Streets Are Uneven When You're Down

On the road between the village of Statenice and Okor.

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

-- The Doors' "People Are Strange"

I went for a ride a few days ago, and saw the worst in everything.

I felt helpless to resist.

The sky was the color of dirty bathwater, lacking all definition. Just a gray expanse as far as the eye could see, like some sort of concrete blanket. It was hard to figure out where the sky ended and the land began.

The air was damp and cold.

The roads were wet, and the sides of the road, where I often was forced by speeding cars, was pockmarked with mud and puddles and trash. Lots of trash.

The air was filled with the acrid burn of coal smoke, or in some cases a strange sewage smell. I also passed steaming mountains of horse and sheep dung.

I pedaled past a poor dead orange cat on the hill out of Statenice, laying quietly in the wet weeds, a victim -- no doubt -- of someone going too damn fast on these narrow country roads.

In short, it was a crappy day to take a bike ride.

I hadn't even felt like going out but felt some sort of misplaced obligation. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps and was hoping the exercise would make me feel better.

A few endorphins were stirred, I suppose. But mostly I just felt like cursing this miserable climate.

I'm not sure I am up to going out again this winter. Unless, perhaps, a sunny day happens by, or I can find a few good friends with which to share the pain.

Winters in Prague are a tragedy.

Length of ride: 15 kilometers
Average speed: 16.0 kph
Maximum speed: 40.5 kph
Pivo Index: 0
Time on the bike: 00.52.54
Distance ridden so far in 2008: 1,363.5 kilometers

The bleak landscape above Statenice, where the sky was falling.

In front of the 14th-century castle ruins in the usually charming village of Okor.

Castle Okor, looking grim and imposing in the muted midday light.


majklp said…
I dont like these days. Villages across Okor are nice, but we need to wait until spring :-)
Mark said…
I've had those kinds of days before ... Mostly I start noticing how strange and deformed people look and how no one seems to be in decent health ... physical or mental.
Grant Podelco said…
You're both right. That same day, I saw a bunch of sick folks hacking their lungs out, and a guy with one leg hobbling about. It was a nasty day. Let's hope spring comes early. If not, I may not make it.
I'm stuck working Chrismas eve and after reading your post I fell much better. 8>)
Jack Fate said…
As a great man once said, "when you think you got nothing to lose, you find out you can always lose a little more." The weather the last few days makes the weather of this ride look heavenly. This morning three of my toes snapped off when I took off my shoes.
Grant Podelco said…
Good point, Jack. But I think I might trade chilly but wet and gray for sun and freezing cold.

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