Life in the saddle


The date of 8 May is, in terms of historical sources, an important holiday commemorating Victory in Europe Day (VE). However, at Kalas, this date has another special meaning. On this day, the founder of our company, Čestmír Kalas, was born. And this year was his 80th birthday.



Which cycling achievement of your career do you value the most?

I'll be completely honest, I wasn't a star. The closest I ever came to a medal was in 1963 at the Czechoslovakian Time Trial Team Championships when I raced for Dukla Český Krumlov. But unfortunately, the third member of our team fell on a corner 200 m before the finish, so we had to settle for fourth place.

You have also had a successful career as a cycling coach, what achievements of your athletes are you most proud of?

It will undoubtedly be Karel Camrda's success in 1988, when he won the World Cyclo-cross Championship title in Hägendorf, Switzerland. But I have always been pleased with the successes of other Tábor athletes such as Stanislav Bambula, Richard Koberna or Radovan Hrubý, when we won the team competition in the national cyclo-cross cup for several years.

How many bikes do you have?

I currently have three bikes at home, one mountain bike and two road bikes, but I mostly ride the mountain bike as it has better stability.

Are you still actively cycling?

From spring to autumn, my wife and I live in a cottage near Veselí nad Lužnicí (30 km south of Tábor) and depending on the weather I ride my mountain bike 30-50 kilometres on the plains in the woods between the ponds. I ride 3-4000 kilometres a year.

What do you consider to be the biggest cycling fashion transgression?

I hate the sight of cyclists wearing knee-high compression socks or having unshaven legs. Both are just un-cycling.


High or low socks?

I'm old school, so low socks. But I respect the high ones that can't be called knee socks yet.

If anything were possible, what kind of ‘supersuit’ would you suggest for cycling clothing?

One made of a fabric where mud doesn't cling to it and all sponsor logos are visible even during muddy cyclo-cross races.

Do you watch cycling on TV?

I watch the broadcasts regularly and enthusiastically, but then unfortunately I can't get any work done at home because of them.

Who do you admire most in the professional peloton? 

First of all, it's Pogačar. What he does is admirable. And of course, Mathieu van der Poel, not only because he wears Kalas, but he's a cyclo-crosser and he puts in amazing performances on the road.

The Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tábor are coming up, will you have any position in the organizing committee? You have been at every World Championship in Tábor so far.

I will be welcoming guests in the VIP tent, where I will meet my old friends. I already have experience with this from previous World Cups.

How many medals do you think the Czech cyclocross team will achieve at the World Championships in Tábor?

I believe that at least one will make a difference, although I would like more.

Which Czech cycling personality do you consider the most?

There are several, but I appreciate the efforts of Petr Klouček and his coaching commitment.

What would you like to see for future of Czech cycling? 

For the young generation to build on the glory of previous successful riders, from Fišer to Šimůnek to Štybar.



Are you still involved in the running of the company you started in 1991?

I am not involved anymore. I occasionally stop by the company to see what's new, but I have left the running of the company to the young people who are doing it well.

What do you like best about your company? What are you most proud of?

What I appreciate most is the friendly and family atmosphere that exists in the workplace. And, of course, I am happy when anyone in our outfit succeeds in achieving their goals.

Is there anyone among the staff who has worked for your company since its inception?

Yes, one of our graphic designers, Jiří Poslušný, has been with us from the very beginning. In addition, 5 of our employees have been with us for 20 years. I am also very happy about that.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned during your business career?

I have learned to be careful in my investments. It's very easy for such carelessness to backfire.


What's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome in your business?

It was the lack of finance in the early days of the business.

In what ways has Kalas evolved or advanced the most from the past?

It has moved on significantly, mainly through expansion of production, technology, marketing and expansion into other countries.

What phase of the production of custom printed cycling apparel is most appealing and fascinating to you personally? 

I like how it all comes together when being drawn on the screen, so the design creation phase.

What would you like to see for Kalas in the future?

For the employees to be happy, for the management to keep up the momentum and to expand the market to other countries.



Who was your role model in life?

It was Jan Kubr, a former successful racer and later a coach who coached us in České Budějovice.

Favourite subject at school?

Gymnastics and biology, that was the easiest.

How do you like to relax in your free time?

I like cycling the most, but lately I also like gardening. I grow vegetables, tomatoes, etc. What I don't eat, I dry in the sun, cut up, pickle in olive oil, add some herbs and store for the winter.

Favourite food and drink?

I eat everything, I don't have a favourite or something I avoid. In the evening I like to have a Budějovice Pardál (Czech beer).

Do you have a pet?

I have a dachshund named Zita.

What is your favourite sport besides cycling?

These days I like swimming very much. In the old days it was running and in winter cross-country skiing.

How will your birthday celebrations go?

We are not planning anything big. There will be one celebration with the family and then one at a company.



In 1991, Čestmír Kalaš started to produce cycling clothing and later founded the Kalas Sportswear brand. Get to know his unique story in this short video.



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