Saturday, April 6, 2013
Baby Got Back, Or Back To The Bakerloo (Redux)
I passed some of troublemaker artist David Černý's "Babies" series at the Museum Kampa.
Editor's Note: The weather in Prague so far this spring of 2013 has been crappy. Cold and snowy and gray and miserable. I haven't been riding. To show just how bad this spring has been, I'm reposting a blog entry from April 8, 2011, which shows magnolias and forsythia in full bloom. As far as I know, none of that has yet blossomed this year yet. Grrrrrrr. Or maybe better to say Brrrrrrr...
I and an old friend got reacquainted last Friday.
I loaded my bike up in the back of my car and headed into the city. I was intent on riding the Bakerloo Run again. It used to be one of my favorite urban routes, but a quick search on the blog reveals that the last time I'd ridden it was in July 2007. Wow.
I must admit to having reached a certain level of boredom with the beautiful, but familiar, routes routes around my house in Černý Vůl, west of Prague. So I thought a spin on the old Bakerloo was in order.
I'd actually made plans to ride the Bakerloo on this day with its namesake, Mark Baker. I can't quite recall why we named it after Mark. I was going to ask him that question while we were riding, but we never did.
The day dawned windy, brisk and quite cloudy, and Mark wasn't feeling it. Just as I was heading out the door to meet up with him, he called to say that I'd have to do the Bakerloo in lieu of Baker.
I must admit that my sails felt a bit dewinded, as it were. But I had the day off and needed the exercise (I'm 1.5 pounds from my 25 X 50 campaign I began in January -- to lost 25 pounds, or 11.3 kilos, by the time I turn 50 on April 24), so I headed out anyway.
And I'm so glad I did.
The city was a riot of springtime blooms and flowers, there were cyclists and roller-bladers everywhere, the sun peeked out quite often from behind those clouds, I got a chance to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts (such as Marc Maron's hilarious and curiously intellectual "What The Fuck," as well as Daisy's excellent hosting of Radio Free Europe's "The Blender" podcast), and I thoroughly enjoyed my first bike beer of the season (in fact, I believe it may have been my first beer of the year period) at what we call The Blues Shack, at the bottom the park known as Dalejské údolí, near Hlubočepy.
By the way, they're doing some renovations on the ramshackle Blues Shack. It wasn't really open when I stopped by, but the guy served me a 25 CZK glass ($1.50) of delicious Kozel anyway.
That place is still going to be a dump when they get through with fixing it up, but they serve cheap beer and homemade smoked sausages, and it's perfectly situated on the Bakerloo Run, at just the time when you need some refreshment, so what's to complain about.
The ramparts of Vyšehrad.
The cool thing about the Bakerloo Run is that it is almost totally urban, but the route somehow manages to be about 75 percent on dedicated bike paths. It starts at Hradčanská metro, winds its way through the lovely villas of Střešovice, through Veleslavín, to Letohrádek Hvězda, through endless panelaks, until you connect with the top of Dalejské údolí.
There's a beautiful downhill path all the way through the park, which ends at The Blues Shack. Just before the shack, off on side trail, there's also Secret Lake, wedged into between tall sandstone cliffs. It's a magical little oasis -- hushed, beautiful. Hard to believe you're still in Prague, really.
The Blues Shack, under reconstruction. Although, frankly, it usually looks almost exactly like this during the best of times.
My first bike beer of the year, an 11-degree Kozel, from The Blues Shack, for 25 CZK, or about $1.50. Delicious.
A very affectionate, if slightly mangy, cat at the also slightly mangy Blues Shack.
From The Blues Shack, you wind your way down to the Vltava River, crossing on a very busy highway overpass to Branik (but which has a bike path and it's kinda of cool to be above the river and amid all those cars and trucks but safe), and then head back toward the center of Prague, also on a dedicated bike path along the east side of the river.
Once you're in the center, it does get a little squirrelly trying to negotiate your way to Letna park. I cross back over the river on either the Palackého or Jiráskův bridges and then snake through Kampa Park before joining up with Letna.
Prague's fabled Charles Bridge. Not a bad sight to appreciate from your bike. The pleasures of urban riding.
The view of the Vltava and its many bridges, looking down from Letna.
But what fun it is to bike through the city. Living out in the country, I don't get into the tourist areas very often, and it was amazing, on this ride, to see so many new restaurant and shops and hotels. Makes me want to live in the city again, frankly.
The Bakerloo is almost 40 kilometers in length, and it's another 10 or 12 from my house one way to Hradčanská, and I just wasn't feeling up to biking that distance round-trip so early in the season. I'm glad my car was waiting for me.
But it was a great ride. I saw a secret lake, petted a friendly cat, drank a cold beer, tackled some challenging hills, and stopped and smelled the flowers. Not bad for a Friday.
Length of ride: 37.5 kilometers
Average speed: 14.1 kph
Maximum speed: 36.2 kph
Time on the bike: 2.38.47
Pivo Index: 1
Distance ridden so far in 2011: 91.5 kilometers
We call this hill on the Bakerloo Run "Halfway To Straight Up" -- a 24 percent gradient. In other words, almost unclimbable.
The scariest church in Europe, on the east bank of the Vltava, near Podoli.
The scariest yacht club in Europe, on the east bank of the Vltava.
This very steep climb is in the Veleslavín neighborhood of Prague, and is one of the notable parts of the Bakerloo Run. It's a tough one. The photo doesn't do it justice. Easy for some. A challenge for me.
I loved the way someone trimmed these bushes in Veleslavín. Stylish.
Which way is up?
The Stresovice neighborhood was an explosion of color and perfume. Here, forsythia, and below, a magnolia. Spring in Prague makes the winter almost worth it.