I’m not one of those that think that the West is the be-all and end-all of anything and everything good. In other words, I’m not an Oreo (brown outside and white inside- was that politically incorrect? 😉 I don’t really care 😛 ). But in spite of this intense patriotism I feel (Mera Bhaarat Mahaan and everything), I have to admit that there is one thing I envy about these people- the value they give to an active lifestyle! I was hosted by this one particular household in Prague- the Slaviks- who are really involved in sports as a family. When I first contacted them to find out if they could have me for a couple of nights, they were away on an Orienteering trip in the northern part of their country, Czech Republic. I’ll leave talking about Orienteering for another time. Right now, though, I want to talk about Cycling. Not competitive Cycling, but just as a regular sport. On my 2nd night with them, Viktor asked me if I would like to go for a ride. I was so excited to have been offered this opportunity to live the ‘European life’ that I jumped at the chance. Viktor (who is near 50), has over 7 bikes for different terrains, and his wife, Katka, has one as well (she is more of a runner). We each took a cycle, and off we went into the woods. (That’s not us… But it shows somewhat what the easiest parts of the ride were like. I didn’t dare take out my camera. I would have slid all the way down if I lost my balance!) The Slaviks moved from the centre of the city right to the outskirts just so they could have a huge park literally in their backyard. Viktor led us through absolutely random trails, which were sometimes moderately navigable because a lot of people went the same way, while at other times we bumped over rocks or tried to make our way through overgrown, and almost untouched, vegetation. By the time we decided to get back home, I was almost zapped of energy (thankfully, I managed to uphold some dignity and didn’t have to give up and start walking mid-way). I saw people whizz by on their cycles (it is INCREDIBLE to see men and women in business suits riding on their way to work) every morning as I walked to college to Milan. I saw families with picnic baskets heading to a lake outside the city and I feel terrible that I never got to do that with my family. I think (or, rather, hope) cycling has slightly started catching on in India. Again, I mean cycling as a way of life, or even a recreational sport, something beyond the ‘cycling around the neighborhood’ we did as kids- the natural progression to that, in fact (I wonder why we all eventually stop). Several people I know have bought professional cycles to go to work or on weekend rides. Unfortunately, it’s true that our traffic and weather aren’t very conducive to this sport. So… Why not look at the next best option? If we can’t use cycles as a regular mode of transport (though I seriously hope that happens someday), here are some great options for cycling trips!!