No Heroics, Just Sheep

The sun peeks through the trees on the wonderful path through Divoká Šárka.

I took my first real ride last night since getting back from Croatia, and recovering from my cold.

I decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and opted against a summit attempt of the Hill of Doom, or any other craziness. I've been basically off the bike for a month, unfortunately, and am still not 100%, so I thought it best to ease back into things.

It was a lovely evening in Prague. I decided to ride what I'll call the Divoká Šárka Loop. That is, from my flat in Prague 6, along the river to Podbaba, up the road known as V Šáreckém údolí to Jeneralka, near the Croatian restaurant Mlýn, winding through the park called Divoká Šárka, connecting with a road behind the International School of Prague in Nebušice, through a short but lovely forest trail near the ISP, and then connecting back to V Šáreckém údolí and home.

You can see the exact route by clicking here. (Note: If you click on the icon that says KML, you will create a file on your desktop that you can then drag into Google Earth and watch a precise 3D flyover. Very cool!)

It was a perfect reintroduction to riding. Nothing too demanding, but with enough moderate hills to get the thighs burning, the lungs pumping, and the sweat pouring. It also made me realize that I've lost a lot of the conditioning I'd built up over the summer.

Damn. I was hoping those dips in the Adriatic in Croatia would have done something to maintain my stamina. Alas.

One thing I realized, as I passed numerous cyclists last night, was that everyone seemed to be wearing those brightly colored mesh cycling jerseys, usually with matching shorts. They definitely look like serious cyclists, even if they just go out once a month.

I do have padded Spandex cycling shorts and cycling gloves (and a helmet, of course), but no one is going to mistake me for a serious cyclist.

I realized last night on my ride that I was wearing a favorite old olive drab T-shirt (right) that is literally rotting away. The collar is barely connecting to the shirt itself. The sleeves were rolled up so I could get some sun on my arms.

I looked like hell.

Maybe I need to buy some serious cycling clothes. They always look too tight to me, though.

Anyway, I was in Divoká Šárka, looking up at a rocky cliff face, when I heard the unmistakable sounds of sheep. Lots of them. I've never heard sheep in Šárka. I couldn't figure out what the deal was.

I continued cycling, up a hill that looked across to the top of the cliffs I had been standing under, and what did I see but dozens of sheep, standing perilously close to the edge of the cliff. It was quite a sight. I saw the silhouette of a man standing nearby. Perhaps he was the shepherd.

The cliff in Divoká Šárka, below which I heard the sounds of sheep. On closer examination, below, the top of the cliff was lined by dozens of sheep with an apparent death wish.

Once again, Prague never fails to surprise.

My ride was perfumed by a number of wonderful smells -- the sweet fragrance of freshly cut trees, woodsmoke, apples rotting on the forest floor, even fish being grilled at the Croatian restaurant.

I was reminded anew why cycling gives me such pleasure.

It's good to be back in the saddle.

Distance ridden: 28 kilometers
Average speed: 19.3 kph
Maximum speed: 45.2 kph
Time on the bike: 1.26.07
Distance ridden in 2007: 1,223.5 kilometers

Near Podbaba, you'll pass a bunch of rusty old barges that appear to be permanently docked along the riverbank. If you've seen the latest James Bond movie, "Casino Royale," this is where they filmed the torture scene, in which Bond is tied naked to a chair and certain awful things are done. I happened to be cycling by one night last year and saw the cameras set up for the shot. I know the exteriors were shot here. The interior scenes may have been shot in the studio.

This is part of a path that starts behind the International School in Nebušice and connects with V Šáreckém údolí. It's a great little route that also passes by a pretty little pond, where a couple of young guys were fishing (below).


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