Day08:Near Bad Schadau, Germany to Novy Bor, Czech Republic: Riding across northern CZ is almost as hard as riding in the Alps

After breakfast, I rode out of Bad Schaden, heading for Decin, CZ. That was a nice ride with a good radweg till just before the border, and an OK road with light to moderate traffic to Decin. In Decin, it took me a while to get on the right road - 13 - to ride to Liberec. When I did, I discovered that riding across northern CZ was even more challenging than I expected. It makes riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway look easy! I ended up covering less than a third of the distance to Liberec, my goal for the day. I hope to be able to get to Liberec, which is now 50 km away, tomorrow. I can do about 100 km a day on my loaded bike on the Parkway now. When I was in my 40's, I averaged 75 miles a day riding the Parkway from Asheville to its northern end. Now I'm hoping to be able to do less than half of that tomorrow. These roads are more than twice as steep as the Parkway, which is one of the most challenging rides in the US.

My camp site from radweg

It was kind of neat that, when riding back past my stealth camping place this morning, I completely missed seeing it. The riding was easy on the radweg on the east side of the Elbe. I could see bikes on the other side, but I had no desire to be over there. There were several ferries I could have taken to get across the river, but, even after I was riding on the road in CZ, I was happy with my choice to stay on the east side.

Heading for CZ

On radweg near border

Former border crossing station

In CZ with no bike path but OK lane width

I did meet a fellow in CZ who wanted to get on the Elbe Radweg. I told him it was on the other side and that he could get there using a ferry that crossed to a neat looking CZ town. He would reach that ferry in a km or two. That ferry, like some of the ferries on the Danube, is powered by the river itself, It uses a long cable anchored upstream and propels itself by tilting its angle with respect to the river flow. This is slow, but has no bad effects and costs nothing. The ferries on the Danube that use it charge half as much of the ones that don't.

Before I got to Decin, I had to climb a bit. It was nothing like the climb out of Decin, but it did remind me that I wouldn't be doing flatland riding any more. In Decin, I had some issues trying to route to Liberec - pronounced liberetz because c's at the end of Slavic words are pronounced like tz - using my gps. I finally resolved them by using my compass. I knew that Liberec was pretty much east, so I headed east and soon found myself on the right road. That road climbs out of the Elbe valley. It climbs for a long time - 8 km - and it climbs steeply.

Before I headed for Liberec, I headed own into the center of town, looking for an ATM - Bankomat over here. I couldn't find one, so I headed out of town figuring I would stop at a restaurant for a good lunch and pay them in Euro, then ride on and find a Bankomat. I stopped at the last restaurant in Decin on the road to Liberec. It turned out to be a great choice.

They agreed to take Euros at 23 CZK per Euro. Not a great rate, but less than a 10% conversion charge. There was a money conversion place just after I entered CZ. I stopped to find out how much they would give me for a $100 bill. I didn't give them the bill since they were only offering about 80% of what it was worth. Changing money in most countries is easy and the fees are reasonable. Changing money in Germany is a pain, but the fees are OK. changing money in CZ is very easy, but you usually will get ripped off, so it is better to use a Bankomat which can't legally rip you off as much.

My good lunch, with beer and coffee, and a very nice piece of chocolate cake - it was a dessert special - cost 15 E with a one E tip. They also provide me with open wifi and a pleasant place to work for two hours. In Germany, it would have cost at least 50% more. The restaurant was quite popular and I could see why. I asked the head waiter about finding an ATM - he told me there was one in the next town, 16 km away - and about the hills. He said there a big hill to climb getting out of Decin and then there were smaller hills. What he didn't tell me was that those smaller hills were still big hills and their average grade was often about 10%, with some 12% or more.

Pretty CZ town with river powered ferry

The Elbe in CZ with the Elbe Radweg on the other side

The Decin city limit right after leaving the restaurant The grade here is around 5%

A false summit after 5 km of climbing Here the grade was around 10%

One of my most challenging fully loaded climbing experience was going from Gap to Grenoble through the Alps. It was only 100 km so I figured it would be an easy day. It started with climb out of Gap which was 5 km at 12%. 60 km later, with lots more 12% climbing, I was wondering if I would be able to make it in one day. Fortunately, the last 40 km was easier.

Today the climb out of the Elbe valley was 8 km. It wasn't 12%, but a lot of it was at or near 10% and it seemed to go on way too long. Then there was a long, but somewhat gentler descent down into the next valley. That was nice riding and so was the relatively flat section in the valley, but the long climb out at 10% wasn't fun. That pattern was repeated after I reached the town with the ATM at 16 km. 16 km is ten miles. No big deal unless more than 50% of it is climbing at 8 to 10%. Then it is damn hard.

Heading down into the first big valley

Panorama from the western side of the valley This is very pretty country

Climbing in the valley at near 10% grade The sign prohibits horse drawn wagons and tractors

Panorama of the valley after the first, and longest, climb and descent The road comes over the ridge at the left of this image and is now climbing out of the other side of the valley

The climb out of that valley was so steep that, even with cool weather and no sun, I opened my shirt completely and took off my helmet and gloves to keep from overheating. A good part of that climb may have been around 12%. It was only half as long as the climb out of Decin, but I was wiped out by the time I got to the top. When I stopped to pee and to rest about 80% of the way up, I could barely walk.

In Ceska Kaminice where I used the Bankomat and got some supplies

The climb to Prachen from Ceska Kaminice was steep. Then it got, and stayed, steeper. Then it was one lane because of paving It climbed for 5 km

My bike, resting before finishing the climb to Prachen I was exhausted and needed a rest stop

When I got to the top, there was the next town. It was steep climbing all the way between those towns and then it was a steep descent all the way down to Novy Bor. I had cooled down after my rest and eating an icecream cone at athe top, so I had to button everything back and put on my wind vest to keep from freezing on the way down. The speed limit was 70 kph - about 45 mph - and I think I was pushing it. I know that, when the limit went down to 50 near the bottom, I was speeding. I was also having a very good time.

In Novy Bor, I checked out the hotels. There are two, four star, hotels and nothing cheaper. Then I stared checking out pensions. It took at least half an hour and several km of searching using my gps, but I found a good one, Sorrento Restaurant and Pension, for 750 CZK (about 30 E) including breakfast. Part of the problem finding this one was that one of the the roads the gps uses to route to it is no longer a road. The other problem was that the names the gps had didn't match the road names I could find on the streets and that the gps would get confused when I didn't turn where it told me to. Once, it simply shut down. I've done a lot of washing, and I'm doing even more drying tonight. Tomorrow I need to clean my, still muddy, shoes and ground cloth. Thanks to the ground cloth and my care in packing it up, my tent isn't very dirty, but it was very wet. Hopefully, I'll be able to get everything reasonably dry before I try to ride to Liberec. That extra water weight doesn't help when I'm climbing steep grades!

Nice view from Pracen,the small town before Novi Bor Taken just before zooming down into that valley Novy Bor is not far from the base of that big hill you see in this image