Day 14, Prague, 1.351 km
You are in a small family pension on the French Riviera on a spring evening. All customers are very excited because the media have just announced that the last winner of the Tour de France was using doping products. A heated discussion ensues between the various clients of the establishment, a discussion in which you cannot participate because of your lack of knowledge of the sport. You are having a very bad evening and you go to bed without saying a word … To face this imaginary but highly probable scenario, I will take along with me during 48 hours on the road, and to facilitate the exercise, we will assume that the action is located in the Czech Republic, somewhere between Pilsen, Cesky Krumlov and Prague.
You are lucky, the weather is nice, not too hot, wind is not too hard so that it is refreshing but not too much to make it a handicap on the bike. The kilometers go by pleasantly, more or less quickly depending on the relief or the direction of the wind, and you watch the Czech countryside pass by: fields (many fields, especially wheat), forests (the cycle path often becomes less cycleable at this time, watch out for pebbles!), villages (more or less large, some are even so small that the entrance and exit signs are only 150 meters apart) often with a church which can sometimes be quite pretty, ponds, rivers, in short, you can pleasantly occupy yourself admiring the landscape. On the animals side, there are a few horses, a few cows, a lot of birds and even the occasional doe or squirrel.
You might think that the day is monotonous, but it is punctuated by lots of small events: First, doctors recommend avoiding sitting for too long. I therefore take breaks, almost every hour, to avoid posterior problems (we even speak of amputation of the left buttock in the most serious cases). These breaks are an opportunity to perform various rituals: hydration, food (we note in the photo below the melted-resolidified effect of chocolate, which gives a particular taste that the best Swiss chocolate makers cannot deny), creaming (if you don’t have the skin of a redhead you will never understand the essential importance of this step) and of course the evacuation, which unfortunately cannot be done from the bike (or so with significant risk of accident).
The day has also often a treasure hunt’s side, where the goal is to find the signs indicating the route to follow, sometimes very clear, sometimes a little less… In case of doubt, the phone’s GPS is fortunately ready to come to the cyclist’s rescue. This does not prevent twists and turns (example today, a small detour of 20 kilometers for having followed the wrong signs, it immediately makes a day a little longer than expected … especially since I had to cross a work area and carry Jay and all the luggage to pass… Not great)
Otherwise what else to do with the passing time? One of my favorite occupations is to apply the Theorem of the cemetery, which was taught to me by Master Louis. This theorem could be expressed as follows: « Let V be a village on a road R. If V contains a cemetery, then said cemetery necessarily has a point of drinkable (and fresh!) water accessible to every cyclist ». Since I consume quite a lot of water because of the heat (and the importance of hydrating, again according to the doctors), I have to apply the theorem 2-3 times a day. And I must admit that after empirical verification, this theorem holds true in any case! It seems that there is a version that also applies to sports fields, which in my experience has not been demonstrated so far. Anyway, I always have fresh water, which makes the road all the more pleasant. And with the time that I have left, I talk: to myself, to Jay and Bob, to the road (to reproach it for continuing to go up when it obviously should have gone down for example), or to the drivers who pass me at 90 km/h in a climb (and I prefer not to reproduce here the vocabulary used). I also sing from time to time…
Then comes the part of the day when I tell myself that it is time to stop. It is then a matter of finding a place to spend the night. In general, I avoid fields or castles (although I was tempted by the castle) and instead look for a corner of the forest a bit off the road. There are days when Murphy’s Law applies, others when it does not: sometimes it takes 5 minutes between the moment I decide to stop and the moment I find the perfect place to camp, sometimes 45 minutes… Once the place is found, I get down to set up the camp: setting up the tent, inflating the mattress, the pillow, storing the bags in the tent, unfolding the sleeping bag, the routine is well set and takes me about half an hour. Then dinner of champions !!
In the morning, the ritual is even stricter: breakfast (rice or ebly with a little soy sauce to give flavor), an mint tea gourd for the morning, folding the tent and packing up things and we go off for a new day! And if the day ends in a city, the arrival is often accompanied by a hearty dinner and a good beer! And there you have it, you now have all the elements to shine in society!
And a few highlights as a bonus:
- Shortly after leaving the small village of Dozice, I officially passed kilometer 1000! I have for the occasion erected a small monument for those who would like to make a pilgrimage to this place (not sure if it will last very long so hurry!)
- I did (and won !!) a race against the storm: it will bring back memories for some of you…
And to finish some photos taken on the road: