The Road Trip
The destination wasn’t as important as the idea. My husband and I have talked quite a bit in the last two years about taking a road trip on our mopeds. Unfortunately, if one moped was working the other wasn’t. Our bikes are old and well used so they are not the most reliable means of transportation. Exactly why the idea of a road trip was so enticing. The possibility of succeeding was slim. The possibility of something going wrong was good. The challenge made it interesting. So when we got an invitation from our friends to stay the night at their little castle in the mountains near the Polish border in northeast Moravia we decided that this would be our opportunity to take a moped road trip. At that moment both bikes were running and we had one week to get the bikes and gear in order. We pulled out our road maps, looked for the finest white lines, indicating the smallest country roads, and started planning our route. We started making a list of what we might need if we had some trouble. My husband assembled a set of tools and a few spare parts. I went up in our attic and located our camping gear. After two years of talk we were finally going to do this. The idea was exciting! Two days before our scheduled departure, I road my husbands moped to Chrudim for a little shopping, just one kilometer from our house the moped died. Now this is a mystery, if a bike breaks, I am always the one riding it. Pushing the bike home I thought this would be the end of our trip. My husband was working in the garden when I arrive and looked at me as to say, ‘You did it again’. I knew how he felt because I was feeling the same way. This time we weren’t going to let a broken moped change our plans. My husband started looking for the problem. He checked this and that and the other thing. We still had two days and a box of extra parts. There was still a chance we could go. My husband worked through the next day on the moped. While I was preparing dinner I heard it crank up. I was so proud of him. He managed to fix it, the trip was back on. The next challenge was how we were going to carry the gear on the bikes. My husband had a box on his bike but I only had a basket, which I knew wouldn’t be strong enough for the trip. One of our habits is to make do.
I wasn’t willing to go out and buy something if I had something that would do. I started looking around the garage and found the cat carrier that we had used when we brought our cat to the Czech Republic on the plane from America. It was large but light weight. It had a secure lid. It would hold my tent and bag of clothes. It would defiantly do. I rigged it to my bike. The day before the trip we packed everything on the mopeds and took them out for a spin, just to see how they would handle with the extra weight. Everything seemed OK. We were ready to go. The next morning we got up early ate a quick breakfast and drank what we thought would be our last Italian coffee of the week-end, found the cat sleeping contentedly on the bed (I hated to disturb him but he had to stay outside for the next couple of day. We showed him the sack of dried cat food we had left in the garage. He seemed to be happy with that. We locked the door, mounted our bikes and hit the road.
I had planned our route along the railway that divides the Czech republic into North and South. We would zigzag from village to village. If we had any trouble we could leave the bikes and take the train home. The route took us through East Bohemia and North Moravia. South Moravia is known for its wine region. North Moravia is known for its beautiful mountains. We weren’t certain that our mopeds could handle the mountains but we were soon going to find out. The planned trip was only 200 km round trip. One could arrive to the Eagle Mountains by car in an hour and a half, but we were going to make a day of it, stopping off at interesting places on the way.
Our first stop was Dvakacovice to look at the Church of the Holy Trinity with its wooden bell tower. What we found even more entertaining was a home-made tractor with a happy face. Whoever built it had a great sense of humor. We continued our journey to Moravany where we saw the clock tower of the Church of St. Peter and Paul.
We noticed that we had spent more than an hour to get this far, a little over 12 km. We decided to ride hard to our next stop to make up a little time and we would have, too, if we hadn’t seen that plum-tree on the side of the road loaded with the nicest looking yellow plums that one could imagine.
We just had to stop, and yes, they were really good. After eating our fill we continued to Slepotice where there was the sweetest little chapel in the center of the square. These little chapels are scattered throughout the Czech Republic in almost every village you can see them. Some are maintained while others are ignored and left to ruin. Turov held a surprise for us. Many of the village houses were covered with graffiti depicting Czech fairy tales. I had seen many of the buildings covered with this type of graffiti in the large cities but never in a small village.
An artisan obviously lived in the village and worked on his and his neighbors houses. It was very unique. Then we moved on to Uhersko where there is the Baroque Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary with Neo–Renaissance ornamentation.
Between the villages we passed an array of crops in the fields. It is harvest time so the country side is full of activity. Moving on to Radost where we past through a settlement of wooden houses built around a green with an early Gothic church of St. George. At this point we lost our way adding a few extra kilometers to our trip, finally arriving in Dobrikov we saw a small wooden church that had been move there from the Carpathian foothills.
The church was built during the year of 1679. In 1930 it was moved to where it stands today with all the original furnishings and carved icons. At Sruby we followed the Czech-Moravia border until we reached Chocen.
Chocen had a nice little square with a later Baroque church and town hall built the year of 1881.
From Chocen we left Bohemia entering into Moravia via an avenue lined with old linden trees and seven chapels, established by price Vilem Kinsky in 1726. As we approached Zamberk the terrain started changing from planes to hills.. It was time for us to see what our bikes could manage. This area is a favorite destination for cyclist. The number of cyclist increased as the hills increased. I admire these people who take to the hills on their bicycles. I don’t understand why they do it but I admire them just the same. Several of them past us while we were climbing the hills and even more passed us as we rode down the hills. It was almost embarrassing. There were also a lot of motorcyclist. The roads were full of bikers, but the one thing that we didn’t see were other mopeds. Many of the big bikers smiled and even laughed at us as they went by. Apparently we were an unusual sight with our camping gear strapped to our mopeds. Some people even took pictures of us so they could tell their friends about this crazy couple crossing the Czech Republic. Actually mopeds are a great way to see the country side. Slow and easy, having plenty of time to look around and able to stop whenever you want. You can see the flowers on the edge of the road and smell the fruit ripening in the trees or the smell of dirt in a freshly turned field. As we arrived in Zamberk the sky turned dark and it started to rain. We pulled into a supermarket parking under the arcade and waited for it to pass. We took advantage of the time by shopping for some goodies to take to our hosts and getting a bit to eat. I drank my first coffee from a tin. It was tasty and gave me a caffeine buzz I needed to finish the trip. Maybe the best part of the trip was seeing the surprise on the faces of our friends as we drove up on our mopeds. It was totally unexpected. Petr and Katka were thrilled that we had done it. We had a wonderful night with them. Petr is a great cook. He can cook anything, anywhere, but his specialty is cooking on an open fire. He prepared three different meats, potatoes and vegetables on the fire. We were encouraged to eat until we couldn’t eat anymore, but the best was still to come.
Hand ground Italian coffee served hot and strong, just like I love it. They are coffee drinkers too! Un-typical of most Czechs who are tea drinkers.
Come to think of it Petr and Katka are not typical Czechs in many ways, maybe that is why they are our friends. Sunday morning we visited the Neratov church to see its glass roof.
On May 10, 1945 after being hit by a bazooka of the Red Army, the church caught fire. The flames damaged roofs, wooden staircases of both towers and melted the clockwork as well as the bell. The walls were spared thanks to strong bricked vaults. The church stood in ruins for years until 1991 when re-construction began.
An interesting feature is its north-south orientation, thanks to which at midday on Christmas Day the rays of the sun fall directly onto the altar. The orientation influenced the decision to build a roof with a glass cross so the sun would continue to shine on the altar at noon.
Our trip up to the mountains was great fun. We only had a small problem when my muffler fell off the exhaust. It wasn’t really a problem the bike function perfectly well without it but it was terribly noisy. I felt like a young Italian boy running through the village streets. When we arrived at our destination my husband and I rigged up a temporary muffler with a soda can, steel wool and some aluminum foil. It worked so well I left it on for a while when I got home. The trip back was down hill all the way. We refueled in Chocen. We rode a little over 200km averaging 25km an hour and we consumed less than 4 liters of petrol. Would I do it again. You bet, the first chance I get. Maybe we will go West next time.