Day 75 - Cesky Krumlov to Jindrichuv Hradec: If this is spring, I want winter back - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

March 31, 2015

Day 75 - Cesky Krumlov to Jindrichuv Hradec: If this is spring, I want winter back

Yesterday, as I walked to the supermarket, I noticed how the sky was a more intense/pure blue than I'd seen in a while, in between clouds anyway. Beautiful, clean air. It was fantastic. Twenty minutes later I walked out of the supermarket and right into a full-blown snowstorm, wet snow that might as well be rain. Fifteen minutes after that, just long enough to ensure I was soaked through, it was sunny again.

Okay, I see how this is going to be.

It was snowing again when I woke up this morning, and cold enough that it was accumulating on the hills. I delayed my departure, made the mistake of checking the weather forecast, then stalled some more.

By the time I left, it was raining. And the wind was picking up.

I thought I had encountered wind before on this tour. I cursed at it, complained about it, occasionally enjoyed it. But as I learned today, that wasn't wind, it was merely the gentlest of air currents. I didn't know what wind was until today.

I started biking along the easiest route to navigate, a minor highway. I very quickly had to come up with a Plan B because the wind was throwing me around and there were trucks on the road, also throwing me around. I had one of those horrible moments when you (I assume we all do this from time to time?) stop and decide you can continue to bike or you can continue to live, but you can't do both.

That's when I spied a small yellow sign with a bicycle and an arrow on it. And just like that, I was saved by the mostly excellent and comprehensive network of Czech bike routes, which avoid busy roads. Everybody wins. And I would definitely rather topple over while riding a muddy track at 13 km/hr than be blown in front of a truck going 80 km/hr.

At first, I followed routes that looked like they were going in the right direction, and later I was able to piece together a route from the signboards I passed along the way. A more prepared person would have consulted The routes followed quiet roads and rough dirt tracks, and although the wind was still blowing me all over the road (as well as off the road entirely), I wasn't biking in traffic or near the edge of a cliff, so it was okay. On those rare occasions when a truck did drive by, I pulled over and waited, bracing myself against the blast of air.

The wind was exhausting, the gusts were truly impossible. I encountered mini-storms when I went through open areas, the wind so strong that I could barely keep my balance while standing at the side of the road. I had to stand at the side of the road and wait out these storms because I was completely unable to stay on the road. I couldn't even walk with the bike because I couldn't turn my face to the wind and rain to check for traffic before stepping onto the road. So I stayed at the side, my back to the wind, being stung by raindrops, painful even through my jacket.

And then it would pass, and I could continue in what suddenly seemed like good weather, even though I was still being blown off the road.

This doesn't fit with the narrative, but I need to mention it (maybe stop eating while you read this): I've passed lots of ugly/icky roadside debris, but today brought a new one when I rode past a pile of intestines and internal organs.

Right before I reached my destination, I finally got the wind directly behind me and it actually pushed me up a hill. Yes, it was a very shallow hill, but I didn't pedal at all. I started to pedal on a steeper part, but a gust came along so I stopped pedalling and let the wind do the work. So my total distance fighting or fearing the wind was about 90.6 km, and my total distance benefitting from it was 0.4 km.

Needless to say, progress was slow and difficult, and the weather broke my spirit by the end of the day. Given that the forecast calls for more of the same tomorrow, I'm going to take a train.

Lots of fallen branches and trees
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I really liked the lighting on that cart, but in the 10 seconds it took to stop and pull out my phone, the clouds blocked the sun
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Another example of good lighting gone bad
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Today's ride: 91 km (57 miles)
Total: 3,528 km (2,191 miles)

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