The European bike scene is pretty damn tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone since forever and when we all get together, it’s an honest to god good time. The mentality of most of the guys and gals that attend the summer European series of organized rides is open and friendly. So even if it’s your first time, you are welcomed with open arms. Rapha Prestige Bohemia wasn’t any different.
The event was based out of a tiny wifi/3G-less canyon sunken town called Schmilka. The Czech Republic border crossing was a literal stone’s throw away and the river Elbe laid at the entrance to the town. The vibe was chill and made for a great hangout spot before and after rides to toss back some beer and sausages. The Germans in attendance even had a killer spot to watch their team beat the Italians in a long-lasting Europa Football match ending in a shoot out.
The weekend was divided up into two official Rapha rides (a pre-ride and the main Prestige ride), and one un-official day after ride. The pre-ride was a great appetizer. After everyone gathered in Schmilka we rode 50km around the Saxon Switzerland National Park. The pace was pretty relaxed and it was a great opportunity to take a look at the amazing area, meet some new people, catch up with old friends, and warm the legs up for Saturday’s Prestige ride.
The Prestige: the story of two rides
185 KM – 3500 HM
Part 1. As we were getting dressed in the morning a dark rain cloud dumped a few kilometers from us. We all opened our weather apps and saw that we were sunny and clear for the first half of the day. The teams lined up and kicked off every two minutes with my team starting in the first 10. The morning sun was gorgeous as we rode east through the Sächsische Schweiz. The off-road sections were damp from the morning rain and the temperatures were rising. It was the perfect day for riding. The midpoint and highest peak of the day was at the top of the 1,000 meter mountain called Ještěd. The steep climb was filled with hiking tourists, but the view and the coffee at the Rapha MCC was worth it all. As we started to descend dark dark clouds showed up on the horizon. The perfect day was coming to an end.
Part 2. 10 minutes from the base of the climb the rain hit. This was one badass storm. Once the lightning started to come down we quickly huddled into a bus stop with a Czech family avoiding the storm. The rain truly never really ended – it just rained less… or more. The trails quickly turned to grimey mudfests. Everyone’s brake calipers were filling with mud and the trails were just getting radder. At one point we were rolling across a wet root-filled single trail with our rear wheels slipping out every other pedal stroke. It was awesome. We passed all different types of odd rock features and through deep dark wet canyons. It started to feel like we were on some sort of amazing odyssey. Hell, we even rode through Poland for about 5km. Eventually, we reached the final descent down to Bad Schandau, one village over from our finish line. The sprint was on and we mashed in the dumping rain all the way back to the finish. We were soaked and freezing, but had just enough energy to guzzle a few beers and scarf down some food before cleaning up.
The route and conditions ended up being the perfect Ying and Yang that make for a ride that you will talk about for a lifetime. The people we met along the way were the friendliest around (except that one team that refused to speak to anyone) and I left the ride with a dozen or so new friends who all experienced the Rapha Prestige Bohemia madness together with me.
In true cyclist fashion, the afterparty was another bike ride. On Sunday, a large group of us gathered for a 70km route featuring a killer steep climb up Děčínský Sněžník. After lots of clowning around and some ice cream, we dropped back down to Bad Schandau and completely turned ourselves inside out sprinting back to the ride start. Just as we arrived at in Schmilka the sky turned black and rain dumped for the next hour as we huddled under an umbrella drinking beer and celebrating the weekend.
Discover roads less travelled with the Rapha Prestige