Have An Ice Day!
I call this, "Self-Portrait In Roztoky Road Mirror."
I've ridden in snow, taking childlike joy in the tracks written by my tires.
I've ridden on veritable hockey rinks, and had a laugh or two about my graceless tumbles (see them here and here).
And I've ridden often in the cold, my water bottle freezing solid and my fingers and face following suit.
But I can safely say that I've never ridden in worse conditions than I did on a ride I took on January 3.
Only four kilometers into the ride and I'm wondering what I got myself into.
It was cold -- 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius) -- and there was still plenty of snow on the ground, but the sun would peek through the clouds every now and again, and there hadn't been any fresh snow for quite a few days.
It seemed like a good time to put on the cold-weather gear and kick off what I hope will be a great year of cycling (to make up for a rather pitiful 2010).
I had no desire to ride on the roads, however, and would try to stay on the trails as much as possible. I don't like Czech roads in good weather, if I have a choice, and with the shoulders pretty much nonexistent due to the snow, and what with the dirt and the grime, I just couldn't get excited about a road ride.
Unfortunately, my usual trails -- in this case, from my home in Černý Vůl, west of Prague, through Únětice to Roztoky -- were more treacherous than I could have imagined.
Underneath a thin layer of slick snow was a thick layer of rutted ice. It was all I could do to stay on my bike. My tires would constantly catch the edges of those rutss and throw the bike sideways just a little, but enough to cause the tires to slide and for my bike to feel like it was going to come out from beneath me.
I tried to ride in the center snow as much as possible. It was stickier but sometimes just as treacherous as this ice rut.
On one occasion it did, but I managed to stay on my feet, but with my bike between my knees and pointing in the opposite direction. Not sure how I pulled that off, but I was glad to be standing.
As I said, I've ridden in snow and ice before, but in this case, it was unrelenting.
I almost turned around and went home a few times, thinking it wasn't worth it, but in the end I decided to stick it out and managed to squeeze 17 kilometers out of the day. I'll tell you what, though. It sure was purty out there. Not another soul to be seen.
Beautiful, but deadly.
I stopped at my pal Stewart's house in Roztoky for a quick whisky warm-up (he couldn't ride because of a sick son) and then took the main road for as long as I could back home. Despite the cars and the grime, I just couldn't face those trails again.
Landscape near Roztoky.
I survived this ride, but I can tell that I won't be going out again anytime soon. Not until that ice melts from the trails and the snow disappears from the shoulders of the roads. A bit of a thaw has arrived now in Prague, so perhaps that won't be too far off.
It is satisfying to have my first ride of 2011 under my belt, though.
Length of ride: 17 kilometers
Average speed: 12.4 kph
Maximum speed: 40.1 kph
Time on the bike: 1.21.49
Whisky Index: 1
Distance ridden so far in 2011: 17 kilometers
On the positive side, there wasn't anyone else out on the trails!