This time the number of attendees was supercritical. I was a corker - one of those live bumpers and lightning rods who stand at crossroads and prevent cars from driving into the group. It took 50 minutes for the whole mob to pass (a record so far was around 20 minutes). That means cca 6000 people, if we assume about two bikes per second. Now tell me there are no cyclists in Prague...
The biggest attraction was the possibility to ride through already finished, but not yet opened motorway tunnel Blanka. One feels like on a toboggan in there, it's downhill, but you don't notice, speed goes up... An ambulance had to rescue some crashed "racers" in the end. Oh my.
Interesting experience anyway.
During the communist era in Czechoslovakia, May day celebrations were mostly political events used to lift the spirits of working people and showcase the successes of socialism. Because everyone who is not with us is against us.
Now in democracy we no longer have to love our government and we can joke about anything without getting arrested for it. Forever with the Soviet union - and not a minute longer! :-)
Traditional Thursday subcritical mass ride with a nontraditional destination. Bike polo evolved from the old English polo by switching from four-legged horses to two-wheeled ones. Gameplay is similar to hockey: you chase a little ball around the rink by long sticks (mallets) and try to score more goals than your opponents. Whoever steps on the ground is out for a while until he knocks one of two pans hanging in the middle of the rink. If you are interested, here is a page of the Prague bikepolo club.
I've owned a couchbike for three years without ever being to a meeting of similarly afflicted people. This issue must be fixed immediatelly!
I took a train for the first part of the way there, then rode the rest from Nymburk by pedal force. About 70 km - a nice warm-up (first proper trip since autumn). I stayed at a friend's house in Bílsko for the night. The other day we rode together to a camp in Lanžov where the rest of the party were lodging. Then we all set off for a sightseeing ride around the local points of interest, cyclepaths and pubs. And of course, there was much talking and admiring iron steeds of all pedigrees. We aimed back home the last day. I headed directly for Prague and reached it after 120 easy kilometres. I just forgot the nearly summer sun, so my co-workers got a nice barn owl face to joke about :-).
Last year's first try didn't deter me at all. Let's do it again and better!
What didn't go well last time? First: cold feet. Solution: proper trousers and thick socks. Second: punctures. Solved by replacing worn front tyre by a new one, a little bit slower, but more bulletproof. And two spare tubes instead of one. Third: aching tendons for a month after the race. New plan: go a bit slower and give up after first signs of problems, regardless of the score. And what went well? I had much more training, this year I did just about 500 km. Never mind, at least I'm well rested and regenerated :-).
During the first lap, we were wrestling for space with cars - narrow second class roads are not built for a hundred bikers at once, even if they ride lawfully one by one. Fortunately we spread out quite quickly. I set an easy pace and made a short pause to stretch and eat something after each lap. The laps passed slowly until almost dawn. Hedgehogs are my curse! I evaded two of them and then hit the third one. Fortunately I managed to swerve around him and the hit was just a light scratch, so both of us left the place alive and well. As the morning approached, I found myself wobbling sleepily, so I ordered myself a rest for an hour (actually two). There came a little shower during the day. It was a prelude to an hour-long downpour, first half of which I enjoyed on the track and the second one refuelling in the pit. The engine was running smoothly until twelveth lap where my Achilles tendons started to hurt again. So I quit the race two hours before the end (I wouldn't beat last year's score anyway) and went to a restaurant for a proper lunch. The best meal ever :-). The score was three laps less than previously, but without any health problems this time, so it was more or less success - now I know my limits which I'm probably not going to beat with the current setup.
How about next time? I don't want to miss the fun, but unless I manage to build a faster bike by then, I'll probably attend as a helper and spectator. See you next year!
Traditional Thursday evening ride from Folimanka park. We took a ferry across river Vltava and rode along cyclepaths towards Barrandov. The final destination was back in the city centre on the river bank.
This year I planned a full week of leave for the FF, but the work interfered and I spent first three days on a business trip. Never mind, at least I got there for a while.
I set off from Prague under pedal power again. This time with a lowracer instead of a road bike (now I feel confident enough for main roads), with an electronic map in a phone instead of impractical road atlas, and with a better planned route. I got trapped near Golčův Jeníkov: the exact road I planned to use was closed due to reconstruction. Luckily all bridges were intact, most of the surfaces were finished and even the ripped sections were ridable for a bike. The journey was quite quick: even though I left at about half past eleven, I arrived to Chotěboř before six and caught a larger part of evening program.
After a day and half at the festival, I continued eastwards:
There have been no 'bent-specific races in the Czech republic so far, so why not arrange some? The zeroth test run was organized by LSH (recumbent club from Hodonín) members. The event spanned from Wednesday to Sunday, Saturday was the most race-filled day (at least for me - I arrived on Thursday afternoon). Our base was an abandoned car training ground in Pánov near Hodonín, next to a motor cart track (and a paintball field, fortunately out of range). There's a bistro at the cart club, so there was no shortage of food, drinks and other facilities (spending some money in the bistro was the only price of our camping here). From all the races, I took part in uphill sprint (on a cyclepath near Kyjov), trike slalom, head-to-head circuit race and time trials. The results were not bad - my everyday commute of four kilometres and eight stoplights pays off and short sprints work better than full-day marathons.
When not racing, we had lots of time to test-ride other bikes (I have tried more different types here than in my previous life), gather inspiration, having fun on the circuit or cart track (when the carts were not there) and chatting with a group o like-minded enthusiasts. All in all I enjoyed the event very much and am looking forward for the next run.
Previous 'bent meetings got me hooked to not miss this biggest event of the year. The base was at Nivnice near Uherský Brod; organization was taken care of by Azub who celebrated their fifteenth anniversary that year. We took sightseeing rides around the shire, raced a little, listened to travelers' expedition reports, visited Azub workshop, had fun drinking, singing and dancing and of course talking to each other and drooling over all those bikes that rarely happen to gather all in one place.
I cycled to the place from Olomouc where a train left me. The journey was nice and easy till Napajedla, where I - having no altitude marking in my map - headed directly to Uherský Brod and hit the highest mountain ridge available around here. Nice views, but a lot of work. On the way back, I took longer but flatter route via Uherské Hradiště, with nice cyclepaths along rivers and waterways.