DAY 1:  Wednesday, 15 September 2004 :  Prague to Pribram




CYCLE TIME:  6:39  

AVERAGE SPEED:  15.8 kph

We did the bulk of our trip planning once we arrived in Prague and had purchased maps.  Kevin consulted a local cyclist, and confirmed the route out of town - crossing to the east side of the Vltava River on the Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) and following the main road south, where it changed names no less than four times before leaving the city.  It was difficult cycling out of Prague due to cobblestones, heavy morning traffic, narrow streets, and streetcars.  We ended up riding on the sidewalks, which were quicker and safer than the road.  Eventually, the sidewalks became cyclepaths as we neared the outskirts of Prague.  We generally found the cycle routes in the Czech Republic not to be well signed.  This caused us a lot of delays, as we frequently consulted maps, and did some minor backtracking.  Many times, the turn sign would be located just after the turn itself, causing us to miss the turn, and to second guess the map.  But eventually, we seemed to get the “hang” of it.  Tom turned out to be our resident navigator and did a great job of keeping our troop oriented.  


Just outside of Prague , we came upon a beautiful scene:  for about a kilometer, the cycle path was shrouded in a canopy of trees that lined both sides of the road.  We followed the Vltava River a distance of about 40 km, meandering in and around small towns, crossing the river several times and even navigating the river on a railway bridge.

As we turned away from the Vltava river valley we came to our first climb.  Tom said ‘Turn right” and we did.  Up we went for 3 kilometers. Then Tom said “wrong turn”.  Down we went.  Then up the next hill we went.  This became a very common theme for the remainder of the day.

NEARING THE TOP OF THE HILL (photo by Kevin Rodger)

Lunch today was in a place called Skuhrov, at a private " Zimmer Frei ", run by a husband and wife.  We found ourselves starting to get hungry, and around a bend we saw a "Zimmer Frei" sign.  Lunch, ordered mostly by using hand signals, consisted of Hungarian Goulash, with dumplings; and coffee, with the grounds left in (this was actually the “regular” style of coffee in the Czech Republic).  After lunch, we encountered an extremely steep hill that seemed to go on forever. Everyone ended up pushing their bikes up this rather large hill.  Paul, on his mountain bike dismounted first.  Kevin made it 1/2 way up the hill, then decided to push when he saw Paul going uphill at a speed faster than he was able to maintain pedaling.  This was Kevin's first time ever pushing a bike up a hill.  He will probably be traumatized by this for years to come.  Even though the climb was very strenuous it was a very enjoyable ride as we ascended along a secluded road through a forest.  Once we reached the summit, we rapidly descended towards the town of Dobris .  Just prior to Dobris Kevin guided us down yet another wrong turn onto a rough gravel road.  About 500 meters down the road Kevin had the first and only flat of the trip - a pinch flat.  At least it was on the front tire, and it was quickly repaired, and we were once again on our way.  At about 4:30 p.m. , we finally made it into Dobris, a town we had originally thought we would make in time for lunch.

STOPPING FOR LUNCH IN SKUHROV (photo by Paul Delconte via Kevin Rodger)

After leaving Dobris, we took another wrong turn. We climbed another steep ridge only to have to re-climb the same ridge, returning on another road.  As we headed towards our final destination of Pribram, we had yet another climb.  On this climb Tom and Paul faded, and showed some serious signs of wear. They both ended up pushing their bikes up the hill.  We were already approaching the 90 kilometre mark in the ride, and it was getting late. 

In Pribram, we followed signs for "Hotel Belvedere".  After several roundabouts, we approached our destination for the evening.  It was just in time.  As Kevin watched over the bikes and gear, Tom and Paul went inside to arrange accommodation.  It then started to rain.  Our timing was impeccable!  After washing up, we ate a great dinner in the hotel restaurant, accompanied by a few beers.  Back in the hotel room, Tom entertained Paul and Kevin with pained facial expressions when both his legs had muscle spasms.