Silver DofE expedition

In June 2018, our group finally finished all the intensive preparations that had to be done in order to kick start our journey. We chose the name GucyGenk and the planned goal of our cycling expedition felt quite ambitious; after all, pedaling over a hundred kilometers on bikes sounds challenging for most people. Given that GucyGenk was a group formed by 3 physically well prepared boys and one weaker female element, we decided to give it a try.

We planned our journey from the 8th to the 10th of June 2018, and we began planning the route and other information, such as sleeping areas, distribution of food and more. Our aim was to pack our bags in the lightest possible way, because nobody wants to carry a heavy load when cycling all day long.

Our trip began at Prague's main railway station in the early morning hours, and everybody was full of motivation and excitement until we arrived at the train. Even though we had tickets for ourselves and our bikes too, the bike holders in our wagon were taken. We were faced with our first obstacle and we had to inform the conductor. Thankfully he was very helpful and he was able to figure out where to put our fully-loaded bikes. The train ride was smooth and quick, we fell asleep for a few minutes, and when we woke up the train had just arrived to Dresden. We had a short stop at the station to pack everything on our bikes and the journey was launched.

The route in the German area of our trip was in an excellent condition, but due to the beautiful weather and warm temperatures, the path was quite crowded. In the districts of Laubegast and Pirna we encountered a detour which sent us into the center of the city and it extended the distance we planned to conquer that day. We strongly advise you to go visit this area of Germany on bikes, because there are several other activities you can experience on the way, such as climbing, canoeing and many more…

When we arrived to the destination assigned for the first day, we didn't expect such a difficult climb to the place where we wanted to sleep. Unfortunately the path was very steep and the terrain was not ideal at all. It was full of stones and soft areas, but eventually we managed. Vrabinec Castle, below which we slept, was truly a beautiful place to visit, and the view from the top was breathtaking. We arrived exactly before sunset and enjoyed the warm spring night while preparing food and our sleeping area.

The second part of our trip was ahead of us and we needed a good rest. The sunlight and birds woke us up in the morning and we had a quick but filling breakfast. Our final destination on this day was Liběchov, where we planned to sleep next to a church. Our path was planned through Ústí nad Labem, and the amazing city of Litoměřice, where we stopped to take a look at the monument of Karel Hynek Mácha, a famous Czech poet, who was born here 200 years ago. Then through Roudnice nad Labem and Štětí, where the road is mainly gritty or very muddy. This day there were no detours, but the route was in worse condition, especially in this area, so our pace had to be a little bit slower. The place where we wanted to sleep was again on a hill, but fortunately the way up wasn't all that steep like the one the day before. This hill was manageable in approximately 15 minutes and we then happily enjoyed the view from the top. We arrived exactly at our planned time and the sun was slowly setting behind the hills. This day was extremely warm and some of us even decided to sleep in the open-air. This is always my favorite way to camp, because there is something very special about falling asleep and watching the night sky at the same time.

The final morning was a little bit rough, as our bodies were tired and sore from the two previous days and we still had the third part of the trip ahead. Our packing was quick and smooth (even without much water left to clean the dishes) and we could start part three. The last day was shorter because we planned our final meeting around 3pm. The conditions of the road were slightly unfriendly for bikers, because the road wasn't flat and smooth at all. This lasted until we reached Brandýs nad Labem, where we could see an awesome bridge over the river and a majestic castle. We quickly took photos and had a little snack and continued on our way toward Český Brod. We had only 71 kilometers to go this day, but eventually we had to ride more because got lost. Just five kilometers before Český Brod, we took the wrong path and had to turn back. This took us about 35 minutes, which isn't that bad, because we had a lot of time left before the final meeting. We were all happy to arrive in Český Brod, even though the trip was great and we all enjoyed it so much. We were able to experience so many beautiful historical monuments and we discovered beautiful places around the Czech Republic, and that is something that we will always be grateful for. We improved our organisation skills and tested the levels of our independence and cooperation. Overall I would suggest everybody plan a challenging trip like this, to test themselves and to learn a lot of new things about others and about themselves too.

Anna Skřivánková