Meeting Albert on Šerák
After few years in Poland, curiosity led me to have a look on internet about my home mountains, the Pyrenees, in the language of Chopin, which took me to this site. And led me to get acquainted with its owner, from the same city as me, Wroclaw, as well as few other folks around Poland.
As I occasionally posted few Picasa albums, one guy contacted me, mentioning the common hobby we have that is cycling. Albert is half-Catalan half-Polish and speaks fluent french, thanks to his studies in Strasbourg, and lives now in Warsaw.
After exchanging a bit, sending each other all sorts of links and photo-albums, it turned quickly that we both have the same approach of mountain-biking and the same love for mountains, and we promised each other to ride one day as soon as he had the opportunity to be in southern Poland.
We were supposed to be cyclotouring in Bohemia with my wife and son during the long week-end of May, but bad weather canceled our plans. But, by some sort of coincidence, just like for cheering me up, Albert gave me a ring that he would be for a few of days in Złoty Stok (a place in the eastern Sudetes) for some bike marathon, plus few more days hiking with his girlfriend and possibly ride with me, if I came. I could not join the marathon as it was too late, besides the weather wasn't too optimistic. But Monday appeared to be the best day so we agreed it.
In order to be able to start early, and since I wasn't too willing for an early awakening at 5am, I decided to drive there in the evening so I could meet them there at some local restaurant. The place they stayed is called "Złoty Jar" (golden canyon, as there was some mining there before), a sort of gorgeous building with large windows in the pure German pre-WW1 style, nowadays looking a bit dodgy and providing cheap mountain-hut-like accommodation for large groups of people, perfect for such events like that marathon with lots of storage place for bikes.
The event was over, but many other cyclers where still present, since few of them like Albert coming from far (Warsaw for many of them) were willing to make the most of such remote trip. This is how I met two other guys Grzegorz, and a friend of him, owning two splendid steeds that weighted less than 10 kgs. Albert's bike also, a carbon Specialized, is a must-see. We all drank beers until late, perhaps a bit too much for the early awakening initially planned.
Since he is a mountain lover, and I had absolutely no doubt about his physical condition and biking skills, I initially planed with him Keprník, one of the largest mountains of the area, still "unbiked" on my list, and missing piece of trail in my trans-Sudetes exploration. The start would be in Ramzová, reasonably close from Złoty by car. Albert put on his GOPRO helmet-cam (the same Andy owns) and made films and pics all way long.
Keprník is a close neighbour of Šerák which I had quickly biked in 2008, when Dorota was still pregnant. I found that mountain great, but riding so much asphalt left me a feeling "unfinished business", and I was regularly telling myself that this massif deserved to be tried with better routes. However I wasn't sure the quality of the trail would allow it between Šerák and Keprník, moreover a forbidden portion by bike (but we were on a Monday...)
Reaching Šerák from Ramzová turned to be strenuous in the last bumpy sections, where Albert proved to be more skilled than me when it comes about bike-handling (all the merit goes to the new bike, he told with humility !). But when watching the steps leading to Keprník, we decided to drop the initial project for another more gentle option that consisted in going around the whole Šerák massif. After all, the mountain deserved it well, with such an amount of trails.
So we rode down the opposite mountain side, and rode up again to the Obří skály rocks, before riding down to Ramzová.
A great day, great views, with a great cycling partner with a similar physical condition than mine, what's more speaking French. Just pity Albert lives so far, but for sure we'll ride again. Perhaps on the Karpacz marathon in June ?