The Problem Of The Root

A huge pile of some sort of root vegetable near Roztoky. (I've since learned they're sugar beets.)

On our latest bike ride, Stewart and I traded potatoes for ... for what? That's the question.

Celery root? Turnips? We're not totally sure, to be honest.

We passed a massive mound of filthy root vegetables halfway between Roztoky and Únětice. We're not sure if they were waiting to be hauled off to the local market, or ground up for animal feed.

The vastness of the pile was pretty impressive, I must admit. You could feed a family of four for about 15 years with those things.

(A regular reader of this blog, Captain Oddsocks, informed me, and I've since confirmed, that the root vegetables in question are sugar beets. I've learned that the Czechs use sugar beets to make Tuzemák, a kind of rum liquor.)

Stewart had an idea, that if you were destitute, you could feed yourself quite well in these parts for free if you just knew where to look, where to look for apples and corn and pears and cherries and celery root and such. Not to mention the occasional roadkill.

We headed toward the village of Úholičky, then up the hill toward Tursko. From there, we headed in the direction of Libčice nad Vltavou. We took a nice detour downhill into the village.

From there, we hooked up with a hitherto unknown (at least to us) but very nice bike path along the western side of the Vltava River that headed through the hamlet of Dolany and toward Kralupy nad Vltavou.

We had the path to ourselves. The sun was shining. No cars anywhere to be found. The river to our right. Surrounded by lush forest on the left. Biking at its best.

Stewart taking the lead on the trail toward Kralupy.

Some bee-related information in the hallway of the Bee Research Institute in Dol.

Once in Kralupy, we crossed to the eastern side of the river and headed south, back toward Prague. We were looking to visit the Bee Research Institute in the hamlet of Dol. We'd tried to stop in a few weeks ago, but it was the weekend, and it was closed. This was a weekday ride, however, and it was open for business.

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. The gates were open and the doors were not locked, but there was nary a soul around what looked like a large white house. I guess I had envisioned some cute little shop selling local honey and mead and beeswax candles.

We went inside and looked around for a shop or a sign or something, but found nothing. Finally, a man came out of a doorway, and we asked him if it was possible to buy some honey. He kindly took us down to the end of a hall, where he rang a bell on a closed door, but no one emerged.

Finally, someone appeared out of another door on the other side of the hallway, a woman who unlocked another door to reveal a modest selection of honey and honey wine. I bought a jar of honey and a couple of small bottles of mead.

We thanked the folks and headed back out on our bikes. The Bee Institute was a bit underwhelming, but maybe I just had unrealistic expectations. The real important work there is done behind closed doors, not in a cute gift shop.

We cycled south back toward the ferry at Klecany, where we had to wait 20 minutes or so to cross.

The local pubs were closed, so we were forced to crack open our miniature bottles of mead, flavored with almonds. Man, that stuff is tasty. When I think of mead, I always think of knights clad in armor quaffing large silver tankards of the stuff.

Those were some bright knights.

We crossed over to Roztoky on the ferry, and from there Stewart and I parted ways.

As always, the ride from Roztoky through the forest paths to Únětice and then to my home village of Černý Vůl really takes it out of me. I don't know why. It's not that long -- around 6 or 7 kilometers. It's not steep -- although it's uphill all the way, albeit gradual. But for some reason, that ride always drains the last ounces (grams?) of energy from my legs.

I need to ride more.

Or drink less.

Length of ride: 46 kilometers
Average speed: 14.8 kph
Maximum speed: 52.1 kph
Mead Index: 1
Time on the bike: 3.04.23
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 1,254 kilometers

Looking across the Vltava River on a beautiful fall day.

On the trail, somewhere between Libčice nad Vltavou and Kralupy nad Vltavou.


Could the vegetable have been sugar beet?
Grant Podelco said…
Hi, Captain. You know what? You might just be right. Looking at pictures of sugar beets, it seems right on. Celery root has these nubbins on the root that the vegetables we saw did not have. And some of the ones I saw in the pile had long carrot-like ends, which is what the sugar beet looks like.

Thanks for the info!
Pivní Filosof said…
I've just send you an email answering your comment in my blog. If you haven't got it, check the smap folder, I've been having some trouble with that.
Having to go through multiple locked doors for honey? Interesting.

I am one who enjoys stargazing and have noticed how stunning the sky has been this moon cycle. Have you noticed this out your way?
dragonfly said…
Hello there. i am big fan of Prague :) [Here is a text of a friend of mine about Prague:]/ i glad I have come across your blog! i will add it to my fav links!

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