Veltrusy – Prague 30.8kms 223’ ascent
Sometime during the night, the generator had been shut down so that, when we woke at seven, there was no power anywhere. I cannot pretend we were surprised and, although still overcast, there was sufficient daylight to re-instate our trailers, prepare breakfast and pack up. It appeared that the magic hour for power was nine, just when everyone had left! Good ploy.
Our plan for the day was to rattle along the 25 kms to Prague and then attempt to negotiate the city in an effort to find the continuation of our route. How circumstance can contrive to upset the most organised of plans. (If you have noted today’s mileage, you will realise that all did not go well). After about 11kms of fairly indifferent paths, and intermittent signs, we were relieved to discover that we were still on the right track. The relief was very, very short lived. Within five minutes or so we found ourselves attacked by a jungle of plants growing tall on the side of a track. Track is an inappropriate term for a three feet wide muddy path. Unimpressed (especially Mr. Grumpy, who had recently reappeared) we pressed on, optimistically hoping that this foray into the jungle would be a short one. The situation got progressively more difficult as our already narrow path threatened to fall some three metres into the uninviting brown and sluggish waters of the river. The decision to continue was inevitable as we were, anyway unable to turn around for a return trip. You are quite correct in thinking that we were now walking and had been for some two kms! At this point on our jolly, we spotted bikes coming in the opposite direction and we laughingly hoped things were improving. Ha, ha! We unhitched the trailers and squashed ourselves into the bank to accommodate the oncoming traffic. We were greeted with a worried frown and ‘I don’t think you will make it with your trailers.’ Going back though was not an option as it appeared we were half wayish, so we thanked the other mad couple, manhandled the trailers over rocks and went on our merry way. Now the width of the path decreased even more with the edge ending abruptly several metres above the water with nothing at all to stop an unwary cyclist meeting his maker. Our progress was SLOW. To compound the level of difficulty, we were now on a slope which encouraged the trailers to lean alarmingly towards the river and did, indeed fall over that way several times but fortunately, without dire consequences. We now met a second tribe of oncoming cyclists; experts this time, riding up to the mark mountain bikes. Despite their gear many were looking very nervous and uncomfortable. They quite obviously thought we were demented - two old wrinklies with touring bikes and trailers. (I hope they all made the trip safely). After several minutes of negotiating the passing process we ploughed on.
Just when you think things cannot get worse, as we have found out before, they do. Our next obstacle was a multitude of exposed tree roots standing well proud of the path. Trailer wheels and tree roots are not compatible so there followed more unhitching and carrying. Finally after two and a half hours, that path ended and cobbles took over. I never thought I would be glad to see cobbles! Exhausted, we stopped, had a coffee and decided to make Prague our destination. We two, the bikes and the trailers were filthy – not to mention the smell that emanated whenever we waved an arm or a leg. We really needed somewhere to hole up and get sorted.
We found that place, next to a canoe slalom run and where all our needs can be met. Tomorrow is another day, so we will find maps and routes, check the beauty of Prague and be on our way on Sunday.
P.S. Expect additional comment from Mr. Grumpy!