No finer place to enjoy a glass of bourbon than from atop The Crag in Divoká Šárka.

Went on a bike ride with Stewart the other day, and boy, were we thirsty!

Stewart headed over to my place in Černý Vůl from his place in Roztoky. We were going to head out from here for a little change in scenery. We usually meet up in Úholičky (about halfway between our homes), but we invariably end up on many of the same trails and roads.

We were looking for a little variety.

Stewart arrived, I hopped on my steed, and off we went.

To Statenice.

From my house, that's about 1 kilometer or so. Two at the most.

That's when we stopped for our first beer.

The first beers of the day, from the pub in Statenice.

I did it for Stewart. I hadn't ridden enough to deserve a beer, but he'd cycled some seven or eight kilometers to get to my house, and he was parched. I couldn't be rude and not join him, so I went inside and ordered a couple of cold ones.

Trails upholstered in autumn leaves (above and below) in the forest near Predni Kopanina.

I used to think that a beer was a good way to reward myself during or after a tough ride. Now, I think I've convinced myself that it's a perfect way to begin a ride. It was a damp and cold and overcast day, and the beer put a positive spin on things right away. I also find myself able to tackle tough climbs when I've had one or two.

The beer gives me energy. Or courage.

From the pub in Statenice, we climbed immediately into the forest leading to Přední Kopanina. The woods there are crisscrossed by a wonderful maze of trails, as I wrote about recently. Some go up. Some go down. All are beautiful. Many of them are quite challenging.

We were heading up to the top of the ridge line, toward the tall stone cross known as Sv. Juliana.

We cycled on trails upholstered with leaves of orange and yellow. And we climbed and we climbed until our lungs ached and our thighs burned and we had reached the cross.

Time for more refreshments? Amen.

We dismounted and we decanted. A flask of Famous Grouse that Stewart had smuggled along in his backpack, that is. The water of life breathed new life into our muscles and refreshed our souls.

As we drank, a couple of menacing military helicopters flew low overhead, their destinations and missions unknown.

From there, it was another two or three kilometers to Přední Kopanina and Restaurace U Housliček, one of our favorite watering holes in these parts.

We ordered another beer, sat outside, and I cracked open a thermos of chicken soup I'd brought. Not sure which one tasted better.

Sated, yet again, we headed on a familiar trail across some farmer's fields toward our old stomping grounds, the park known as Divoká Šárka. Stewart and I used to ride through Divoká Šárka a couple of time each week when both of us lived in Prague 6. But we don't get over there very often nowadays.

(For a map of our entire route, click here.)

Here's an unlikely scene. Stewart riding into traffic on a precarious path along the highway between Přední Kopanina and Divoká Šárka. It was a very short stretch, but I don't fancy riding it again.

In the end, we cycled up to what we call The Crag, a dramatic rocky outcropping high above the valley that snakes through the park. It's a lovely spot, with sweeping views in all directions. The sun was trying to peek out of the thick clouds by this point, but it was still damp and cold.

The sun tries to break through the cloud cover, seen from atop The Crag.

Time for another wee dram. This time of Jim Beam, from a flask I had hidden in my own backpack. We sat on the rocks and looked out over creation and shared a few laughs, happy to be alive and on our bikes and feeling fine. It's a wonderful spot.

The flask emptied, it was time to get back on the bikes and head toward Nebušice. We were going to follow the trail past the cemetery and along the ridge above the village. It's a nice trail, that, but a lot more fun coming from the other direction. The way we chose on this day meant that it was all almost entirely uphill.

At the end of the ridge, we took another trail heading in the direction of Horoměřice. We crossed the village and explored some more in some forests on the way to Suchdol, crossing the highway 240 and heading down into the valley between Černý Vůl and Únětice.

By this point, I was pretty spent, I must admit (though I didn't say it out loud). I was looking forward to a hot shower and a hot meal, and I wasn't too far from home.

We parted ways, savoring the feeling that comes from pushing yourself hard on the bike. Let's call it elated exhaustion.

Length of ride: 22.5 kilometers
Maximum speed: 31.3 kph
Time on the bike: 4.51.03
Pivo Index: 2 each
Whisky Index: 1 flask each
Distance ridden so far in 2009: 674.5 kilometers


I feel I should point out something about that highway image. Our usual route takes us in an arc through the fields above the highway, not on it. However on this occasion the field had been ploughed up and the end of the path was gone. I believe this is part of a marked cycling path so we were probably not the only ones to find ourselves stranded. There is a pavement on the highway and a rather unlikely set of traffic lights (yes, traffic lights on a highway!!). Anyway to continue we rode about 15metres tops from the field opening to the pavement and then almost immediately back in to the hamlet and forest beyond. I just want that to be very clear, we were not on the road siding half a minute...and the road was quiet.
Grant Podelco said…
Like we've ever been afraid to cross a ploughed farmer's field! ;-) Indeed, it was quick, but even *I* felt uncomfortable! Next time, through the mud!
Anonymous said…
Good to see you back in the saddle and blogging. Your site was not linked on praguemonitor for quite some time now.
Relieved to see Mark relatively unhurt. God watches over drunken cyclists, but you only had a few beers each and I don’t think that qualifies.
For a less uneven trail I can still recommend Klaster Hajek and the pub opposite (southwest of Ruzyne):
Peter from Budapest
(tell Hajek barman Richard to charge one Staropramen to me)
Anonymous said…
Jeez I saw that headinle "Whisky A Go Go" and thought you had finally cycled all the way to Thailand, Grant. You see there is a fine, upstanding establishment of the same name in Pattaya Thailand. They serve up all kinds of adult bevvies and all sorts of fun can be found in there. Somebody told ME about the last bit-not that I would know........

Frank F
From beer to hootch to burboun? Soon enough you will be mainlining Dewars.
Rob Romig said…
Where's your 20-year retrospective on the Velvet Revolution, or did I miss it?
Grant Podelco said…
Thanks, Peter. I will check out that monastery. I'm sure I must have passed through Hajek at some point. I'll definitely check it out, and stop for a beer at the pub. I hope your credit is still good!
Grant Podelco said…
Good to hear from you, Frank. One of these days! One of these days!
Grant Podelco said…
There was a revolution?! Damn, I musta missed it.

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