Day 1-5 Distance: 1384 km Ascent: 7366 m
Countries: Croatia – Slovenia – Hungary – Slovakia – Czech – Poland – Lithuania
The night before departure, all the nervousness and stress vanished and I could finally have a good night’s sleep after weeks of insomnia. We’ve parked the van at the Jarun lake so that we would be close to Giant’s store where the tour should start in the morning. Early in the morning, Vedran Rapo brought me motorolas so that I can easily communicate with Matija during filming. We said goodbye to him and headed to the place of departure.
One of the revolts was already in the van and the other one was in the store so that Franjo, the bike tehnnician, could check one last time if everything was ready. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Ivan, the director of Giant Hrvatska, took the bike in his own hands, checked everything, put the saddle in place and literally handed it to me. It is like he wanted to be sure and see with his own eyes that everything was really perfectly ready for me, and to wish me best of luck and a safe ride. It is hard to express how much he’s helped me with creating and starting up the “Giant World Tour”. There was no one else like Siniša and Ivan, who stayed with me through the whole process and helped immensely to start the ball rolling.
We made a facebook event for our departure, but at the same time there was a big race taking place in Samobor, so a lot of friends could not make it. Still, there was a nice group of people in front of Giant’s store, wanting to wish me luck! There was Ivan Polojac, on our way to the store we also ran into Tomislav Gregurić and soon there was also Dorina, Lili and Dario, Mario and his nephew.. maybe it is not wise to try and name them all, because there were at least thirty people and it would not be nice if I forget to mention someone.
It seemed to me that everyone around me was excited and positively nervous, and I was thinking about everything but the departure. Just a few minutes before the clock striked 9:00, when I realized I had no idea where my cyclocomputer was, I lost my mind. I hugged everyone, we took photos, and as soon as it was 9:00, with Zupi, my dear Slovenian friend, namesake Hrvoje and a guy I sadly forgot what his name was, we started the ride.
Since I started to ride the bike for the first time, riding throught the cities always made me feel anxious, especially when there was no bike path. After leaving the city via the Branimirova street, Zupi and I continued alone towards Čakovec. About 20 kilometers before Čakovec, Karla Čović, my dear friend who is preparing herself for this year’s Ironman, joined us too. In the restaurant Stari Hrast, we were greeted by Krešo Biškup who invited us for a meal, and then joined us until Slovenia. After crossing the border, the trip finally started to feel real.
I am at 165 kilometers and thinking about how everything will look like. It is already more than 30 degrees, the team is behind us and we are driving alone. Matija is 3 kilometers behind me and will stay there for a while until the batteries are fully charged. The day before departure we realized that charging the batteries in the van will not be possible. There was not enough time to find a way which would not be dangerous for the van, and as I am too much of a control freak with no idea about electricity, connecting the inverter to the accumulator was not an option. Matija’s friend Bruno offered to help with buying an aggregate so that we stress less about charging the batteries, at least until Vladivostok.
In all of this mess, the batteries must be charged on time and ready to use. It takes two hours to get one battery fully charged, but if we end up with three or four out of seven batteries empty, we could be in trouble.
Crossing the borders is pretty easy now that we are in the European union so the only border with could have problems crossing is the one between Latvia and Russia, so we should eat all of the food before we get there. The first plan was to ride to the north and enter Russia via Belarus, but after talking to Igor I’ve found out that was not possible. It is not possible to enter Russia from Belarus. Igor and Antun are my friends who are currently traveling to Vladivostok, Nordkapp and then Afrika, and they had to go back to Latvia after being unable to enter Russia from Belarus. I don’t know why it was like that, but going back and forth is not an option.
A problem I created myself are the numbers. I have to admit that, eventough it is already the 5th day, I am not dealing good with it. Despite telling everyone these are just numbers and that it does not matter how long will it take, once I was on the road everything changed. Everything sounds nice when on paper, but in reality thing get pretty different.
The weather, to be more precise – the heat, is making it impossible to stay on the road for the whole day. A few years ago I was riding in 46 degrees through northern Italy with two boys that were riding from Istanbul to Chamonix, and I survived. I also survived the ride to Nordkapp in winter, in minus 22 degrees. But this ride, it should not be about surviving. Every day should feel like a local ride of maximum 100 km. If it gets too hard, I should stop, take a break and continue when I feel like it. So, today is the 5th day, 150 kilometers already behind me and soon it will be 6 PM. The same as yesterday, but then I rode 70 km more before calling it a day.
Of course, it is possible to ride in the sun and intense heat, but it is not smart. It is possible to make 80 km in two hours too. But what will happen if I get stuck around Novosibirsk, and need to go through just 200 km more on the dusty russian road, and my legs just won’t do it? There are no working hours, no exact time at which I should be driving or resting. I just need to adjust and make the best of whatever the road throws at me.
It would not be wise to become my own arch enemy, because, as far as I know myself, I am unsure which one of the two of us would give up first.