Book preview!

Well it looks like 2013 is going out with a whimper here at RHBP, but that is a good thing. The blog writing has slowed as the book writing ramped up. I was hoping to have the book done by the holidays, but I am going to fall a bit short. Still, I'm happy with the progress and should have a complete first draft in January.

Last month, I sent out a sample chapter to a few friends and people in the running community in Prague and got some great feedback. This resulted in the reworking of a few chapters and, I hope, a much better product. Since that worked out so well, I'm going to post a couple of sample chapters here, which should be something like the final product in e-book form.

I hope you enjoy the sample, and please let me know what you think. Also, if you know of a publisher that may be interested in doing a hard copy of this, feel free to send it on.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


-12- Cibulka
Castle ruins, spooky villa, ancient religious orders and a crematorium at the finish.

If  you like horror movies, you will love running here after dark.
Location: Prague 5, Motol 
Distance: 4.8km (3 mi.)
Elevation gain: 138 m (450 ft.)
Difficulty: 6/10 Elevation gain and tricky footing in the second half, plus the possibility of your soul being stolen.
Most suitable for:  This route is suitable for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and running from undead zombie-knights. However, in daylight the paved roads in the park are popular with road runners, cyclists and parents pushing strollers.
Path Surface: Mix of asphalt and singletrack

Click "HERE" to open the interactive map in a new window.  

Description:  This 5 km route takes you to the most interesting and creepy sites in Cibulka Park. The park lies on the grounds of the former homestead and estate of Prince-BishopLeopold Leonhard Reichsgraf Raymund Joseph Thun-Hohenstein. About 200 years ago under the Prince-Bishop’s guidance, the area was a beautiful park and garden with a lookout tower, pavilions and exotic fish ponds. However, after the Prince-Bishop’s death, the area fell into disrepair and the man-made features eroded into shells of what they once were. The City of Prague currently owns some of the sites and is slowly working on preservation and restoration.
One of the first sites you see is the decrepit Chinese pavilion, built around 1820 as a Chinese style lookout tower. The two-story pavilion is now in a sorry state with a ragged blue tarp for a roof and a fence to keep out vagrants.

Not so bad on a bright, sunny day.
The next site on the route is the dilapidated and creepy Cibulka homestead. Barely standing, with holes in the roof and crumbling walls, the homestead is privately owned and has most recently been used as a trash dump. It is probably haunted with the souls of runners who didn't have a map or GPS and perished in the park trying to follow the written directions in this book.
The once stately Cibulka homestead. 
Just past the homestead is the most well-preserved remnant of the estate’s glory days, a stone observation tower designed to look like a castle ruin. The tower is open to climb and the views are worth it. The tower doesn't seem too creepy until you look inside one of the doors on the lower level and see a room full of hand tools, which are obviously being used as torture instruments.
The statue is based on Dante's Inferno. That figures. 
The last site is not part of the estate, but is still interesting. A stone cross, known aKalvárie v Motole doesn't seem too significant until you see the symbol for the Knights of Malta on the base between the 17 and 21. This religious military order has been in existence since the Crusades and is still active as a pseudo-state known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. This is probably common sense, but if you see an immortal looking guy in chain mail with a big sword kneeling at the cross, come back another time.

Choose wisely...
The route exits the forest on the road below Kalvárie v Motole and it is only a few meters to the safety of the tram at the Krematorium Motol stop. Yes, it is called that for a reason and yes, it is still active.
Thankfully, the park’s only draw is not its creepiness and is quite beautiful in broad daylight. The area boasts mature oak forests and a multitude of paved forest roads and singletrack to explore. There are several interesting rock outcroppings and lookouts where you can see almost nothing but trees. Not too shabby for an area about 4 km from Prague Castle.
Imagine birds chirping and not wolves howling and all will be fine. 
Nearby attractions/sites: Despite the gardens being untended for a couple centuries, today you can still see man-made ponds, several interesting statues and the aforementioned spooky sites.
Refreshment: Just outside the south side of the park is a typical Czech restaurant named U Petrů. To get there, cross Bucharova on Upolinova (go south instead of turning north to stay in the park on the yellow trail). It isn't stunning in any way, but has a nice local bar ambiance and the wait staff is quite tolerant of bad Czech. There is a non-smoking area and summer garden. A bowl of soup, large Staropramen and pork řizek cost 130 kč.
Start: Tram stop Poštovka (9,10,16). If you are biking, you may take your bike on the tram from Anděl during off-peak hours and on weekends. See the chapter on public transit for more information.maneuver.
Finish: Tram stop Krematorium Motol (9,10,16).
Other access: Train Stations Praha-Stodůlky or Praha-Cibulka.
Directions to the start: Exit the tram at Poštovka and take the crosswalk to Nad Hliníkem Street, which leads into the park.
Route: Follow Nad Hliníkem for 50 m past the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. Take the road that bears to the left and follow it up the hill. Stay to the left and then take the path that leads to the Chinese Pavilion. After exploring the ruins, backtrack and take the trail to the left of the run down Cibulka homestead.
Circle around the perimeter of the homestead and head back into the park between the wire fence and stone wall. This path gives some good views of the interior of the homestead grounds. Now that you have the creeps, take the trail to your left that hugs the edge of the forest. This will lead you to the observation tower in about 150 m.
Climb the tower and then take the paved road down the hill to the pond. From the pond dam, take the trail to the west 200 m and you will come to a paved road. Take a left and you will cross a set of railroad tracks after 100 m. Just past the tracks, the road will ‘T’. Take a right on the road and go about 120 m to where the road takes a hard left. Stay on the road another 80 m and you will come to an paved forest road. Take a right and you are now on a Yellow KČT trail.
Follow the road and yellow markings for about 800 m to Upolínová Street. Take a left on Upolínová and go 160 m still following the yellow marks. If you are hungry or thirsty, now is the time to cross the four-lane road to U Petrů. If not follow the yellow markings to the right down another forest road.
Follow this road through a railway underpass and then take the dirt road to the left just past the tunnel. You are now off the marked trail.
Follow the dirt road for 300 m until you see a road underpass on your left. Go through the underpass and follow the dirt road up the hill the then go right at the ‘Y’ under high voltage power lines. Follow this trail under the power lines for about 100 m and it will curve off to the left (west) leading you to the trail up to the stone cross.
From the cross, take the steep trail to the bottom of the hill. You will exit the forest about 50 m from the Krematorium Motol tram stop.

-27- Alternative living in Prague
See opposite ends of the Architecture spectrum with a fancy squatter’s settlement, cozy garden huts and a wooden, Art Nouveau church. 
Modern glass and steel looming over the Libeň garden village. 
Location: Prague 8-Libeň
Start: Tram stop Libeňský most (1, 12, 24, 25) is one stop from Metro station Palmovka (yellow).
Finish: Tram stop Stejskalova (3, 10) is two stops north of Metro station Plamovka (yellow).
Distance: 3.6 km (2.25 mi)
Elevation gain: 33 m (100 ft.)
Difficulty:  4/10
Most suitable for: Road running, hiking
Path Surface: Paved roads

Click "HERE" to open the interactive map in a new window.  
Description: This short route takes you through two of the most unique neighborhoods in Prague; the Kotlaska settlement and the Libeň Garden Village.  
Roots in the Great Depression
The Kotlaska settlement is a hold-over from the Great Depression. In the late 1930’s the Czech equivalent of a Hooverville gew up on the top of a hill in Libeň. Unlike the shantytowns in the USA which were all demolished by the end of World War Two, the Kotlaska settlement has survived.
The village was never officially recognized by the post-war Communist government, who’s plan was to ignore the settlement and wait for it to die out on its own. Maybe the people living in Kotlaska had the same view of the Communists?
The village is an interesting mix of cozy cabins, well-tended gardens, actual shanties and abandoned lots. The reason for this is the residents still do not own the land they live on, so no building permits are issued. If a tenant dies without a family member to take over a plot, it falls into disrepair because no one else is allowed to buy the property, which officially belongs to the city.

Nad Kotlaskou III "Street" in the settlement. 
 Kotlaska is no shantytown, however. The residences have electricity, running water and receive mail and garbage services. Many of the homes are quite interesting, the result of makeshift repairs, tight spaces and the watchful eye of city planning and zoning officials.

There are a wide range of interesting properties in the small community.
It is worth the short climb up the hill to see, and could be gone tomorrow if a developer offers the city the right figure for the land. On the other hand, the decedents of today’s residents may still be there when the next government takes over.
Urban Gardening
The garden village (zahrada osada) in Libeň is just one of many such areas in Prague. Like Kotlaska, the village is built on city property, but the gardens are sanctioned by the city and operated by an association that rents plots to members.
Small, private garden plots in cities are often associated with Socialism or Communism in Eastern Europe, however the practice dates back to the late 1800’s in Germany. The small garden plots developed as a result of people flocking to cities during the Industrial Revolution. People wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and have the sense of security that comes with growing your own food.  

The association ensures there are no unkempt lots in this village. 
Now, garden villages or allotments are found in every European country in various forms. In the Czech Republic, it is common for the plot to feature a garden, some fruit trees and a small cabin to store equipment. As you will see on this route, some of the cabins are used for living as well, but Czech law prohibits taking up residence full-time in a garden house.
Nearby attractions/sites: The wooden Art Nouveu Church of St. Adalbert of Prague (1905) will cause a double take when you pass it. The church, dedicated to the patron saint of Bohemia, stands out with its barn-like wooden exterior among the steel and concrete that surround it.

St. Adalbert's would seem more at home on a farm. 
Refreshment: At the end of this route, you can grab one of Prague’s better burgers at the modern Gambrinus pub, Zenklovka.
Gambrinus 10° “Gambač” is the little brother of Pilsner Urquell and is what some laborers in CZ drink during the day. At 4.3% ABV, it is considered “light” enough to drink on the job. A group of us actually saw a roofer on a steep pitch chug a half liter can, hammer it flat, shove it under a roofing tile, and then move on to the next one like nothing happened. He did it with such fluid movements, it was clear that this was a well-practiced maneuver.
Directions to the start: Exit the tram at Libeňský most and take the stairs down to the A2 bike route, which runs under the bridge.
Route: Follow the A2 past the bridge for about 100 m and the garden village will be in front of you. Follow the A2 around the outside of the village for another 150 m. The A2 will split off to the right, but you should stay on the road along the edge of the village so you can see the interesting lots inside the fence. Continue following the road between the river and village until it ends at a marina.
Backtrack to the A2 and follow the route over the flood wall and then take a right on the A26 route. Follow the A26 through a small park and over the tram tracks. Here you will be on a narrow stretch between the creek and a fence.
When the trail emerges into a small park, stay to the right and take the bridge across the creek and take a slight left to get on Pivovarnická Street. Follow Pivovarnická for two blocks then take a right on Na hájku Street. Follow this road between the village and the high-rise apartments and go to the right of the auto repair shop. Eighty meters past the repair shop the road will turn to the left and head up the hill.
Follow the road to the top where you can explore the tiny “streets” that crisscross Kotlaska. When you are done, take Na hájku Street back down off the hill the way you came and head back to the bridge over the creek in the small park you crossed earlier. Cross the park on Stejskalova Street and go one block to Zenklova Street, a main road with tram tracks. Across Zenklova will be the Church of St. Adalbert of Prague. Just to your right will be Zenklova restaurant and across the street and to the right the Stejskalova tram stop.

November 2013 Running Races in Prague

List of races in Prague this month. If you know of a race not listed, please let me know.

Highlight this month are the 80th running of the "Great Kunratická" and the final race in the Salomon Trail Running Cup at Motol.

October 2013 Running Races in Prague

List of races in Prague this month. If you know of a race not listed, please let me know.  DCB