About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Nachod 151k/93m***

europe2003 PII, Day 14
26June03, 151km/93mi***
Nachod, Czech Republic

Bill and Jason Capps, and Don Hudson greeted us at 7AM for a departure breakfast, and presumably went back up to bed and more sleep. Lisa and Susie decided it was going to be a “train to Nachod” day. That left the bike riding to Charlie, Steve and Bob. We left the underground garage at our hotel in Prague, and navigated the city streets west until we came to some great country roads, which Charlie and Steve raced through, Bob drifting behind.

You don’t see a garage with a tiled floor too often, but the Elite Hotel in Prague has one. The following photo (above) highlights a pet peeve of Bob’s: cobblestone roads. The farther east through Europe you go, the more of these you get. Lots of city streets, and sometimes the streets between cities and towns are hand paved, stone by stone, with these bike and body busting little rocks. The countryside of the Czech Republic was beautiful and memorable. Here’re two road shots and some roadside sunflowers on a therapeutic Thursday morning.

Our first break this day was to be at Poderbrady (CZ). Since it was just Steve, Charlie and Bob we were taking this day in 50km+/30mi+ chunks. We met Sylvie at the River and took pictures there of Charlie crossing, the view north, and the view south (with Bob in the foreground, and the dam and locks in the background).

We were on rural roads here in the Czech Republic – varying surface conditions and little traffic headed to a very small town, Nechanice. This, another 40km into the day, is where Charlie would drop off. Sylvie took him into Hradec-Kralove where he took a train back to Prague and would then make his way to Florence to meet Deborah and the rest of the Family. These then, are the last two pictures of Charlie riding, one with Steve.

Sylvie made us sandwiches in Nechanice. We said bye to Charlie, and Steve and I rode on. I stopped to take a picture of the town, houses side-by-side along a patched road, and rode out of town alone. Steve had disappeared. Vanished. Poof. Rather confusing.

Turns out Steve just missed the first turn and rode on a bit further east before heading north. We had our next meeting point with Sylvie at Jaromer, and Steve showed up. We refresthed and continued northeast toward Nachod, coming to the first of the big hills heading into Poland. This is Steve after he crossed from the bike path (which headed the wrong direction) back to the highway into Nachod. It was 2 lanes on the steady uphill and one down, with a lake in the background.

We earned our 90+miles today and were rewarded with Nachod, a rural city/town dating back 800 years or so. Our reservations were at the rather exquisite U Baranka Hotel, dating to pre-WWI, with a renovation in the 1990’s.

Steve fell asleep on arrival and Sylvie didn’t want to wake him, so Bob and Sylvie walked through the (small) city street streets to the train station to meet Susie and Lisa. The street:

The train station was a kick. The building, again, vintage decades aged and well used. The tracks and boarding areas looked almost abandoned. There was a single-car diesel train-thing, rusted roof and all, waiting to take passengers to the next town.

We watched it depart, then watched Susie & Lisa’s little train arrive, disgorge them, and depart toward Poland.

This two-car train was spewing diesel fumes as it continued up-mountain (hill?) north.

On the way walking back to the hotel we saw some of those dastardly guys cobblestoning the road in hopes of crippling bicycles and their riders for the sake of great atmosphere.

The evening was full of unusual activities. Bob desperately tried to send updates, but was reduced to trying to figure out a keyboard with unusual characters and layout to apologize for the delays in getting those self same updates out.

Meanwhile Steve, Susie and Lisa found a Czech language production of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor playing at a (nice) theater that happened to be in the same building as our hotel. The stage was sparse, but the costumes and acting enthusiastic.

After 20 minutes of this more entertaining than you might imagine experience, we walked (that’s Steve below) to the best restaurant in town, which also happened to be in the same building, which was owned by the city and quite nice. Bob had a hard time picking from the wide assortment of unrecognizable Czech wines with screw top bottles, but the waitress was as helpful as anyone could be who didn’t speak the (English) language.

After dinner, in the restaurant we watched a slideshow of the past couple days of travel, then went up to Lisa and Bob’s suite for some music on the iPods and Powerbook, and then we went to bed and sleep.

The sun will come up, tomorrow, and we’ll cross the border into Poland.

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