Hares, Beers, Highways & Archways
This is some fine riding, my friends. This is the path that starts near Hole and leads down into the woodland behind Okoř castle. It's a spur of the 0077 bike path, I believe.
A few weeks back, during a particularly challenging ride, I coined a new term for the adventures that Stewart often leads me on -- bhiking:
bhiking /buh-hike-ing/ n. -- A sport played on rocky, overgrown or hilly terrain in which a cyclist is just as apt to be carrying his bike as to be riding it.
I like to actually ride my bike. Stewart appears to take his along as an accessory, as a hiker might carry a walking stick, ropes or crampons.
Stewart's approach to the sport was in evidence on Sunday (March 9), when we met up at Koliba in Roztoky for a ride. After looking at a picture I'd taken of him upon arrival, he said, "Look at me! I dress like a hiker, and you dress like a biker."
Yes, he was wearing hiking boots, but he looked to me more like an auto mechanic out for a pedal than your average hiker, what with his overalls and wild beard and hair.
But it's not the clothes that make the cyclist. Stewart easily kicks my butt going up steep trails, leaving me in my cycling Spandex to watch his overalled ass steadily pull away.
I met Stewart and his lovely family -- who were all on bikes -- at Koliba for a quick bite before Stewart and I headed off.
It was already around 3 p.m. by the time we saddled up, so we decided not to bite off anything too ambitious. We headed from Roztoky down the Vltava River to the train station at Úholičky, where we headed up the steep road toward the village proper.
Along the way, however, we spied a promising trail heading off to the right, up into the woods. I wouldn't say I've become a full-fledged bhiker, but I'm starting to see the pleasures of casting off into the unknown.
Without a moment's hesitation, we headed up the unknown trail.
Stewart took this picture of me riding along our newfound trail. It got a lot more difficult.
It wound its way through some lovely forest, before turning steep and rocky. I made it only part of the way up before my gearing failed me (I kept popping wheelies, it was so steep), but Stewart managed to make it almost the whole way.
Steep. Very steep. And rocky. Very rocky.
I filmed part of his slow but steady ascent:
We ended up coming out in a field near what we call Garbage Mountain (a huge landfill), and from there we wound our way toward Tursko and Svrkyně (gotta love those consonants).
Somewhere between Turkso and Svrkyně, Steward yelled, "Deer! Straight ahead!"
I looked, but didn't see any deer.
"Up in that field!"
Sure enough, there were about six or seven running across a freshly plowed farmer's field, but they were European brown hares, not deer. That's an easy mistake to make, though, because the hares around these parts are huge. Massive. They look like German shepherds running through the furrows.
Once we got to the top of the new trail, we found ourselves gazing out at this stunning panorama of the Vltava River. That's the village of Řež across the river.
From there, we unfortunately found ourselves at busy highway Route 240, between Velké Přílepy and Tursko, with no escape route. There was no alternative but to head back whence we came and try another path, or swallow hard and ride for a kilometer or two on the highway. Despite Stewart's pathological hatred of cars (at least while he's riding), he chose the highway.
You've never seen two guys cycling harder than we did on that stretch, with cars whizzing by us at high speed every few seconds. By my odometer, we maintained about 35 kph (22 mph) for the entire sprint.
From Svrkyně, we headed toward the hamlet of Hole, before branching off on a fantastically picturesque bike path -- a spur of the 0077 bike path, I believe -- that deposited us at the beautiful arched railway bridge a few kilometers behind Okoř castle.
(Check out the details of our entire route by clicking here.)
Being so close to Okoř, and our favorite watering hole, the Family Hotel Okoř, we just had to stop in for a beer. Or two. OK, it was three.
We were sitting outside. The sun began to set. Our fingers began to freeze. I began to shiver. We decided to set off for my house in Černý Vůl so that Stewart could warm up a bit before he had a longer ride home to Roztoky.
Daisy was cooking dinner. I built a fire in the fireplace.
Two glasses with a couple fingers each of Jameson's appeared.
And the color in our fingertips reappeared.
Length of ride: 34 kilometers (21.1 miles)
Average speed: 16.2 kph
Maximum speed: 42.6 kph
Time on the bike: 2.04.45
Pivo Meter: 3 each (6 for the year)
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 348 kilometers (216 miles)
This striking arched railway bridge spans a small valley behind Okoř castle. It's very similar to another arched railway bridge in the southwest of Prague (and which is part of my Bakerloo Run.)
Any cycling backpack worth its salt should contain the "New York Review of Books," "Private Eye," and a book of your choice. You never know when you'll have to drink alone.