Monday, June 10, 2013

Blaník to Pelhřimov

A welcome sight: Lola crawling into 'her' trailer without any encouragement!
From the saddle we walked up Velký Blaník (638m), which is supposedly the resting place of an army of Czech knights who awaken if their motherland is in danger (except they didn't do this in 1968 when the Soviets invaded).

At the top was a cafe selling beer and Czech delicacies like nakládaný hermelín (soft cream cheese pickled in oil with pepper) and utopenec ('drowned man' - pickled spicy bratwurst).

This derelict mansion in the village of Pravovin was marked Místní národní výbor ('local national council') which must have been its communist era function. My guess is that the fat cat in the BMW wants to renovate it.

This country was undulating, with one 14 degree climb near Pacov. The bike routes were all on small country roads with minimal traffic.

This was an old wayside chapel.

Near Nová Cerekev I heard a sudden crack at the back of my bike, and then creaks with every pedal stroke. I'd heard this before. I checked my frame and found that the right chainstay had snapped at the braze to the right dropout, just next to the rear derailleur. Very bad news. This was the third time I'd done this to a frame. In super affluent parts of the 'first world', it's hard to find a framebuilder who will agree to repair this kind of thing - they just tell you to throw the frame out. Fortunately, we were in rural CZ.

We creaked into Nová Cerekev. In the middle of the village, opposite the pub, I saw a likely looking bloke who looked like he spent a bit of time in his shed. I got off the bike and showed him the damage.
In a flash he was on his phone, then bundling my bike into the back of his little hatchback. Next thing I knew, we were zipping off through laneways to a backyard workshop. We found a bloke working on a car chassis, ciggy hanging out of the corner of his mouth. He looked at my frame, grunted, 'Jasné... jasné... ' (I see...), grabbed his grinder, ground off the two ends, got a welding rod out, clipped a cable on the frame, and neatly arc welded both sides of the break. I offered him cash. He said, 'No, no.' I insisted. He relented, then got out three bottles of cold beer. We sprayed some primer on the frame, then went and looked at his pride and joy, an old Jawa, which he wanted to kick start for me. It took a few goes. Then he poured three shots of cognac and we checked how the chicken on the spit was roasting (while other chooks ran around underfoot).

My fixer took me back to where Julie and Lola were waiting. The whole escapade had taken about three quarters of an hour. No photos - I'd left the camera behind.

The frame felt good again and we rolled down into Pelhřimov, an attractive regional centre with a big town square, good bakeries and some strange museums (Museum of Bugaboos, anyone?) We also found Hell in a dungeon under the town hall. The young tourist information worker told us, 'You can go to Hell, if you like.' Poutník, the local beer, was one of our favorites so far.

I got what I deserved in the end.

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