Along The River And Through The Woods

The cycling path runs right beside the railroad tracks, and when a train roars by, it's hard not to turn into a kid again, marveling at the sight and sound.

It can now be confirmed. I have a new favorite cycling route. And I think my good friend Stewart Moore would concur.

The path basically hugs the west bank of the Vltava River and ends in the village of Nelahozeves, the birthplace of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. I first wrote about this path a few weeks ago, which is when we first discovered it.

We liked it a lot then, too, but had begun the ride in rather unorthodox fashion by getting lost in the woods and crossing a large railroad yard in Kralupy nad Vltavou.

This time, we both started out from my house in the village of Černý Vůl, northwest of Prague, headed over to Úholičky, then up to Tursko, and then headed down through a delightful forest path/road into the town of Libčice nad Vltavou.

From there, we picked up the trail along the river. This time, I took along my Garmin Edge GPS device and mapped the route. Click on the map below to get a larger view:

View Larger Map

If you decide to follow this path yourself, don't get discouraged if you can't find it at first. Even though we'd cycled the same path fairly recently, it took us a few minutes and a few wrong turns to find the start of the path in Libčice.

But once you do, it's smooth sailing -- a dirt path affords lovely views over the Vltava, one one side, and of undulating sandstone cliffs on the other. A train track also runs close to the path, and provides a little thrill every time it passes.

It's hard not to become a kid again when the train roars past just a few meters from where you're cycling.

Our destination on this trip was Marina Vltava, one of our new favorite cycling pubs, just outside Nelahozeves. The pub has lots of outdoor seating, and plenty of bike racks. What it didn't seem to have on this day was enough wait staff.

Unlike our first visit a few weeks back, it took forever to get a beer. And I mean forever. Stewart and I almost left to find refreshment elsewhere in the village, but were persuaded to stay by our friend David Murphy, a fellow cyclist, who just happened to have pedaled to the pub himself with his young son in tow.

Prague never fails to prove the adage that it's a small world.

We finally got someone's attention and our Pilsners were served. To put a positive spin on things, I will only say that the interminable wait made them taste all the better. It was a sunny, hot day, and somehow lukewarm water from my water bottle, which always tastes like plastic, doesn't really compare to a cold beer when it comes to quenching my thirst. Weird, I know.

We chatted with David for a while, had a second beer, and then headed back home. Stewart and I both had some family chores to attend to.

Parts of the path provide a respite from the sun, leafy shade and a breeze off the river.

The ride back is a bit more challenging. The wonderful downhill run into Libčice nad Vltavou means that you've got to pedal up the same hill on the return. It's a pretty steep climb, but it's doable. I remember an ascent last summer where I rode with only one hand on the handlebars. The other hand was holding a beer bottle that I was sipping from as I cycled.

So it can't be that hard!

Although I will admit that the route from what's basically the top of the hill above Libčice to the top of the hill above Úholičky always kills me. It's not really steep, but it's long, and I guess coming on the heels of the Libčice climb makes it even worse. My thighs are always burning.

Stewart and I parted ways near Tursko.

I felt a twinge of regret. I knew it was my last ride for some time to come. I would be having shoulder surgery in a few days and would be out of commission for awhile, right in the middle of prime cycling weather.

Length of ride: 41 kilometers
Average speed: 15.7 kph
Maximum speed: 52.5 kph
Pivo Index: 2
Time on the bike: 2.36.17
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 400 kilometers

I often take accidental pictures when I'm cycling. It's hard to keep hold of both the handlebars and the camera, and sometimes I inadvertently take a photo. Sometimes they're kinda cool-looking.

It's inviting, but if you come across this underpass in Libčice, don't expect it to be the path. Turns out it's a dead end. It's still fun to ride through, though!


Mark said…
When are you back on the saddle? I am back in mid-June and would like to do that marina ride ...
Grant Podelco said…
Not sure how long the recovery will take. Still hurts a lot now and very stiff. Perhaps by mid-June, but who knows? I see the doc on Monday to get my bandage changed. And then he has to remove some wires in 6 to 8 weeks.
Julia said…
Oof, hope your shoulder feels better fast.

And for slightly lazier bikers (like me!), there's a train from Nela that runs to Masarykovo nadrazi every 2 hours or so for the grand sum of 48kc. We're all about downhill over here ;-).
Grant Podelco said…
Downhill's good! :-)
Julia said…
The train also runs to Libcice for anyone wanting to drive there and park to start the run.

How would you rate the trail for kids?
Grant Podelco said…
I'd say it's pretty doable for kids -- at least kids around 8 or so. There's a pretty good dropoff on one side in some parts, if I remember correctly. But generally it's a smooth run. Sometime you also have to deal with hikers on the trail.
Julia said…
Super, thanks Grant!
Here's to a speed recovery. I'm going to miss my bike rides in Prague.
Grant Podelco said…
Thanks, man. I'll be back as soon as I can!

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