'Would you sign this petition, please?'

Olga Buchtova scans the scrum of cyclists at Koliba for more potential petition signers.

The restaurant called Koliba in Roztoky never ceases to amaze me. Not only is it a great place -- maybe it's THE place -- to sit around and sip a beer after a long ride, but the most interesting things happen there. Odd coincidences. Chance meetings.

A few weeks ago, this guy came up to me at Koliba and asked me if I was the guy who wrote the bike blog! He'd recognized me from the blog and was a cyclist himself. Turns out it was James Gogarty from provokator.org. We've yet to ride together but we're staying in touch.

And just yesterday, I was out riding to Roztoky and Okor with my friends, Stewart and Mark. On our way back, we stopped at Koliba and ran into a woman named Olga Buchtova.

She asked us if we'd mind signing a petition she is helping to organize.

Seems as if there are plans to expand the highway from Roztoky to Prague, a beautiful stretch of road along the Vltava River, but there are no plans to also install a bicycle lane or path.

Even now, this stretch of road is inhospitable to cyclists. The cars drive way too fast for conditions, and there's no shoulder for cyclists to ride on. It can be a pretty hairy ride sometimes. Lots of truck, too.

There's little time to enjoy the views. You're too busy trying not to die.

I don't mind it as much as Stewart does, but there's no denying it's a very unpleasant part of the journey. The weird thing is, we had all just been talking about how great it would be if there were some sort of bicycle path along that stretch, from Sedlec to Roztoky. And then we met Olga but an hour or two later ...

Of course, we signed our names to the petition at once, and I told Olga I would do what I could to publicize her cause in my blog. She helping someone else, Dr. Libor Krasny of Roztoky, who's really leading the charge on this issue.

As soon as I find out from Olga where sympathetic Prague cyclists can send their e-mails or perhaps even sign an e-petition, I'll let you know.

I do know that the two bike shops in Roztoky have the petition, so if you're biking in that area between now and the end of April, please stop in and do your duty.

No pains, no strains

As for the ride itself yesterday, we headed from Prague 6 to Roztoky, but then headed up behind Koliba on some new trails we found, eventually connecting to Unetice and Statenice, then on to Tuchomerice, following a back trail that tooks us into Okor.

It was an absolute stunner of a day, and we sat outside at the Family Restaurant Okor and had a few beers and some lunch. There are tons of cyclists out. The place was hopping.

Stewart and I enjoy a pint in the sunshine at Okor.

I felt as good on the bike as I have all year. No pains, no strains.

We came home via some trails behind the castle ruin, eventually ending up in Velke Prilepy before we connected back to the road that leads back into Statenice. We went back through Unetice and ended up at Koliba.

Ride stats:

Distance: 48.5 kilometers
Average speed: 15.2 kph
Maximum speed: 43.7 kph
Temperature: Around 68 F.
Time on bike: 3.10.18

Total distance for 2007: 309.5 kilometers

We had one run-in with a car, when Mark (that's him on the trail at right) and I were riding two abreast on a country road, chatting.

I realize that it's against the rules in the Czech Republic for cyclists to ride two abreast, but it certainly doesn't give drivers the license to behave like idiots.

This ass was, once again, driving way too fast and laid on his horn as he passed us at high speed. There was simply no need for that. I just don't understand their mindset.


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