Fast Times, Slow Worms

Stewart shows us the way to the next whisky bar.

Stewart and I did a little riding while we were out drinking the other night on a beautiful, clear, warm, spring evening.

I left my house in Černý Vůl, northwest of Prague, and met up with Stewart at a crossroads between Únětice and his hometown of Roztoky. From there, we headed off-road, onto some tire tracks that ran through farmer's fields.

We knew we were basically headed for the village of Úholičky, which is where we ended up after some exhilarating riding on dry, downhill trails.

One of our favorite pubs, the Smallest Pub In the World, in Úholičky, was packed full of Czechs -- all of them smoking -- listening to the Euro 2008 football championship, so we decided to head for a beer in a less polluted environment. But not before stopping to admire a slow worm, a kind of snakelike lizard, that was slithering across the hot asphalt.

A slow worm slithers across the road in Úholičky.

From Úholičky, we headed toward Noutonice and then into our favorite destination, the village of Okoř, with its 14th-century castle ruins. We took the back way in, a fantastic downhill over pavement, then rocks and roots and dirt, that starts in Noutonice and ends up at a stream behind Okoř.

I ended up taking the downhill as fast as I've ever done. So fast, in fact, that when I got to the bottom of the run, Stewart was nowhere to be seen behind me. I waited. And waited. And then decided to ride back up, thinking he'd taken a spill. Then he called me, thinking that something must have happened to me because he'd lost sight of me so quickly.

I don't think of myself as a speed demon on the trails, but I guess I went all out on this one.

Stewart disappears into the woods early in our ride.

I did learn a little trick that was a revelation to me but old hat, I'm sure, to everyone else.

When riding down a steep trail, gear up as far as possible so that when you need to pedal in the middle of a downhill you've actually got something to pedal. I usually forget to do that and my pedals turn uselessly when I go to turn on the power.

Like a couple of little boys, we cycled through a stream, soaking our shoes and socks, before heading to the Hotel Okoř for a couple of cold half-liters of Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) for 30 CZK ($2) each.

We then cycled back to my place for a few more beers and a bottle of wine and a lot of talking and laughing until it got dark.

Here's a map of our entire route, through forest and stream, which I call Beer-Wine Looped:

View Larger Map

Stewart had to ride home through the woods in the dark. He told me he did that one time while looking up at the stars between the branches of the overhanging trees, since the trail itself was pitch black.

I've since given him a headlight.

I don't think he uses it. And really, why bother when you can navigate your way home using the stars?

Length of ride: 24 kilometers
Average speed: 16 kph
Maximum speed: 49.1 kph
Pivo Index: 4 beers, 1 bottle of wine
Time on the bike: 1.26.59
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 801 kilometers

An interesting view in Velké Přílepy.

An accidental self-portrait mid-ride.


In pitch black, with forest either side of the path it seemed obvious to look up to follow the path where there were no trees. It was a blue star studded path where the sky was lighter than the dark. Eminently more traversable than staring at the path proper ~ that itself could not be seen.
Dear Booda,

Did you tried a self-portrait with the beard and that helmet on you head?

Do you still paint using vintage wine numbers?

and one for you, dear Grant:

it is amazing (and, for me, very inspiring) how nicely - and often - you blend the beer (and other enebriating liquids) drinking topic in your biking stories.

Keep the good work!
Pilsner Urquell is the beer of choice in my fridge. Some old cans of Bud are in there for unwelcome guests.

Funny thing is, the unwelcome guests usually prefer Bud.
If the 'Bud' u have in ur fridge is the one usually drank (and made) in the States... then ur friends have a problem. If not, u have a problem
Grant Podelco said…
Dear Lucian,

It is hard for me to separate the cycling and the spirits, so to speak. I find it hard to call a bike ride "good" unless there's at least one cold pivo at the end of it.

Call me crazy.

Thanks for your support. ;-)

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