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BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Tom Hutton goes deep into the Czech Republic to discover a world of epic trails and amazing scenery. And the odd earworm too.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, with no escape from reality

Noooo! Why did somebody have to mention Bohemia?

Sure, it’s a good thing to ride with a little earbug swirling around in your head, right? It loosens you up a bit. Possibly even makes you smile, which has got be better than grimacing your way down the trail.

And if you really stretch your imagination, maybe those Scaramouche and Galileo sections might just provide a soundtrack that works for a few sweet, short, sharp turns.

But… Trying to find your flow while singing goodbye to everybody and predicting an imminent end… mmm, not sure this is helping.

But I am in Bohemia. And I am trying to think of a title for this feature that isn’t a play on the Czech and check thing (Czech mate – Czech this out, etc.), so if I can shake off this relentless harmonious humming after a day or two, then maybe, just maybe, the orchestrator of this musical torture chamber might be forgiven.

Meanwhile, there’s riding to be done. And what awesome riding it is too – a seemingly endless ribbon of dry, dusty singletrack dancing its way through some delightful deciduous woodland. Twists, turns, humps, bumps, little ups, big downs and huge smiles. My guide, Jan, is a cross-country monster and fast, and I’m breathing way too hard to sing anything at all, while still barely keeping his rear tyre in sight.

So where is Bohemia? In a nutshell, it’s the western end of the Czech Republic. It’s a blossoming ex-Iron Curtain nation wedged between Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria.

It’s probably most famous for its picturesque capital city, Prague, or its biggest export, Skoda cars. It’s also well known for its beer consumption. But the good news for me is that the Czech Republic also takes its mountain biking very seriously, so much so that the Nove Město round of the UCI XCO World Cup was voted as the best of the 2018 season. And, as luck would have it, I was in Nove Město enjoying some of those very trails, known locally as Singltrek pod Smrken, attempting to clear my head of classic rock ditties while holding on to the ever-disappearing Jan.

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Editorial: Greasing Out Chipps ponders the strange language of mountain biking. Is understanding the code the difference between being a mountain biker and just riding bikes? UK Adventure: Glasgow’s Campsie Fells Sanny seeks out some overlooked trails within a stone’s throw of Glasgow. Why does he love them so much? Column: Jason Miles Turns out that, if you ride bikes, your neighbours think you know everything about all bikes. International Adventure: Bohemian Rhapsody Tom Hutton heads to the very-accessible Czech Republic to check out the trails and trees on a three-centre bike safari. International Adventure: Kyrgyzstan Rickie Cotter warms up for the Silk Road Mountain Race with a solo trip around this remote expanse of wild unknown. Beyond The Review: In The Bag Tom Hill writes about the aged Timbuk2 messenger bag that isn’t his, it’s Jenn’s. He’s just using it for her. Classic Ride: Grate Expectations In a cheese pun-filled ride around the West Country, James Vincent takes us on a tour of the trails around Cheddar. International Adventure: You Can’t Script Adventure James McKnight and Victor Lucas get in over their heads in the Pyrenees. Turns out this bikepacking lark is more complicated than they thought. Bike Test: So Long, Huckers Our big friendly giant, Barney, gets friendly with the three longest full suspension bikes in the world. Three monsters tested, from Cotic, Geometron and Pole. 25 Years of Chipps Chipps reflects on 25 years as a bike journalist. Does he know what he’s doing yet? International Adventure: Budget Bolognese Sanny heads to Italy to experience a comfortable adventure without a painful credit card bill. Pete’s Pros: Ruaridh Cunningham Pete Scullion chases downhill legend turned neo-enduro pro Ruaridh Cunningham around the trails of Innerleithen. Last Word Adam Batty discovers that finding riding buddies can be tricky, especially when they’re not being entirely honest.