The Poodle Stop & Other (Mis)Adventures
A blue-sky view in Únětice, on my way to Roztoky.
Here is the story of what will forever be known as The Poodle Stop.
Stewart and I headed out on the bikes on Sunday (April 13), and we ended up, as we almost always do, in the village of Okoř. Once we entered the castle grounds from the back trail, we somehow got split up. I stopped by some booths at a little fairground where vendors were selling teapots and hand-blown glass. Stewart must have gone on ahead.
I went to look for him, and finally caught up with him as he headed back to look for me.
"You'll never believe what just happened to me," he said.
He began to tell a tale about coming down a path in Okoř at a fairly good pace after we'd split up, when a poodle darted into his path.
What I thought he was going to say was that he had managed to somehow miraculously jump over the dog. Stewart's pretty good at lifting his bike up in mid-ride and jumping over obstacles in his path.
But no, it was even more spectacular than that.
Seems he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the poodle, and, as he tells it, "Somehow, I ended up standing straight up, my bike standing up behind me, with the seat stuck into the back of my trousers."
Yes, his mountain bike was sticking out of the back of his pants. The owners of the poodle must have thought Stewart had been practicing that trick for years.
Stewart says he thought as the whole thing was happening that he would end up doing some "face surfing," rather than landing on two feet.
The sad thing is that I didn't get a chance to witness this event, which may have been a first in the annals of cycling.
Sure, he can climb the French Alps, but can Lance Armstrong do The Poodle Stop?
After a few beers at the Hotel Okoř, Stewart wanted to see if he could duplicate his feat for the benefit of the camera, so we headed up to an empty trail near Statenice and he gave it a go.
I think we had five takes in all, and he never did quite get it, but this attempt came closest:
Stewart re-creates his final position in The Poodle Stop.
Before we made it to Okoř, Stewart and I had been exploring some new trails around the village of Úholičky. I had cycled from my house in Černý Vů to Stewart's place in Roztoky, about a six-kilometer ride on a mixture of trails and country roads.
After a glass of red wine on his patio in the sun, we set off, with no particular destination in mind. We ended up heading down a steep hillside on the edge of Roztoky, at the bottom of which we connected to the path along the Vltava River that I've written about before.
We headed north, in the direction of Úholičky. Along the way, we passed a woman sitting by the path, painting the cliffs on the opposite side of the river in watercolors. Her bike was parked next to her.
Adriana Skalova took a pause from her own cycling to stop and paint a picture.
Stewart being an artist, too, we stopped to admire her painting and chatted for a bit. Her name was Adriana Skalova and she spoke excellent English (our Czech is not what it should be) and she lives in Suchdol, and she was a delightful person.
One of those lovely moments that happen to you when you decide to hop on your bike and see where life takes you.
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Our route on Sunday. Click here to go to an interactive map of our ride, which you can import into Google Earth for a cool 3-D flyover of our route.
Stewart and I arrived on the outskirts of Úholičky, where from the main road we noticed a new trail rising steeply into the forest. It was calling to us.
It was a beautiful path, though some parts were too steep to ride. After meandering through the woods on sun-dappled trails decorated with trees and bushes abloom, we exited the forest back on the "main" Úholičky road.
The dangers of the trail are many and various. Stewart attempts to avoid an attacking forsythia.
We cycled from Úholičky to Velké Přílepy and then on to Noutonice, and took the fantastic path through the woods that leads to the trails behind Okoř castle.
It was warm enough outside that we decided to cross the little stream the fun way. Here's my tentative fording:
We laughed like kids.
Stewart and I have this theory that the more you engage in this kind of behavior -- basically doing the same stuff you were doing as a kid, and getting the same kick out of it -- the more you will be furthered from things such as Alzheimer's or, more simply, the fatigues of old age. I think there's something to that theory.
From there, it was into Okoř the back way, and the now infamous Poodle Stop.
We met an artist, explored beautiful new trails, appreciated once again the ruins of a 14th-century castle, laughed like boys while crossing a stream on our bikes, had a laugh over an improbable cyclo-gymnastic maneuver, and savored a couple of Pilsner Urquells while sitting in the sun.
I can't wait to get back out there again.
Length of ride: 28.5 kilometers
Average speed: 14.6 kph
Maximum speed: 40.8 kph
Time on the bike: 1.54.56
Pivo Index: 2 each
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 429.5 kilometers
The trail through the forest near Úholičky (above and below).