Friday, May 25, 2012


A green lizard (Lacerta viridis), spotted along the trail. Followed by ...

.. what I believe is a grass snake (Natrix natrix).

Each week, Daisy and I head over to our old house in the village of Černý Vůl to feed Oscar, our old stray cat whom we nursed back to health a few years ago after he caught pneumonia. He never wanted to come inside while we lived there (except for the occasional curious peek inside the front door), and though we agonized about it, we knew that, once we had to move away (our landlord was selling the house), Oscar would never let us take him away from his home (happily, anyway).

So we asked our landlord to keep an eye out for him and put out some dry food when he could, and we go once a week to treat Oscar to a package of wet food and make sure he's got water.

Each time we arrive, he greets us as if we'd never left. The solution seems to be working out just great.

Daisy and I wanted to go on a bike ride a few days ago and decided to ride from our new flat in Prague 6 to Černý Vůl to feed Oscar. It was a gorgeous day, and our route along the river to Roztoky and along the forest path to Černý Vůl would happily put us on course for a stop at the Únětický pivovar, too.

The beer was crisp and cold. Oscar was his usual frisky self.

At Únětický pivovar. I broke the metacarpal bone in my little finger a few weeks ago. That door had it coming.

Riding back from Únětice to Roztoky, we also had the good fortune to spy both an iridescent green lizard and a good-sized grass snake crossing our path in the hot dust. I even managed to take a couple of decent photos with my iPhone.

Just outside the village of Sedlec, we also passed the site of some sort of tragedy. Roses had been left along the bike path. The guardrail had been obliterated, and after a drop of 15 meters or so, there were more flowers and few stuffed animal toys next to a tree along the river.

As we later found out, an SUV had recently plunged over the side. The driver had been killed. As far as I know, no children were involved, so I'm not sure about the stuffed animals. Perhaps someone out there knows more. Horrible stuff.

Daisy and I continued along the river and rode back up the street known as V šáreckém údolí from Lysolaje to Prague 6. We stopped for lunch and sat outside at one of our favorite restaurants, Chorvatský Mlýn.

We had a half-dozen oysters on the half-shell, Black Risotto, and Tomato Salad With Mozzarella Burrata and Basil. They've got the most amazing fresh bread there, too. More like cake than bread, really, but moist and delicious, especially dipped in some Croatian olive oil.

A great ride, with more up and downs than usual.

Length of ride: 35 kilometers
Average speed: 16.2 kph
Maximum speed: 37.1
Time on the bike: 2.06.17
Pivo Index: 3
Distance ridden so far in 2012: 174 kilometers

Oscar doing his traditional greeting of rolling-over-so-we-can-scratch-his-belly.

A happy Daisy.

Bread as sweet and soft and moist as cake.

Tomato Salad With Mozzarella Burrata and Basil.

Black Risotto.

A section of the lovely new bike path along the west side of Vltava between Podbaba and Sedlec.

The scene of the fatal accident near Sedlec.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Something As Simple As A Bicycle

The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. ~ William Saroyan 

My friend Rob Coalson gave me a wonderful 50th birthday present. Yes, I just turned 51, but only recently have the fruits of Rob's gift come to ripen.

Rob donated a very generous amount of money in my name last year to the 88bikes Foundation, the goal of which, as its website says, is to "provide a sustainable, joyful, empowering form of transportation to young people in developing countries, in situations where these children have been challenged to be their own heroes due to war, conflict, poverty, disease, or other regional hardships."

Basically, 88bikes gives bikes to kids who don't have bikes, in places where something as simple as a bicycle can make a huge impact on the quality of their lives.

The organization was founded by Dan Austin, a writer and filmmaker from Seattle; Dr. Jared Austin, a pediatric hospitalist and assistant professor at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland; and Nick Arauz, a designer and social media entrepreneur from Brooklyn.

I had forgotten about Rob's donation until a few weeks ago, when I was surprised and thrilled to find on my desk at work five certificates featuring photographs of the five children who had each received a bike in my name, thanks to Rob's generosity. The kids live in Mozambique and Nepal.

What's amazing about the certificates is that they show not only the children posing with their new bikes but holding a photograph of Emma and me, taken on a bike ride a few years ago and posted on this blog.

I have to admit, it's quite something to see a child in Mozambique or Nepal holding your photograph. (See above and below.)

Thank you again, Rob, for such an amazing gift.

I urge everyone to check out 88bikes and make whatever donation they can afford.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Road To Heaven

That's Mark Baker (left), Brian Reagan, Stewart Moore, David Murphy, and myself at Únětický pivovar.

We had the best of intentions.

A bike ride was planned. We'd all meet at the Únětický pivovar in Únětice and then cycle out to the village of Chýně, about 25 kilometers away.

There's also a brewpub in Chýně. Total coincidence.

The thing was, we met up in Únětice, and the sun was shining, and the beer was flowing and we all got to talking nonsense and somehow one beer turned into five. Or maybe it was six.

Finally, we extricated ourselves and headed toward Chýně, through Tuchoměřice.

CLICK HERE for a map of our route via Garmin Connect

Tuchoměřice, only about five kilometers from Únětice, is the home of Auberge de Provence, a lovely Belgian restaurant with an elegant outdoor patio and garden that some in our cycling party had never visited.

So we stopped for another drink. And some food. Fine food, it was. Oysters on the half shell and Caesar salad and fantastic Belgian frites. A rump steak. A few more beers. We never made it to Chýně.

It was one of our shortest, beeriest, and most memorable rides.

But this is why we ride. For the exercise, of course, but for the friends and the adventure. For the utter unpredictability. For the fun of it.

Length of ride: 27 kilometers
Average speed: 15.2 kph
Maximum speed: 53.4 kph
Time on the bike: 1.46.39
Pivo Index: 7? 8?
Distance ridden so far in 2012: 149 kilometers

The long slog to Tuchoměřice.

Holding forth at Auberge de Provence.

Oysters at Auberge de Provence.

Rump steak at Auberge de Provence.

An excellent Caesar salad at Auberge de Provence.

Things started to get a little fuzzy after so many beers.

Ještě jedno pivo?

Brian and his fancy new Cannondale. (Photo by Mark Baker)

Clouding over. (Photo by Mark Baker)

Here's to good friends. Tonight is kinda special. (Photo by Mark Baker)