|Main square in Blatna|
The first couple of days of riding were marked by chilly weather with some rain showers but no heavy rains. This being mid week, car traffic was almost non existent, although one had to be careful - you could encounter a tractor or an old Skoda car at places where you would not expect motorized vehicles. Another great thing about Czech cycling is that all passable routes are accessible to bikes, including all superbly marked hiking routes. There seems to be no user conflicts, at least outside national parks, where the No bikes signs exist. Major roads are not very bicycle friendly, though. Most roads we rode on were newly repaved using euro funds, but since these roads have been in place for centuries and are typically lined by rows of old trees, they are narrow and have no shoulders. Czech drivers practice the sport of speeding and passing each other for no apparent reason at blind corners, with little regard for bicyclists.
You can't really get lost here, I joked that you see from pub to pub easily. Every village has a restaurant or a small grocery store, with regional centers such as Blatna, having beautifuly restored old town centers with many coffee and pastry shops, restaurants and hotels. That means you don't have to worry about carrying food or water. Actually, carrying water bottles on bikes is not common, Czech cyclists firmly believe that beer is the best electrolyte drink. Similarly, power bars, gels and other forms of gas station style junk food were replaced with fruit cakes, pastries, fresh breads and sandwiches during our numerous stops.
We rode about 100 miles in three day trips which made me feel like I knew this part of my country for a long time. There really was no better way to get to know this place than criss-crossing it on a bike in this worry-free mode. At the same time, I was getting familiar with the region and spending enough hours in the saddle to be ready for my next trip: transporting myself and some basic gear for a three day exploration of Sumava.