Motorcycle Season 2011 Kicks Off
Get ready to get back to Czech roads
There are many plus points to living in the Czech Republic, one being the marvelous outdoor activities available throughout the year. As much as I enjoy a bit of skiing, or playing with my kids in the snow, I was quite delighted when winter finally left us a few weeks back. As a motorcycle fanatic, the cold spell of 2010/11 started too early and went on far too long, causing disruption to my biking activities. So now, let the fun begin.
The start of the season is signaled, by many, when the annual motorcycle show takes place in March. Traditionally, this show is held in Prague and is the main showcase for the public to see the majority of manufacturers and dealers in one place. This year, there were two shows on at the same time, in the same city and for, quite frankly, stupid reasons. This column is neither the time nor the place to go into that particular background but suffice to say there were more losers than gainers out of the whole debacle, with the biggest losers being the paying public. Thankfully, that shaky start has not transferred over into any other area of the season so far.
The weather in late March and early April provided excellent opportunities to brush off the cobwebs, from rider and machine, to get out and start having some fun. The motorcycling world encompasses many different genres of machine and people, and the Czech Republic is home to all groups of bikers. If your interest lies in scooters, sport bikes, cruisers, touring, or what have you, then you will not need to look far to find a kindred spirit. In comparison to the likes of Britain or the States, the Czech scene is a lot more relaxed when it comes to riders from these different groups mixing together. Throughout the year, a number of biking events shall take place including custom shows, drag racing, road and circuit racing, club meets, old timer parades, and so on, and at these times all people come together in their shared interest. As these events are announced I shall do my best to post dates and details in advance, for those interested.
Nature has been kind in providing us some stunning places to see in this small country, and no matter where you live there are certainly many locations, within easy reach, that can be explored by motorcycle. To the north and south are some great roads winding their way through the hills. There are beautiful rides close to the large waters of Lipno and Slapy, amongst others, or perhaps a tour around the wine making regions in Moravia. These are just a couple of options of what is on offer within our border. Of course we are also blessed with Austrian and German neighbors and the access to the dramatic alpine areas and beyond. So no matter whether you can spare only a couple of hours to ride or have a couple of weeks for a two wheel vacation, then geographically this is not a bad place to be based at all.
It is not all positive news, however, and the rotten winter we have just come though has conspired to make the already poor roads into an even worse mess than usual. To be fair, the authorities are, in some places, trying to patch the worst of the pot holes on the major roads. There are, however, many other locations where they have not, and at times this can be treacherous. It is all too common to be on a back road with a nice stretch of tarmac that all of a sudden turns into something more akin to a battlefield than a smooth surface.
The road condition is something that we, as riders, can handle and deal with ourselves. Fellow road users, on the other hand, we can not. The Czechs are amongst the kindest, smartest, and generally nicest people that you could possibly wish to meet. The trouble is that a significant minority of them seem to undergo a metamorphosis of some kind when they sit inside a car. In a transformation, of similar proportion to a comic book super hero, they turn into the most aggressive and inconsiderate individuals you could ever wish not to meet. I am careful to say only some, as it is, of course, only the bad ones that you notice, but that minority means you have to be extra vigilant when out on your bike. I am not here to lecture anyone, it is not my place nor my right. I can only pass on what I try to do when out riding and that is to let the head light flashing guy, sitting one meter off my back wheel simply pass as soon as I can. There is no point in getting angry or trying to teach him a lesson, it will make no difference. I use my mirrors all the time and get out of his way. I am sure that those reading are already aware of this situation, but let's all be extra careful this season and ride with a keen level of awareness.
On the sporting front, we have something very much to cheer about on the global stage of Moto GP racing. Karel Abraham is a young man from Brno racing in the blue ribbon class at world level in this his rookie season. He is on board a privately-entered Ducati GP machine, and as I write he has completed the first two races of the season, scoring world championship points in both. This is no mean feat at all and having met him briefly I can personally vouch that not only is he talented but also a charming, articulate and very pleasant young man. I hope that others, in the expat community, will get behind him this season and join me in supporting our own local hero. The Czech Republic also fields riders in other classes of world championship racing, with the most noticeable being Jakub Smrz in World Superbikes. Kuba has been around this series for a few years and has started the 2011 season well, including a second place finish at the recent UK round of the championship.
Outside of track racing, the country also boasts a strong tradition and solid base in Speedway, with a very active domestic league, hosting a World GP event as well as one of the world's leading bikes in the sport being made by Jawa in Divisov.¬† Endurance and off-road competition is also well represented in the Czech Republic, and you may be surprised to learn that a good number of Czech riders have entered in and completed the grueling Dakar Rally over the years. This is one of the most extreme challenges of man and machine on the planet, where truly only the very best and dedicated need even apply. These are all areas that I shall revisit in some more detail over the coming months.
There is a lot to be positive about as far as motorcycling in this country is concerned, be it as a road rider, serious competition participant, casual have a go racer, competition fan or whatever takes your fancy. I am personally delighted to have this platform to share some of my experiences and views with you here on Expats.cz. This is the first of a series of articles I shall post throughout the year, and I hope that the topics to be covered will be of interest to you. As someone on the inside of the local bike industry, I hope I can offer you, at times, some insights that may not normally be readily available. I would also love to hear from you with any thoughts and opinions, so please feel free to get involved.
Take care out there, enjoy your bikes, this great country and keep it rubber side down.
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