The route: 61km
From Soukenik campground back to Cycle Route 11 (Vienna-Prague Greenway)
- Head back north cycle route 1173 towards Tabor. Quickly catch the intersection with cycle route 1206 and cross over the river, heading west and follow the route until it meets back with cycle route 11, just past Radimovice.
- Head south on cycle route 11, in a few kilometers at Lom, the Vienna-Prague Greenway turns into cycle route 12.
From Cycle Route 12 to Ceske Vrbne
- Keep on cycle route 12 through Hluboka nad Vlatavou (worth a stop in town to see the castle)
- Catch the cycle route 12 OR cycle route 12A south– the 12A is preferable— it is a separated bike path past a park complex, through a residential neighborhood and along the river until you reach Kemp Ceske Vrbne, whitewater park, with plenty of space to pitch your tent with the boaters.
Be prepared: but know how to ask for help with a smile
Just as we were preparing to leave camp, T was adjusting his seat and the seat clamp bolt snapped. Being the boy scout he is, he had the extra bolt, but removing the broken bolt was harder than anticipated. Lucily our camp host had the pliers and the muscles to give us a hand. Equipment disaster averted!
We were tempted to make it to Cesky Krumlov—one of our highlights on the Czech part of the trip, but we made it early to Hluboka nad Vtlavou and thought it was equally cool to check out. The castle up on the hill was striking, and compared to Karlstejn, there was a real town below it that still had character and function. Also a super friendly Tourist Information office on the main street. Stop in for lodging information, free maps and some local knowledge. After a trip up tot the castle we stopped in town to soak in some of the local flavor (and beer, of course). The friendly folks at the Tourist Info center helped us locate a campsite, Kemp Ceske Vrbne about 8k to the south in Ceske Vrbne.
Today’s route was the easiest so far— there were still climbs and lots of fast decents, but the rises were shorter and not as steep. We hit one section marked with a 12% grade and I shuddered to think the grade of some of the climbs on day one because 12% seemed tame and easy compared to others we’ve done—or are we finally getting used to the hills after all this time spent in the flatlands of Warsaw?
The roads were easy on our legs, but not nearly as scenic. What did capture our attention is all of the people out and about on their bicycles. We heard the Czechs were active folks and now we believe it. If we thought on the first day that the whole country is uphill, on day three we were quite convinced that everyone is also outside. As we spent some time around Hluboka and riding out of town, we saw so many people on bikes, blades, and surrounding by golf courses, tennis courts, ropes courses, and a whitewater park. Something for everyone. We ended up camping by the whitewater park, along with the boaters and some other cycle tourists.
Easy routes– but where are the veggies??
The route today was almost seamless. Event though we are still sticking to the main route 12, I keep my maps on the handlebar bag just to keep track where we are (and to check on the elevation grades). I think only once or twice the signage was not as clear as it should be and we turned to the maps for guidance. But amazingly, it really is a superhighway out here for bicycles. In some spots today, not a car for ages, and the roads are almost always well-paved.
But the one thing we are missing from Poland are easy access to fresh vegetables and descent markets. In almost every village you stop in Poland, you can find a small market with everything you need- fresh and whole foods. We really have to search for markets and fresh vegetable stands just aren’t around. Why must a society’s progress equate to the downfall of its local agricultural market? In the Pacific Northwest, at least, we have started to come around to the return of the small farm and local produce—Poland has never departed from it. With the vast farmland we’ve been riding through over the last few days, mostly turned to cash crops like wheat and corn, we hope that a country like Czech, that is as in tune with the outdoors and nature as it is, will also recognize the value of good and local produce on people, environments and economies.
Enjoy the slideshow