Team Young Markof go HAM

Steph and I heading out from Prague today.

Day 1 Prague to Melnik - 60km
Day 2 Melnik to Decin - 98km
Day 3 Decin to Dresden - 65km
Day 4 Dresden to Torgau - 116km
Day 5 Torgau to Dessau - 110km
Day 6 Dessau to Magdeberg - 80km
Day 7 Magdeberg to Havelberg - 122km
Day 8 Havelberg to Hitzacker - 108km
Day 9 Hitzacker to Hamburg - 110km

Some rest days in there. Pics on Instagram and eventually Flickr as we can.
The ever trusty hashtags #teamyoungmarkof will be in use, as will #teamyoungmarkofgoHAM

Flashpacking the whole way.

I’m not jealous, you’re jealous.

Heck yes! Looking forward to the smugness via instagram! Safe travels team.

Day 1 done and dusted.
Our easy roll out of Prague was one of the hardest days on a bike. 54km route turned into 67kms with about of that in Singletrack with a drop into the Vltava if you get it wrong. We learned a valuable lesson about the EuroVelo signage out of that. Also, just because “heaps of people” are going that way doesn’t make them any less lost or foolish than us. Plenty of detours on the route meant we crossed a river on a punt, walked over one with trans-national gas pipes.
We also had cheap beers, great food and tons of laughs. Our gear is great and we’re both adjusting the packing therein a bit this morning. Today is longer - 98kms to Decin via Litomerice. Getting close to Germany today. The countryside has been amazing and the people, though no-nonsense- are warm and funny.

The gram is filling up with pics and I’m throwing some up in flickr already:

Heading out now (7:16am) for Day 2, which is longer but we’re hopeful is easier


Looking forward to pictures of Luke wearing Lederhosen.

Also subscribed, and very jealous.

Day 2 - first leg from Melnik to Litomerice.
The ride this morning is a million times better than yesterday. The surface has been fantastic, the route is incredibly well signed and the people have all been awesome. Spent some time on the roads too and our experiences, now away from prague, are vastly different. We’ve been given wide berths and plenty of smiles. Loaded up at breakfast which also greatly helped our moods. We were on the road at 8am, much earlier than yesterday after we were heavily delayed at the post office and again on our route. Today has been a dream.
Lunch in Litomerice was a rad little place, Kava S Parou , where the coffee was excellent and the cakes were even better. Right now we’re halfway through Leg 2 to Decin and have stopped at a cyclokemp to grab some water (the headwind has been savage and the surface has been a mixed bag) and soak our feet in the outdoor pool. 70kms deep and another 30 to go. Today has truly made up for the pain and frustration of yesterday.

Update -

Final 30kms we’re into a stiff headwind but we still pulled our average up. It was a great ride today. Possibly the best bike day ever. The signage has been so useful - little yellow EuroVelo signs are life savers. The arrival into Decin was very cool. The castle here is proper and sits atop a a set of cliffs and is surrounded by a stream and towers over everything - it’s rad.
Our bikes have been perfect by the way. The Apidura stuff has been faultless.

luke can you check that Instagram link? doesn’t work for me. would love to see the pics cheers!

It’s a Flickr link that one. Works ok for me? However, Instagram accounts are:

I meant the link in your sig at the bottom!

Links to username lukemarkof which doesn’t exist.


Day 3: Decin to Dresden.
68km day today and a simply stunning ride. The headwind continues to punish us and we have since learned we’re doing it “the wrong way” as most Ride north-south to go with the wind. Still amazing though and we’re right on our target speed each day (~20kmph average). Crossing from the Czech Republic into Germany happened with very little fanfare - a marker on the path denoting the two sides of the border. In Germany, we simply can not believe the amount of castles and medieval relics/ruins that litter the countryside. In our short journey today we lost count of the castles and battlements. Not to mention how lush and green the scenery is here. It’s straight out of a movie. Until we turn inland and away from the Elbe River where the fields are golden and the biergartens are plentiful.
We’re literally staying at a castle for the next couple of days while we rest in Dresden before the hardest four days of journey - averaging 100km per day.

Rest Day Update for those who are interested in what we’re using.

Steph Rides:
Specialized Crux E5 with SRAM 2x groupset.
Specialized power saddle
Shimano deore XT pedals
Stock wheels
Schwalbe Marathon “green guard” 35s ~70psi
Apidura expedition saddle pack and front roll
Garmin edge 520
Swift Industries Sitka hip pack

Luke Rides:
Giant TCX Pro II
Shimano 105 2x groupset (with less friendly gearing than I’d like)
Fizik arione saddle
Shimano deore XT pedals
Stock wheels
Schwalbe Marathon “green guard” 35s ~70psi
Andrew the Maker camera bag
Apidura Expedition saddle pack and handlebar roll
Revelate mag-tank top tube bag
Swift Industries Sitka hip pack

So far we’ve figured out that while we initially freaked out at how we had so little to go with us in this journey, we’re already both in agreement it could easily have been less. For example, I don’t really need more than 1 pair of shorts if I’m spending all day on the bike. Tshirts are useless for me. We could have been more brutal.

So far, it is summer after all, we haven’t needed lights or wet weather gear. I understand that can change on a dime, however it’s pretty amazing here. I did bring our helmets with us though, and I’m glad I did. We aren’t wearing them at all times, however they were most welcome in the Czech Republic and some of the German roads.

This is my memory of Germany too – so green! We had a short stay there on my honeymoon. We caught a train from the Czech Republic to Germany and you could tell when you crossed the border from the colour of the fields.

Day 4: Dresden to Torgau
Today was 110kms in reality, a nice surprise given we were expecting a bit more than that.
Let me tell you, today was like being 12 years old again. It was fun! It was just so fun. 40+kms spent in corn fields on wide, smooth and empty roads. We were just playing today and having a laugh and it was the most glorious thing. We both feel pretty good after our rest day and a day like today means we are both still really chilled out. It was so good, we hardly took a photo. It’s not that it wasn’t spectacular- it was - not that it wasn’t fun - it was - just that we couldn’t capture the feeling so we just revelled in it. It was energising.
Dresden was fantastic. We are in love with that city. It’s beautiful, has a rich history, makes Footscray and Fitzroy feel tame and bland. The bike culture, all the culture, is rich. What a wonderful city!
Torgau is also lovely, though it feels like it’s at about 40% of the speed of Dresden. No indictment for Dresden, just that Torgau feels sleepy.
Our bikes are travelling nicely. We swapped the saddle on Steph’s CruX out for a Specialized Power saddle as the other one simply wasn’t working for her. Today was immediately better. A saddle makes a world of difference. Suffer score on Strava was a full 100 points less today for Steph. My Giant is going just fine. For those wondering we took these and not our roadies, the answers are simple. Disc brakes, big tires (we’re both running Schwalbe Marathon 35s) and bike that are great - but we won’t be heartbroken if they take a ton of abuse and scratches/scuffs/dents/dings etc. so far they be been the perfect choice. On occasion the the surface switches to pave and then we’re very smug in our choice.
Tomorrow we strike out for Dessau on another 100km+ day. But first,roast pork, weissbier and Le tour

Day 5: Torgau to Dessau
108kms all up and our fourth best - or second worst - day.
It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t good. The ride was forgettable, hours next to a levee meant for some very uninteresting kilometres. Also, it was so hot. I got burned, we both got cranky and it just wasn’t a great day in the bike. Dessau-Roßlau is also not a “beautiful” city despite being the home of bahaus. It’s a tough city to like and we’re glad we spent so little time there.
Ultimately it was a long, hot and boring day to get to a dreary and uninteresting place in a bad mood. Bummer.

Day 6: Dessau to Magdeburg
87kms today and what a contrast. A great nights sleep, a friendly cafe for breakfast and hours spent in forests alone made for a perfect day. The smells and sounds (or lack of sounds) and the temperature (much cooler and a touch of drizzle) really lifted out spirits today. Good puns, bad coffee and a nice time. Today was the perfect antithesis to yesterday.
Magdeberg already seems like a place to live. It’s vibrant, mixes old and new and has a relaxed air to it. We’re staying in the ArtHotel tonight, after pensions for past few stops and are looking forward to just a bit more care.
Our legs are great, and we’re riding into some form. Which is fortuitous given tomorrow is our hardest day at 122kms straight north to Havelberg. We continue to be blessed with the weather and with the bikes. No real rain, no mechanicals (touch wood) and no punctures in the first 540kms. It’s been a dream run. The bikes are looking a bit grotty, sound a bit off but otherwise are perfect. We’re off to our room for a shower, beer and leTour.

Day 7: Magdeberg to Havelberg.
Temperatures and tempers ran high on this ride. Leaving Magdeberg was lovely, we spotted wild boar, rode through some forest and then along the sides of a massive canal bridge.
Then we hit the first detour. Then the second. Then the third…
It absolutely sucked the joy out of the ride having to be constantly aware for signs, markers and detour routes. To make matters worse, the detours pulled us away from the Elbe and into wide open fields. Unlike our ride through the corn fields in previous days, these were freshly harvested wheat fields. Open, barren and exposed. The wind coming off them was punishing, the landscape was dull and demoralising and the heat went up and up.
Frustrations reached a peak when we realised that our two targeted stops for the day were impossible thanks to the detour. This was kind of like a last straw breaking the camels back. We were not having a good ride and today was flagged as our longest day. We found a Markt, loaded up on snacks and hit the road once more. Another detour. That was it. We pulled up all the maps and decided to abandon the D10/Elbe cycleway and make straight for Havelberg.
Our last ~40kms were on the road. This was much better. We passed through forrest, through some cute villages but most importantly it was straight to Havelberg. It shaved about 16kms off the route - we got about 6km net of the detours. 111km and a low average speed (which pulled up substantially once hit the roads and abandoned the cycle way).
Today is a rest day Havelberg before our final two days riding to Hamburg.

Day 8: Havelberg to Hitzacker.
It seems we only get days in opposition now. The ride to Havelberg was a stinker, the ride to Hitzacker was ace. The first 30ish kilometres were through leafy green forest and were quite and delightful. No massive detours yesterday, none really at all. Again, we spent hours on the Elbe levy, which isn’t so bad when you can see the river and there’s something interesting on your other side.
My legs felt great yesterday and I could have cranked the speed up a bit, however poor Stephanie is suffering a bit. We only have one more day of riding to go - into Hamburg.
We also had our first puncture yesterday. Not bad for a combine 1,600km of riding. It was a ripper too. A piece of steel wire went in about an inch. No damage to the tire, easily fixed and moving again after a brief delay.
Off to breakfast tonfuel up for our final 100km push to Hamburg

Fascinating reading Luke. I am sure you are both doing a great job of keeping each other’s spirits up when the going gets tough. I am also very envious of your journey, both the good and the less good aspects.

Day 9: Hitzacker to Hamburg.
We made it.
Another 115km in the saddle. A very average start to the day too. Sketchy gravel paths and an unrideable incline made for some nervous laughter and exasperated sighs. Soon though we were rolling through forest and feeing wonderful. Upon arrival in Neu Darchau we found the punt out of service due to low water levels, which meant switching to plan B and crossing with the bridge in Laurenburg. We stopped for some water as today is an absolute nightmare for heat and then pushed on. We were soon riding along levies again and we’re still unsure if it was good or bad.
Once we crossed the bridge, things took a helluva turn. Reminiscent of Melbourne, we found the cycleway kept wanting to send us on a scenic route. Which would be fine if not for the appalling surface. Massive, sharp and uneven cobbles. A far cry from the small and well packed cobbles we’ve traversed at other times. This hit peak nightmare when we came to a 15% climb on these rough cobbles. Bossed it, but was knackered. As we rode towards Geesthacht, it got even weirder. A massive, winding route through a stunning forest tested our bike handling skills. Gravel, sand, a snake, ruts and rocks. Crazy! It’s really only luck that meant it was 80% flat/descent for us - it could have easily been uphill.
Then we were into a long, open and narrow path towards Hamburg. Suddenly we missed our weird forest detour and levies. This was a bleak and soul crushing final 30km. Punctuated with a wasp sting. Yay.
Also, like Melbourne, the way into the CBD was convoluted and annoying. But we’re here and Steph is negotiating tickets for our transfer to Copenhagen in a few days time. I’ll post up again tomorrow with what worked, what didn’t and what we would do differently.

sounds like a hell of an adventure.
way to go.

have enjoyed reading the little updates every morning.