Monday, July 9, 2012

Czech Republic - Troubles

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Podmokly. Photo credit: Panaramio

Friday, September 2 – 30 Miles

Crisp sunshine greeted us as we packed, adding a couple brochures and a tiny framed drawing of the Charles Bridge. The weather was a good omen, despite the fact that I needed to get my wheel fixed. We stretched. It was during this morning ritual that a Czech student, who we recognized from the reception office, struck up a conversation. She was pretty, her rounded face and blue eyes beneath bushy eyebrows so typical of the Slavik people. She also had short brown hair. As it turned out, the young woman had recently broken her leg and was mending while pursuing a teaching degree in Physical Education. She was very helpful, recommending a bicycle shop nearby which opened at 10 am. In the end we swapped addresses on the off chance we might connect in the future.

By noon my wheel was fixed. We’d opted to only replace the spoke, once again, primarily because Andy and I itched to move. We set off. Not less than five times we entered and left Prague. We were confused and frustrated. There were numerous towns that didn’t appear on the map. But slowly, gradually we maneuvered westward around Prague.

By midafternoon haze covered the sky. And then the grumblingly familiar popping, pinging sound almost put me over the edge. I groaned. Another broken spoke, 3 in 4 weeks!

It was 4 p.m. on a Friday. By now we understood that stores didn’t open until Monday. The wheel wobbled slightly. We wanted to push further, continuing towards Vienna over the weekend, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

We stopped to shop and load panniers with two days of food. But as luck would have it, while placing groceries, lightning and thunder belted the sky. We swapped grim looks. I wanted to cry. We waited and waited, but the downpour didn’t let up. Andy and I braved the weather; we had to find shelter before darkness descended.

Pohori. Photo credit: Panaramio
Warm rain slapped my coat, quickly soaking my bare legs and shorts. Cars passed, their headlights now on. I felt vulnerable as we splashed through puddles and newly created streams. We ascended through a village then dropped again into a low, foggy ceiling into - what we presume is - the same valley.

If we hadn’t stopped to ask a woman riding her bicycle – she was thoroughly soaked, her dress pasted to an ample figure - we would have missed the tiny sign high on a post, designating the campground. We made it, finally, without further mishap.

At first we chose to tent (at 126 Korun) because spending as little as possible had become so ingrained. The elderly proprietor looked at us funny. We were dripping wet. He made us aware of the evening’s dismal forecast. The manager - his wit as good as his 48 years of English - also warned us of the frequent trains that sped by around-the-clock, only 50 feet away. The smart side of our brains kicked in and we changed our minds, opting for the bungalow though we’d already paid the site fee. It was all rather humorous too, because in reality tenting would mean sleeping on a cushion of water. The kind man had initially handed back 50K too much in change. I held out more money. “My mistake”, he said, “You can stay inside tonight. Same price.”

Bless his heart; $5 for a cabin and cooking facilities. I wanted to kiss his feet.


  1. It those little gestures of kindness that suddenly flip the day on it's head and make the day an adventure you can giggle about rather than a disaster. I have resorted to tears a couple of times (whilst hiking or cycling alone). Usually because I'm exhausted and have let things build up. I have found a few minutes of weepy, self-pity can be incredibly cathartic (if a tad indulgent). Suddenly, there is a release, I get things in proportion, get my sense of humour back and can see a course of action. A short while later I'm generally amazed at how silly I've been.

  2. Finally catching up on your Monday posts - what great riding, even though not always ideal. It's spirit-lifting to find someone who helps you out for no good reason. Looking forward to next Monday.


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