Paved Paths, Beautiful Horses & Public Urination

I passed this farmer and his beautiful horses on the trail between Unetice and Roztoky.

I found a neat little path today, and had a fun little run.

Along the way, I passed a wagon being pulled by two beautiful horses; a stinky sewer plant; a cool grass-roots bike park; and some depressingly gray and drab industrial buildings along the Vltava River. Oh, and an old lady squatting to pee by the side of the path, her bare legs as white as uncooked chicken skin, while her equally aged friend stood in front of her as a shield, smiling pleasantly at me as I cycled past.

All in all, a fairly typical bike ride in Prague.

The rides here are always a nice mix of things that surprise you (the horses, the bike park), and things that you see all the time in this part of the world (suicidally bleak industrial buildings dating from the early '60s, public urination).

I passed this cool, homemade bike park near Klecany. The entrance ramp was so steep I didn't have the courage to take the plunge. It was almost straight down. Man, I bet the kids have fun. One of the jumps (below) was truly spectacular.

I worked the late shift on Friday, so I had the morning free for a ride.

It's been quite mild in Prague over the past few weeks, but Friday was cold and damp and very windy, with some spitting rain. Not a great day for a bike ride, in my book, but I felt almost obligated, since it had been quite a while since my last ride.

I didn't try to bite off anything too ambitious, so I hacked the biggest chunks of dried mud from my bike and headed from my home in Černý Vůl, west of Prague, along the bike and walking trail to Únětice, and from there to Roztoky.

I then headed downriver to Klecany, following the path that Stewart and I had taken a few weeks ago. But rather than take the ferry across to the east side of the river, I continued cycling on the west side of the river, on that same path, just to see where it would go.

Turns out, it stays paved for another five kilometers or so, and the path is not large enough for cars, really, so it's a pleasure to cycle.

The paved path hugs the west side of the Vltava River.

Granted, it's not the most beautiful path I've ever ridden on. You pass through some parts that are pretty ugly and down-at-the-heels, and there's a railroad track that basically hovers above and to your left as you're riding down.

The nice thing, though, is that there are no cars. In fact, there's little of anything -- people, animals, or pubs.

I'll try not to hold that latter fact against this route.

At around the 13k mark, the path just sort of ended. I had noticed a lone cyclist ahead of me taking his bike up an embankment to the railroad tracks and disappearing. I followed his route, but once I got up there, it was not obvious where I would end up if I walked my bike along the train tracks.

The end of the line, at least on this particular day.

It must go somewhere (he seemed to know what he was doing), but I wasn't keen on having a train come roaring past while I was figuring out what to do, so I turned around and headed home.

For a nice ride from Prague that incorporates this route, I'd recommend heading to Stromovka park, crossing over to the zoo, and then riding downriver on the east side, using the newly paved bike path that I wrote about here. Take that route all the way to Klecany, then cross the river using the ferry that leaves every 30 minutes, and connect with the trail that I describe above.

That's some pretty hassle-free cycling, largely on flat surfaces, and parts of it are quite lovely (mostly on the east side of the river).

Length of ride: 26 kilometers
Average speed: 16.8 kph
Maximum speed: 41.1 kph
Time on the bike: 1.32.16
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 155.5 kilometers

One thing about living in a former communist country is that you often see ugly, weird, and out-of-place sculptures. Usually they are some twisted piece of black metal standing forlornly in a forgotten park somewhere. I ran across this rather depressing fountain (above) in the middle of a grouping of ugly, unidentifiable industrial buildings (below). I guess the fountain/sculpture was meant to bring a whiff of culture to a rather depressing work site. In a way, I think it just makes it more depressing. Maybe it's just me.

Here's a picture of another old Trabant, the infamous East German-built car with the two-stroke lawn-mower engine. You still see quite a few of these on Czech roads. Their owners somehow keep them running forever. They're kinda cool in their supreme ugliness .

On the weekends, many Czechs escape to their chatas, their little houses out in the country that usually boast well-tended vegetable gardens and/or fruit trees. I noticed these cottages past Klecany on the west side of the Vltava River.


Anonymous said…
Don't knock the Trabant, it looks like you can get a bit out of them :)
Julia said…
If you got to Libcice nad Vltavou or Dolany it looks like there are several train stops to jump onto back to Prague. Sounds like it could be a great trip for kids!
Yes, when you travel it's incredible what is unacceptable at home is commonplace in other parts of the world, e.g., the public urination.

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