On the road again! The idea ripened rather quickly and before we could really get our heads around a major cycling trip, we found ourselves at the Czech border with our gear strewn around us on a random lawn in Cieszyn. We hadn’t had time to crash test anything, get into shape, set up a preliminary route and the dog had yet to seat in the trailer. That, and an open road, was ahead of us.
My first attempt at harnessing the loaded bike resulted in a fall. But after ten minutes I was able to ride forward reasonably well, though still fearing to let go of the handlebar to signal direction change. For the first few hours we had to stop every few minutes to put the runaway Lima back in the trailer. After a few days we were able to master the basics, though we’d still get short of breath on steep ascends…
The Czech Republic graciously welcomed the beginner long-distance cyclists: 90 per cent of the way we rode on asphalt roads and bike routes. Thanks to local hospitality we ate Beskid potato pancakes with fellow cyclists from Trinec, overnighted at an idyllic Czech village, ran away from rams, stared at flocks of ducks and geese, drank beer at a village pub and left all worries behind at a virtually empty camping site deep in an ancient forest. We also earned our spurs planning supplies and finding secluded spots for the tent before the night fell upon us. With the coming to Slovakia, around the city of Skalica, we said goodbye to paved roads and learned to skitter the roadsides and to push our bikes over sandy forest trails. The even asphalts of Austria would be a welcome sight of near future.
Although we knew from the beginning that we’d be traveling slowly, we still have a feeling of being late all the time. There’s a long way south ahead of us and a thousand of opportunities to stop, sit down at a sunny city square, pick plums at a road side, take in the views or to exchange a few words with people we meet along the way.