Days 51 of my cycling journey – June 20, 2022
Today I cycled the 3000th kilometre of my journey. This made the day pretty special, but it was not the only event which made the day special. The perhaps most memorable feature of this day was, that it was dominated by three violent thunderstorms, one of which was the most violent storm I ever experienced. Cycling 73 km during the day, I finally took shelter in the town of Chrudim in order to sit out a possible forth thunderstorm, which was threatening but never materialized. I call it the day of the three thunderstorms, and it will stay in my memory for a very long time.
Leaving Svitavy, I had already seen in the weather forecast that the day would be eventful and challenging. Thunderstorms were predicted and I didn’t have to wait for long after I set off to see the first signs of the menace to come. After about 20 km the sky darkened ominously and threateningly and I looked with worries towards it, trying to judge how bad it will get and wondered what I should do. I reached a little village and was looking frantically for bus stop shelters, but nothing could be found. An older lady was hurrying into her house and saw me. She came to me and urged me to look at the sky and talked to me in incomprehensible Czech. I knew what she was trying to say without understanding a word. I cycled through the village when the first drops came down and I saw to my biggest relief an open restaurant serving lunch to its clientele. As soon as I was off the bicycle and inside the restaurant the thunderstorm broke loose in full force. Sitting inside, with a good meal and a beer in front of me all worries were dispersed. After about an hour the sky started to clear up and I was packing my belongings together and wanted to continue. I was hardly outside, when I saw the darkening sky again intensifying its threat potential, and immediately I went back to the safety inside and the chance to have desert. All in all, I sat for 2,5 hours in that restaurant until it finally cleared up as much that I could continue to cycle.
Onwards it went through the lovely town of Litomysl, with its picturesque central square which reminded me of the town of Svitay from the night before. Litomysl has an impressive castle which is a World Heritage site of UNESCO. I continued cycling in order to make up for some of the time spent idling in the restaurant. I passed endless poppy fields, producing the seeds which are used in the food industry and bakeries. A poppy field is a truly beautiful picture to admire.
Despite the beautiful poppy fields, the weather got serious again and it became darker and darker. Again, I looked more often towards the sky than to the beautiful landscape around me. About one kilometre before a small village, I went off my bike to put the rain gear back on. I cycled to the village when the first drops were hitting me. Luckily I saw a bus stop shelter about 100 metres in front of me and I cycled to it to take shelter. Withing seconds a downpour started. Torrential rains came down just as I reached the shelter. The rain changed into hail, and I was relieved to be rather safe in the shelter. The wind started to pick up, and it turned into a ferocious howling which whipped the rain and hail into horizontal waves of projectiles which even my shelter did not protect me from. I was hurled around by the wind gusts, and I was wondering if the surrounding coniferous trees would survive such and onslaught. The thunder was enormous and the lightning constant. End of the world weather one could almost say. But as quick as the thunderstorm arrived it dissipated and left were a number of tiles blown off the surrounding houses and tree branches which had been ripped off the trees. The inhabitants came out off their houses to investigate the damages and a young man came to me and asked me if I am OK. He invited me for a coffee inside his house and we talked a bit until he got a phone call that the roof of his mother in law’s house had been blown off and he had repair work to do.
I continued cycling to the town of Chrudim which was relatively close. The country lanes I cycled on presented now a very sorry sight. Hundreds of apple and cherry trees were completely mutilated by the storm. Entire tops of fruit tree were ripped off, and the highway and the fields were littered with branches, quite often 20-30 centimetres in diameter. I arrived in Chrudim and searched for a guesthouse. I wanted to be inside for the night because again the sky got darker. I found a somewhat pricey place and was very happy when I laid down on the bed after a very long shower. What a day I thought.