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Eighteenth instance of our favourite 24 hour race brought several improvements. Freshly rebuilt oratory to camp in (three showers instead of one and lots of other goodies), opposite wind direction than usual (so only last third of the track was into headwind), hot day, mildly warm night, and rainstorms just before and after, not during the race. The bumpy road between Otmarov and Telnice had been patched, so it's still bumpy, but with less loose gravel and potholes. Something was being dug alongside the road before Blučina and in Opatovice, so traffic had to stop on lights (not ideal for racing, but on the other hand a perfect opportunity to unpack a snack). A new supermarket had grown in front of Újezd together with a left turn lane, so there's now a comfortably wide place for cars to pass you.
I raced on my Steelmachine with bottom rack removed, carrying an emergency tool bag, two-litre water bladder and a couple of sweet bars. There was no point in hauling more supplies because I stopped after each lap anyway (mostly to visit a toilet - I tried to drink enough because neglected dehydration is hard to catch up on). I had trained more than ever this time. The bike, suddenly without its usual fifteen kilograms of luggage, started like a rocket and cut corners sharply and accurately. Kilometres were piling up pretty quickly throughout the whole afternoon and night and it was almost sure that my record of 2014 would fall. Then halfway into the ninth lap, my right knee betrayed me - those kneecap tendons again, which I had not felt for over a year and thought all their problems had already been solved. So I quit after 255 km with a homework for next time: to modify my SPD shoes to allow more natural feet position with toes further apart than heels.
Thanks to all organizers and fellow racers for the nice event!
One week after K24 when I'm not yet sure about the structural integrity of my knees, another marathon wouldn't be a good idea, so I volunteered to organization. Quite an easy work: you slack off at one of the two turning points, record passing racers and control traffic to prevent anyone getting run over when turning. Shifts change after a couple of hours and if you're lucky, you get some sleep at night.
Passes are normally just ticked off, so all you get is the overall covered distance. If you are interested in timestamps, look at this table - it's a transcript of my number recording worksheet, incomplete, inaccurate and untranslated, but better than nothing.
I travel regularly between Louny and southeast part of Prague, either by bus (1 h bus + 1 h city transport) or by bike (about 4 h ride + half hour of pauses), depending on available time and amount of luggage to haul. My favourite route goes via Peruc, Velvary, Kralupy and cyclepath along Vltava river. Usually nothing chronicleworthy happens, but this time I met a Czech family with a nice homebuilt rickshaw and on the way back a Swiss family travelling to Berlin with two recumbents. I couldn't resist taking pictures.
I have a touring bike on which I can lay down and pedal without any consequences for a whole week if needed. And I also have the free week now. So I could at last match the score of Poles and Hungarians and get to the meeting by pedal power! I set off on Sunday morning from Louny via Chříč, where my friends needed help cleaning up a castle, to Prague. I paused there for the whole Monday, trying to recover from the awful hills around Rakovník and Křivoklát. On Tuesday, I departed eastward and finally reached the destination in Apollo campground after a total of 400 km and two nights at the Forest grand hotel.
As usual, lots of 'bentriders gathered (from Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia and maybe more) and there were many things to look at or chat about. There were group rides every day (Pálava hills, conflux of Morava and Dyje and other places) and we tasted everything that could be tasted in this famous wine-growing region (meanwhile, mice were tasting our food back at the campground and mosquitoes kept tasting us). Azub guys held a bazaar on Friday and Saturday evening (if I only had known two months earlier what parts would be available here...).
Journey back on Sunday (train and bike combo) was not very interesting, apart from rainstorms and a skid and fall on a wet curve just few miles from home where I almost tore off all cables from the handlebars. If my plans work out, I'll ride to the next meeting on a trike which is not so prone to falling. See you there!
I always wanted to try some big expedition. Voyage around the country borders was already done by countless others, trips from point A to point B are nothing new for me, why not go around the world? The best part is I don't have to cross our borders at all, there are plenty of villages and towns with foreign names right here in the Czech republic! So I have started a collection with the following rules: the names must be official (on roadside signs, not just a spoken local slang) and I must cover at least one direction (there or back) by human power alone. Not practically doable in one go, so I'll continue bit by bit as long as I enjoy doing it.