Running away from Prague, running towards the mountains, we land near the Czech/Polish border in and around Krokonoše National Park . Rising, riding from the hills into the mountains, we seek the usual mix of dirt and singledoubletrack, signed as bike paths and walking routes, most of it rideable, all but a few km of it legal. National parks offer fewer opportunities for riding and walking trails– more people and more restrictions are the rule. Poland is a more beautiful rustic derelict than Czech, at least in these few mountain towns, but we like it no less. The Polish, a bit more edge and as much more heart and grit to make up for it. Stores smell of dill and sausage, and home, for me. Some days of riding up and over the borders on roads and routes that were once unknown and barely imaginable, are now very real and normal, not to be confused with boring.
Polish kids smoke dope at the pass, on our first entrance into the country. Backpackers by the trailside with mohawks and tattoos, grandmothers riding bikes, and kids going places unsupervised on bikes. Poland is exciting. Back in Czech, a Pink Floyd acoustic tribute band plays above 1000m. The Dutch make a home in the hills, and shoot guns, because there are too many people in Holland. Between the two countries, an eclectic mix of two cultures both similar and different. Add television and travelers and whatever else people see and read and do, and there are no simple descriptions of places. However, the Czech are calm, and the Polish have an energy.
Czech mountains scattered with guesthouses offer rooms to get out of the cold, in the winter, and cold beer to get out of the heat, in summer. Lael makes friends in universal languages with kids, cooing and smiling and waving hands. Making the most of a our descent from the border for the last time, back into the Czech Republic, we hug the dotted borderline, climbing as much as we descend until the end of the day.
Much of the Czech Republic is surrounded by low mountains, interlaced with more walking and biking trails than you could ride in a dozen years. One could or should plan a mountain bike tour around the country. In my opinion, you can skip Prague, unless Joe and Margaret are there again.