To Bee? Not To Be

Forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter.

Stewart and I had just negotiated a particularly prickly section of path. My calves were red and burning from a hundred brushes against sharp, stinging "stickers," as we used to call them as kids.

"That was a very nettlesome trail," I said.

Bad puns or awful plays on words are my specialty. I enjoy them very much. No one else seems to very much, except for Daisy's father, Paul, himself a master.

I thought that "nettlesome" wasn't too bad, though.

But then we both started to wonder if "nettlesome" is actually a word. Was I confusing it with "meddlesome"?

You know, we'd both had one beer by this point, and it was hot and sticky and our brains were slightly addled.

There's a trail in here somewhere, and definitely some sticker bushes.

Turns out, "nettlesome" is a word. I guess my use of it in that context wasn't exactly a pun, though, strictly speaking. In fact, strictly speaking, it was probably a spot-on use of the word:

nettlesome (adj) -- causing irritation, vexation, or annoyance.

In fact, it's origins date back to the 18th century and the word actually comes, not surprisingly, from "nettle," any plant of the genus Urtica, covered with stinging hairs.

(Daisy later suggested an alternative pun -- "That trail was a real test of our nettle." Pretty good, no?)

I bet you didn't expect an etymology lesson on a biking blog, now did you?

In fact, you probably don't want an etymology lesson. You want to hear about mountain bike riding. OK. then.

I met Stewart the other morning near Koliba, a lovely restaurant in Roztoky that used to be one of our all-time favorites. Sadly, it appears to have closed, after having gone through new ownership earlier this year. The outdoor tables were gone, and there was a large wooden gate preventing access to the place.

The late, great Koliba.

Personally, I liked the original owners. The service was friendly and efficient. There was a big old fat guy who did the barbecuing. The Budvar was crisp and cold. They knew us there. And now not only is that gone, but the place itself appears to be closed. Stay tuned.

From Roztoky, we took the ferry across to the other side of the Vltava River, near to the town of Klecany.

We cycled along the river path up to the village of Husinec, where we climbed the hairpinned highway up to the top of the hill. The hill is long and winding, but it's never too terribly steep, and it's a damn sight easier than climbing the grueling hill in Klecany itself, which Rob and I did back in July. Now that's a killer.

At the top of the hill in Husinec, we went off-road as quickly as possible, following some dirt roads and trails into the forest.

After a few kilometers, we came across a ramshackle house that had a drift of pigs running around loose. (Yes, "drift" -- look it up!) We managed to get quite close to a couple of them.

From there, we ended up passing through an orchard full of apple and pear trees.

The pears were a bit too young and hard to eat, but the apples were juicy and hit the spot. We heard some German shepherds barking nearby (evidently to ward off folks such as ourselves who were stealing the fruit), so we didn't linger there long.

The orchard in question.

From there, we somehow ended up on a path that Stewart had been on before (on which on a previous ride he and our friend Mark Baker came across a Czech couple in flagrante delicto and whom they had the temerity to ask directions of!), which led to a nice forest path above the village of Dol, which is home to the Bee Research Institute.

We didn't have to comb the area for long before we came upon it.

I'd heard of the Bee Research Institute from our James Gogarty, and it had intrigued me. I have a fear of bees, but the idea of buying some locally produced honey from a certified bee laboratory in a tiny Czech village. Sadly, however, it was closed to the public on the day we cycled by.

Fodder for a future ride.

Somewhere around here we had a beer at a riverside pub whose name and location escapes me (but the Krusovice was 18 CZK per liter, one of the cheapest I've seen this summer).

From there, it was up to the city of Kralupy, where we crossed back over the river with the idea of making our eventual way on paths that Stewart was familiar with to our old haunt of Okor, not far from my home in Černý Vůl. And that we did.

I could never find my way on these paths again, but Stewart knew where he was going. You can check out our entire route here, thanks to my Garmin Edge 305 GPS gizmo. Click to enlarge:

View Larger Map

We snaked our way through forests and hamlets toward Okoř, and all the while I could feel myself becoming increasingly, worrisomely fatigued. My thighs were hurting, and I just felt tuckered out. We hadn't gone that far, really, but it was quite warm out, and I haven't been riding all that much. But jeesh. That shouldn't happen.

We stopped in Okoř for another cold one. (I can't keep posting photos of the castle ruins in Okoř, but the village is one of my favorite places around Prague and if you haven't been there, drive or take a bus out there and enjoy. There's also a fantastic little French-style inn and restaurant in the village called Family Hotel Okoř. Worth a stop. We always go there for a steak dinner on Friday nights. One of the best steaks around.)

From Okoř, Stewart and I rode to Velke Prilepy, where we parted ways, me to my home in Cerny Vul, down the highway a bit, and him back to Roztoky.

I slept like a baby that night. Must be getting old.

Length of ride: 54 kilometers
Average speed: 14.8 kph
Maximum speed: 43.7 kph
Pivo Index: 2
Time on the bike: 3.35.05
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 1,177 kilometers

We came across this teepee in the forest above Dol.

We passed this nifty little bus shelter, also near Dol.


Being so far down the list on my blog roll, I don't get to the "P's" that often. There is only so much time in a work day.

Today I did them in reverse and low and behold, I get lessons in etymology, and word play. I even got to use my thesaurus a couple of times. Nice. I'll be here more often, for sure. It's so educational. 8>)

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