Sunday, April 26, 2009

Krakow, Poland The Big Train/Bike Adventure 26/04/08 Day 283

Day 283 (Slide show)
(Video 1) (Video 2 ) (Video 3)

This adventure to Krakow is turning out to be a real problem. I've been out on an overnight bike riding tour twice in the past two weeks and I'm a bit tired but I want to do this if I can figure out the rail situation. I don't want another Odysseus moment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Walls Are Closing In 18/4/09

Day 275 (Slide show)

Before you read this I want you to know that this is the week that really set me back. About this point I didn't want to do this blog anymore because I was angry at myself for not seeing this happen. So now I've decided to tell it like it happened. WTF – 8/22/09

Sunday 4/12

I worked on my taxes and did some blog work. These taxes are going to be a problem. The number is 4 times higher then I expected. I have two more days to figure it out.

There is this “Beer Garden” that is a nice place to meet up with folks so I rode over for the afternoon. There is some pictures here of the place. It's in Letna Park not far from the Metronome on the hill overlooking the city. Its a great view and the afternoon was nice. I need to get my mind off the computer anyway.

I was back in my flat by 5PM, no one showed up. It's a Sunday though.

I see in the weather that this week might be the last of good weather for a while. I need to set up a two night bike tour fast it looks like. I'm ready for something longer now that I'm used to the trails and riding over here. I'm looking for a spot with some history or a good campsite on the Lobe River.

Monday 4/13

Well I seem to be in another rut. My brain is freezing up. I have to get these taxes behind me. It's all I'm thinking about.

I rode down to the train station to see if I could find out how the bike/rail thing works. I'm ready to take a train ride to another city and ride back. Two places are on my list and those are Krakow, Poland and Dresden, Germany. Krakow is an interesting choice because I wasn't planning to go there but a nice CS lady sent me a note and invited me to go there and ride for a few days. Dresden has always been on my must do list but that won't be until next month. I have been invited to Dresden by some nice folks for a Bluegrass Festival. Back at the station I did find out that the prices a pretty cheap. Dresden is not a problem with a bike but Krakow will be difficult. The information about getting a bike through all the transfers is a bit vague.

I've got to figure out this tax issue tonight.

Tuesday 4/14

I didn't get much sleep last night. I'm feeling quite blue about this tax thing. I've decided to go ahead and pay it all, I don't want the IRS on my back a year from now. This going to put a real crimp in my adventure. The IRS and State Taxes are coming to about 70% of my available funds. With me still in Prague I'm going to have to be real careful now. I'm not going to be able to buy a car now. It feels like I've just been robbed. I'll just have to figure something out.

The weather is still good which is unbelievable but I see a storm is coming on Thursday. I am going to come up with a two night bike tour to the south and start tomorrow. It will keep my mind off the other problems and it's cheep. I seemed to have caught a small cold a few days ago but can't let that stop me.

This is a hasty plan and I don't like to do this. I worked on the map for the ride all night so that meant I am packing this morning. Not a problem though, I have everything all together and ready

My target is to be out the door by 10AM and I made it close enough. Packing seems easy now that I've made a few trips already but I have to stay off the computer.

I had trouble finding the route along the way due to poor signs. Some were missing and some were gone altogether. This route is to the south of Prague and very close to the Karlštejn Castle were I had been in November.

After about 5 hours and 57K I reached the turn off where I would go East towards the river. My target is to reach this nice campground called Živohošt along the river and the whole trip would be about 250K. As I was approaching this turn off I could see a small mountain I had to cross over. Then the trail turned to dirt. Now I'm getting discouraged. I didn't notice the mountain on the map until now. I guess I was in to much of a hurry. As the trail disintegrated to a bad trail I could see that I would have to cross the massive ridge on this trail. I wasn't feeling up to it. I turned around and started to search for a camp spot anywhere. After a couple of hours of searching I came upon a horse ranch with a grove of trees in a dry riverbed. I just pushed my bike up into the trees and set up the camp. I was pretty well hidden from the road and it was late so there wasn't much traffic. The nice hammock I have was very camouflaged up in the trees. This place is better then the private campground I saw earlier. That one was right along some railroad tracks. I don't think I would get much sleep there. I've seen a lot of these private campgrounds along the tracks. Very strange.

For the most part I'm feeling alright but I can't stop thinking about how much trouble I'm in now. The night is full of stars and I don't see a moon. It looks very nice. Also getting a bit to cold. I wasn't expecting this, glad I remembered a jacket.

“NOTE” I saw the first real golf course today. I rode right by it. I miss the golf a lot but as I think about it the cost was to high. Of course if it wasn't golf it would have been skiing, cycling or climbing. I'm to much of an Rambler. I was destine to loose it all I guess.

Thursday 4/16

Looking at the weather before leaving I expected the low to be 6C/43F. It got down to 3C/37F. I took my light bag to save some weight and I was cold all night. It seems I didn't do a good job of thinking this one out. I waited for the sun to appear for a couple of hours but it never warmed up so I packed quickly and headed out. Immediately my left knee started to hurt. It was cold and when my knee starts to hurt It doesn't heal fast. I was in for a long ride back.

There was a big hill through a village that I made a wrong turn in which sent me over the top of it. I had to walk a couple of times so on the way back I was determined to not make that mistake again. I tried to navigate around it and got lost twice. The bike route signs pointed all over the place. It was hell backtracking when my knee was so sore. I made it though the bad area and all I had to do was to follow the river to the metro, about 40k. Nice flat ground to cover but I still walked in a few places to stretch my knee. Its a lot warmer now and I was out of water. I wanted to stop at some small market but never saw one. Around 1PM I ran into two nice Czech guy's doing some carpenter work on the river and they gave me some. Real nice of them to do that.

I made it home about 3PM very sore and tired. My first trip that was a bust. I sure learned a lot on this one though. This cold gives me a headache and nose like a fire hydrant. To my surprise my flatmate hadn't eaten my food. After cleaning up I limped into the kitchen for a “Miner's Dawn”

“NOTE” At least I worked out the problems with the bike computer so here are the actual specs.

Not very impressive but at least accurate.

Weight 86lbs.

Trip Dist 112K

Trip Time 7:32hr

Avg Speed 14.87kph

Max Speed 46.52kph

Trip Climb 740M

Friday 4/17

WOW! I'm limping pretty bad. Had to get to the kitchen for coffee this morning. I think this is going to be a 2 or 3 day heal up job.

I have a lot of deciding to do now and I see I have another note from Magda in Krakow. She wants me to come over next weekend. I will make a decision on that tomorrow. Today I'm working on a budget.

Saturday 4/18

I rode to the store today and even though I'm still not 100% I'm getting better. I figure if the train ticket to Krakow isn't to much I can make it. That is the only expense really. Magda seems like a nice person and I will be couch surfing. Riding around Poland seems like a good idea.

The time is coming when I need to move on. I'm trying to re-formulate my plan to accommodate the financing. I'm going to be busy collecting information. The biggest questions I have I guess is what am I going to do when this is over. Where will I settle? I'm having a hard time answering these questions.

Polish Zlotych

1 PLN = .291949USD

1USD = 3.42525PLN

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ostrá Campground On The Labe/Elbe River Day 269 12/4/09

Day 269 (Slide show)
(Video 1) (Video 2) (Video 3) (Video 4)
Sunday I rode into the Bohemian Bagel for my weekly sit down and the bike trail along the river was covered with security. The Hilton where President Obama was at was right where I ride. I didn't realize this, they gave me a serious look over. Today he is going to make a speech up by the Castle. I hear there will be a good crowd of Expats to watch. The Czech's are mad at him so I don't think to many of them care about his visit.
The weather is still looking good for another tour this week. I have to get planning.
There has been this little campground on the Labe River that caught my eye several weeks ago. It will be another overnight trip but to the east side of the city. The bike path map I bought shows a nice trail. The campground is called Ostrá. Not sure what that means but the place is on the river and looks good on the website.
This is Tuesday, I spent yesterday preparing and I'm ready to go. This is going to be a fun ride. Every time I go I learn a little more about the area. I left about 10:30 am for the Bohemian Bagel so I could have fresh bagel's for the road. I parked Renee in the middle of the square with the cover on. It was a good test to see what would happen. There were many lookers but no one touched her. I weighed the bike and she was 87 lbs. Renee was like an American teenager in a McDonald's. Two ton's of fun. I have to cut down the weight somehow.
Now its time, I'm ready to go. I have to catch the metro to the east and go to the end of the line. That's where the trail starts. The first several miles were alright but then the trail turned to dirt. It was very rough, especially with the weight I had. The bike is hard to manage while going so slow. After several hours the trail became a walking trail. This is where I started asking WTF. I can't believe the map shows it as a bike trail. Mountain bike trail I guess. At one point I had a chance to cross the river on this walking bridge but the map says to stay on the side I'm on so I stuck to the map.
The trail got worse and I'm looking across to the other side thinking it has to be better over there. I kept going and eventually came to a highway where I could get across the river. This only meant I had to head away from the river through a small village then back to the south where I caught the river again. I was a bit nervous that I would find myself having to double back at this point. But all is well and within an hour I made the camp.
As I rode in I was a bit surprised to see a bar. But not really this is the Czech Rep. Several nice folks were hanging out and it was 3PM. As I looked around I could see all these small trailers where people live all year. Some were empty now because it was to early in the year for the seasonal folks to show up. But most of the trailers were being occupied now. I fit right in at the bar, they didn't know what to think of me riding in like that. Several folks spoke a little English so I got to hear all about the latest news. I was ready for a beer and the owner Eva was running the bar. I got a picture of her. She as been to the Grand Canyon she said and she had the best English. The place is a funky campground with several local characters. Much like a lot of campgrounds. I had several beers bought for me and around 6PM I went out to find a couple of trees for my hammock. The only place was close to a trailer but they were not there. I was right on the water though. Lot's of fish jumping much like last week. I went back to the bar for one more, which is hard to do but fortunately Eva had to close early for some reason. I was fine with that, 4 of these Czech Beers and you are toasted. I had 5.
There was a beautiful full moon and the fish jumped all night. The temperature was a bit warm, I could have brought my lighter sleeping bag.
This was a great camp spot. The fish here are Perch, Catfish and Sturgeon. There are a lot of fisherman fishing along the river and in these lakes. I was up at 6AM and waited for Eva to open up the place. Last night she said she would make me an American breakfast. She tried I'll give her that. She was very nice to me while I was there. The ride out was tough and I switched sides of the river thinking it would be easier. Most of the time it was a hiking trail with lots of loose sand. Many times I had to walk to keep from falling down. Renee did a great job but I going to switch out the tires as soon as I get back. I brought an extra set of rubber that are just a bit wider. At one point I came to a two tier set of steps that I had to carry the bike up. The stairs were metal and I didn't want to stumble on those, you can rip a knee open on them. Very hard trip but I made it back to my flat about 3PM just before it started to rain hard. I got lucky here.
For the rest of the week I spent a lot of time working on this blog. I would like to catch up but it is very hard. On Thursday I changed out the tires on Renee. The set on her now is 700 x32 and the new ones will be 700 x 35. Its not much but it is a noticeable difference. I think it will help. On Friday I went into the city to try them out. Prague is a crazy place to ride. The bike paths have some major obstacles like steps and curbs not even mentioning the cobblestones.
Its Saturday and several things are happening all at once. My taxes are due next week and I'm worried that I have been underestimating the amount I will owe. Also I have to think about leaving here and what to do with my gear and bikes. July will be here very quick. I have to develope a plan. There are many questions that need attention now.
But the weather is great and I have to talk advantage of it. I have a lot to do.

Trip Count (est.)
Trip Distance 128.00 KM
Total Time 7:68 HR
Average Speed 12.26
Max Speed 35.12 KM
Trip Climb 646 M

Total Weight 87 LBS

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Lidice, Czech Rep" My First Bike Tour 5/4/09 Day 262

Day 262 (Slide show) (Video)
Early in the week I wasn't sure about where to go on my first ride but the weather was definitely getting better and I needed to make up my mind. I had a few ideas in mind but the place I liked most was a village called Lidice. This week is going to be great. I have been waiting for a long time to ride in the Czech Rep. and now I'm a bit nervous about it. I've done all my preparations thoroughly so I'm planning on making it on Wednesday.
The route I have planed will be about 145km with one night camping out. One of the concerns I have are the markings and signs they use here to designate the trails. They are very bad. I decided to go out on a scouting mission on Tuesday to ride a portion of the route to check it out. It is a good thing I did. The trail signs were easy to miss if they were there at all. It was a good riding day and I had gone about 40km when I crashed and injured my elbow and hip. As usual a car swiped me. This gave me an extra day though because I was very sore on Wednesday. One more day to rest up was good and it was a foggy, cool day anyway. Thursday was a perfect day, sunny but cool. I was out of the door by 10am and heading for the metro. I decided to reverse the route after my scouting mission on Tuesday.
I have an appointment at CS Cargo to check on my crate. I want to make sure it is still there and in good shape, I will need it come July. The weight on my bike, Renee is her name, is about 65 lbs. I've had more before, this is just a one night trip.
As I got on the metro I had two Czech guys asking me about Renee and where I was going. It was funny because one guy did the translation for the other, they didn't know each other. The appointment as CS Cargo went well, my crate is in good shape. My new friend Pavel has been keeping an eye on it for me.
When I left I wasn't done the road but a mile when I missed the turn. I doubled back and found that I needed to take a dirt road. No wonder. This would be the first of many dirt roads, trails or paths I would find. I made Lidice around 6pm which was a bit sooner then I expected. The ride was very nice and a lot of fun. The different villages were very interesting and I only got a little lost. It was a great decision to reverse the route because the ride today was flat for the most part. Now tomorrow I will be able to have a downhill day.
After touring around the very large grounds here at this monument I stopped for a snack at the memorial area. This place is very large and impressive. It is a lot more then I expected. The story here is quite sad. It's a good place to visit.
Its around 8pm and I'm sitting by a beautiful little pond were there are these large Carp jumping everywhere. Its starting to get a bit cold though. I rode around for about an hour until I found this place. The memorial park is quite large and I didn't want to camp in it, so I'm about a 1/4 mile away. This is a nice camp spot and I just had dinner.
It sure was hard to sleep in the hammock last night. I like to sleep on my side and be able to move from side to side. Can't do that in this thing. I'll get used to it. The Hennessy Hammock is perfect for bike touring because of the weight and it keeps you off the muddy ground. Someday I will have to put it on the ground though, I'm sure I'll get stuck without any trees.

This place by the lake has been a good spot. I was up at 6am and in bad need of some coffee. Instead of making any I decided to pack up and head to the village. Only 20 min.

I should be able to find some there I hope. Just as I got to the village area I realized that nobody was up yet. I turned towards the Memorial and there was some folks with some coffee. These were people that rune the gift shop, real nice. One lady spoke some strange form of English but I could get it. She told me several of the stories of the place. The whole thing is a bit depressing. I'm glad I came to see it but I can't believe what people will do to others when they get crazy like this. In the museum they had a film about the place so I stayed to watch it. Sad stuff.

Well I'm off down the road, heading for my flat. I'm glad I switched directions so I could have the downhill today. I made a few route changes but nothing major. In one spot I was on a dirt hiking trail, this was suppose to be a bike trail according to the map. By 3pm I was at the river waiting for the ferry. My Renee is almost to big for this little boat. The Skipper who was dressed in a little Navy suit, was amazed how heavy she was. I made it though and was home by 5pm.

This has been a great first trip and I'm ready for another. I will spend the next few days repairing a few things and pick up some supplies before the next one.

This weather is suppose to be good for another week which is great. I'll leave next Wednesday for the another one.

Note: Fix the bike computer.

Trip Count (est.)

Trip Distance 92.00 KM

Total Time 6:43 HR

Average Speed 15.96

Max Speed 44.89 KM

Trip Climb 976 M

Total Weight 81 LBS

I returned on Friday and while recovering the weather kept improving. On Saturday I went for a ride on Betsy to the city. Its my first time to wear shorts since Greece. Some friends wanted to meet at a “Beer Garden” which was opening for the first time this year.

There are several “Beer Gardens” here that are in the larger parks. They are nice spots and a good place to hang out in the good weather.

The only thing I forgot was my Stripen water filter. I have plenty of water though.
Last note, my bike computer battery failed so I don't have any good mileage numbers. Damn.

Special Note: Don't plan on just having one beer. It's impossible, the Czech beer is easy to drink.