We have to leave Quentin behind.
Because of his knee injury, Quentin has to rest for a while, so we have to decide how to continue: Do we all stay in Prague for a yet not defined amount of time, or do we split up and keep going without him, with him taking a train as soon as he’s better to catch up?
It’s a hard decision: On the one hand, of course we don’t want to split up; we’re on this trip together and it feels wrong to leave a man behind. On the other hand, there’s no point in the two of us (Daniel and Vincent) staying in a Prague hostel with Quentin, wasting time and money.
In the end, it’s Quentin’s decision: He feels bad about slowing the group down, and while it’s not his fault and we’re absolutely fine with staying by his side, he just feels pressured by the situation.
So we go. After a doctors visit and a heartfelt goodbye in front of the local Starbucks (free WiFi…), we part ways – Quentin goes to find a cheap hostel in Prague, while Daniel and me get out of town to conquer the czech mountains and make our way to Vienna, where we will all meet up again.
As we make camp about 35 kilometers outside Prague, we know the next few days will be quite hard: First of all, it’s still freezing cold, and the prognosis says it’ll rain for a good part of our route; secondly, our way will lead us across the czech hillside, and while these hills aren’t particularly high, there are lots of them and on our heavily packed bikes it’ll be hard work to make some distance. Lastly, we plan to be in Vienna within 5 days to meet Quentin there, and that means we have to hustle.
Still, we’re in a good mood, and it’s a great feeling to bike again. While it is exhausting, we’re making good progress, and for the first time, the feeling of actually being on a big trip sets in: The landscape is beautiful, and the further we get, the less familiar our surroundings seem. The roads are bad, the people here speak a strange language; we really are in another country, and we got here by bike, and we’re gonna go even further, because this is just the beginning. With these realizations powering us, we fight our way up the hills and fly down on the other side, even setting a new personal speed record of 65 km/h on a particularly steep slope.
In the evenings, we set up camp on hilltops, and after preparing food and the occasional beer or campfire, we sink into deep sleep.