I keep going straight down the main road to the finish at Aš? Or do I have time for one last scenic detour through the forest? Stages 1 and 2 of my journey around the Czech border (ridden in May and July of this year respectively) both culminated in a mad dash to catch the train home to Prague. I don’t want to repeat that mistake this time. On the other hand, I don’t want this ride to end yet; I want to squeeze every last bit of goodness out of it before bottling it for the blog. I check the map and check my watch and I do the mental arithmetic. And then, with a big smile on my face, I turn right and disappear into the trees.