After a successful autumn bikepacking meeting near Jindřichův Hradec, which was slightly intimate, I could not wait for the start of this year's bikepacking season in the form of a traditional spring meeting. It is usually always attended by a lot of eager bikepackers.
After all, I like bikepacking reunions just because they always bring together a great group of enthusiasts. I had a few places in mind, but before I could consult everything with the others, Dag tweeted me that the reunion would be held somewhere in the geographical centre of Bohemia. But the weather forecast didn’t look good.
All the weather services were outdoing each other in terms of how much cooling would occur. It should hopefully snow in addition to the day’s rain, and if neither of those work out, there will surely be hail as big as tennis shoes falling from the sky and a headwind that will have me pedaling for my life to move from my seat. What am I going to tell you, I decided to ignore all the weather experts or I might not have made it to the reunion either. However, I still had a family battle at home, where I had to defend my Easter reunion date.
Bzz, bzz, bzz… and it’s Friday. I packed up in the morning. I’ll add a few extra warm layers for the night. I’m also taking a windproof protector for my hammock uq just in case. I have an hour before I have to leave, so I study the geographic center of Bohemia and mentally tell myself that the name is familiar to me. Číhošt’, Číhošt’…
Yes, it must be the Číhošt’ miracle, connected with the tragic fate of the local parish priest Toufar and the infamous action of the Czechoslovak state security service (STB), which used the event for anti-religious repression. All the more reason not to give up and go to the bikepacking reunion. Soon I’m on my bike and riding down through Prague to the Rokytka stream, along which I’m weaving my way from the city to the east.
The sky is dark and the roe deer can bark
It took me a long time to get out of the city, and I got lost several times when Komoot led me. I’m going very slowly today, though. The headwinds are picking up, it’s getting cold, the sun is fading and the sky is turning grey, with water-soaked clouds hanging where it’s almost black. I’m layering on my clothes and I know it’s not going to be much mileage today. I’m licking my lips and hoping that the cords of sky in the distance will pass me. Late afternoon I reach Voděrady Beechwood. I stop to look on my phone’s maps to see if there’s a spring water fountain within range. And look, there are a few. I refill the water and start looking around for a place for a hammock. I find it a little way up the slope. The place is perfect. It’s a small larch grove hidden from the eyes of travellers, and beyond the terrain wave.
I tie the hammock to the spruce with one end and to the larch with the other end. Already at seven o’clock in the evening it’s pitch black, because the sky is cloudy and dark. I’m cooking a veggie dinner. My favourite rice noodles with a little tofu, broccoli, peas and Podravka. All prepared in the new titanium pots from Pinguin Outdoors. I was surprised at how quickly the water started boiling. That’s not so common with titanium. I’ll have to ask Lukas about this one, it looks like some new tweaks to the pot surface. I’ll take some more evening photos after dinner. But then I climb into the hammock, turn on the headlamp and have some fun identifying birds in the BirdNET app before falling asleep. Try it too, you’ll be surprised what all around you sometimes screeches. In the end, I only managed 53 chilling kilometres today with a wander around the outskirts of Prague.
At one o’clock at night I am awakened by loud barking, sometimes farther away and then very close. By then I’m wide awake, listening again, and I recognize the roe deer. I’m awakened by roe deers again around three, then fall back asleep and don’t wake up until before seven. I’m woken up by the bastards again around 3am, but then luckily I fall back asleep and don’t wake up until around 7am. In the morning the sky is not so dark, but it’s cold. The temperature must have dropped near zero last night. It’s a good thing I had winter uq and protector. I pack up and head towards Sázava town.
Sázava ok, hot and cold
Not going so well again today. I have the strength, but it is strong headwind and cold. The sky has brightened up a bit, but it’s just not the same. Until I get to Sázava, I’m really struggling. I originally wanted to ride around Sázava from the top, but in the end I think it would be shorter for me to go through the centre. In town I stop directly opposite the Sázava Monastery, which is beautifully visible on the other side of the river. The surroundings are so nice here that I end up having lunch, taking photos and generally enjoying the views of the river. Suddenly, however, the weather changes, the grey clouds disappear and in another half an hour I am sure that the weather seems to be radically calming down. When I look at my watch, I realize that I’ve been taking pictures here for almost an hour. I send a Twitter message: Sázava ok, hot and cold… I don’t know that some people on the road are strongly cheered by this good news.
I leave Sázava around one o’clock. I am riding much better, but the cold headwind remains. The sky is still fighting a battle for the domination of the sun with the clouds and the indecision of the celestial battle creates nice photographic situations on the ground. But I have no idea yet that from now on the road to the reunion will just be up and down again. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. Somewhere before Zbraslavice I have a very late lunch and still arrive in the town tired. I see open groceries in the center, so I take the opportunity to shop for the evening. A similar opportunity may not come again. I won’t have any more mansions in the way large enough to make a grocery store worthwhile. The bike is getting heavy, but I have five beers packed. I’ve got the last twenty kilometres to go and I’ll be in Číhošť.
I am at the monument, which marks the geographical centre of the Czech Republic, at exactly seven o’clock in the evening, but I still have 4.5 kilometres uphill to go, because Dag has planned a bivouac just outside Nezdín, right on the way of the cross. I arrive at the bivouac site in daylight and I meet familiar, but also so far completely unfamiliar faces. Today it was 76 kilometers.
Jean Lucca Ferarri
Luke was the first to rush out at me, and I quickly shook hands with him. Dag, who was among the first to arrive on his legendary gravel, was standing nearby. I see that Petr has already arrived with his unmistakable cap. This time he came with his friend Vasek. Both guys had planned the reunion to their bigger Easter ride from Zábřeh na Moravě to Klatovy. They planned 450 km. They both slept only on Tyvek in their sleeping bags and dried in the morning. Jirka from the Ore Mountains arrived shortly after me. He had a lot on his mind, so I didn’t have time to talk to him – but we will make up for it at the kids bikepacking meeting we are planning.
In the light of the campfire flames, I also spotted Líba, who had come from Vimperk. Líba is a badass who also sleeps only on Tyvek and while I had sun and wind on Saturday, she had hail for a change. Honza also came to the reunion with his hammock. I ended up hanging out in the slope next to him. Two Lesovik hammockers 😊.
Dominik and Tereza left Prague independently of me and I managed to take a picture of them in the morning before they woke up. But there were also a few new faces. The one that stuck in my mind was Jana, a great traveller, who came back from a big trip to get on her bike the next day and go to the reunion. What was our surprise when we found ourselves looking at each other from one hill to another in Prague, right?
There were more faces and excuse me if I forgot anyone. There were 19+1 of us this time. If you want to tell me that’s a strange number, you’re right. It’s all thanks to Paul, who came with his friend Jean Lucca Ferarri. This friend of his entertained us all evening around the campfire with his tales of great journeys. Wouldn’t you think it’s possible to plan a great journey on roads that don’t exist yet? Or perhaps you are one of those who know all the components on your rig in at least four languages? Apparently it’s one of the basic things you have to know, otherwise you can’t even consider a trip abroad. If you don’t believe, then come to the next meeting. Maybe Jean Lucca Ferarri will turn up again and explain everything to you.
I wake up at 7:30 in the morning, time when some of us are on their way home. I see that Luke and Dag’s tent has disappeared. They both woke up around six and packed up quickly. Dag had 140 kilometers to go. A little after nine o’clock I leave too. I have a little over fifty kilometers to go to the train station in Kolín. I quickly click my way to my map app. I want to have a good time in this region and I have the whole day to do it. And I’ve done well. So the route takes me into seemingly deserted valleys. I passed many isolated villages and hamlets. Saw lots of long-haired cattle, but also many destroyed forests due to drought and bark beetle calamity, and occasionally shed a tear for it all. What will the same places look like next year? I prefer not to speculate. It makes me sad.
The way to Kolín is pleasant. It’s basically a steady descent. The sky is clear all the time, but the cold wind persists. It’s still not enough to shed any more layers. I’m getting hungry, so I decide to go straight for lunch. I find a menhir marked on the map. I almost lose my lunch, though, when I kick a titanium pot of boiling water full blast while cooking, and it flies along a ballistic curve in the distance. The pot survived. I guess this titanium pot is in a different league. Fortunately, there was still some water left for the second attempt – but I don’t have any for the rest of the trip. Then, of course, I look at the strange chapel next to the menhir. There’s something wrong with it. I’m a little suspicious of the stream that flows out of it in the middle of the fields. I check the internet and the “sewer” turns out to be the spring of St. Vojtech, which springs up inside the chapel. Under the chapel is the start of a three-foot long gallery that is flooded with water. However, the usability of the spring is unknown, according to the e-studanky website information. I take two litres and at the station in Kolín I have only one more. When I arrive in Prague, I have nothing. I didn’t sh.. myself and sent a review to the e-study. They probably won’t publish it.
I arrive home in Prague around seven in the evening. And after this gathering I realize more and more that the concept of bikepacking is in a sense also a loudness for me, where my rig is my tool that allows me to get to very interesting places, which then remain in my memory for a long time. This year’s spring bikepacking meeting was a very powerful affair for me. And I hope it was for you who came too.
Thank you for being there!
PS: And thank you, Pavel, for taking Jean Lucca Ferarri with you. I guess we’ll never forget that.