The basic variant suggested by semi-official website measures according to Mapy.cz almost 220 km. The constraints for the trip were: a) sunrise (~5:30), b) bus departure from Dresden at 18:30. Though it was theoretically viable to undertake the whole track, I wanted to enjoy the ride, for instance have a sufficient stop for a sufficient lunch. Thus I decided to take a shortcut through the hilly region of České Středohoří, with it’s measured 175 km it provided enough time reserve for various stops.
I bought two bananas, some sweets, took ~2.75 liters of beverages and packed some clothes for consequent stay in Berlin and early in the morning I set out for the trip.
8:59 Mělník (56 km)
Due to organization issues I departed at 6:00 from Troja. There was already some light and the air was coldly refreshing. Interestingly, the light mist above the river was filled with plethora of fishermen continuing up to 10 km out of Prague. I climbed the Vltava valley in Klecánky and saw the sun directly sun first time that day. When I was passing through Kralupy nad Vltavou, I stopped at a gas station to inflate my tyres – I did not regret, the road surface was much better during the rest of the path. Even though I had already been cycling for more than an hour, people were only travelling to work and shops were still closed. With accordance to my schedule, I came to Mělník moments before 9:00 and had a short stop on the Labe bank with the view of the Mělník castle and a vineyard hillside.
11:07 Liběšice (93 km)
The scenery of the Labe river behind Mělník reminded me a maritime coasts of Mediterranean countries – flat land, ports and cargo boats as well as personal boats. On the route, I passed by quite an impressive buildings and chimneys of the Mělník (coal) power plant – I literally crossed the cooling water gutter. In Štetí I crossed the river and began the ascent to České Středohoří. The climbs weren’t steep neither long (comparable to Vysočina) and fortunately they were shaded by trees, so it was a welcomed change from the flat riverbank ride.
In Liběšice, I made a navigational mistake and began returning to the river’s course to Litoměřice. I noticed this after I climbed around one kilometer behind Liběšice village. I had great time reserve in my schedule, so I blithely moved planned lunch break in Děčín from noon to one o’clock.
12:53 Děčín (127 km)
I cycled though the landscape of the Sudetenland with small villages in the hills, in few places I even saw the logged houses. I must admit, the hills affected my mood more than my muscles. Due to lower average speed, I began to doubt my 13:00 arrival to Děčín. Everything brightened when I passed the pointer Malé Březno 9 km. From that place it was almost continuous descent up until the Labe river. I do not have real data but I estimate my average speed on that segment was well above 30 km/h.
When I got back to the Labe, it was not the shallow valley anymore, it was a canyon and in such places there are only two possible wind directions. The wind (fortunately a breeze) was against me. I knew I’d reach a restaurant in a few kilometers (and before 13:00) but during this final kilometers I got my first crisis of the day. Most probably, I was dehydrated since my blood pressure was low, breathing shallow and I began to cramp. I swallowed a (fizzy) multivitamin pill and drank some gulps, which helped me and I successfully reached a restaurant in Děčín.
- total distance: 127.0 km,
- cycling time: 5:48:54,
- average speed: 21.84 km/h,
- maximum speed: 64.65 km/h (descent to the Labe river from České Středohoří).
16:44 Pirna (176 km)
I estimated that in the worst case I could leave Děčín at 15:00 and still catch the bus at 18:30 in Dresden. So when I was leaving the restaurant at 14:00, I felt I had a solid reserve to enjoy the ongoing ride.
The heat and thirst surprised me. Before the lunch I drank ~2 liters plus another 0.8 liters for the lunch. I think the afternoon temperatures approached 40 °C (in the direct sunlight certainly more than that) and I deliberately increased my water consumption to avoid another crisis.
From Děčín, I cycled on the left side of the Labe, crossed the borders in Schöna and crossed the river in Bad Schandau. I could see:
- how low the current water level was due to the drought – there were few meters wide bands of stones on both sides of the river and floating piers were heavily inclined to the water,
- how high the water levels were during floods in 2002 and 2013 – on the paths I was cycling quite a high above the river, I would still have my head underwater.
Being amazed by the river neighborhood and not understanding German labels properly, I missed a ferry in Königsberg and continued on the right bank of the river. I realized it was not correct when the road began to climb and changed to a forest path full of roots. With help of OpenCycleMaps, I discovered a narrow path right along the right side of the Elbe river. The surface was poor yet the path was wide enough not be burnt by adjacent nettles. I relieved when I reached Kurort Rathen with paved road again. Following kilometers were quite exhausting as it was a really hot afternoon and despite being very thirsty warm water from my bottles wasn’t very refreshing (though dehydration would be worse). Earlier (from readings of various maps) I thought Pirna was a suburb of Dresden – well, it is not. I stopped there to buy a cold (and sweet) drink and start worrying whether I’d catch the bus in more than 20 kilometers distant Dresden.
18:21 Dresden (202 km)
I assured myself that despite being tired I was able to keep average speed above 20 km/h thus making it possible to catch the bus. On the other hand, I was aware that every single wrong turn can prolong my route and thus effectively slow me down. Fortunately, the pointer signs were quite good on the final stage and I didn’t get lost. There were other obstacles though. What got on I my nerves first was the cobblestoned road while entering the Dresden. I would expected that the Landshauptstadt would have better surface on the major cycling path than coarse cobblestones where you could ride 15 km/h maximum. Thanks to my prior knowledge of Dresden center, I expected the second problem – the overcrowded center and somehow cycled through it up to the main bus station.
I was afraid that I was late (since cyclists had to be present 15 minutes prior the departure), however, everything went fine then. I took off all parts of my bicycle that could fall off and the driver put it on the rack on the bus’ tail.
In the bus, I had a little nausea (probably because of all that liquids that I drank) and couldn’t properly finish a sneeze. I realized maybe it wasn’t the cleverest idea to cycle 200 km a day when the day is a really hot one.
The final numbers for the trip were:
- total length: 202.4 km,
- cycling time: 9:26:56,
- average speed: 21.42 km/h,
- maximum speed: 64.65 km/h (descent to the Labe river from České Středohoří),
- liquid consumption: 4–5 liters,
- food consumption: 1 banana, 3 sweet sticks, 1 soup, 1 goulash, few handfuls of raisins.
Update: Few days later, my feet got swollen. Not sure whether because of the heat wave or the previous performace, still it was the first time such a thing happened to me.
In Berlin, I was hosted by my friend who provided me ground for proper regeneration and the second day we cycled almost 100 km through Wannsee, Potstam and Beelitz along the Havel river.