The Perfect Bike Ride Redux

A man outstanding in his field. (Photo by Mark)

As Stewart and I have often said, riding a bike as an adult instantly takes you back to being a kid again.

Grabbing the handlebars changes your mindset. It changes your direction, in all meanings of that word.

Instead of that guy sitting quietly in the metro, giving your seat up for old ladies and making sure the music in your earbuds isn't so loud as to bother other passengers, your bike turns you into that guy sitting on the back of a mysterious stone statue of a Sphinx that you pass along the trail.

Instead of that guy standing patiently in a long line at the potraviny, all the while hoping that you have the coins you'll need to give the cashier the exact change so she doesn't roll her eyes at you and make a big fuss, your bike turns you into that guy zooming down a hill at full speed, more than a little recklessly, and not even wearing a helmet (see my last post, "The Joy of Riding Without a Helmet").

Instead of that guy sitting in another boring meeting at work, nodding politely, pretending to be paying attention, your bike turns you into that guy scrambling up a slippery rock face so you can squeeze your fat ass into a cool cave scooped out of undulating sandstone.

It's almost obligatory to take a shot at this bridge, with the Mělník castle in the background.

We -- that is, I, Mark, Stewart, and a new acqaintance, Jonathan -- decided to meet up last Saturday for the classic ride to Mělník. I've described it on this blog before as perhaps the perfect bike ride, and once again, it didn't disappoint.

Mark, Jonathan, and I met at the train station in Bubeneč. We hoisted our bikes aboard, destination Kralupy, picking Stewart up along the way in Roztoky.

From Kralupy, it's a wonderful ride along country roads and bike paths all the way to Mělník.

We passed fields of rain-slicker-yellow rapeseed and green young hops, sucked down some cold glasses of Holba at U Hofmannů in the unfortunately named village of Dědibaby, found someone's phone in the middle of the road and tried to return it to its rightful owner, inhaled a few burgers and a steak and few more half-liters at U Císaře in Mělník, and tried not to melt under the incessant sun.

And then, as we made our way back to Kralupy, we remembered that there is one train per hour back home, and we were devilishly close to being able to make the 6:41 p.m. But we'd have to hustle, and there would be no more beers on the ride home.

Getting our just desserts. (Photo by Mark)

At some point, Stewart and I -- flagging a bit, it must be said -- lost Mark and Jonathan somewhere up ahead. As we approached Kralupy, it didn't seem as if we had any chance in hell of making that train. Undoubtedly, we thought, Mark and Jonathan, far ahead, were already onboard.

We looked at our watches, and we pedaled, and we looked at our watches, and waited to cross a busy street, and we looked at our watches, and we raced through the back streets of Kralupy, and we looked at our watches, and we rode through the lobby of the train station (against the rules, I'm sure) and lifted our bikes up the stairs to the platform and onto the train with about 37 seconds to spare.

The train started moving.

Mark and Jonathan had missed it, we learned by SMS. They hadn't known exactly how to get to the station. Or at least the fastest way. We'd overtaken them somehow in the backstreets.

That's what you get, guys, for breaking off the pack and leaving the so-called weaker riders behind to be devoured by the wolves.

Mark and Jonathan cooled their heels with a glass of wine or two at the train station while they waited for the next train.

Hard to feel too sorry for them, really.

Length of ride: 65 kilometers
Average speed: 15 kph
Maximum speed: 47.4 kph
Time on the bike: 4 hours, 17 minutes
Pivo Index: Six

 A little spelunking along the trail toward Nelahozeves.

The chateau at Veltrusy.

Creamy, cold Holba at U Hofmannů in Dědibaby.

Discussing life's weightier issues at U Hofmannů.

On top of the world in Mělník.

A burger at U Císaře in Mělník, our traditional watering hole.

I just liked the old-fashioned feel and '60s-era sign at this flower shop in Kralupy.

Rapeseed on the road to Mělník.

Stewart had a puncture at this juncture.

Off the train in Kralupy, heading to the trails. (Photo by Mark)

What it's all about. (Photo by Mark)

Jonathan goes off-road (or off-rocker).

Jonathan's panorama app accidentally produced this intriguing photo of Stewart contemplating a beer or three.

Grant, meet Jonathan. Jonathan, Grant. (Photo by Mark)

Hops. Bikes. No cars. A beer in sight. (Photo by Jonathan)

I had to. I just had to. (Photo by Mark)

A cute little holiday camp near Veltrusy. (Photo by Jonathan)

Mělník castle. (Photo by Jonathan)


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