The idea of organizing a bikepacking meeting, which would take place in Šumava or at least within its reach, has been in my mind for a long time. Originally, I wanted to go there for the spring meeting, but before I could make up my mind, Dag had already suggested this possibility. I thought of one weekend in August as the date, where I was still free. Dag also liked it, so all I had to do was to choose a suitable place. There were quite a lot of places on offer - and I would like to thank Peter for his help in choosing the final location, which finally fell on an inconspicuous hill with the defunct All Saints Chapel on the top in the vicinity of the village of Rabí. The view from the top promised all participants romantic views of the countryside and towards Rabí not only a view of the village, but also of the notorious castle ruins of the same name.
Since I am not a fast rider and I often take photos along the way, I spread the 148 km long mtb route over two days so that it would lead as long as possible through the Brdy mountains. I had planned to ride the whole western part of Brdy, better known as Hřebeny, and then continue through central Brdy (where I was going to spend the night) to southern Brdy, where I would descend into the open countryside and continue on to Horažďovice.
I left home on Friday around ten o’clock and drove down through the Petřín orchards to the Vltava River, along which I continued to Radotín, where I then drove around the Berounka River through Černošice to Všenory. It was pleasantly cool along the water, so I didn’t notice the rising temperatures and the unpleasant stuffiness. I became aware of them the moment I decided not to take the road from Všenory to Černolice, but instead to take a short cut straight along the yellow road to connect back to the route already on the ridges.
I thoroughly enjoyed the shortcut in the afternoon mugginess before the storm. I was bitten by all the insect inhabitants of the forest, I carried my bike over fallen trees several times and felt like someone who had just come out of a thermal bath. Fortunately, just before the ridge, I came across a colony of blackberry bushes just off the side of the trail, undiscovered by hikers, which I plundered. I hadn’t eaten such good blackberries in a long time. I behaved like an animal and poured handfuls of the sweet berries into my mouth. The intrusive insects that had accompanied me throughout the climb disappeared like a cloud in the blackberries. Somewhere I must note that it is best to go to the blackberries in mid-August.
But by then I am finally on the Brdy ridge and I continue my own route away from the famous red tourist route, but still more or less parallel to it. Below Klondajk, I briefly take it to get water from the Bílý kámen well. Below Stožec I return to my own route and after some time I descend down the Bukovská path almost to the village of Hluboš. This route was once shown to me by another bikepacker and also a great friend Olda. It is a great wide gravel road. Find it sometime and ride it. From the village of Hluboš I descend through meadows to the Litavka valley. But before I finally dropped down into the valley, I stopped to get my bearings. To the south-west I can see the peak of Třemošná, with the massive wall of the rising hills of the central Brda Mountains on the horizon in front of me. I know I have to head right in between, there in the glow of the late afternoon sun.
I meet an open Coop in Drahlin and buy provisions for the night and the next day. Originally I wanted to shop in Obecnice, the last village before the overnight stay, but my own experience told me to take the opportunity now. And I did the right thing. Because when I arrived in Obecnica, the local Coop was already closed. From Obecnice I still had a six-kilometre drive to the Pilská reservoir, which was very tiring for me. I even yawned a few times on the uphill, because the stuffiness reached its maximum and this climb is not exactly beneficial for the psyche. It’s a long, flat, constantly rising asphalt road, where you can’t see the end. When you finally think it’s going to break, you’re just looking at another straight and endless climb. And so it went on and on, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I swore a lot and wanted to throw my bike into a ditch several times.
Eventually the climb ended and I just descended to the Pilská studánka. Here I replenished the water I drank on the way out. The Pilská studánka is one of several that are regularly checked in Brdy and have excellent water. It is completely covered and you will find a nice bench by it. It’s another place I definitely recommend if you’re thirsty.
I finally arrived at the overnight spot sometime after 8 pm and was caught in a storm within minutes. I had a relaxing, but believe me challenging, 75 km in my legs. I set up the tarp first and just as I hung up the hammock, the rain started. Little did I know it wouldn’t stop. Already in the rain, I ran to a nearby creek where I laid down and washed myself. Then I made myself so comfortable under the tarp that I could survive a flood in peace.
I woke up in the night to go pee and the rain was still drumming on the tarp. When I shined my headlamp into the treetops, all I could see were strings of water falling from the sky. During the night, the rain picked up in intensity to the point where the water, bouncing off the tree trunks I was hanging onto, began to fly under my tarp with the impact of machine gun fire. Eventually, it forced me to pull the “doors” in the fronts of the tarps I normally use, especially in the winter. I shined the light on the ground and determined that there was no swimming for the time being.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning and the tarp was still singing under the onslaught of rain. There was one change, though. All the depressions between the roots of the surrounding trees were filled with water, gradually joining together to form a small lakescape. Of greater concern to me, however, was the creek. I take off all my night clothes and go to the creek to look… and find that its bed is now full of roaring, murky water. As I brush my teeth by it, I can hear the rumbling crashes as rocks hit each other under the stream’s surface. Such was the power of the stream now. As another stump passed by, I realized I definitely wasn’t going to climb into the creek today. That morning I ran around the campsite naked, throwing everything I had left “out” that evening under the tarp. If anyone had been watching me, they would have probably died laughing.
It’s eight in the morning and I have no way of knowing if it will ever stop raining because I’m in a place that doesn’t have cell phone coverage. So I thought I’d give it a little more time. By ten o’clock, when I was getting tired of sitting under the tarp, I gave up waiting and slowly started packing. Eventually, all that’s left is the tarp, which I fold up around noon, when the creek finally pours out of the channel and begins to advance toward the campsite.
Resigned to riding all day in the rain, I set off towards Nepomuk, where I stop, slightly chilled, at the local famous Brdy Nepal cycling club kiosk. No cyclist should miss this place. Inside you can warm up by the stove and maybe a good tea, as I did. After thawing out, I set off towards Teslíny and then on to Chynín, where I want to finally leave Brdy and continue through the flatter landscape to Horažďovice. Again I am completely durch, but I don’t care anymore. The rain is letting up a bit and something big is wiggling in the puddle on the road in front of me. As I get closer, a buzzard rises from the puddle and we fly side by side for a while. There’s about 40 centimetres between us. We glide together like this for a good 15 meters, then the buzzard stops having fun and moves off into the woods, where it accompanies me for a while among the trees.
Looking at my watch a few kilometres further on, I realise that the timing of today doesn’t look good at all. The planned route doesn’t show me the finish line until sometime around 9pm, maybe less if I just stomp the pedals and don’t notice the world around me. Then, as I push my bike uphill on an impassable road full of roots somewhere between Gatsemanka and Mount Nad Marasek, Dag calls me and tells me that he and Honza are packing up and not to even think of going any further, that the temperature is dropping and once I leave the woods and into the open countryside, it will be headwind and feel cold. This doesn’t exactly make me feel better… Only later I learn that Dag has gotten very cold and his thermoregulation has completely broken down.
Eventually I decide to turn the bike back home. At that point I had some 59 kilometers to go to the meeting point. It was a bummer and I was sorry I didn’t make it, but I eventually realized that what Bob Bikolka later wrote on Twitter, “Safety first, I don’t break it if I can’t either…” was the most important thing.
After a while, I get to the bike path through the forest and then in the fog and rain I pass by the grill bar Míšov (stop here, another excellent place if you are hungry on the road), where I get astonished looks from bikers loading their electric bikes into cars. I continue along the trail, still straight ahead, to the Padrť Ponds, both of which I pass on my left, and then pass through the defunct villages of Padrť and Zadní Zaběhlá. There are no forests in this stretch of what is now also a former military firing range, so I enjoy the uninterrupted, slightly misty views of the countryside and feel that autumn is quite close. Below the Kočka hill I enter the forest again and through the Ve Vrši saddle I descend by serpentines to the Třirubecká meadow. During the descent to the meadow I meet a lone bikepacker on gravel and after a while another on mtb. Then I continue up a steep climb along the military area and the Reserve stream, where I meet the rest of this scattered bikepacking group. Where are they all going at this time of the year?
From the end of the Reserve military area I turn east and make another very exhausting almost four-kilometre climb along the well-known Alliance road to the Dlouhý Kámen saddle. From the saddle, I continue down the Alliance all the way to its other end at the edge of the Jince Garrison Training Area. The Alliance road is built in the Alpine style, it is less than eight kilometres long and was built by Jeroným Colloredo-Mansfeld to connect their two estates in Dobříš and Zbiroh, which were in the way of the Brda ridge with the peaks of Tok and Houpák. Interestingly, some parts of this road are still in their original state, so you can also enjoy driving on the original cobblestones with nice views, which I lost due to rain and fog.
At this point I don’t stay anywhere too much and choose the fastest possible way to Jincy, where the arranged ride is waiting for me. I have another ridiculous 53 km in my legs.