One day in hell

Day 19, Olomouc, 1.636 km

And I thought that it would be a piece of cake, that it would pass handily, that it would go like a knife through butter … (and the list is long, I could go on for a little while – I am not 100% sure of the English translation though, thank you for your comprehension) and well we can say that I completely messed up! I almost went as far as to think that it had been too easy until then …

But let’s start with the beginning: Monday morning, it’s gray, a little cold, I’m leaving Prague. I tell myself (silly) that at least it won’t be too warm. I have a bit of a hard time getting out of town because the GPS takes me through small paths in a park, it’s all muddy, I slip and I almost fall once or twice. I’m happy to find the road again and to get out of town. First destination: Kutna Hora. I ride well, my legs are on fire and I have a little wind in my back, the rain does not bother me too much so I arrive at my destination in the early afternoon (approximately 20 km/h on average on the first 4 hours, it’s like being on the banks of the Elbe again). The city is pretty, but it’s still raining so I don’t stay for too long. You can also visit a church decorated with the bones of nearly 40,000 people. It’s a bit macabre but quite impressive. Unfortunately no photos. The only proof of my visit: a distant view of the St Barbara’s Cathedral.

St Barbara under a gray sky

As I am a little cold I make a little soup break in a small restaurant on the road (the lady obviously did not understand a word of what I said to her, when I tried to ask her for another bowl of soup she brought me the bill…) and I’m off. I’m thinking of going to Zďár nad Sázavou, because some of Luc’s clients run a pension there and I think it would be nice to have a little glass of Riesling in the middle of the Czech countryside. However, that would bring my total for the day to over 150 km. With the rain I’m not sure I can do it. But since the road is nice (the rain stops) and I always have a little wind at my back, I continue. And the closer I get, the more I tell myself that I can’t stop there, that I would sleep in the next day, etc. etc. and I finally get there. 158 km in total, 8h30 of cycling during the day, more than 10 hours after my departure from Prague, I knock on the door of the pension only to be told that they no longer have any free rooms and that the bosses won’t be here until tomorrow. Never mind, I fall back on the neighboring campsite, telling myself that I will stop by the next morning. I notice when setting up my tent that my bags are not 100% waterproof. Fortunately, since the rain was not too hard, the damage was minimal.

The next day, I sleep in as planned, and return to the pension at around 10 a.m. No luck, the bosses went out shopping … Fate does not want me to meet them apparently. I still take a picture of the beautiful collection of bottles and go out and visit the city a bit. It’s drizzling and it’s cold. Not a great time to be a tourist. I sit down in a cafe to have something to eat and pass time. I have planned a short day anyway.

The Church of Saint John of Nepomuk, listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco

A nice collection of Alsace wine! It should be familiar to most of you !

I finally set off in the early afternoon. The rain still hasn’t stopped but I want to move forward a bit (I have 130 km to do in two days, and I want to have a bit of time to stroll when I get to Olomouc). And I have to say, even if I’m not made of sugar, I’m having a bit of a hard time. I think I am paying my efforts of the day before. I’m soaked, I’m cold, and despite the nuts and chocolate that I’m gulping down at frightening speed, I’m hungry. Moreover, the GPS advises me to avoid the road and take a small, very steep and stony forest path. I enjoy it! I slip, I skid, I almost fell several times and when the path flattens out a bit I come across not 1 but 2 fords (!!). For the first one, I go head on before remembering the non-waterproof saddlebags… Clever. We’ll see tonight. Even when it goes down I’m afraid of falling down, I feel like my brakes are going to give up, I would need wipers to see clearly. It’s hell. And just like that, it happens. The first traffic accident of the trip. Rest assured, Jay, Bob and I are fine. On the other side though, it’s not pretty. It’s raining, a nice slope. Tight turn to the right. I brake but I’m probably coming a bit fast. When I see him, it’s already too late. Head-on collision. Result: a dead snail. The doctors assure me he did not suffer.

Ford n°1
Ford n°2, 3 kilometers later

Small detail that those of you who follow your sports performance using a connected watch will see the importance: around 4 p.m., after more than 60km, my watch decides to erase all the data for the day. To sum up: I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m drenched, left alone by technology, I have just committed a murder, and it’s increasingly difficult to pedal. I’m getting sick of it. I decide to look for a place for the night and to comfort myself I like to think that I will make a fire (it has been raining for two days, let’s remember). I find a corner in a wood of pine trees, not at all sheltered, and I quickly pitch my tent. I attempt to set a fire for ten minutes (I remove the bark from the wood to save the dry part, I make a nice pile, in short I prepare it as it should be) before realizing that the paper I wanted to use to lit up the whole thing is so wet (non-waterproof saddlebags, remember) that it doesn’t catch fire. And the rain that falls directly on my makeshift fireplace doesn’t help either. Complete failure. My sleeping bag is also wet, along with some of my change of clothes. I quickly swallow a soup and roll myself into a ball, hoping to warm up. It is 7 p.m. I don’t feel like reading or writing. I’m just cold.

The night is agitated. I am woken up every two hours by the drops of water falling on the tent. And the weather forecast said that it would no longer rain after 6 p.m. I turn around and try to go back to sleep. In the early morning it stopped raining but it is cold. And putting on wet coat and shoes is very far from pleasant. Luckily I have hot tea. And when I come out of the forest I see the sun in the distance. My morale is rising. I have a little day today, Olomouc is only about 40 kilometers away. By the time I get there, the coat and shoes are dry and morale is good again! At the end I don’t need much! I take advantage of the afternoon to stroll the city, very pretty and not too crowded with tourists.

The Trinity column
St Wenceslas cathedral
Inspired by Banksy?
A little hidden gallery

All in all, I complain a bit but as soon as I stop somewhere I want to start moving again. As soon as the sun comes out the rain is forgotten. And the day before is just a bad memory on the next day. Looking forward to tomorrow! Direction Brno, then Bratislava and Vienna. Arrival in Vienna scheduled for Sunday evening!

Thank you again for all your messages and comments, it is always a great pleasure to read you !!

Oh, and I also met a weird guy on the side of the road…

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