A Ride Down Memory Lane


Before, in 2007


After, in 2015


My butt hurts.

Which is what happens, I guess, when you haven't ridden a bike in, well, forever. At least since the beginning of January, but even then, I don't remember my butt being so sore, and I'd been off the bike even longer before that ride.

Butt I digress.

Daisy and I had an American friend, Dale Bemis, visiting Prague from his home in London. (We'd last ridden together here in Prague back in 2007.) Dale is an avid biker, often traveling around England and to the continent to participate in races. In other words, he's a serious cyclist. So why he wanted to go out on a ride with the likes of us is a bit of a mystery.

Dale said he wanted the full Grant's Prague Bike Blog experience, which is to say he wanted what is basically an old-fashioned pub crawl interrupted by brief interludes of peddling.

We were more than happy to oblige.

Dale and David Murphy met at my flat and we set off -- Dale riding Daisy's bike -- to meet Stewart at the ruins of the late, great Koliba in Roztoky. (Daisy decided to sit this one out.)

As regular readers of this blog know, Koliba -- until it burned down under mysterious circumstances in 2009 -- was a favorite haunt of ours back in the day. A more gorgeously situated restaurant you couldn't find -- a cute ivy smothered A-frame chalet with a big fireplace inside for those nippy winter rides and outside a charming little pond stocked with carp and surrounded by umbrella tables.

To sit outside and sip on a beer in the shade after a long ride while watching the fish noisily break the surface, feeding on insects, was heavenly.

On one of those nippy winter mornings a few years back (in 2007, to be exact), Stewart and I and Mark Baker sat inside and had some soup and beer in front of the fireplace. We had the waiter take our photo, so cozy was it. Since the fireplace is the only thing remaining from the old Koliba, I had this idea awhile back of re-creating that photo today, amid the ruins of the restaurant, with Stewart, Mark, and I taking up our old positions. A kind of homage to our lost oasis.

Mark wasn't with us on this ride, so we had Dale stand in for him. As if we weren't sad enough about Koliba's demise, this visceral juxtaposition of years makes the tragedy feel that much deeper.

We cycled from Roztoky along the wonderful forest path to Únětice, where we were obliged to stop at Únětický pivovar to allow Dale to sample a few pints of our local treasure.




From there, on this sunny day, our plan was to ride to Tuchoměřice, to have a bite of lunch at the Belgian place, Auberge de Provence, which has a beautiful outdoor garden (and which I hoped was still in business). But wouldn't you know it, on our way, just a few kilometers outside Statenice, we discovered Kopanský Mlýn, a brand-new restaurant and riding stables, with outdoor seating next to a tiny, duck-speckled pond. Fabulous.
We'd noticed this area being under construction the last time we were through, but we had no idea that it was being turned into such a grand affair.
The inside of the place is pretty spectacular, too, with dining tables overlooking a large covered riding arena, huge wooden beams arching over the sawdust floor.
We sat outside and ordered a few more beers and lunch. The roast duck and dumplings was superb. Definitely a find, this place, in the middle of the countryside, and perfectly situated for a mid-ride stop. We'll be back.
We'd spent too much time drinking and talking and it was getting late, and a lot of us had wives and responsibilities to return to, so we headed back toward Prague.
Passing through Únětice, however, we couldn't help but stop for a quick one at U Lasiku, one of our favorite local haunts, an ancient wheelwrights that's been turned into a funky pub and restaurant by a local couple. And who should we run into but Robin Bond and his wife, Julie, who adopted one of our stray kittens, Maddy, when we used to live up the road in Cerny Vul.
Great to see those guys again, and to hear that Maddy is the love of their lives and doing great these many years later.
My new ride

Hey! I just figured out why my butt hurts so much. It's the new saddle on my new bike! My butt hasn't adjusted yet.

After eight years or so with my old trusty 2006 GT Avalanche 2.0 26er, and too many people telling me that my bike was too small for my rather large frame, I gave in and bought a 2015 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er, with a 21-inch frame and a Shimano 2X9 Alivio derailleur. 

The new wheels feel great, and I apparently no longer look like a clown on one of those tiny circus bikes.

Let's ride.

RIDE STATS
Length of ride: 32 kilometers
Average speed: 16.1 kph
Maximum speed: 34 kph
Time on the bike: 1.59.30
Pivo Index: 7 (or 4.5 kpb -- kilometers per beer)



Dale on the abandoned road just outside Roztoky.


On the road again with Dale


We ran into this charming lady walking
her eight dogs near Koliba.


The duck at Kopanský Mlýn


The indoor riding arena at Kopanský Mlýn


A local football match in Statenice


At Kopanský Mlýn


Robin and Julie


A three-legged cat at Kopanský Mlýn




At the brewery in Únětice, with eight beers between us,
taste-testing to see whether we liked the 10° or the 12° better.
The answer is lost in time.

Comments

Jesse Morrow said…
Nice to see you back on the back and the blog!
Jesse Morrow said…
*back on the bike
Unknown said…
I ride a long the Valtava and see a sign along the way pointing to the Unitecky brewery, which you often mention. But in Prague I use a hybrid with slick tires. Would that work? I'm going to get tires with a some tread, but next year. On dry packed dirt I'm fine.
Sabina Moon said…
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