Monthly Archives: April 2013


May Day

Happened upon what I assume was a raising of the May Pole in anticipation of May Day tomorrow. A marching band (oompah style, now that we’re close to Austria) and local firemen who raised the pole using tree branches in a method I was sure to result in injury to someone. Also, waist lines are definitely increasing as I approach Austria.


Day 10: to Sezimovo Ústí, Czech Republic to Nová Bystřice, Czech Republic

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Start: Sezimovo Ústí, Czech Republic
End: Nová Bystřice, Czech Republic
Distance: 67.1km
Elevation Gain: 2798ft
Elevation Loss: 2097ft
Time: 7h29m
Reading Material: A History of the Jews – Paul Johnson
Audio Material: NPR’s Fresh Air

Castle me! Two nice castles passed today. One in Červená Lhota, a cute red castle across an old stone bridge. And, the other in Jindřichův Hradec at the confluence of a river and a lake. According to guide books, both are the 2nd most famous castles in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, I was not able to tour inside either as it appears official castle tourist season starts tomorrow on May 1.

I am spending the night in Nová Bystřice right near the Austrian border. This southern region of Bohemia wants to be known as the Czech Canada. I am thinking this is a ploy to attract Canadian tourists as the landscape reminds me of many other, non-Canada places such as the Poconos, Catskills or Vermont. Though, I think Czechs are even more into hockey than Canadians. In the nearby forest, I got to zoom down through the trees on a nicely paved, narrow path. Got the rig up to 50km/h!

And, of course, just as I was feeling badass, I had my first real tumble just outside Nová Bystřice (we’re not going to count the ones where I’ve been stationary). While going uphill my chain slipped the smallest front gear and I pedaled furiously without going anywhere until the lack of momentum coupled with clipped feat caused me to lose balance. I unclipped and fell into a grass ditch a few feet below the road. Soft landing and the bike is so heavy, it just rests on the panniers and doesn’t even notice it’s fallen over. Luckily no one saw.


On Love (and dogs)

Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being is by far the saddest human-dog love story I have read.

From this jumble of ideas came a sacrilegious thought that Tereza could not shake off: the love that tied her to Karenin was better than the love between her and Tomas. Better, not bigger. Tereza did not wish to fault either Tomas or herself; she did not wish to claim that they could love each other more. Her feeling was rather that, given the nature of the human couple, the love of man and woman is a priori inferior to that which can exist (at least in the best instances) in the love between man and dog, that oddity of human history probably unplanned by the Creator.

It is a completely selfless love: Tereza did not want anything of Karenin; she did not ever ask him to love her back. Nor had she ever asked herself the questions that plague human couples: Does he love me? Does he love anyone more than me? Does he love me more than I love him? Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.

And something else: Tereza accepted Karenin for what he was; she did not try to make him over in her image; she agreed from the outset with his dog’s life, did not wish to deprive him of it, did not envy him his secret intrigues. The reason she trained him was not to transform him (as a husband tries to reform his wife and a wife her husband), but to provide him with the elementary language that enabled them to communicate and live together.

Then too: No one forced her to love Karenin; love for dogs is voluntary.

Gallery of Czech dogs I have met


Day 9: Sedlčany, Czech Republic to Sezimovo Ústí, Czech Republic

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Start: Sedlčany, Czech Republic
End: Sezimovo Ústí, Czech Republic
Distance: 49.4km
Elevation Gain: 2437ft
Elevation Loss: 2270ft
Time: 5h48m
Reading Material: A History of the Jews – Paul Johnson
Audio Material: Rainer Maria (Look Now, Look Again; A Better Version of Me); Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me; EconTalk (guest: Jeffrey Sacks)

Lots of hills today. Very reminiscent of Vermont rural cycling with cows and sheep and farms and narrow roads. Took a shortcut in Tabor on a main urban road and cutoff about 15km. Reward is an early dinner and night.