Cycling in winter in Germany-Czech: cold, snow and elevation

After the short break in Dresden, when the temperatures went milder, we decided to leave, Friday the 27th.Nevertheless, we struggled with over-snowed bicycle paths, sometimes turned into the ice. And there was loads of icy forehead wind along the river. I could barely push the bike forward, Umut tried cycling and fell on the ice. We then pushed both through the snow on to the car way. And roads were clean, but all the snow laid on their sides. So we had to take the car place and not everyone was overtaking us nicely, not everyone was happy with it.

Leaving Dresden

Also, the first day after Dresden was the first ever we had to climb so much. And it was cold and windy.

Winter coat

We climbed and rolled and climbed and stopped at the midpoint of the way just around 14.00. It took a while to find a place to eat, most of it were closed. Towns were empty, probably visited just in summer. We finally sat down at the restaurant that had just opened. The tomato soup we ordered, expecting nothing can go wrong there, was a sauce. I then ordered local Bauernfruhstuck – potatoes with eggs and ‘speck’, expecting this to fill us. And used my sauce on top. All was too salty and too fatty.

I was already disappointed with our food and even more with restaurant prices. On top of that, the worry about our cycling situation was growing and we were intensively browsing and checking the roads while still digesting. And we had to agree we can’t make it to Litomerice in time, before the night falls. Locals were secretly staring at us, and we were unhappy with everything, it was tense. After checking train possibilities in Czech website we got clear the only way is to cycle rather back, back to the Elbe from where we know we can get the train to Litomerice. We had to climb, but then more to roll and then we reached Konigstein.

The darkness was falling and the temperature was dropping. During the day although sunny one, we had like -2, feeling like -10 sometimes, but it was fine as we had new winter gloves we bought: the lobster of Sealskinz. As the seller told, it is the warmest one can get. But once you stop cycling and you are already tired your organism starts shaking nevertheless. All you want is to redress and stay warm.

However with the trains again it wasn’t that easy as we expected. No ticket counter was open. Online we have found some express train also with bicycles available, but when the train came there was no waggon for bikes and the conductors were saying that without a reservation it is impossible. We had to wait for nearly two hours to catch another. We had some dried apples to snack and could buy water from the vending machine. Somewhat hungry, but at least warm we stayed in the station. And when the train arrived we finally got a ticket inside the train. Very long one.

At one station while changing trains we got some sandwiches luckily. Which were very useful for carrying our bikes down and then up the stairs in Litomerice.

In the city, we had Couchsurfers waiting for us with a warm meal!!! And it was already like half past 8 when we arrived, but the Daniels family was waiting for us patiently. We had nice chats, a nice meal and tasty local wine. And that hasn’t finished there, we were introduced to the local brewery ‘Labut’ that had an anniversary to celebrate and so the place was full! The local beer was really tasty. There also was a lottery, where everyone was winning a bottle of beer! Umut was very happy with a honey beer!

But we forgot it and I suppose that was just better for us. Next day we had around 70 km ahead and like 600 m. to climb to reach Prague.

The planned road Litomerice-Prague seemed easy to make, but we wanted to start early and after a breakfast like 9.30 we were already on the road. Followed bicycle tracks till the first icy roads and then switched to the car way.

Bicycle path towards Terezin

It was cloudy but at least no wind. And around 12 we were near Roudnice nad Labem where we stopped for a lunch. As for Saturday not many places were open, but we finally found one. Amazingly we were invited with bikes inside as it was quite empty. We got burgers both and I can’t remember the last one as tasty as that.

Cafe Girafe in Rudnice nad Labem

Meanwhile Umut’s microshirt got nearly dry (he had put it on a radiator secretly). I put some more layers as the temperature was -2 again feeling at least -5. We had nearly 40km left and we rushed. We passed some old castles, cycled along the river, then climbed all up to figure out we need to enter Prag on the main road, the bicycle ones were covered with snow. It was funny to see frozen lakes and kiddos skating while we cycle by. The darkness was falling as we started descending along the main road to Prague.

Rolling into Prague along the main way

The further we went the more dangerous it looked, so we took a pavement, which after all disappeared too. It was a bit of a trouble finding small ways, in the dark. We were getting very cold as we were just rolling down. The lobster gloves weren’t helping enough. Although friends house was just like 5 km away we stopped to warm up. Umut had his fingers frozen and was complaining how much it hurts. We ate the soup, drink the tea. I got my shoes cleaned as while searching roads to descend we took some way through the park and I did step into some shit. We left the place a bit dirty. After descending a bit more we reached our friends home and we’re treated like kings. I overate and was worried I won’t be able to sleep. But after 70 km it wasn’t a big problem.

We stayed in Prague for 3 nights, until February. All we did was cooking, eating, sleeping, working on the photos and getting vaccinations and a bit tourism. We were constantly checking the weather and weren’t happy about it. At nights temperatures were still dropping to -10.

On Tuesday morning, January 31, with some fresh snow and still snowing we left Prague to cycle the Greenway to Vienna. Or so we thought. We climbed some tunnel, then pushed along some stone streets. We zigzag through the car ways into the awaited Greenway to Vienna. It was all oversnowed and you could see ski tracks rather than bikes. Umut one by one pushed the bikes up the hill. We continued on the street and happily passed the sign saying we left the Prague. It took us probably nearly 2 hours. Soon we have reached the little village with a castle and found an Italian place with ‘excellent choices’. Green tea, Gulasch and spicy Pizza to share were all an excellent choice. We left full and happy although shoes didn’t happen to dry fully from that wet snow we got from roads.

We continued, sometimes up, sometimes down, sharing the way with cars and soon it was just like 8 km. left when the road sign for cars was saying the road is closed. But further on the bicycle sign was telling we are on the right way. It started snowing, got dimmed. There was no other road to take and so we went. Soon the road was unrideable due to 20 cm of snow. We started pushing our bikes, as it was all downwards until further down we saw a block and a guy waiting for us. With gestures, he spoke Czech explaining there is no way we can go further. ‘Most’ is waiting for us there. Also rolling. I somewhat understood, that ‘Most’ is no good, that there is no road and we can fall. In silence, we started pushing our bikes up. With snow into the face, between the steps and all around. Without lights at around 17:30 I could still see around. I could see since everything was white. We exchanged messages with a planned CS host that we can’t make it and she replied that her father is coming to pick us up! We got awesomely happy and after reaching the car road cycled to the main shop in the city to wait for our saviour.

our bicycles after the snowy evening

Luckily soon we were found and after 30 min twisty drive through over-snown roads, we were safely brought to our host. There we were met with a fireplace our shoes to dry, warm meal and teas and chats. We slept in our sleeping bags and it was too warm… so I didn’t sleep well. Umut developed a sore throat from Prague.

Next day we left on bikes, only after Umut cleaned the snow layer away.

Snowy bicycle

We left just to reach the train station, only 9 km away. But had to stop to fix the breaks. With a bit of climbing we reached the station, got the tickets and already at lunch we were in Tabor, at another CS.  There we were welcomed for a couple of days. Cooking, eating and discussing what to do further.

Now, one week later, Friday the 3rd February, we are again on the train, heading towards Vienna, yet to other friends, the saviours. Hope from there on when Umut will get better, as well as the weather, we will be able to bike the life again. First to Bratislava and then towards Croatia. Hope the warmer winds will blow soon.

What do you think?