Biking trip to Cesky Krumlov

Trip Start Jan 30, 2003
Trip End Jun 23, 2003

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Where I stayed
Hotel Valnovka

Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Saturday, March 22, 2003

Our trip started at ABC Sports where Petey B (Peter from Ivey) and I went to rent our bikes. Of all the bike rental shops in Prague, this is the only one that was open in March and it was only open because they rent skis. They informed us that we were the first ones of the season to rent bikes and they probably wouldn't see another customer for another month due to the weather. The afternoon we left it was about -1, windy, and snowing. About 2km into the trip, the chain on my bike broke, taking with it about 6 spokes on my back wheel - not a very good start. We biked back to town (luckily it was downhill) and got a new bike.

We started out again and tried to find the beginning of the "Prague-Vienna Greenways". Before leaving, we read online that it is very difficult to find the beginning of the trail which was certainly our case. We biked around for about 45 minutes when we finally spotted a tree with a green flag and an arrow marked on it. We followed the muddy trail through a lush forest for about 2km when we reached a directional sign. We pulled out our trail maps and realized that we had been heading back towards Prague since we saw the flag. In fact, we weren't even on the Prague-Vienna GREENways; I guess it would be illogical to make the trail signs GREEN! In our frenzy, we fortuitously spotted a jogger who spoke fluent English. He showed us how to get back to the entrance of the forest and back on our way to finding the trail.

We tried to follow the ambiguous map and ended up biking through someone's backyard and a farm. Growing cold and impatient, we trudged on. After about 1.5 hours we finally saw the infamous sign marking the beginning of the trail "Wien (Vienna) 423". Due to our late departure, sunlight was definitely becoming a factor - we knew that we had 2 hours and a lot of distance to cover before the first accommodations on the map. After 25km, we got to the first hotel and then saw an attached golf course and knew we would be in trouble. Their prices were through the roof and we knew there was another "H" (hotel) marked on our map 1km away so we continued on. We arrived at a decrepit and dilapidated structure that wasn't even open. At this point, we began to worry because we were 8km from the next closest place and we weren't sure exactly how much light was left. We pedalled as hard as we could and reached Hotel Valnovka and not a minute too soon. We ended up paying $17 each for our own room complete with TV, toilet, and shower. Our hosts were extremely hospitable and took care of all our meals while we were there. By our final tally, we got about 25km out of Prague but we had biked about 50km....Cesky Krumlov was feeling very far away.

Our second day was much like the first: cold, snowy, and windy. The temperature was about -3 and was fine while we were biking, but when we broke for more than 30 seconds and the sweat began to freeze on our bodies, it became quite chilly. The terrain turned very ugly as we entered one of the mountainous regions of the Czech Republic. It was truly one of the most physically challenging days of my life. We even reached one mountain that was so steep and long that we had to get off our bikes and walk up it. It ended up being about 4km of winding path straight uphill with snow lining either side. We figured that our consolation would be a fun ride down when we finally reached the peak. To our chagrin, we were just reaching a new altitude level. We enjoyed a 1km flat and then the path went uphill again. We covered about 75km over 6 hours and reached our destination of Tabor, Czech Republic with a couple hours of daylight to explore it. We found a pension with the help of 2 Czech students from our university that we randomly asked for help. Also a coincidence was that the guy who ran the pension that weekend goes to our school.

We left early the next morning with just over 100km to cover to get to our final destination which was Cesky Krumlov. There is another major city (Cesky Budejovice) just 30km shy of Cesky Krumlov which was our contingency plan. The terrain was somewhat flatter between Tabor and Cesky Budejovice and we covered the 70km in about 5 hours. It was about 1:30 at this point and we decided to skip Cesky Budejovice and try to make it to Cesky Krumlov so we could check it out for a couple hours before taking a train home. Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO protected town and commonly quoted as the most beautiful town in the Czech Republic. As we left Cesky Budejovice, we realized that we were about to enter the Czech Republic's southern mountain range. After biking for almost 200km already (including getting lost), the only thing we wanted was a downhill ride the whole way there. The mountains to Cesky Krumlov tested our physical fitness level and tried our mental stability but we stuck together as Ivey has taught us and fought our way into Cesky Krumlov.

It was extremely rewarding to finally make it and we even had a couple hours to quickly bike through town and check it out. It was a true team effort - thanks for all of those 48 hour projects, Ivey, I think this was my favourite one.
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