Guns & Rain & Naughty Santa
Rob (right) and I in Tuchoměřice after the ride. Note Rob's mud-splattered face.
The ride began inauspiciously.
I was on my bike, dressed for the cold, and riding to meet Rob in Tuchoměřice. My cell phone rang.
"Hey, man. You sure you want to go through with this? It's blowing like crazy up here. I can barely stay on the road."
Rob was in the village of Přední Kopanina, heading down to Tuchoměřice.
"The sun's shining down here, and the wind's not bad," I said, on the road between Statenice and Tuchoměřice. "Let's go ahead and see what happens."
All of my bike rides lately have started on a sour note. In one, we were hungover and out of shape. In a second, I couldn't get my mojo working and almost didn't go out.
And now this. But for a change it wasn't me suggesting that we turn around and go home.
In the end, I met Rob at the bus stop in Tuchoměřice.
As I was riding to meet him, I heard gunshots and the barking of dogs and came across a group of hunters, all carrying shotguns, surrounding a copse just a few hundred meters from the road. I counted at least 15 men. I don't know how many dogs.
The dogs were flushing pheasants and grouse out of the trees and long grass and, as the birds took flight, they were blasted out of the air by these 15 hunters, firing simultaneously.
You can count five or six hunters in this photo, and there were many more. I would have needed a panoramic lens to capture them all. Ridiculous.
Actually, you can't call them hunters. Tell me, where is the sport? It's like calling slaughterhouse workers sportsmen. The birds didn't stand a chance in hell. There's more sport in fox hunting, and that's saying something.
I watched a half dozen birds squawk first, then fly, and finally fall from the sky into the brush.
I was disgusted.
By this time, the sun that was shining just a few minutes before had disappeared, swallowed by an advancing storm front, the same front that was bringing strong winds and rain with it.
Rob and I decided to try the Airport Loop, a fairly flat route but which left us exposed to the elements. No forests or houses to block the wind.
It was great to ride with Rob again. It had been awhile since our last adventure. We've just got different schedules and don't live as close to one another as we once did.
He's been an inspiration (some might say maniac) on the bike, racking up 5,750 kilometers this year, and the year ain't over yet. He gets up most mornings at 4 something and rides in the pitch dark starting at 5 or 5:30 a.m. through Divoká Šárka park before work. I tip my helmet to him.
Riding through Kněževes and Dobroviz, Rob quickly zoomed ahead of me. He's just in way better shape, and he's got a new sprocket set that is a more forgiving ratio for riding on the roads.
He was nice enough to pull off and wait for me to catch up in Dobroviz, where we happened to see a very funny poster for a holiday party that, sadly, had happened the night before. It was a Christmas party for adults, with a picture of Santa sliding down something other than a chimney.
By this time, we were riding into the wind and the rain. It was pretty miserable.
I wanted to get in 25 kilometers of riding in if I could, just to make it all worthwhile, so we rode exactly 12.5 kilometers and then turned around, out near the end of one of the airport runways.
Riding back was like a different world. The wind was at our back, and the rain wasn't hitting our face. The pedaling was effortless. Rob said we were going a good 6 or 7 kilometers per hour faster than we just had pedaled on the exact same road just minutes before.
We road back to Tuchoměřice and parted ways.
Rob and I have got to get out again in better conditions, and with me in better condition.
Length of ride: 25 kilometers
Average speed: 16.4 kph
Maximum speed: 44.2 kph
Pivo Index: 0
Time on the bike: 1.29.32
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 1,348.5 kilometers
The sun did shine, at least for the first five minutes of my ride, while a few drifts of snow still clung to the fields (below)