The first 500 kms are the toughest


This is going to be a blog about my biking adventures (such as they are) in and around Prague during 2007.

I'm 45, soon to be 46. I'm an American living and working in Prague. I've lived here since 1995, except for about a year and a half in Oregon starting in late 1999. I thought I missed the United States. I missed Prague more.

I've got a Univega touring bike that I bought in 2000 to ride to work when I lived in Oregon. That's it in the picture above. I love it, but it's as heavy as a motorcycle, and the center of gravity is quite high. I still follow my mountain-biking buddies on the rougher trails. But that means I'm prone to falling over my handlebars when going down steep trails, and totally exhaust myself when going up. All these mountain bikers think they're hot stuff. They should try riding up some of these hills on my freakin' bike!

I'm thinking of buying a real mountain bike this winter.

I started biking seriously in 2005, when I managed to finish the summer with 500 kilometers under my tires. I set 750 kilometers as my goal in 2006. As it turns out, from April through November 2006, I rode 2,386 kilometers!

My goal in 2007 is 3,000 kilometers.

I've got a couple of biking/drinking buddies I ride with frequently -- Stewart and Rob -- as well as my girlfriend, Daisy. You may see their names (or even photos) crop up from time to time. I'm also going to try to document my rides with photographs as much as possible.

Enough of the chitchat

On February 17, I biked 41 kilometers roundtrip from my flat in Prague 6 to Okor, a charming village decorated with a 14th-century castle ruin.

The route runs from Prague through the towns of Roztoky, Unetice, Statenice, up a decent hill, along a road that slices through rolling Czech farmland, until you eventually reach Okor. It's a typical run for me, with just enough hills and distance to make you feel as if you've accomplished something, and enough nature to make it interesting. About half of the ride is on trails, the other half on country roads. It was in the low 40s F. The sun was shining, and the smell of coal smoke stung the nostrils.

I felt pretty good, but by the time I got back home, my thighs were cramping. The cold? Or just out of shape? That's a tough one.

On February 11, I took a 22-kilometer ride from Prague 6, through the park called Sarka, and up what I will call Beer Garden Hill, a twisting path up the side of a fairly steep hill overlooking the Sarka beer garden. It's a killer, especially this early in the season. But I managed to make it to the top without stopping, although I felt like my lungs were going to explode through the top of the skull when I finally made it to the top. And my legs were noodles. Other than that, I felt great.

Apart from living through the hill climb, the most interesting part of the ride occurred as I was resting on a park bench near the beer garden. Some shabbily dressed Czech dude walked slowly past me. He stared hard at me and then at my bike, and then back at me. I stared right back. He ambled away. I must learn how to say "What the **** are you staring at?" in Czech. This happens all the time. Maybe he couldn't believe I actually intended to ascend the hill on my Univega. Or maybe I just look funny (see below).

Other rides this year

In January 2007, I took a ride from Prague 6 to Roztoky, but I wasn't feeling well, and by the time I made it to Kohliba, the lovely beer garden there, I decided to turn back. I was just too tired. That was 18 kilometers. I must have taken another ride or two in there somewhere that I can't remember, because ...

As of Saturday, Feb. 17, I have ridden 122 kilometers in 2007. Not bad, considering my first ride in 2006 didn't happen until April, or maybe late March.

My goal is to ride at least once in every month this year. And to enjoy as many as these as possible along the way (that's me and my biking buddy Stewart at one of our favorite watering holes, in Okor):

Comments

Brewsta said…
I want to see a better picture of that nasty bike before it retires.
Grant said…
Good point. I should take its formal portrait before its retired.
Grant said…
I meant ... before it's retired.
Anonymous said…
Interesting blog. I think that the blog is better called "How to Die in the Czech Republic: Cycle on a Road".

You must have better insurance that I do, that allows helicopter transport to a hospital somewhere else in Europe.

Good luck!
Anonymous said…
grant,
i accidently hit the flag button. tried to "un-do" but can't tell if it worked.
anyway, i like your blog. i am a cyclist battling bad traffic in florida, and your scenes are lovely to look at, and the content a fun read. please do keep it up.
Grant said…
Hello, Anonymous,

Thanks for the positive feedback. I really appreciate it. I've spent some time in Gainesville, but have yet to cycle there.

All the best,

Grant

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