As legends say, old father Czech with his people once stood on mount Říp and said this was going to be the land where we would settle. Because everyone should visit this place at least once and because the weather was nice, I fired up my lowracer (a perfect machine for the flatland around Labe river) and set off. I attacked the mountain from the north (originally I approached from the south, but getting lost on the last mile is my specialty), parked at the end of the road and walked the rest of the way up. A pleasant trip.
Cyclists of Hradec meet often, but this time cargo was main theme and I can't miss something like that. I would perish pulling a trailer all the way there and it wouldn't fit in a train, so I set off with just a loaded rack. I made it to Hradec and would gladly ride back the same way, but my leg tendons mutinied. So I took a train and enjoyed the landscape filtered through a window. Anyway, both the meeting and the trip were worth it.
This weekend worked out perfectly: I pedaled to Prague in the morning, joined several thousand fellow cyclists for the afternoon critical mass ride (or walk, considering the average speed) and tested waterproofness of my bike and slipperiness of tram rails in an evening downpour. The other day I joined a social ride of Honza Galas, traversed to the northwest edge of the city with them and then headed back home from there. Nice trip, but I'll most likely not take the Python to Prague again - traffic is scary without a 360° view over car roofs and cobblestones are a nightmare.
I'm no athlete and I have never raced. But now I have a lowracer that can go faster than average with my hardly average performance, so why not try it? K24 is a race for anyone on any non-motorized vehicle, including 'bents. The track uses rural roads around Újezd u Brna, in normal traffic. One lap is 28.4 km long and the goal is to clock as many of them as possible within 24 hours. Considering my record of 160 km/day I expected reaching about 300 here. The final 426 km were quite a surprise.
The atmosphere was great: nice people, happy mood and racing euphoria. And I connected some internet nicks with real faces :-). The weather was nice too: neither rain nor too hot, just a little cold at night and a wind annoying the upright riders. I rode first few laps at 28 km/h average which seemed sustainable. Thanks to the leg steering, eating on the go was no problem, so I haven't stopped much till supper. I underestimated the cold at night, I should have taken long trousers and thick socks. It was one of the reasons why my ankle tendons began to hurt again. When I was most enjoying the night racing, I hit a hedgehog (poor thing) and five spikes impaled my front wheel. Spare inner tube was fitted and I headed for a pit stop to patch the first one. Morning was approaching, the sky started to lighten up. I laid down for a moment to warm up my cold feet and when I opened my eyes, there was light outside and six o'clock on the watch. Well then, at least I would stop falling asleep on the bike. I spent the rest of the day by circling the track without any further incidents. The tendon pain kept growing until I gave up an hour before the time limit - those 15 laps is enough for a first try. An interesting thing is I didn't feel tired or sleepy during the whole race. Energy was plentiful and if there weren't the painful bits, I could have been spinning at full power the whole time. Conclusion: train for longer journeys without stopping (or stop more often during the race), keep your ankles warm at night and maybe you'll do better next time.
Later I realized how incredibly lucky I was. I haven't met spilled thumbtacks in Rajhradice, drunkards in Telnice or any closed railway crossing. The spare tube failed just after finishing the race. If this happened on the track, I would be finished because the patched Kenda was made of some weird stuff and the patches fell off after first inflation. Many thanks to a fellow whose spare Schwalbe carried me home.
Lots of other pictures can be found in the organizers' chronicle.