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London to Auschwitz: Day 22, Prague to Ústí nad Orlicí, 155km today, 1935km total

London to Auschwitz: Day 22, Prague to Ústí nad Orlicí, 155km today, 1935km total

My mother, friend and I have had some quite poor experiences with the locals in Prague, as well as an abysmal boat tour! To add insult to injury, the hotel staff were also very rude on several occasions, which made us feel rather unwelcome in their country. This did not bode well for the remainder of the trip through the Czech Republic. Especially as I’ve been warned that the further east you go, the worse it gets…

Leaving the familiar faces of my Mum and David, I was off to be alone on the bike again – but this time the sun was out! Unfortunately though, I went straight into a strong headwind. A headwind that would not let off, even with the shielding of trees, forests or hedges. I felt good with my well rested legs but wind is possibly the most demoralising thing when on the bike (or maybe a downpour, I’m not sure which is worse).

Coming out of Prague I came across the Jewish cemetery which I explored and I paid my respects at the small memorial to those victims from Terezin – the concentration camp which I visited just a couple of days ago.

The memorial to Terezin victims in the Jewish Cemetery on the way out of Prague
The memorial to Terezin victims in the Jewish Cemetery on the way out of Prague

I saw many roadside memorials for the First and Second World Wars. Too many to count, but I stopped to pay my respects at many of them for the members of the town that they noted and to take a photo of the statues.

Just one of the many WWI and WWII memorials that I have seen by the road today
Just one of the many WWI and WWII memorials that I have seen by the road today

Having left the suburbs of Prague I was feeling strong. Gazing across the horizon I saw a big tank-like vehicle. As I got closer I could make out 4 army men standing around it, with another camouflage jeep just in front of it. It turned out to be a recommissioned Russian Army Tank. Bought from someone in Poland, it was road legal and used for fun. It had two machine guns (that were non-functioning) at the top and a massive V8 engine for some immense power. The tyres could be deflated and inflated from a compression tank inside to allow for beach driving, as well as being almost fully submersible with a propeller underneath at the back. One of the men looking after it was very sweet and told me all about it, however the others seemed quite unfriendly which was disappointing.

A recommissioned Russian tank with 6 litre V8 and a propeller to make it work in water
A recommissioned Russian tank with 6 litre V8 and a propeller to make it work in water

Pushing on I saw a few other cyclists, dog walkers and farmers. I smiled at all of them and waved at most but I didn’t get one smile back, let alone a wave. After a pit-stop lunch I saw many other miserable looking people; it looked as though each and everyone had a close family member recently pass away, they looked so sad. Most of them stared at me as I passed on my bike with a big smile trying to get some sort of positive response. Being alone on the bike with everyone looking extremely unfriendly is no fun and so I pushed further on the bike than planned because I didn’t want to have more interactions with sad or rude people.

A memorial plaque to what appears to be an RAF pilot from the Czech Republic
A memorial plaque to what appears to be an RAF pilot from the Czech Republic

Unfortunately I pushed on to a part where I would not see a big town for another 50km. This became quite difficult as night was fast approaching. Suddenly it was dark and my small bike lights had no chance at illuminating the road in the depths of the trees. The head wind felt stronger and the gradual incline that I had been on for hours (I didn’t realise this is why my pace was so slow) suddenly caused a long steep descent which I couldn’t enjoy because I couldn’t see anything!

Descending into the darkness with both hands holding the brakes firm, I slowly made it to the next town to find a closed hotel. Fortunately they had an unsecure WiFi network which allowed me to look up their number and phone them. They were fully booked. Searching on my map I moved on until I eventually found a small hostel on a side street in the village.

After a quick shower I went for a Chinese meal where an odd man from the country was also eating alone. He mentioned how he believed in UFOs and could give people energy with his hands. He also said he practised yoga to give him 40% more energy – he knows because he measured it… He was a 60 year old builder and carpenter who was very nice but still didn’t smile!

Just a few days are left on the road until I reach Auschwitz but there is still a fair way to cycle. The anticipation and excitement of reaching the end will no doubt help me along…

DAY 23, ÚSTÍ NAD ORLICÍ TO OPAVA, 140KM TODAY, 2075KM TOTAL >>

Surrounding Yourself with the Right People

Surrounding Yourself with the Right People

A few people have asked me to post about the importance of who you surround yourself with after my post about goals.

I mentioned that at the end of the day everything comes down to you. Which I truly believe it does. However the way we are, and how we behave is a combination of life experiences (and a bit of genetics).

People in life come and go. Life long partners are becoming less ‘normal’ in society; friends can dip in and out of your life; people you live with and work with change. (Oh and people die but we aren’t talking about that here).

I just spent a week staying with a long term friend of mine (we have known each other since we were about 13), but we have gone through periods (at university especially) where we didn’t even talk for years. After one week living together I feel our relationship is as strong as any friendship I have had.

The reason for this bond is no doubt down to familiarity. We have known each other for years and understand one another well because of this. But definitely, and more importantly, it is because we have very similar outlooks on life. We both help to motivate each other with goals, both fitness and work; and we love learning from each other.

Me and Davinder
One of the only photos of ourselves together!

If you want to change the people who are bad influences in your life, it comes down to your decision. You can change the people in your life, or perhaps change their outlook so that you get the best out of each other.

I know far too many who hang out with people who are bad influences on their life; they are too lazy to even try anything to improve their own life. An example are drug users who socialise in a similarly minded group; but, at the same time, say they want to stop. If you genuinely want to get out, it comes down to you. You have to do something. Remember why you are getting out of it to keep yourself motivated. Life was never going to be easy, you need to work at change.

Again there are limitations to this (e.g. work, relationships, financial…), but more often than not, the excuses for not doing something are unjust, you are just being lazy. Remember you are in control of your life.

I cannot describe the amount of additional energy that my friend has given me from our chats. I know I am going to be friends with him until the end. It is great to be surrounded by inspiring energetic people.

But also remember: you can’t choose family!