Rain in the night and thunderstorms forecast, with a warning of flash flooding. So not the best day to be heading into the mountains then!
Cycling out of Prague was surprisingly easy, within minutes I was in a park, then the zoo, then on the green riverside cycle path. This appeared to be part of EuroVelo 7, so that's another one to tick off, though I don't even know which it is! It was also part of the Elbe river route, which I hope to see again in a few hundred km (begging the question why on earth I'm leaving it).
The Czech cycle maps seem excellent, once I have got to grip with interpreting the key - specifically that 'other cycle path / planned cycle path' doesn't guarantee a lot! I had a hairy hour or so heading along an ever-decreasing path that was clearly just foot access to some climbing rocks on the riverbank. I was feeling a bit foolish for refusing to give up and go back when I was caught by a Swiss couple who were on the same path whilst following the Bikeline Elbe book. So that's OK then!
The other comedy moment was when the very clearly marked cycle route 7 pointed up a very tall spiral staircase onto a bridge constructed to carry gas pipes across the river. Not sure the Czechs have completely cracked this cycle path thing. I know from bitter experience I can't get a loaded Horace up even a marginally steep ramp, but managed the staircases successfully in two trips (panniers and Horace separately).
Arriving into Melnick I was a bit conflicted. On the one hand, not so many miles covered, only lunchtime, and this is still the pre-hill part. On the other hand, thunder clouds looming. And on a third hand, my gears have suddenly started slipping and Melnick is the only chance of a remedy for several days.
As usual when undecided, I retired to a cafe. Two minutes into my delicious and unidentifiable soup the heavens opened, and I was escorted indoors. From my indoor table I couldn't see the action but there were some impressive thunderclaps. Decision made: cue an afternoon drinking tea and listening to early 90s soft rock (was there ever a better era??).
The nice campsite lady, who speaks good English, has pointed me to a nice bike man, who speaks none. So I have entrusted him with Horace and, if I understood his Czech right (!) he's going to give the gears a service first thing tomorrow.
Melnick is a funny old town, with a glorious main square and a castle. I suspect it heaves with tourists on a sunny Sunday - but on a wet Wednesday it's deserted.
Yeah that's Horace peaking up from the bottom of the steps.