Boars, But Never Boring


Rob and I followed a tiny path that hugged the side of the Vltava, below the railroad tracks, near Řež.

I had to laugh.

Rob and I went out for a ride on Sunday morning (February 10). (Actually, I joined Rob about midway through his impressive 100-kilometer ride. He's already ridden more than 1,000 kilometers this year alone.)

We met in Únětice, a village just two or three kilometers from my home in the hamlet of Černý Vůl, and then proceeded to Roztoky, closer to Prague on the Vltava River.

The weather was spectacular for February in Prague -– sunny and blue skies. It was a bit nippy, though. I forgot to check, but I’d say it was around 3 or 4 Celsius, or around 38 Fahrenheit when we first went out. It warmed up quite a bit later in the day, however.

From Roztoky, I decided to show Rob the paved path that I had discovered snaking up the west side of the river, connecting Roztoky to Klecany and continuing downriver almost to Řež (pronounced something like zhezh).

It’s the same path that Stewart and I rode on February 3, during which Stewart, being the adventurous (and persuasive) soul that he is, convinced me to follow him -– our bikes slung over our shoulders -– as he investigated what turned out to be a nonexistent path up the side of a very steep, rocky, and forested mountain.

It makes for entertaining reading on the blog, even if I was cursing him the whole way up.


The pedestrian bridge across the Vltava at Řež.

It wasn’t until I was out with Rob last Sunday, however, that I truly realized how crazy we were to do what we did. When Stewart suggested we try to follow what at the time seemed like a path along the mountainside, we were standing at the base, without any real perspective on the mountain itself.

But on Sunday, standing on the pedestrian bridge at Řež, and looking from afar at our treacherously steep route, I could only laugh.

I was impressed. And, in hindsight, I'm glad I did it.

It’s kinda like what Dorothy Parker once said: "I hate writing. I love having written."


Stewart and I climbed this ugly slice of mountain, carrying our bikes, earlier this month.

Rob and I got to the pedestrian bridge at Řež, not by riding on the railroad tracks, as Stewart and I did, but by following a muddy, rocky, rutty and twisty path down by the river. Much of it was unrideable, but it was a bit safer -– albeit less thrilling -- than the busy tracks.

The highlight of the path was coming across the fresh carcass of a wild boar, all bristly hair and bloody teeth, apparently hit by a train and cut in two by the impact. It was too gross to photograph.

It reminded me of the story Rob tells of riding through Divoká Šárka last summer as a herd of a dozen or so wild boar crossed the path right in front of him. They're pretty nasty, and nasty-looking, creatures.

We crossed the bridge into Řež and then followed the bike path upriver, back toward Prague. (Anyone know why it always smells like freshly baked bread in Klecany??!) Parts of it are wonderful to ride, smoothly paved, with great views. Other parts, however, and rocky and rutted and muddy for long distances, and a real pain.

You can see my entire route in detail by clicking here.

The city or the state -- or somebody really -- should think about extending the bike paths on both sides of the river. Things are getting better for cyclists in Prague, for sure, but there’s a long way to go until a proper infrastructure is in place.

Better yet would be if Czech drivers treated cyclists with respect. (The Czechs, normally a placid, peaceful people, seem to turn into maniacs behind the wheel of a car, behaving aggressively toward everyone -- cyclists, other drivers and pedestrians.)

I’ve written before about my run-ins with some of these bastards. Thankfully, such encounters are rare, but some things are almost guaranteed to happen at least once on every ride – cars driving way over the speed limit, cars driving too close to cyclists, cars not paying attention to cyclists at intersections, cars honking at cyclists for no reason whatsoever.

Sad to say I'm used to it by now, and cycle on roads as much as I do on trails, but jeesh.

Rob and I cycled down near the Prague Zoo, where we parted ways. He continued his 100k run, while I took the ferry back across the Vltava to the west side of the river and headed for home, backtracking along the busy road to Roztoky.

Many cars drove by close to me at high speed.

RIDE STATS
Length of ride: 35 kilometers (22 miles)
Average speed: 16.7 kph
Maximum speed: 34.3 kph
Time on the bike: 2.04.56
Pivo Index: 0 (2 for the year)
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 214 kilometers (133 miles)



I found this sign, near Klecany, along the Vltava, highly amusing. Anyone care to guess what it means? I haven't a clue.


There must have been a sale on paint.


A small plaque to the left of the top-left window on this building shows the water level of the Vltava River during the devastating flood of August 2002. You can see two other markers indicating previous floods way below the 2002 level. Click to enlarge to get a better view.


This is where I prefer to be -- riding my bike, not carrying it.


I have a tattoo of the sun on my left arm, similar to this charming emblem affixed to the side of a house along the Vltava. One of these days, I'll tell the story of why I chose a sun.

Comments

Tomas said…
Hi Grant,
I was tempted to put a comment here since the bhiking post, but now I finally managed to make it.

Fist of all, I´d like to say I really appreciate your blog - it reminds me that it´s still possible to ride even when living in Prague.

As I was a long time proud resident of Řež I´d like to put some hints to the trickery of b(h)iking around Řež.

As you realized, the way between Úholičky and Řež on the left bank is quite complicated. In fact, the 2002 floods washed away parts of the pools round the river, so it´s almost impossible to follow the river else than by the tracks (especially when the water is high). However, it´t only few meters - so who cares. If you want to continue from Řež train station to Libčice, the path detachs from the track after some fifty meters, then it´s quite safe.

You may also decide to cross the river in Řež and follow the path on the other side of the river (which I always prefered). It´s quite interesting (some rocks, radixes, owls, buzzards, trees - no problem). You may climb uphill to Větrušice (quite steep) and increase your modus operandi or continue to Dol, which is across the river to Libčice - with another ferry (which is somehow synchronized with trains).

In Dol, there is an interesting institution - "Beekeeper Research Institute", which among other stuff produces really good mead. If you take the road uphill, there is a tiny village called Máslovice (Butterville) with the Museum of Butter.
Grant Podelco said…
Hi, Tomas,

Thanks for this. I've ridden on the east side of the river up to Kralupy nad Vltavou, but I haven't been to Vetrusice or Dol. I definitely would like to check out the mead, and the Museum of Butter. Wow.

You should write me a note at grantpodelco@yahoo.com and give me your mobile number. Perhaps we could ride together sometime? Where are you living now? What was it like to live in Rez?!

All the best ...

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