At the end of the year, a new challenge emerged in the bikepacking world. Good Night 2020 was supposed to encourage people from the bikepacking community to go out and say goodbye to the bizarre year just passed in the last week of the year.
Behind the Good Night 2020 challenge is a team from the website Bikepacking.com and the bikepacking bag manufacturer Rockgeist. Part of the challenge was a photo contest for a few prizes. But it was primarily about motivating the public to drive and sleep outside. I’ve been holding on to the tradition of inter-holiday “chick” for about the fifth year, so I was keen to join in. Questions of where, how and with whom hung in the air until the last moment. There were a few variants, but most headed south. Bikerafting was supposed to be the main motive. With the promised rainfall in mind, I kept an honest eye on weather forecasts and river level conditions, and it was up to me to decide where to go after all. Unfortunately, the magic cloud, which would have expired exactly where I wanted it to, did not materialize. We made a safe bet and headed for Lužnice, which kept plenty of water for a long time while promising a whiff of remoteness.
The itinerary was ingeniously austere. We’ll head upstream, get where we’re going and use the river to get back. Textbook “easy bikeafting.” We set out from Vesela nad Lužnice. Cimrmanologists will understand that we could not leave out this familiar birthplace of ever-cheerful people. So from Veselí we spun our wheels up the river Nežárka and set off across Třeboňsko. That’s right, Jolly is above Lucky, but so is Nephew. Along the river, we continued south. The mixing temperatures ensured the perfect strengthening of the muddy dirt roads that would otherwise have plagued us. It was a different story in the woods, and I have to say that’s where Třeboňsko as such thrilled me. Lots of really nice roads, easy terrain, old dams, streams, ponds, streams and ponds, and no one around this late in December. I have to go there in the spring for a singlespeed and film some miles.
No great stories or adventures took place. The potential for epic challenges needs to be looked for elsewhere. However, we took a pleasant drive through the pretty countryside to the state line, where dusk caught up with us. It’s hard to imagine a nicer place to sleep than what we found at Staňkovsky Pond. The narrow, several-kilometer-long pond, gripped by a spruce forest, looks more like a Nordic lake than a fisherman’s work. On December trips, it’s good to have plenty of stories in store for the evening, because at six o’clock it’s pitch black. The time spent in the sleeping bag may be longer than the time on the bike. Which isn’t necessarily unpleasant, is it? Because when will it get lucky again?
The evening blizzard had swept the sky in the morning, so it had gotten pretty stiff overnight, too. But the first rays of the sun gave a hint of a start to a fine day. After a good portion of hot drinks, we boldly headed for the river. By midday our wheels were firmly strapped to the bows of the Pacrafts, and we were able to launch ourselves down the water back north. The meadows is one of our busiest rivers of the season, but now in late December we had it to ourselves. The atmosphere on the lazily meandering river was quite adventurous. With a certain amount of imagination, the Meadowlarks look wild and forlorn. Fallen trees, which had to be bypassed to carry the loaded Pacrafts across the frozen marshes, added to the adventurous nature. Early dusk pulled us out of the water again after a few hours of paddling. To our happiness, it was at a swell camp above the river.
The following morning, after a bitter fight, we broke the frozen watering gear back into our bags and packs and set off on the last leg of the route. Along the wide roads and along the levees of dozens of ponds, the road has pretty much “slipped away” again. The technical trails may be harder to find here, but I was really excited about the number and quality of the nice gravel roads we took back to Vesely n.L.
It was a great winter trip, at a very relaxed pace. Well stress, enjoy the cold outside, see a new place, take a little ride, paddle a little, cook on the stove and roll around in the sleeping bag. I mean, that was a worthy end to an otherwise quite idiotic year.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people from around the world have joined the Good Night 2020 Campout. You can see the short stories of the winners of the photo contest here.