Random Bozo's thoughts
Well, we didn't cycle all the way from Berlin to Vienna. The stretch from Děčín to Oblbramovice would have added 150 miles, and the stretch from Tábor to České Budějovice would have added another 92·5 miles, bringing the total distance to around 770 miles. I don't doubt that we could have done this if we'd planned to just cycle for 12 days - but we didn't. Here's what we planned to do and what we actually did
|date||planned route||planned milage||actual route||actual milage|
|14th July||Berlin Schönefeld to Lutherstadt Wittenberg||64||Berlin Schönefeld to Bad Belzig||63|
|15th July||Lutherstadt Wittenberg to Mühlberg||49||Bad Belzig to Torgau||65|
|16th July||Mühlberg to Dresden||43||Torgau to Meißen||50|
|17th July||Dresden to Ústí nad Labem||42||Meißen to Děčín||61|
|18th July||Ústí nad Labem to Praha||59||train from Děčín to Praha||0|
|19th July||train from Praha to České Budějovice||0||
|20th July||České Budějovice to Linz||60||České Budějovice to Linz||63|
|21st July||Linz to Melk||63||Linz to Melk||77|
|22nd July||Melk to Wien||74||Melk to Wien||76|
|23red July||none||0||in Vienna||4|
|24th July||none||0||Vienna to Bratislava||40|
So we cycled further than we had planned, partly because some of my predictions weren't quite right and partly because we just fancied going on to Bratislava. I'm very pleased – Random Bozo and Random Bozette are basically a couple of 40-something commuter cyclists.
It helped that a lot of the route was sign-posted. Along the Danube, especially, the path was flat and there was lovely tarmac for a good proportion of the way. But there were lots of cobbles, a noticeable amount of gravel or sand tracks, a few paths made of rough flagstones, the occasional completely unmade track and a fair number of hills, mostly in the south of the Czech Republic.
I think that day was possibly the best part for me - certainly it was exhilarating cycling alongside the Vltava, watching people enjoying the river, long stretches of just the right gradient so I could set my backside in a gear and just push on, and then the thrilling drop down into Linz. (I would have enjoyed this more if I had not been concerned for Random Bozette. She was ahead of me and I could see how close cars were overtaking her, and I know she's not fond of fast descents at the best of times. I can't imagine any cyclist would have taken this drop without braking a couple of times.
Huge thanks to the folk at Lifescycle (Facebook, website) for helping us get fit enough to do this, and to all the folk who read and commented on our blogs - your encouragement and senses of fun helped us keep going.
And I have to pay tribute to our bikes. They're mid-range touring bikes, basically as churned out by the factory. (We've added puncture-resistant tyres to both, SPD pedals to Lev Davidovitch and toe-cage pedals to Fidel and a few lights. Lev Davidovitch also has an iPhone holder and a hub-dynamo – but no currently functional way to convert its output to iPhone-friendly DC current.) But they've performed brilliantly. They took all the bashing the sand, cobbles and unmade roads could throw at them in their stride, with no more ill effect than occasionally needing to reset the brake cables. The disk brakes sneered at the drop into Linz. The bikes carried our luggage without complaint ‐ it's a bit harder to pedal uphill when the bikes are loaded but there's no wobble or worry.
In fact, the only real damage was due to the boxed-up bikes being humped by us through Berlin late at night and some woefully uncaring handling at Edinburgh. (They seemed not to care that cardboard boxes weaken a lot when they're rained on.) Not flying with bikes ever again.
I think that we should have planned less distance each day – maybe 40 or 50 miles – so that we had more time for enjoying the places we visited. We should probably have taken less luggage - just a change of lycra and a toothbrush each, a minimum of tools and a big tub of chamois cream. I slightly regret not being able to charge my jPhone from the hub-dynamo, and I think at least one of us should have had a handlebar-mounted map-carrier.
But overall we've had a brilliant holiday – I want to go back to the Czech Republic. Both of us want to do more of the Danube cycle-route: from the source to Passau and from Bratislava to the Black Sea. Random Bozette has designs on the North Sea Cycle Route and I still want to cycle to India when I'm 60.
© (except the blatantly ripped-off bits) Random Bozo and Random Bozette 2013