No Such Thing As Routine

Sun and fog at the top of the hill near Statenice.

The sun was shining.

The temperatures had moderated.

I was working a late shift and had the morning free.

A perfect recipe for a mid-January bike ride.

I donned all my cold-weather gear and headed for the garage.

Only to find my bike with a very flat front tire.


For a moment, I considered canceling the ride, but figured I might as well fix the flat and head out.

The front flat fixed, and despite the snow, ready for the road.

I also laughed to myself, remembering my last ride, the last few kilometers with Stewart, in complete darkness, the temperature at -8 Celsius, with three whiskies and two beers in me, on deserted country roads.

Thank God I didn't get the flat then. Whew.

Or perhaps I did have a flat and didn't realize it, although that's pretty hard to believe. I guess it must have been a slow leak.

In any event, I felt pretty lucky.

I changed the flat in my garage, my fingers benumbed by the cold. Again, thank God I didn't have to do that drunk and in the dark.

Finally, with AC/DC's "Rock 'N Roll Train" rattling my eardrums, I set out for a short ride -- my usual 14-kilometer loop from my house in Černý Vůl, northwest of Prague, to Statenice, up the lung-busting hill to Lichoceves, hanging a right over to Velké Přílepy, down to Úholičky, then up another steep, circuitous hill to the Roztoky highway, then down -- hurrah! -- to Únětice, and back home.

A pretty country road between Úholičky and Roztoky.

It's a perfect hourlong run, with two challenging hills, some flat stretches, and one good downhill.

I'd much rather spend an hour like this in the cold than hop on a stationary bike at the gym. I just find that so incredibly boring.

I had expected a pretty routine run -- there's not a lot of obvious adventure on this particular route -- but I should know by now that, around here, even the most mundane ride usually contains a few surprises.

At the top of the hill out of Statenice, I found myself riding through both brilliant sunshine and a mysterious fog that would have seemed more appropriate in the lowlands. It was beautiful.

As usual, I saw kestrels and hawks hunting for mice in farmer's fields still blanketed by snow.

Piles of steaming manure.

Cars driving past me way too fast.

Dogs barking as I pedal by.

It sure beats the gym.

Length of ride: 14 kilometers
Average speed: 17.1 kph
Maximum speed: 45.8 kph
Time on the bike: 00.48.03
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 36 kilometers

More sun and fog.


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