Here's Mud In My Eye (And Everywhere Else)
My bike + muddy trail = paralysis.
Most people took a handful of aspirin on New Year's Day.
I took a mud bath.
The mud bath didn't cure my hangover. It only succeeded in seizing up the front tire on my bike.
New Year's Day dawned brisk but sunny, a rare enough meterological combination in Prague to cause more than a few cyclists to take to the roads and trails. Usually, it's freezing and gray, you see.
I squoze myself into my winter riding gear (a task that seems to get more difficult with the passing days, filled as they are with the temptation of countless holiday treats) and set off for my first ride of 2008.
All in all, despite the previous night's excess, I felt pretty good, the sun doing wonders to pull me out of my winter doldrums, if only for a few precious hours.
Unfortunately, the sun was also working wonders on the conditions of the trails. Wonders? I should say horrors. The frozen, rutted mud had been transformed into deep, black, sticky mud. Mud that grabbed my tires and would not let go. Mud that quickly compacted between my tire and front fender, paralyzing my bike. Mud that covered my shoes and much of my lower legs and back.
One of my shoes looked as if it had been shat upon by some large, very ill woodland creature.
I left my home in the village of Černý Vůl, some eight to 10 kilometers northwest of Prague, and embarked on what I am now calling the New Year's Loop.
It took me through Únětice and Roztoky, down the Vltava River to Sedlec, where I connected with the road V Šáreckém údolí, up to the entrance to the park known as Divoká Šárka, winding through the park, before exiting the park near the Prague airport and heading in the direction of Velké Přílepy, where I entered the forest and followed the trail in the direction of Sv. Juliana, and then down a long, treacherous, and muddy trail that eventually connects with the road halfway between Statenice and Tuchoměřice.
You can follow the entire route on Google Earth by clicking here. It's a great ride if you live in or around Prague. You can pick up the loop at any point.
Along the way, I passed dozens of families (and their dogs) out for long walks in the forest, as well as a few lingering signs of Christmas, including a gaily decorated garbage can.
Most surprisingly, I discovered that the bike trail that follows the Vltava River in Sedlec had been turned into a nifty little run for cross-country skiers.
We haven't really had any snow in Prague to speak of, so it was quite a sight to see. Turns out, it was leftover snow from a cross-country ski race held up at Prague Castle. The snow, according to a helpful reader who left a post about it, was shipped in from the Sumava mountains in the Czech Republic.
All in all, it was a pretty fun ride, despite the mud bath. In addition to the sights along the way, I kept my mind entertained by listening to a few podcasts from National Public Radio on my iPod.
And it was great to begin the cycling year with a ride on New Year's Day.
I've just got to hook up the hose and get my bike cleaned off before I set off again. I'm not sure what to do about my shoes.
Length of ride: 32 kilometers
Average speed: 16.9 kph
Maximum speed: 38.9 kph
Time on the bike: 1.51.14
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 32 kilometers
My legs and shoes after my New Year's Day adventure.