Of Pretty Blooms & Nauseating Boosters
A lovely bike path passes by some willow trees in mid-bloom in Stromovka park.
A solitary coot slicing through the glassy surface of a country pond, like a stylus dragged through a pool of mercury.
The lone squawk of a pheasant somewhere deep within the undergrowth.
The chirping of multitudes of birds, welcoming the sunshine and the spring.
And the piercing, vaguely threatening whistle of a passenger in a passing Audi A6, directed -- for what reason I do not know -- at a lone cyclist minding his own business along the roads of Roztoky.
Such are the sounds of a spring ride in Prague.
I decided once again to cycle into work for a Saturday shift. The weather's been slowly evolving into something that someone might call spring.
The city and the surrounding countryside are abloom, the willows fuzzed out in shades of light green; bright yellow forsythia exploding in manicured yards and wild woods; and trees and bushes whose names I do not know smothered in petals of white and pink.
I don't know the names of these flowering bushes and trees (above and below), I only know they're beautiful. A reader says the tree above may be a dogwood, while the photo below is likely a cherry tree.
My ride into work was uneventful, save for the weird whistling, but such is life as a cyclist.
The ride home was punctuated by a crossing of Štefánikův most (bridge), during which I tried to use the new cycling lane that I've written about before. You know, the cycling lane that ends three-quarters of the way across the bridge!
When the cycling lane disappeared, I merged with traffic at the stoplight, and then made a right turn onto the main road. After a few hundred meters, cars -- and I presume cyclists -- have the right of way at the merger with another lane that is emerging from underneath the bridge (see picture below). Of course, none of the cars in the other lane yielded to me, and I had to make some evasive maneuvers to avoid getting flattened.
Not helping matters was a gigantic tourist bus parked on the side of the road that was effectively blocking the sign that told drivers in that lane to yield.
Prague must be one of the least cycle-friendly cities in the world.
I rode near the fairgrounds known as Výstaviště, the site of the General Land Centennial Exhibition held in Prague in 1891, which are located on the edge of Stromovka park. Many of the exhibition buildings are spectacular examples of Art Nouveau architecture, which I love.
The main exhibition hall at Výstaviště.
There's an amusement park set up on part of the exhibition grounds, and you can watch some of the rides from the bike trail through Stromovka.
I'm fascinated by a ride there called The Booster. A more devilish, vomit-inducing ride has yet to be created. I've been on my fair share of roller-coasters, and even went bunjee-jumping once, but I've yet to muster the courage to take a ride on The Booster, which sends passengers flying high into the air on either end of a rotating arm, spinning wildly at high speeds.
Take a look for yourself. Note the screams of terror:
For some reason -- perhaps it's having worked all day -- the ride home from central Prague always takes it out of me.
It's tougher going to Prague than coming home to Černý Vůl, west of Prague, in terms of elevation, but not by that much. At least not enough to account for my fatigue. Maybe I'm not eating the right foods, or that I'm simply old and out of shape, but my thighs are ready to give up on me by the time I get home.
I made it, though, and was happy to get a ride in, finally. It had been too long.
Distance ridden: 37.5 kilometers (23.5 miles)
Average speed: 17.5 kph
Maximum speed: 35.5 kph
Time on the bike: 2.07.20
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 401 kilometers (250 miles)
I was riding in the lane on the right, coming toward the camera, while the cars on the left were supposed to yield to cars and/or bikes. In my case, they didn't.