Saturday, May 8th, 2021
A big club like the Prague HOG loves predictably timed “events” – people can make time for them and we get a larger turnout. But, for the second year in succession, our “Season Opener”, the ride, to Podebrady which always takes place on the first Saturday in April, had been cancelled because of Covid-19.
We had begun what was slated to be another regular “event” in 2018. That year was the one hundredth anniversary of the creation of the Czechoslovak state and a ride which combined that event (which actually took place in October) with the end of the Second World War (which did take place in May 1945) was arranged.
The 2018 ride is detailed elsewhere and took us to first to Lány, which is the country retreat of the Czech President and the site of the grave of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (affectionately, TGM) the politician principally responsible for the creation of the State in 1918. We laid a wreath on his grave. From Lány we rode to the southern Bohemian town of Sezimovo Ústí to lay a second wreath on the grave of the Republic’s second President and leader, in exile, during the Second World War, Dr Edvard Beneš. Finally we rode back to the castle precincts in Prague to lay a final wreath at a commemorative statue of TGM.
It had been generally felt in 2018 that we tried to do too much and so the route and itinerary had been changed.
SOME OF THE PICTURES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE TAKEN BY MY PRAGUE HOG COLLEAGUE AND PHOTOGRAPHER, MICHAL KRŠKA.
THESE ARE MARKED ACCORDINGLY AND I AM GRATEFUL TO MICHAL FOR ALLOWING ME TO INCLUDE THEM HERE.
As usual, we all met up at a petrol station on the western fringes of Prague. Being part of a club like HOG is a little strange. There are members from every walk of life and profession and, I think, very few of us actually know, or ever see, each other in “real life”. This means that the initial meet up is a big circle of quickly greeting people you rarely see and, in some cases, trying to catch up with their latest news.
Of course, we also decorated our bikes with the red, white and blue ribbons which are the colours of the Czech flag.
Our first destination was again to be Lány and the grave of Tomáš Masaryk. This is more or less a given.
Led, as always, by our orange jacketed marshals, the “vesťáci”, we set off on a nice gentle ride through the countryside.
It was green, but the Spring was a little bit later and there was not so many of the yellow flowers of the oil-seed rape (Canola) that had been so prominent in 2018. What yellow there was to be seen was mainly early dandelions. It was great to be finally riding with the club again with a long staggered line of tail lights in front of me and a similar pattern of headlights in the rear view mirrors.
Thanks to Michal, you can just see Lucie and I in the outside line here, following the V-Rod !
Lány is a comparatively short ride and we soon arrived. There were a few visitors already and our mass arrival was recorded, as always, on scores of cameras.
We walked into the cemetery, laid our wreath and accorded our respects.
As usual, we all posed for a group photo.
Then we set off again, this time in the direction of Plzeň.
As ever, the planners had chosen a beautiful route. We wended our way along some small country roads that wended their way through some lovely forests.
Plzeň was actually “liberated” by American forces under General Patton in the last days of World War II. Sadly, for its inhabitants, it had been agreed at a conference of leaders in Jalta, that the then State of Czechoslovakia would be in the Russian sphere of influence. So after a quick look around, the American forces were forced to move back to the German border.
Nonetheless, General Patton remains something of a hero to the inhabitants of Plzeň and is commemorated by a museum. The original memorial to the liberation, a somewhat rusty steel pylon like structure, has now been removed and two rather stylish stone columns have been erected in its place.
Here the club Director laid another wreath and, of course, a group photograph was taken.
Then we set off in the direction of Prague.
There is a direct motorway link to Prague and it is only about eighty kilometres, but that is not the way we prefer to do things. Instead we made a beautiful loop through the gently undulating countryside.
A quick cigarette break ……..
And then on across country. It was a beautiful day.
Finally we came to the town of Karlštejn with its distinctive, square towered baroque castle, high on a hill.
From there it was a short ride back to Prague, with various riders peeling off from the column as they neared their own homes.
As they say in “Wallace and Gromit”, another grand day out !