Get on Your Bikes and Ride

Another racing season begins for one of the country’s most popular outdoor sports

Nick Young

Written by Nick Young Published on 04.04.2013 16:03:32 (updated on 04.04.2013) Reading time: 4 minutes

Get on Your Bikes and Ride

As part of its lead up to the For Bikes Expo in Prague, Expats.cz gets an introduction to Czech competitive bicycle racing and why you should join the rest of the country and attend, or even participate in, an event this spring and summer.

Waves of brightly colored riders with legs pumping in unison rush by on a steep forest trail. Dirt and grass is churned up into the air, narrowly missing the cheering crowds of onlookers who are wildly encouraging the exhausted riders on their way to the finish line. The scene signifies that it is time, once again, to enjoy the beginning of the competitive cycling season in the Czech Republic.

Cycling and competitive racing have become an ingrained part of the Czech sporting culture, with nearly 25% of the population riding regularly. Numerous Czechs have achieved international success, including the 2012 London Olympics cross-country men’s gold medal winner Jaroslav  Kulhavý. It’s this passion which has helped make competitive cycling such a popular success throughout the country.

From April through October, fans can find races held nationwide, from amateur events in small towns to the biggest professional race of the year. Held on the last weekend of May, The World MTB Cup in Nové město na Moravě draws over 20,000 spectators to revel and party and cheer under the warm sun.

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The mood for these events is always cheery, often with live music, mini-races for kids in the morning, plenty of food and lots of exhibitions and activities for anyone interested in cycling or just having a good time outdoors.

The Cyklomaraton Tour, which is open to all riders who register in advance, offers spectacular natural settings for the riders and the spectators to enjoy. Each race is about 50 km long and goes in a circuit, although there are some shorter tracks which typically cover about 30 km.

The first race of the year, on April 6th, starts at the Břeclav Castle, and includes several kilometers of lakeside riding by the spectacular Unesco-protected castle grounds of Valtice. The May 25th race through Olomouc highlights the grassy plains and beautiful nature that the region is famous for, as riders fight for space on narrow dirt paths amidst green rolling hills. The August 11th race at the Vřesina Skalka ski resort in Ostrava, at 1200m, includes an oxygen-defying hill climb that leads into a beautiful wooded forest and a thrilling downward sprint. These are just three of the dozen races which take place from April through September.

For more information on the scheduled races, and to register to compete, check out the official site in Czech.

One of the leading supporters of professional racing in the Czech Republic is Birell, famous for its non-alcoholic beer, which has been a proponent of the Czech racing culture for decades. Birell representative Petr Kouble explained a bit about the company’s involvement in cycling and about the Czech racing tradition.

“Birell is a long-term supporter of Czech cycling; both as far as world-class athletes and amateur cyclists are concerned. We helped, for instance, to open the first cycle path in North Moravia in 2002, in the beautiful Beskydy Mountains.”

Birell has been fielding its own team for the last twenty years and is looking forward to another successful season from its world class riders to celebrate their special 20th anniversary.

TIP: Birell recently launched a “Birell on the bike” app for iPhone and Android. It turns your phone into a cycle computer that tracks your cycling with GPS, maps, elevation gain, a log of your activities, tips for trips and more. You can downloaded it from here.

Get on Your Bikes and Ride

“We sponsor the Česká spořitelna MTB team, with riders such as Pavel Boudný, who holds multiple Czech Champion titles. Since 2012, Birell has also been supporting Martin Horák and Tomáš Vokrouhlík, who specialise in stage races. This season will mark their third participation in the Brasil Ride, they will also compete in a gruelling race across the Moroccan dessert, the Milenio Titan Desert.”

Kouble explained that not only serious riders should be interested in these events, but part-time cyclists and spectactors can join in on the fun as well.
   
“Most of the open events supported by Birell are ideal for amateurs and casual riders. They can enjoy professionally-prepared routes and compare their riding skills to that of other participants. Cycling is one of the most popular sports in the Czech Republic and the number of riders keeps growing.”

You can find out more about the Birell racing team at http://rubenaspecialized.cz/ and find an event by checking out a list of all races for the 2013 season at www.jezdimenakole.cz in the section Kalendář akcí.

For Prague-based cycling enthusiasts, the can’t miss event of the year to attend is the For Bikes exposition at Letňany Exhibition Center on April 5th-7th. The weekend-long event boasts 8200 m2 of space with everything a bike lover could want to find, including all of the latest equipment from the biggest companies in the industry, a raffle for a brand new 65,000 CZK Trek mountain bike, and four adrenaline pumping racing competitions to enjoy.

Admission to the event costs 150 CZK, although anyone that shows up on bicycle between 10:00 and 12:00 gets free admission, as if you needed more inspiration to get on your bike and go for a ride.

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