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  1. #1
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Notes from our Czech Republic tandem tour

    The tour:
    Prague, south to Cesky Krumlov, back north through the Sumava "mountains," a bit into Germany, then back to Prague via Plzen. 3 weeks in country, 406 miles and 24,000' climbing in 12 days cycling. No other form of transportation used, except the Metro for fun in Prague.

    The riders:
    David, 67, and Nancy, 63. Team weight about 305 lbs.

    The bike:
    2003 uncoupled Co-Motion Speedster steel tandem, Wound-Up carbon fork. Avid V-brakes with Arai drum on rear wheel. It's a fabulous machine.

    Gearing:
    9 speed, 52-39-26 X 12-34. We only had to walk one steep 1/2 km. section with "gravel" the size of cobblestones.

    Wheels and tires:
    Velocity Deep-V 36H rims, 14-15 spokes. Front hub Chris King, rear hub White Industries. Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech 28c tires at 120 lbs. Performance 28-32 tubes. No flats. Wheels stayed true. We never had to touch them. Total all-up bike weight was about 390 lbs.

    Navigation:
    Self-prepared cue sheets
    Garmin Edge 800 with courses loaded on a series of MicroSD cards.

    Photo diaries:
    Click on "view as slide show" at the top of the photobucket page.
    236 photo version: http://s878.photobucket.com/albums/a...20bike%20tour/
    65 photo version: http://s878.photobucket.com/albums/a...ort%20version/

    The gear list, about 40 lbs:
    tandem_tour_wts_3.pdf
    We decided not to carry a stove. In our experience traveling is about the people. We knew we would be more likely to interact with the locals if that were the only way to get food. That's the main reason. It also made flying easier and getting fuel a non-issue.

    Comments:
    Marvelous tour. There's nothing we'd do differently. No mechanicals, no flats, no problems of any sort. The Czech Republic has beer available almost everywhere and a 0.00 blood alcohol tolerance policy. We never saw anyone drive after drinking, though they do ride bikes. There is no glass on the roads: They don't carry alcohol in a car, they don't drink out of bottles, and they know how to drive. Though they do drive fast, we saw no evidence of accidents, either on the road or on the cars.

    Neither of us had ever been to the Czech Republic before, although I speak a little Czech, a relic of my US Army service. The Czechs are wonderful people, kind, helpful, and easy-going. Perhaps speaking a little Czech improved our experience. Speaking German is contraindicated. They still hate them, though they need their Euros. They welcomed us as Americans everywhere we went. All Czech popular music is in American English, though they can't understand a word. Almost no one outside of Prague speaks English. One Czech said, "If the Germans had won the war, we'd all be listening to German songs. But you Americans won, so we're happy to listen to English."

    We stuck to tertiary roads almost exclusively. They are hilly. We chose routes which did not involve gravel, only riding about 2km of unpaved road. We did ride a fair bit of cobblestones. The great thing about this routing is that we were totally out of the usual tourist path, and in the rural Czech Republic. Only a few cars passed us each day. Stoker navigated, leaving Captain to watch the road, which needed a lot of watching.

    We camped and stayed in hotels/pensions about equally. We would hesitate to rely on either as a sole method of overnighting. We had battery packs to recharge the Garmin if camping or to use in a lamp if we had to ride after dark. That worked well. We did not have a dyno hub.

    We plotted our routes and created cue sheets using bikely.com. We used an OSM on-line bike map of the Czech Republic as a source to locate appropriate bike routes and roads. We also used Google Earth a good bit to resolve questions and locate accommodations.

    This was a complicated route, the cue sheets showing approximately 600 turns. We ran the bikely GPX files through BikeRouteToaster, creating TCX files with course points at turns for each segment of the route. We used OSM maps, and loaded the OSM map and one course segment onto a series of 8MB MicroSD cards, which the Garmin takes. We then set the Garmin to follow the course. It's important to have only one course on each card. We had quite a bit of experience with using the Garmin in this way, so it all worked very well. We never used a paper map, though we had one for reference, just in case. We would hesitate to try this with only a paper map, only a cue sheet, or only a Garmin. We had to ask for directions maybe 4 times, when all our methods of navigation gave uncertain or conflicting results.

    We saw only a few bike tourists, none American as far as I could tell. All Czechs, I think. We saw a lot of Germans on guided tours with unladen MTBs.

    We had a great time! Their beer really is the best in the world. Delicious! We drank it at every lunch and dinner. Good source of hydration and calories. Didn't seem to affect our performance.

  2. #2
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    Interesting.

    This is very similar to what I do today with my older Garmin GPS. I can see you made alot of turns but that's necessary to avoid restricted roads and expressways. My Garmin has only one slot where it can either use maps or the MicroSD card for memory. I have the port with the maps at the moment but I'm thinking of taking a small notebook with me so I can upload maps and routes while in a motel. What Garmin did you use?

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    Interesting.

    This is very similar to what I do today with my older Garmin GPS. I can see you made alot of turns but that's necessary to avoid restricted roads and expressways. My Garmin has only one slot where it can either use maps or the MicroSD card for memory. I have the port with the maps at the moment but I'm thinking of taking a small notebook with me so I can upload maps and routes while in a motel. What Garmin did you use?
    The Edge 800. Screen is small. Barely OK but good enough for the purpose.

    Edit: We didn't take a computer because we didn't want the weight or distraction. We were focused out. That said, our only real worry other than the bike is that I might make or might have made some mechanical error with the MicroSD cards, throwing us back on our cue sheets. Cue sheets are never perfect on a course that's not had a pre-ride. Even then, one mistake and your really lost, whereas with the Garmin it was always easy to recover the course when we made a mistake, which we did at least a couple times a day. Having a computer along would have made our minds easier, but then that would have lessened the adventure factor, too. It's a fine balance.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 09-21-12 at 07:25 AM.

  4. #4
    Has opinion, will express
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    Interesting about the music. In fact, the Czechs would be listening to American music, too, should it have come to German occupation. The only music we heard playing publicly in Germany was western English.

    In fact, we thought that there was a concerted effort by Germans we saw to be more like Americans than Germans. It was weird to say the least.

    But, good synopsis of your tour.
    Last edited by CbadRider; 09-24-12 at 10:05 AM. Reason: Deleted alcohol tolerance comment
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  5. #5
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Sounds like an interesting tour.

    Also, FWIW, the majority of European "pop" is in English, as it sells more records, regardless of who "won" the war. In fact, no one has really won any war, everyone tends to lose over the long-term.

    As an American citizen living/working in Europe for 5 years for European employers, I would also suggest that the most of the animosity toward Germany has nothing to do with WWI/WWII, it has much more to do with the current Eurozone politics. I also don't think that Europeans envy America nearly as much as they did in the 80s/90s, and they definitely don't emulate current American style/culture, but the Americans are extremely good capitalists/entertainers, which usually results in American-made products being used/consumed/heard/eaten/drank in Europe. Regional food/beer is an exception, as it still exists, thank god.

    I have to agree about the lack of English outside of most major urban areas in Central/Eastern Europe. I just returned from a 10-day tour in Hungary and most people in the countryside were very excited to meet an American for the first time in their life. However, German was definitely the second language, rather than English. Also, in any urban area (5000+ people) English was usable, especially by those who are under 30 (communism ended in 1989-1991 in Hungary.)
    Last edited by CbadRider; 09-24-12 at 10:06 AM. Reason: Deleted quoted post
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  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Solo long tour took me thru Czech republic in 91, south from train station in Jelena Gora in PL.
    and meeting the Danube in Austria at Linz..

    paper maps and sparse film pictures..

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    Also, FWIW, the majority of European "pop" is in English, as it sells more records, regardless of who "won" the war. In fact, no one has really won any war, everyone tends to lose over the long-term.

    As an American citizen living/working in Europe for 5 years for European employers, I would also suggest that the most of the animosity toward Germany has nothing to do with WWI/WWII, it has much more to do with the current Eurozone politics.
    +1

    English music (not just American) is all over Europe. We sat in a courtyard area of the place we were staying in Switzerland listening to music we grew up with from the 70s and 80s. And we've heard it played all over The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and France.

    The most recent of the WWs was almost 70 years ago. Most of the people who were in any way involved with it are long gone now. There are much more recent political situations going on for people to think about.

    And it is good to hear about some countries going with a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. More campgrounds should adopt the policy as well.

  8. #8
    gna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Neither of us had ever been to the Czech Republic before, although I speak a little Czech, a relic of my US Army service. The Czechs are wonderful people, kind, helpful, and easy-going. Perhaps speaking a little Czech improved our experience.

    We had a great time! Their beer really is the best in the world. Delicious! We drank it at every lunch and dinner. Good source of hydration and calories. Didn't seem to affect our performance.
    I visited 10 years or so ago. Absolutely agree, especially about the beer.

  9. #9
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    The Czechs make great beer, no doubt. But the Belgians are the world champion brewers. I'd put Belgium first for sheer audacious variety, the Brits second (forget the big brands and drink the local stuff) and the Czechs third. The Germans narrowly fail to podium, and I'm delighted to say that the North Americans are beginning to show signs of knowing what it's about. Though like Britain, if you stick to the big commercial brands you might as well drink your own urine.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    +1

    English music (not just American) is all over Europe. We sat in a courtyard area of the place we were staying in Switzerland listening to music we grew up with from the 70s and 80s. And we've heard it played all over The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and France.

    The most recent of the WWs was almost 70 years ago. Most of the people who were in any way involved with it are long gone now. There are much more recent political situations going on for people to think about.

    And it is good to hear about some countries going with a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. More campgrounds should adopt the policy as well.
    It is all old music! It was like reliving the 60's, which of course most of you can't do . . .

    The Czech Republic may be a little different. They still revere Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415. 30% of the Bohemian pre-war population was German. They were all expelled at the end of the war. Then they had the commies. Only this year has the Czech Republic regained pre-war population levels. Oh yes, they remember quite well.

    In Germany of course the Marshall Plan, accompanied by US economic theory, resulted in the wirtschaftswunder or economic miracle of modern Germany. Displaying the works or symbols of the Nazi time is still forbidden by German law.

  11. #11
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    I deleted some posts that were veering off topic. If this thread turns into an alcohol tolerance discussion it will get moved to P&R. Please keep the topic on touring. Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    So Tom only hires people that are nutty? Is part of the requirement to be a moderator on this site is that you have to be nuts??
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