Monday, May 8th, 2023

In 2018, as part of the celebrations surrounding the centenary of the creation of the Czechoslovak state, HOG Prague instituted what was to be come another “annual” event, the Independent Ride.

As you can read elsewhere, if you have a wish, on that occasion we made quite a protracted trek to a number of what are considered the “key” sites of the events of national history. The ride is always scheduled for May 8th which was the day that Czechoslovakia was “liberated” (if that is the correct word) from the Nazis in 1945.

In subsequent years, with the obvious exception of the Covid-19 times, shorter rides along various routes have taken place as the planners shook the proverbial pot.

Spring had finally arrived and it was in bright sunshine that the club gathered in its normal meeting place. This was the village of Rudná, on Prague’s western edge.

There was the usual circle of catching up and we decorated our bikes with the red, white and blue ribbons which are the colours of the Czech flag. Lucie and I also attached our flags (the English one and the Czech one). We paid particular attention to fixing them securely because, in 2022, one fell off and our search for it took so long that we missed most of the fun ……

There were a few words from Kamil, our Director before we all mounted up.

The “vesťáci moved into position and our column moved out onto the road towards our first destination, Lány and the grave of Tomáš Masaryk.

The sunny (if not particularly warm) weather, meant there was a good turnout and the line snaked away into the distance in front of us. The waving banner of our club, attached to Kamil’s Harley and the orange jackets of the “vesťáciwere quite a long way ahead.

The route towards Lány was a pleasant jaunt through the countryside. In the five weeks since the club’s first ride of the season, Spring had arrived in earnest. The trees and bushes were green and a lot of the fields were again festooned with the bright yellow flowers of the oil-seed rape (Canola) that had been so prominent on the first ride in 2018. Although the planners had varied the route, Lány was still a comparatively short ride and we soon arrived.

There are always “other” visitors at the site and, once again, our arrival was recorded by dozens of people.

We walked into the cemetery, Kamil laid our wreath and accorded our respects.

Then, as usual, we all posed for a group photo.

Then we all set off again for what was to be a pleasant, circular, ride back to Prague where a second wreath was to be laid at the statue of Tomáš Masaryk which is situated in the precincts of the castle.

Again our planners had devised a gentle and varied route across the rolling countryside to the west of Prague.

With only (to Lucie’s dismay) a single “cigarette” break, we wended our way through the scenery and, eventually, back into the city.

Our arrival into the grounds of the castle itself caused a lot of interest because tourists are finally present again in some numbers. I often wonder just how many pictures have been taken, by bystanders, of our club events. I think it is safe to say that we are probably “Big in Japan” !

Kamil laid a second wreath by the statue as did Jarda Vavřina (our friendly Harley dealer).

Then it was more photos and we all wended our way to our homes, still in bright sunshine.

As ever, having to stop at junctions and traffic lights seemed a bit strange.

Here is the “movie” !