Ride Bike The Wind
The early morning Sunday sun and a small pond near Únětice, west of Prague.
I saw some old friends on my ride on Sunday, and I didn't see someone I wish I could have.
I decided to ride the 20 kilometers or so to work again, doing my part for global warming and my waistline (not necessarily in that order), despite the fierce windstorm that continued to batter Prague, the Czech Republic, and Europe in general.
Two people were killed in the Czech Republic, including an 11-year-old girl, and 14 lost their lives throughout Europe.
Saturday was the worst as far as the wind was concerned, but it was still blowing pretty good on Sunday (March 2).
On my way between my home in Černý Vůl and Roztoky, I ran into the farmer and his team of beautiful horses pulling a wagon, just as I did a few weeks ago.
I also saw the stunning white horse named Uba -- half Arabian, apparently -- that I passed last week on a ride.
From Roztoky, I rode along the river to Stromovka park, where I discovered, much to my delight, that a section of the park that had previously been crisscrossed by a dirt path full of roots and ruts had been repaved with a lovely new cycling and walking trail.
I was so pleased that I even made a video as I rode over part of the new trail, complete with commentary. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that my voice is largely drowned out, but you still get a good idea of how nice the trail is. I recommend watching this video with the sound muted:
It was truly a pleasure to cycle on this newly paved path in Stromovka. I even passed a few joggers, an unusual sight in Prague.
Frankly, I didn't see as much storm damage in the park as I'd expected -- a few big branches down, and lots of small twigs and things littering the path. But that was it.
Crossing the park, I emerged at the fairgrounds at Výstaviště, and rode along the city streets to Štefánikův Most, the bridge across the Vltava River that has the ridiculous "bike lane."
The streets were largely deserted, at least on Sunday morning, and I felt fairly comfortable riding amid the cars and trams.
I'd forgotten, however, that along this route, chained to a light pole at a complicated intersection near the bridge, lies the Ghost Bike. It's a memorial to cycling activist Jan Bouchal, who was killed at this intersection back in 2006. I wrote about Jan in a post last summer.
Since last I visited, the bike has been swapped out for a regulation-size model. What hasn't changed is the emotional impact of the memorial. Sadly, however, I'm sure most drivers passing either don't notice it, or have no idea what it is.
I paid my respects and pedaled on.
I made it to work just before a rainstorm hit.
Prague Castle and the Vltava River from Štefánikův Most.
My ride back, along the same route, was largely uneventful, other than passing some forsythia bushes in full bloom. (It's early March. I believe this is quite a bit earlier than normal.)
The ride was most notable for what it didn't contain -- daylight. Much of the ride was in near darkness. I had my bright and blinking front and rear lights, so I could be seen. My front light didn't help much in helping me see the trail, though.
It's rather exciting to be cycling through mud and muddy puddles, over roots and rocks and fallen branches, when you can't really see anything except the vaguest shapes, and only then when you're right on top of whatever is in the middle of the trail.
Especially when strong winds are either trying to push you off your bike, or hitting you in the face and making it twice as hard to move forward.
I made it home safely.
Length of ride: 37.5 kilometers (23.5 miles)
Average speed: 17.1 kph
Maximum speed: 44.1 kph
Time on the bike: 2.10.03
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 314 kilometers (195 miles)
I've always admired this billboard for Pepsi on the side of a commercial building in the center of Prague. The medium appears to be spray paint. It's been there for quite some time, but it's not an antique billboard. I'd like to know more about it.
From the highway near the river, you can look up and see the remants of a sign advertising a once-famous restaurant on a prominent bluff overlooking the Vltava River. The restaurant was a popular pavilion in the Czech exposition at Expo '58 in Brussels and was reconstructed in Prague. Nixon once dined here, it's said. Today, it's no longer a restaurant but, sadly, an office building, albeit a very cool one. At least it was saved.