At Last I am on a Bike and in My Element

Today we left Prague, CR, on a bus and met our bike tour guides just outside of a small scenic town I still cannot recall the name of without seeing it written down. But the initials are CK and that is how I will refer to it henceforth. The bike tour guides are quite fun and awesome, and very patient. My rental bike is also pretty damn perfect. I am with a group of about 15 Americans and as I just discovered, three Mexicans from Mexico City. One of the Mexicans, Pepe, oversees a coffee empire with his girlfriend, whose name escapes me at the moment. By the end of this trip, I should have everyone's name down.

When we arrived in the small Bohemian town of CR, we were taken on a walking tour of the quaint village. It is the kind of town I might die in. I have a recurring dream that I die in a rural place with cold rushing river waters and trout fishing. I am not all that into trout fishing, but I can't argue with a dream. I had the same premonition of death biking in New Zealand, where there were lots of crazy rushing streams coming out of the glaciers. I think as long as I stay away from trout fishing, I will avoid my fate. However, the traffic in Czech Republic is insane. I could see myself being clipped by a car as I cross a bridge over cold rushing waters, and as I hurtle over the guard rail, I see a Czech fly fisherman looking up at me in surprise, a look that changes to concern as he realizes my twirling injured carcass is heading right for him.

But I ramble. After the walking tour, we had a bike briefing session with our bike tour guides and then got fitted for our bikes. Like I said, my bike fit me beautifully, at least once I raised the height appropriately. Then we took off for a short 8 mile training ride around the outskirts of CR. It was a bit hairy leaving town, what with all the tourists blocking the paths and the cobblestones. But once we got outside of town, it was smooth, albeit chilly, sailing (biking). It had rained during our walking tour of town but miraculously cleared up and turned partly sunny for our bike ride.

The hotel we are in used to be a monastery and there are lots of religious pictures on the walls. Perhaps the monastery still contains some astral connection to the heavenly realm, and Jesus, peering out from some of the many pictures of himself on the walls, Harry Potter style, took pity on our gathering bike group. In any case, it was still in the 50s outside and I wore my smart wool bike jersey (actually obtained in New Zealand) under my rain slicker (just in case JC lost interest in us while we were out biking). That kept me plenty warm while biking, but after I got back to the parking lot where the ride ended, I got chilly waiting for my slower riding folks to arrive. Back at the hotel I took a nice hot shower to get my core temperature back up.

It felt great to be biking, after all the walking we did, at a snail's pace, in Prague. I hope we do less walking in Vienna. I am looking forward to seeing the town and the shows we have lined up, but I am repulsed by tourist commercialism and large crowds, especially when I have to endure it on foot. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as Prague in that regard.

In the evening, after we cleaned up from the biking, we met our bike tour guides for some champagne, followed by dinner at a medieval style restaurant called The Katakoms. It was down a spiral staircase in some actual catacombs. I will believe these catacombs date from medieval times, because that is kinder on my soul, but they may have been a more modern commercial construction designed to attract tourists like us.

Given the medieval atmosphere, I had the "wenches" bring me a liter of Pilsner beer, which comes from the Czech town of Plz. Yep, just like that. It was actually two half liters, the consumption of which was drawn out over almost two hours of socializing with the whole tour group.

I sat next to the Mexicans, which is how I determined they were solid respectable people. I hope I get to party with them on this trip. I also talked to the Jersey girl named Kate as we walked back to the hotel. She is traveling with her aunt and parents. They are pretty cool too, and most important, they are fast bikers, so I hope I can ride with them this week and keep a strong pace to burn off all the Czech beer and pork tenderloins I have been consuming like it is going out of style. My folks will be fine at their own pace. One of the bike tour guides follows up the rear of each day's route and "sweeps" everyone along so they don't fall too far behind and get lost.

I am totally in my element on a bike and I am geeked for more riding. Here are some pictorial highlights from today.


Anonymous said...

I'd love to be there......bohemian that I am! Enjoy one of those fine Czech beers for me!

Joseph Leonard said...

You don't have to twist my arm. I have already had several.