Man Down

Kids, don't try this at home. It was as painful as it looks.

I rode almost 1,400 kilometers last year, and as far as I can recall, I didn't fall once.

I've already fallen twice this year.

The first time, last week, I hurt my pride.

The second time, this week, I hurt my elbow, my shoulder and my thigh.

My own damn fault.

I was out with Stewart for a short ride. It was a gorgeous day -- the sun was peeking through the clouds and, while it was still cold, the temperatures were much milder. But many of the trails were still packed with snow, or -- worse yet -- packed with snow that had melted and then froze overnight.

We were riding on a familiar trail somewhere behind Okoř. We'd been slipping and sliding all day, but had managed to stay upright.

I guess I got a little cocky and rode -- very slowly, I must say in my defense -- on some ice that had a slight slant to it.

My bike slid out from underneath me and I fell, hard, on my left side.

I've had a sore shoulder for the past few months -- some sort of rotator cuff problem, I believe -- and of course I fell on my sore shoulder. Cracked my elbow on the ice, too.

It hurt.

I just sort of lay there for a few moments and groaned.

Stewart asked me if I was OK, and when I moaned a few syllables to signal I was alive, he whipped out his iPhone and snapped a photo of me on the ice, just as I fell.

I look like a dead body.

View Larger Map
Our route on this day.

Earlier in the day, we'd met up at our usual meeting spot, what we call the Smallest Pub In The World, in Úholičky, and set off up the hill toward Tursko. Then through the villages of Kozinec and Holubice.

The sun was shining up above, but a strange, beautiful fog still shrouded the roads and forest paths.

As we pedaled through the soup, we marveled once again at the cool things we see when we're out riding. We're lucky guys.

Blue skies above, beautiful mist below. Scenes from our foggy ride (above and below).

We rode from Holubice through some farmer's fields and just sorta went wherever the trails and paths took us.

It was muddy. Wet and sloppy. What wasn't still frozen was soft and melted.

Riding behind Stewart's behind, I couldn't help but laugh. Without a back fender, the mud had splattered up on his pants and his saddle and it looked like he'd shat himself.

That's mud. Only mud.

Our bikes looked like they'd been dipped in melted chocolate.

Chocolate-covered bicycle.

We stopped in Okoř at the Family Hotel Okoř & Restaurant, as is our wont, for a hot bowl of soup and a coffee.

No beer for us on this day. We were both driving a bit later.

On our way out of Okoř, we noticed that 20 or so of the tall, beautiful trees that used to line the small lake on the outskirts of the village had been cut down.

Why? Why do something like that? It makes no sense.

And I have to say, this isn't the first time. Municipal authorities across the Czech Republic seem to cut down trees with no rhyme or reason. They seem to enjoy cutting down trees. They cut them down just to cut them down, for make-work. I've seen example after example of trees being removed for no apparent reason.

Sure, some of the trees may be diseased. But I think that's a small percentage.

I hate looking at this photo. Makes me sick.

I used to live on a street in Prague 6 called Pod Kaštany, or Under the Chestnut Trees. One day, a crew arrived and began using their chainsaws to cut down three or four huge, majestic chestnut trees. They had been deemed a danger of some kind. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it.

I recall a big controversy in the big Prague square called Karlovo náměstí back in 1999 or so when a large number of old trees were removed to make room for some new landscaping, during which they planted some much smaller trees. Let's cut down old, beautiful trees so we can make room for saplings.


Anyway, if anyone knows why they cut the trees down along the lake in Okoř, please let me know.

What a shame.

Length of ride: 24 kilometers
Average speed: 13.3 kph
Maximum speed: 38.2 kph
Pivo Index: 0
Time on the bike: 1.45.18
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 85 kilometers

I thought it looked like these two trees were fiercely wrestling while trying not to get their feet wet in the mountain stream.


Douglas Lytle said…
well you suffer for your art. Some really nice photos in this missive.
Grant Podelco said…
Thanks, Doug. I appreciate that.
Mark said…
Not to be snarky, but judging from that wipeout photo, you look to be reading on a sheet of pure ice ...
Grant Podelco said…
It pays to read the fine print.
majklp said…
Municipal authorities usual justify the cutting down of safety on the roads...This is cars country :-( The more to the east, the worse.
Grant Podelco said…
I just don't buy that explanation. I don't think it's for driver safety. They'd have to cut every tree down along all the roads in the country. Cars should be traveling very slowly on this particular road. Thanks for the guess, though!
majklp said…
...but this is true. Read more articles in czech newspapers about that and listen explanation from members of some municipalities. Please, contact me on Facebook - I live here and we can discuss about our neighbourhood. I live in Beloky, not far from Cerny Vul - Black Ox :-)
Mark said…
You were reading that ice pretty closely :)
Jesse said…
OOOF! That fall looks like it hurt; I went down on the black ice here in Boston last week - I feel your pain. I love your blog, by the way.
Grant Podelco said…
I'm sorry Majkp, I still don't think that's the reason. Or if it is the reason, it's a stupid one. Cut down the trees and either you go into the lake if you have an auto accident, or you hit a concrete post or barrier or whatever they put up there. I bet nothing goes there.
Grant Podelco said…
Hi, Jesse. Thanks for feeling my pain. And for reading the blog. I appreciate it!
Anonymous said…
majklp said…
So I sent email to Mrs. Dezortova, Mayor of Okor village. I will write here the answer from her. M.P.
majklp said…
Here is the answer:
Dobrý vecer, je nám to taky líto, ale ty stromy uz byly ve spatném stavu a na tak frekventovaném míste, ze jsme museli pristoupit k tak radikálnímu resení a necekat az se neco stane. Pochopitelne, ze s tím souvisí výsadba nových stromu.
Doufám, ze Vás to neodradí od výletu na Okor. Dezortová Okor

...and here is the translate to English:
Good evening, we are sorry too, but those trees were already in poor condition and so busy spot that we had to accept so radical a solution and not wait until something happens. Of course, that it would entail the planting of new trees.
I hope to dissuade you from trips to the Okoř. Dezortová Okoř
I think that should be 'I hope that won't dissuade you from...'
majklp said…
Yes, sorry for my English :-) I use Google translator, its better for me.
Grant Podelco said…
Well, thanks for getting the official explanation! But I still don't agree with the decision. That's the decision I hear every time they are cutting down trees here. I've never seen it anywhere else I have ever lived. They cut more trees down here than I have ever seen. In Oregon, where I used to live, trees were protected and you had to have special permission even to cut down a tree on your own property. I just don't agree with the explanation, but what can I do. But thanks very much for taking the time to get the official explanation.
majklp said…
Yes, I agree with you. I am also not taking this explanation. But I find that you may think that I advocate this behavior, but I just interpret the official explanation! There is a lot of things with which I disagree and wonder how it's not possible today: unnecessary cutting of trees, killing animals by hunters - whenever I see those "guard towers" in the woods (I do not know english word for it) - it looks like the wood is concentration camp for animals. I hate farming and animal suffering in those. I do not like the local aggressive driving, destruction of landscape by construction of prefabricated housing, unnecessary stores and hypermarkets - I hate urban sprawl. And so I could continue. So I believe that I actually know what you write - I understand very well. Probably I am not a typical Czech :-)
When I was kid in Scotland, Majkip, we treated those huts as exactly that = concentration camp look out points, if no hunters were around we'd climb up and hang out sometimes too. I hate animal cruelty...our world is all upside down.

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