Mushroom Hill

This is indicative of the kinds of trails that crisscross the forest above Statenice. You can see why it's a cyclist's paradise.

Time to do a little housecleaning and confessing.

I strive in this blog to record something about every ride I take. I've found that to be difficult to achieve lately, what with recent trips to San Francisco and Amsterdam, and obligations at home and at work. I am only one man, people!

Plus, crazily enough, I have another blog, Gusto, that also beckons. (What was I thinking?!)

But I’m here today to play a little catch-up and keep my bike-blogging record secure.

Let me tell you about a fun little ride I went on back in late September.

I usually don’t ride alone. It’s just not as much fun, frankly. And I find companionship on the bike trails motivates me to tackle steeper hills and go on longer rides than I would by myself.

But it was a nice day, and I needed the exercise, so I braved the trails around my house in Černý Vůl solo.

I didn’t have a heckuva lot of time, so I decided to tackle one of the toughest climbs in my neighborhood.

I call it Mushroom Hill.

It's in the woods above the nearby village of Statenice. I’ve ridden around the forest there quite a few times, and it seems as if I always run into someone carrying a basket full of freshly picked mushrooms. (Mushrooming is a Czech obsession.)

Who da man? You da man! Or a bearded Elvis. I don't know what I was doing. I just had to do something silly with this arrow hanging from a tree trunk. Juxtaposed with another arrow pointing in the opposite direction. OK, I'll stop talking now.

It’s a steep, winding trail of dirt and rocks and roots. It snakes through some lovely forest, but you don’t have a lot of time to admire the views. You’re too busy trying to stay on your bike and not die of a heart attack. It’s not quite as bad as the dreaded Hill of Doom, but it has its moments.

It’s one of those hills that makes you think you’ve reached the top, but then presents you with another few hundred meters of tough slogging that you’d forgotten existed since your last visit.

But in an effort to motivate myself in the absence of a fellow rider, I was thinking to myself that once I got to the top of the hill, and rested at the Svata Juliana cross, that I would zip across the ridge to the village of Přední Kopanina and reward myself with a cold beer.

And that’s exactly what I did.

It was cold and it tasted crisp and it satisfied my thirst.

A beer still tastes good, even if you're sitting by yourself.

I decided against having a second, not wanting to negate all that hill climbing with another glass of delicious but dangerous carbs.

I set off from the pub and explored some previously unridden trails – almost all downhill at this point -- through the forest between Přední Kopanina and Statenice. I almost came off the bike a few times as I raced down the rocky, rooty path, my need for speed crowding out my better judgment.

I made a mental note to return to some of the many enticing paths I missed on this day.

And then I returned home.

Not a long ride, by any measure, but a good one. I’d broken a sweat, drank a beer, and explored a forest. Didn't see any mushrooms, though.

Length of ride: 12.5 kilometers
Average speed: 14.7 kph
Maximum speed: 33.1 kph
Time on the bike: 49.59
Pivo Index: 1
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 634 kilometers

A lovely grove of saplings somewhere deep in the woods near Mushroom Hill.


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