(written by Nancy)
The theme of the day turned out to be wind, and not the nice kind of wind we like (tailwind) but crosswinds and headwinds, which seemed to blast us for most of the day. It turned out to be a bit longer day than we had anticipated, both in terms of kilometers and time, so we did not arrive at our campground until almost 6pm tonight. So, this will be a short post as it is now getting dark so it is time for bed!
We rode the bike paths to get out of the city this morning, and for the most part that worked pretty well until about the 20k mark. A bit of stop and go to make sure we were on the right route – I am not sure why they never seem to have signs at the junctions where they are most needed. It seems to be a trait of people who set up these paths to lead people with signs and then simply have them disappear when there are choices to be made…. Or perhaps someone is stealing the signs to be funny, who knows.
The bike path runs along the Elbe River and goes right by a kayaking slalom course. There were already a few guys out in the water so we stopped to watch them try their luck getting through (or actually it appeared that they had to go around) the poles hanging down from wires. The water looked pretty fast – I don’t think I would have tried it!
Just after the kayak spot the bike path took a turn for the worse, turning into a rocky muddy mess. We trudged on as there was no way off the path at that point but vowed to stay off the path for the remainder of the day. Bike paths can be good things but they can also be very frustrating! We finally found a spot to get out on the road and quickly found the road we were looking for that would take us much of the way today.
We were hoping to have a repeat of our Hwy 105 experience the other day, with a quiet country lane to ride. Unfortunately, Hwy 608 did not meet our expectations. Despite there being a motorway within sight going the same direction numerous trucks insisted on taking this small road. The wear and tear on the road was terrible from these heavy trucks – a ridge of asphalt lined the side of the road where heavy trucks and dug into the pavement. That coupled with a very heavy crosswind made for some hard going for much of the day. Dave kept pointing over the motorway every time a truck came by but I don’t think they were really getting it – I think they probably thought he was doing some weird kind of foreigner’s wave.
Dave mentioned at one point that there was a bike path further to east of us but that instead of following the flat land through the valley the path went up and over one of the only hills in the area, and how crazy that was. Well, later on in the day Dave exhibited his own, similar kind of craziness when he convinced me to take this small road out of the town of Litomerice up over a hill rather than take the main road that swung generally along the river. I did say to him that, given it was turning into a long day, perhaps we should just not complicate things and just take the main road. But no, off we went and up we went, hitting a significant stretch of at least 14% (that was what was marked, Dave’s altimeter went to 15%). We finally came down off the hill and connected back up to the main road, some of us in better moods than the others.
We made it into Usti about 4:30 and finally found the information center after wandering about a bit. There we found out that the nearest camping was another 7k. We debated a bit but decided to head on to the campground, given it was in the direction we needed to head to Dresden anyway. That is how we have ended up in this funny little Autocamp in a small suburb called Chabraovice. It’s not a bad spot but mostly set up with cabins, which of course I did not see until I had paid for the tent spot. Oh well, it is quiet as there are very few people here. There is a train line not far away though, with some very loud trains so hopefully they won’t run all night.
Dave wore his new birthday present today, a nice red Icebreaker cycling jersey that we found on sale yesterday. This morning it was warmer than it has been in weeks so he was thinking it was going to be too hot but it turned out to work very nicely – and no smells at the end of the ride (unlike the rest of our clothes….).
Tomorrow we head into Germany, with our first stop being the city of Dresden, about 60k from here. We have a fantastic-sounding Warmshowers host lined up there so will hopefully be able to take a day off to explore the city a bit and get the inside scoop on Germany from the locals. We will try to get a sim for our phone tomorrow but fair warning we may have delays in posting for a day or two.
Off to bed (or should I say sleeping bag) now…