Stage 7

Břeclav to Bohumín
(422 km, completed 1-6 July 2017)

Stage 7 route plan
Stage 7 will be the last leg of my jaunt around the Czech Republic, the one that takes me back to Bohumín, where I started my journey in May 2010. It’s another long stage across some arduous terrain. Day 1, however, should be relatively easy, taking me over the low-lying flatlands of southern Moravia, past the tripoint with Slovakia and Austria, and into the foothills of the Western Carpathians. Then things get seriously hilly as I negotiate the series of mountain ranges running along the Czech-Slovak border (the White Carpathians, the Javorníky and the Beskids). The highest point on the stage will be Čartak viewing tower at 950 m above sea level. From there I’ll enter Slovakia and head further east until I reach the Czech-Slovak-Polish tripoint near Hrčava. Then I’ll turn north and descend into the historical Polish town of Cieszyn, the final overnight stop of my trip. The last section is a short, flat run around the back of the city of Ostrava to Bohumín railway station.

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.

Great Moravia!
Stage 7, day 1, (Saturday, 1 July 2017): Břeclav to Hodonín, 54 km
I’m standing on Czech soil at the southernmost vertex of the Dyje Triangle, also known as the Moravian Amazon, one of the last uninhabited expanses of Europe. Just below me, the clear, black River Dyje is merging restlessly into the murkier waters of the Morava. To my left, a group of cyclists has assembled on the Slovak side of the Morava. To my right, on the opposite bank of the Dyje, stand Austrian fishermen’s cottages with big hammock-like nets suspended on poles above the water. I wait a while as a pair of canoes glide nearer, then shout “Ahoj!”, the traditional greeting among Czech river-goers. “Hallo!” comes the German rejoinder. Behind me, my great friend Ryan is already making his way back towards the bikes. He’s grumbling about the nettles and mosquitoes, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. I’m back exploring the farthest-flung reaches of the Czech Republic for the first time in over six years, and it feels great. I take one last look at the river disappearing around the bend on its way down to the Danube, then I turn around to continue my own journey.

Hill towers and towering hills
Stage 7, day 2, (Sunday, 2 July 2017): Hodonín to Žítková, 93 km
I have ground to a halt halfway up the exposed spiral staircase of Travničná telecommunication tower and I’m having to give myself a stern talking to. That toddler just managed it, so why can’t you? The steps - slippery after the rain - are made of a steel mesh, so I can see all the way down to the visitor centre below my feet and all the way up to the observation deck above. I don’t have a great head for heights, and this is well outside my comfort zone. I try to regain my composure as the whole structure sways in the wind. It’s decision time: do I turn around and go back down, or can I persuade myself to keep going upwards?