Tag Archives: czech republic


Day 20: Nový Jičín, Czech Republic to Cieszyn, Poland

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Start: Nový Jičín, Czech Republic
End: Cieszyn, Poland
Distance: 78.7km
Elevation Gain: 3562ft
Elevation Loss: 3526ft
Time: 7h25m
Reading Material: The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – Hugh Agnew
Audio Material: EconTalk; All Hail West Texas (in honor of recently announced reissue) and Sweden – The Mountain Goats; Bullseye; The World in Words

Here’s how you know you’re in for a tough day: ski lifts. They look pretty and the local houses nearby that are decked out as ski lodges are cozy but it also means that you’re going to be climbing. I had flashbacks to one of my “favorite” rides back home, the Six Gap Vermont Death Ride which crests the Middlebury Snow Bowl ski mountain of college racing fame. Today was nowhere near as crazy as that ride, but 3000+ climbing with 80lbs of gear and a 40lb bike still isn’t easy.

Had an impromptu lunch of what I can only describe as uncooked Spätzle. A woman had a little stand on the side of the road selling homemade food items. I am completely incapable of riding past homemade food. She first offered a large pie (appealing but probably too big) and then these bags of noodles. She offered a taste, so it seemed fine to eat them raw as is. A full bag served as lunch.

I hadn’t planned on it, but made good time and crossed over into Poland. I stopped at Cieszyn in Poland, a literal border town with the city split in two after WWI with the Czech half being called Český Těšín and Poland getting the larger part as Cieszyn. The old town square is pretty but Cieszyn hasn’t done as well as Olomouc protecting the core and there are cars all over making it less appealing for walking. However, there is a centrally located Kaufland Supermarket letting me load up on essentials (post-ride Mountain Dew; bar soap and actual shampoo; border crossing ritual ATM and mobile phone store for new sim card).

Day 19: Olomouc, Czech Republic to Nový Jičín, Czech Republic

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Start: Olomouc, Czech Republic
End: Nový Jičín, Czech Republic
Distance: 84.3km
Elevation Gain: 3325ft
Elevation Loss: 3161ft
Time: 7h51m
Reading Material: The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – Hugh Agnew
Audio Material: On The Media; Bullseye; Nerdist

Lots of climbing today. Four major hills and over 3000 ft in climbing.

I had a nice encounter in Tršice. It looked a group of friends were having a daytime drinking session (it was 11am) in front of a coffeeshop/convenience store. I stopped for a quick espresso and got an immediate reaction from a woman at the table. She couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speaking Czech but we had some translation help from the man running the store. I tried to snap a picture but she was camera shy. I did get an autograph in my notebook which I was told read: “Welcome to Moravia! I’m a stupid girl”.

A few more hills, many more kilometers, some lemon ices later and the smallest drive-in movie theater in all of the Czech Republic, I made it to Nový Jičín another ancient Czech Moravian town where I am going to find a pizza and a place to watch the Europa League final in a bit.


Day 18: Blansko, Czech Republic to Olomouc, Czech Republic

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Start: Blansko, Czech Republic
End: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Distance: 69.6km
Elevation Gain: 2410ft
Elevation Loss: 2752ft
Time: 6h44m
Reading Material: The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – Hugh Agnew
Audio Material: WTF Podcast (Noah Baumbach interview); 99% invisible podcast (multiple episodes)

Here’s one thing bicyclists don’t talk about enough: bugs. While riding you are constantly bombarded by bugs. Smaller guys like to embed themselves on forearms where they blend in with your arm hairs. But, the worst are the ones that end up in your nose and mouth. After a long uphill stretch to start the day, I earned a refreshing downhill through the Dědice Forest that was full of bugs! Conscious effort was required to keep my mouth closed to avoid ingesting bugs. I could actually see them incoming like projectiles before splatting on my glasses (lucky) or nose (unlucky).

Opted for a fast lunch in order to arrive in Olomouc with some time for sightseeing. Olomouc is an ancient Czech city (oral history claims it was founded by Julius Caesar but written history first mentions it in the 10th century) and is the historical power center in Moravia. In early Czech history, political power oscillates between Bohemia (e.g. Prague) and Moravia. Olomouc was a seat of power for the Přemyslid House (a precursor to the Hapsburgs) and the last of the Přemyslid’s, King Wenceslas III, was assassinated in Olomouc in 1306 effectively ending the dynasty.

I had time to climb the tower of the gothic St. Maurice Church and get a nice aerial view of the city before eating a pig knuckle for dinner and immediately falling asleep.


Where in the world is Michael Sandiego?

Clue: Crime Net says it’s somewhere you can spelunk…

I (and several school field trips) visited two of the four caves open to the public in the Moravian Karst region of the Czech Republic. First up was Punkevní Jeskyně (Punkva River Cave). The Punkva river travels submerged through the cave system and in this cave you can explore via electric boat. The cave opens up at the bottom of the Macocha Abyss, a 138m gorge formed by the cave roof imploding. Macocha means step-mother in Czech and there’s a macabre legend involving a stepmother throwing her stepchild into the abyss before jumping in herself (every retelling I heard is somewhat different).

Next was Jeskyně Balcarka (Balcarka Cave). Evidence has been found that humans from the stone age lived in Balcarka but today there are only funny plastic models remaining. This cave is best described as a Mathew Barney wet dream (a triple entendre when you see the photos). No rivers or boats on this one, just crazy cave features.


Day 17: Brno, Czech Republic to Blansko, Czech Republic

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Start: Brno, Czech Republic
End: Blansko, Czech Republic
Distance: 60.5km
Elevation Gain: 2225ft
Elevation Loss: 2012ft
Time: 3h transit; 4h exploring caves
Reading Material: The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – Hugh Agnew
Audio Material: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

Legs are getting stronger. Was finally able to maintain a brisk 20km/hr pace on sustained, slight incline. I find it interesting how much road surface resistance impacts the ability to maintain speed. When the rig gets moving on smooth asphalt you can feel how momentum just wants to keep the tires rolling. But, on slightly rough asphalt you really have to work just to keep from slowing. I’m riding 1.75″ tires and wonder how narrower rubber would feel? Though, given the strange surfaces you encounter on a long tour (getting out of Brno was a maze of fractured sidewalks, missing paths, old railroad tracks with warped gaps and massive potholes), I doubt it would be a good idea.

Today’s ride was really only about 40km. This region north of Brno is known as Moravian Karst and is laced with limestone caverns. I arrived to the main tourist center Skalni Mlyn by 1130am, checked into the hotel and then started exploring. The caves are huge and I was only able to see 2 of the 4 before they closed for the evening (almost got to a 3rd but my improvised shortcut deadended at a 800ft cliff and I had to take the long 10km route around). I’ll check out some more caves tomorrow morning and then continue heading north.