Chasing adventure might take you places you might not normally seek out. Places that in the end surprise and maybe if you are fortunate, even astonish you. The Rapha Bohemia is one of those adventures and as soon as it was announced, I knew we had to go. Starting in a little sleepy town of Schmilka in far eastern Germany, the Prestige route would take riders through hidden roads in the Sachsiche Schweiz and into the Czech Republic. Through the forgotten countryside and countless villages eventually summiting the Terasy Jested, a 1012 meter peak in the region, before taking a slightly different route back to Germany.
Twenty-some teams of four persons took to the line on this warm, mid-summer morning rolling out into the bright morning light. Team Crema/ ENVE was comprised of Mattia Paginotti of Legor, John Woodroff of Twotone Amsterdam, my wife Sandi, and myself. The first few kilometers took us up the Elbe River before hanging a left and disappearing deep into the Czech wilderness. Pavement quickly turned into gravel and eventually gave way to dirt. Dodging puddles on the forest road, we wound down through emerald green canyons lined with bizarre and beautiful rock walls and formations. With fresh clean air in our lungs, we coursed down the winding road in flight. Teams began to regroup over the undulating route. The total race was 192km with over 3500 vertical meters to be climbed; a long day to say the least.
Adventure also comes as you conquer circumstance and like most of the other teams, we were faced with our own share of adversity. The goal of the event is to ride as a team, get a selfie of all four on top of the Jested and of course finish together. Just a quarter of the way into the race we had a couple flats and rather than wait for the others we chose to split up with Sandi and I pressing on while John and Mattia managed their mechanicals. Back on the bikes the dense forest reluctantly gave way to more open country side with some of the most curious homes and architecture I have ever seen. Visual stimulation was abound as we pounded out a rhythm against the pavement, counting off the kilometers. We began to see some of the same teams and riders moving around us as we got closer to the half-way check point.
As we began the ascent of Jested, Sandi and I were questioning the tactic to ride separate. An internal debate ensued that would be answered shortly after reaching the top when Mattia and John showed up just in time for our selfie. After firing off a quick few shots on the mobile phone, we rolled back down to the Rapha MCC for a short break, some espresso, and as many calories as we could take in. After bidding adieu to those remaining at the check point we began chasing the few teams who left before us back down the slopes, carving up the switchbacks we had just climbed before peeling off north for the second half of our adventure.