europe2003 PII, Day 13
Prague, Czech Republic
The difficult ride into Plzen yesterday (narrow, poor quality roads, lots of traffic, smoke belching trucks) created some turmoil in the planning to get out of Prague today. It looked like we might split into 4 sub-groups, each with their own objectives and routes to get out of town. As it turned out, Charlie blasted off at 6:30A, and the rest of the riders left together an hour later heading east out of Plzen – a long, steady climb on a sidewalk next to a busy road.
A few kilometers out of town we headed north and found some great bike paths through the fields and forests. Here’s Jason, Lisa, then Susie and Steve riding together, then this riding group as we left the trail at Rokycany.
Spirits were high, the sun was up and the temperature tolerable as we turned northeast along Czech 605 toward Prague (Praha, as they spell it). We took a break in Borek and saw this plaque marking the point where the anti-fascist coalition forces met and liberated the area from Germany. The US forces arrived on Monday, May 7, 1945 and the Red Army arrived two days later. The plaque expresses gratitude for our sacrifices.
Here are subsequent shots of the team riding along the 605 and a view of the scenery.
We spread out as we headed toward our next break at Beroun. Following are Bob and Jason on a map stop, Bill riding through a village along the way, and Lisa and Don at the break.
After this break we split up into 3 groups. Bob and Don continued northeast on the 605 into Prague. Susie, Bill and Jason took the van with Sylvie. Steve and Lisa decided to go east along a curvy river, then head north into Prague. They had the most difficult and interesting ride. Here’s a picture of Steve gathering seeds along the way, and then two train ride shots (they hopped a train to avoid the hills and traffic).
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic, and everyone that’s been there says it’s a worthwhile destination – rich in culture. The “old town” dates to the 12th century while the “new town” dates to the 14th. It’s obviously a blessed place. Charlie was already there, and when Susie arrived the two of them went off to visit the Cathedral.
After we all showed up at the Elite Hotel we did the usual routine – shower, wash clothes and hang them from the windows to dry. We caught Steve across the courtyard.
The team then decided to take a boar ride on the Vltava River and view the sights, complete with free beer and ice cream! We embarked under an arch of the 2nd oldest stone bridge in Europe. (Our crossing the Danube in Regensberg 3 days ago marked the oldest one.)
This was our last day with Bill, Jason and Don. We connected with Jan Kuthan, the area SRAM rep who helped them get their bikes packed up for the trip back to the USA. Charlie and I talked business with him for a while.
Bill then took us out to “the best restaurant in Eastern Europe”. We had yet another world class dinner and went to bed and sleep. Bill, Jason and Don are all spending another night or two in Prague, and Lisa and Susie decided to skip the next days ride and take the train to Nachod on the Czech-Polish border – so it will be just Charlie, Steve and Bob riding tomorrow.