Bára (“Barča”) Studihradová has been chosen as the MODO ambassador for Prague, in association with CykloVAPE bicycles. Ever since it first opened, the CykloVAPE shop has been a keen supporter of women’s cycling, and at one time it looked after the cyclo-cross team led by Nikola Nosková and Pavla Havlíková. Similarly, Barča Studihradová has also been involved with sport ever since she was a child. She told us all about it in the following interview.
Barča, in a few words, how would you describe yourself?
Above all, I’m a student, and like a typical Praguer, I spend a lot of time in the city studying and working. I’m lucky that I find both of those things fulfilling. I enjoy spending my free time doing sport with my friends, whether on the bike or in other ways. I love travelling – the best experience I’ve had so far was the month I spent on my own in India. I usually go to places for the culture or for sporting challenges. I like volcanoes, and I’m particularly proud of having climbed Mt Rinjani (3,726 m) in Indonesia and the highest mountain in Japan, Mt Fuji (3,776 m). As well as that, I’m also interested in lots of slightly unusual things, even though I can’t always explain why I find them interesting, and even though they don’t really seem to have anything in common. For example, transpersonal psychology, Judaism, and meditation. Those are the things that probably characterize me best.
You’re studying law, which is a difficult subject. Is sport a form of relaxation that helps you with the pressures of the course?
Yes, you could say that. But during the hardest periods of the course there have been times when the sport has had to take a back seat, so that I could focus all my energies on studying. Thankfully so far that’s only ever been for a few weeks. During term time I like doing sport, because it helps me to clear my mind, calm down, and unwind. Cycling is perfect for that. It allows me to do some sport and meet up with my friends at the same time. There’s a nice group of us, but it’s almost completely made up of men. Taking part in the MODO programme means that I’ll get to meet other women who enjoy cycling, so I’m looking forward to that.
Would you say that pursuing an active lifestyle is a way of life for you?
Absolutely. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without sport. As well as cycling, I also like Bikram yoga, muscle training, and in-line skating. In my family, having an active lifestyle was always just a given. I used to spend the summers with my mum and my siblings on our bikes in the Šumava National Park, or at swimming camps, or going to training sessions at clubs for whichever sport we happened to be into at the time. And then in winter we’d go skiing, either downhill or cross-country. When Mum was younger she used to swim competitively and do triathlons. My grandfather, Jaroslav Potměšil, was a lecturer in Physical Education and Sport at Charles University in Prague. He was also a skiing instructor and he promoted sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. Even when I was small, he would often talk to me about how important sport was for life. I used to see people around me who were blind or in wheelchairs going skiing, cycling, or swimming. That’s why I’m so grateful that I’m able to do sport so easily, and for everything that sport has given me. The idea of not doing sport has never even occurred to me.
Is there anything in particular that characterizes your approach to life?
That’s a very difficult question. Maybe an enormous desire to explore and discover. I think the most important thing is to keep trying new things, to make the most of the opportunities that come your way. And that’s how I approach my life as well. I try to keep working on myself, developing all aspects of my personality as much as possible, in terms of sport, my mind, and my life experience. I feel a strong sense of responsibility for my own life, and for ensuring that as well as just taking I also give something back to society.
What role does cycling play in your life?
At the moment it’s the sport which I’m concentrating on the most, even though it hasn’t always been that way. When I get on my bike after classes or after work, I feel like a different person. I’d compare it to meditation. When I’m on the bike, I rediscover my inner calm. I anchor myself in my own approach to life. And I like the fact that cycling can be so varied. I can choose whether I want to go off-road and improve my technique, or get on a road bike and cycle along the banks of the Vltava. But for me, cycling isn’t just a form of relaxation. I like challenges, so every now and then I take part in a competition. For example, last year I entered the Superior Bike Adventure, near Jičín. Unfortunately my teammate and I were forced out of the competition by a breakdown, but even so, it was still a brilliant experience. As well as races, I’ve also ridden in the Dolomites on one of the Stoneman trails. And last but not least, it’s through cycling that I met my boyfriend and lots of other fantastic people.
Are you interested in any other sports, apart from cycling?
From the sports I haven’t tried yet, the one which I’m most tempted by is paragliding. A few years ago I did a parachute jump in New Zealand and the part when I was dangling from the chute was the bit I enjoyed the most (laughs). Ever since then I’ve wanted to give paragliding a try, but somehow it just hasn’t happened yet. Another sport that really grabbed me was snowkiting. Basically I’m interested in adrenaline sports and sporting challenges. Personally I’m not fit enough for them, but I admire extreme races which combine different sports, either with or without bikes.
What’s Barča like when she’s not on her bike?
That’s for other people to judge. Sometimes she’s friendly, talkative, frank, buzzing with energy. Other times she’s grumpy, a bit too brash, or she’s withdrawn. But, let me add, those are moods which I try to eliminate, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “MODO by Superior Bikes”?
That it’s a great project for women cyclists that’s long overdue here. I’m glad the Czech brand Superior invested in developing bikes tailored to women’s bodies, and that the bikes are such good quality.
And what’s the second thing you think of?
That I’m looking forward to seeing the girls again, and to the moment when we hit the road.
What was it about the project that made you want to apply to become an ambassador?
I liked the idea of forming a community made up of women cyclists who all followed the same kind of lifestyle. I knew straight away that I wanted to be part of it. I’ve been trying to find more women who might want to cycle together for a while now, so I thought that maybe I could lead the project in Prague. And thanks to the backing of CykloVAPE and support from Superior Bikes, our community also gets lots of nice benefits.
Thank you, Barča, for agreeing to this interview, and for telling us about yourself. We’re looking forward to seeing you and your MODO gang in Prague sometime, and maybe also to a nice weekend bike trip and get-together in the spring.