After beginning the tour as it would no doubt end – drunk on a train – I had four days in Prague to acclimatise to Czech drinking habits, heavy food and summer weather. It began to dawn on me that this brewery tour could turn out to be one of the most challenging rides I’d yet find myself upon, and my fears were confirmed after my first lunch and a couple of beers: combined with the heat I found it almost impossible to keep my eyes open, and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to cycle if this as a sign of things to come. However, I buried the fears, somewhere beneath the fried řizek (schnitzel) and Budvar, and took a nap.
But, the fears resurfaced and I decided to reassess my rather ambitious plan to start and end the tour in Plzeň – travelling around 1600km in 16 days and visiting 60-odd breweries. Instead I decided to halve the trip, and just complete the Southern section, starting with a couple of micro-breweries south of Prague, before hitting České Budějovice, the home of Budweiser, and heading east, winding my way towards Ostrava in the far east of the Czech Republic – a trip of around 800km, and around 30 breweries. But, route planning was rather more complicated than I had originally imagined – I could not visit a brewery before 11am, and had to factor in sobering up time, and figured that no human could visit more than three breweries in a day and still be safe to cycle. With the spread of breweries, this meant I could never feasibly do more than 60km a day, if I wanted to set up camp in daylight, and this didn’t take into consideration the heavy Czech food, the continual accumulation of alcohol in my blood, hangovers, adverse weather, mechanical problems, nor most importantly, the generosity (usually in the form of alcoholic donations) of the locals… I began to consider the possibility that I might not even reach Ostrava. However, I decided to put myself in the hands of fate and see what happened. I packed my helmet.
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