chapter 1: getting ready

Day 61: 8 September 2015, Warsaw, Poland (a week to go)

So, it’s one week to go. Next Tuesday this time I will already be on my way, cycling to Grójec to meet Agata. Agata wrote me that the dinner will be at 5pm, so luckily for me, I don’t have to hurry that much.

What happened recently and what’s still on my to do list?

Already happened:

  • the plan for Poland has been created and I’ve got already some contacts to the Czech Republic
  • I’m in a friends meeting phase, so much time spent on saying goodbyes

Still to do:

  • buy few missing things: few clothes (especially the ones for rain as I got completely wet yesterday), few cosmetics, few maps
  • go to the hairdresser
  • finalize the issues with my flat
  • finish several articles I’m still thinking about writing
  • meet few more friends
  • organize the Center of Young Women at the 7th Congress of Women, during which I’m also going to moderate several meetings but also to present Girl on Bike
  • organize a final meeting with friend on Sunday
  • get ready on Monday

Not much, huh?

Warsaw, 8 September 2015

Day 55: 2 September 2015, Warsaw, Poland

Today is 55th day since I started to think about this project. In a week and one day there will be two months. Two months. In two weeks without one day, I will be already on my way.

The last update about the project’s progress I posted on 16th August, that is two and a half weeks ago. It was just after I opened the project on Polak Potrafi and the whole craziness started. Those three weeks were full of really hard work and the most difficult part of it was to cross my own border and go out of my comfort zone of being an independent and self-sufficient person into asking people to help me to make my dreams come true.

After sending dozens of e-mails every day I was not able to write any new blog posts. I was done with my creativity. I couldn’t fall asleep in the night thinking about what will happen if I don’t collect the money or what if people say it is a stupid idea (So what, damn it?!). So I kept getting up in the middle of the night and sending e-mails (those who received them in the middle of the night know) and during the day I kept answering to all the e-mails and messages I have received in the meantime, becasue the most important for me was to make every single person feel as important as their support was for me. In those three weeks I got supported financially by almost one hundred people, unlifted by many many more.

In this whole craziness I tried to get out of the computer from time to time (especially during the weekends), not to get mad. Well, anyway during the weekends people are enjoying their lifes and not pay money for crowdfunding projects. So I also tried to enjoy my life – I kept meeting with my high-school friend Ania, going for several bike rides, visiting granny, getting visited by several friends from Warsaw, going for family trips. But at the back of my head I was constantly thinking – am I going to collect those money or not?

I kept creating lists of all sorts – have I thanked everyone already? How does the budget look like at the moment? What do I still have to buy? What should I take? What should I not? Take the bike to the workshop. Order the bike wheels (what kind of wheels? I know nothing about the wheels!). Buy a saddle (how should I know which saddle will be fine?). Order bike bags (which colour? Which size?). Buy bike helmet (which one will be a good one?). Buy cycling gloves (I want pink ones!). Go to the radio – it will be good for the project and for yourself (what if I get so stressed that I will not be able to say anything?). These kinds of internal dialogues were my bread and butter (well, still somehow are..).

After those three weeks I’ve got a bike ready. I’ve got bike bags. I’ve got most of the bike equipment and accessories. And when I got back home on Friday from Warsaw I found a copy of a local newspaper “Kurier Powiatu Kwidzyńskiego” with an article about my trip. Almost whole page long. Yesterday morning Magda from the Bike Workshop in Kwidzyn at Krasickiego St. 20 called me and said “Kasia, we’ve been talking about you with my husband during the weekend and we’d like to present you a saddle for this trip. You just have to come and choose the one you like”. I was at a loss for words.

And you know what – I guess this is how it is. Dozens of e-mails to different media sent and not a single one came back. People from teh radio station number four (Mateusz, Kasia and Karina – thank you!!) found me on their own on Polak Potrafi’s website – and invited me to three different broadcasts. An article in Kurier was published because it was seen by my sister’s friend who works for them (thank you Mr Arkadiusz, the author of the article!). And I became friends with Magda from the Bike Workshop, becasue we’ve spent hours on chatting while my numerous visits at the workshop and I know that they really keep their fingers crossed for me. There is almost 600 people on FB who keep their fingers crossed for me as well.

I am so stupid to take it to my heart that no one from those damn media is answering. They are not answering, that’s true. SO WHAT?

Kurier Powiatu Kwidzyńskiego, 28 September 2015, p. 10
Kurier Powiatu Kwidzyńskiego, 28 September 2015, p. 10

Warsaw, 2 September 2015

Day 38: 16 August 2015, Rio (Ryjewo), Poland

It’s been almost a week since the last bike updates. Definitely the most important and the most stressful event of the week was the activation of the project on Polak Potrafi platform and concentration of all my efforts on gathering funds for my travel.

It’s been a very stressful moment and I wrote about it separately here. This moment (luckily!) is already over and now I can continue with my actions, slowly, continuosly – trying to make other people become enthusiastic about this idea as well so that they would like to support it with symbolic 10 PLN.

At the same time it’s been quite amazing that within three days I collected 1/3 of all what I need in total (at the moment I have 1650 PLN) and the project has been supported already by 21 people. It is a great start really and I would never expect so much! At the same time it doesn’t mean that now I’m going to stop working. Not at all!

The main plan for this week is to send the information to the media – maybe someone will get interested, which would make me really really happy. But if not then not, I alredy have almost 450 people “following” me on Facebook and they are the ones that did believe in this idea at the first place, when it was still very much about the idea only. Which is quite amazing itself and really makes me feel so happy and honoured by them!

The plan for the following week:

  • visit grandma (with Peggy, obviously!)
  • take Peggy for some renovations (“bike spa”)
  • send the mentioned above information to the media
  • send the letters to the possible sponsors (maybe? someone? Although dad says that there are no chances at all..)
  • look for a local support for the project (which means meeting people in their offices and not sending the e-mails only).

I also think that I’m also already slowly getting stressed, that there are only two more weeks in Rio, two more weeks in Warsaw afterwards and then – go! Go Girl on Bike! Well, cool cool, but actually the ball of fears is systematically growing every day..

Aha, and yesterday I ALMOST reached the bike repair workshop for girls organized by Projekt Zębatka, this time in Gdańsk. I took Peggy and we went there together with Yaelle (who visited me in Rio for the weekend). Surprisingly it turned out that Łaźnia Centre of Contemporary Art has two locations and that Damian Hirst’s exhibition was in one location and the bike workshop in totally a different one. So – I eventually didn’t make it to the workshop, but on the way back we did 45 kilometres with Peggy which was a lot of fun! And the bike repair lessons are still ahead of me. Anyone would like to train me? Please please..

Rio (Ryjewo), 16 August 2015

Day 32: Rio (Ryjewo), Poland, 10 August 2015

I’m not blogging again! And I know that later on I will regret it. So I just forced myself right now to write this short summary of the last days.

Yesterday night I submitted the proposal to Polak Potrafi. And that means that Nikodem has finished working on the video and on the graphics and that I have finished with the text and the proposal itself. And eventually was courageous enough to click “send for verification” button. It’s been partly a relief, but on the other hand the waiting part has started, which is not that cool itself. And I have also realized that it was already after midnight when I have submitted this proposal. And that means that I’ve done it exactly one month after my first blog post on Girl on Bike. So when Girl on Bike was somehow born alive. But there will be another, separate blog post about it!

So early in the morning I got the answer from Polak Potrafi – they really act fast! They have accepted the project (yay!), they have sent a huuuuge and extremely helpful list “How to get ready for campaigning” which I’m slowly going through right now but they have also questioned the quality of the sound in the video. So I started the action “let’s record the sound once again” early in the morning. I have recorded it on the laptop so far – and let’s see after Niko will be back home in the evening, whether the new one with some wind blows at the back, will be good enough this time. I would like to start campaigning on 15th August the latest, which will be exactly one month before the travel. Aha, because in the meantime I have changed the departure date from 30th August into 15th September.

recording the voice in my parents' garden
recording the voice in my parents’ garden

In the last two days I have chosen and organized two photo galleries on the blog (Palestine + Jordan) – to have something to get back to in the moments of doubts. Looking at the photos usually help – it’s always good to look at them and then think “it was worth and effort that time, so it will be worth an effort this time as well”. I have prepared also a lost of things I can ask the potential sponsors for, and the list of potential sponsors. And now I’m going to prepare a sponsoring offer for them. And then keep sending, and sending, and sending..

Beata has sent a list of travel blogs and media. I made a list of all the people I can ask to help me to reach media.

I spend the whole days in front of the computer. My dad told me yesterday: “You do nothing but computer all the time!”. Well, yes, I do. There is no other way to organize all of that. At least I have a lot of space and silence around – and that helps a lot!

Rio (Ryjewo), 10 August 2015

Day 29: Rio (Ryjewo), Poland, 7 August 2015

Last two days I’ve been working a lot on Girl on Bike’s project. Huh! My “to do list” is so long already that I decided to create (attention attention, some of the people know exatcly what THAT means) an EXCEL SPREADSHEET! And now I have every day in a spreadsheet: what should happen that day + what I should do every day – before I leave. And it looks like it’s not even full time job now, it’s like double time at least!

I met Marta – a communication specialist working for Grayling Poland a few days ago and it was a very good meeting. Marta has advised me a lot about social media and what I should connect with what and how to do it. And she was sharing her experiences and ideas about different travel bloggers and their communication strategies. I kept writing it all down and thinking which of them suit my idea and which don’t. Marta, Ben – thank you, guys, for sharing and supporting!

I decied to make all possible lists as well (yes, not only I am in love with the excel spreadsheets but in all kinds of lists as well), becasue there are too many things in head already. As a result I created:

  • a list of books that I want to read becasue of my bike trip (but not necessarily BEFORE my bike trip, I’m trying to be realistic…)
  • a list of all the fears I have (not to keep them inside my, but to let the ghosts out)
  • a list of all the titles of the posts I want to write
  • a list of all sentences, quotes – that I have heard or I have read and which I don’t want to forget (+ the info about the source)
  • a list of all webites, blogs, travel media that I could cooperate with (and Beata has agreed to help me with that, thank you, Beata!)
  • a list of all the topic that I would like to write one day but becasue I’m busy now with one thousand other things, I’m not able to focus on that now, but I still want to do it the other day..
  • a list of all the projects and ideas that I want to do on my way, besides the main one which is story writing.

Yes, I definitely love the lists as well…

I’ve been in touch with Polak Potrafi as well and I got to know that it is possible to receive some money from aborad. So the whole day yestedray (before I left Warsaw) and the day before yesterday I spent on translating my project into English. Actually at the moment there are only a few graphics missing + the video (the most important!) an I should soon be ready to submit the proposal. Nikodem has promised that he will try to finish it by Saturday (which is tomorrow), so I would really really like to submit it on Sunday and I hope to be able to start money collection at the beginning of the next week, becasue the time is shrinking so quickly..

Yaelle, that has hosted me those last couple of days, has advised me also on my blog – that I should consider separating the “reflective” posts from the “bike” posts. And I really think it’s a good idea, so the most of the day today I’ve spent on skimming over all the posts written so far (which is always an interesting process itself!) and I eventually shared them into three categories: 1. “day by day” – where I’m going to publish about stricte bike project related issues only and how did I make this project happen; 2. “bike stories” – the most important part, where I want to publish the stories from the road, that is not about me but from the road; 3. “varia” – where I will keep posting all kinds of reflections that is associations, sorrows, longings, considerations; well, “varia” in one word.

I’ve been riding yesterday with a blablacar from Warsaw to Rio (to my parents’ place) and it turned out that the driver and his girlfriend both do work in Polish Radio and they have offered to talk to a friend of them from the radio that might be interested in my project. That would be pretty awesome!

I also keep struggling with the social media and it takes most of my time – how to connect all of them together: a blog + Facebook + Instagram + Polak Potrafi’s project, so I spend a lot of time on reading, learning and questioning (thank you, Paula, for all the consultations!).

Aha, and we were also shooting this video for Polak Potrafi three days ago – with Nikodem, Beata, Magda & Paula. It’s been sooo stressfull and I think I could win the category of “the best ‘making of’ actress”, but not really “the best actress”. Here is how it looked like, more or less:

And now is the time to go back to work!

Ps. It turns out that the very first post I have published on 10th July, which means it will be a month very soon since this blog has been created. Wow!

Rio (Ryjewo), Poland, 7 August 2015

Day 24: Warsaw, Poland, 2 August 2015

Today was the day of planning a film scenario for Polak Potrafi – six long hours of working over the scenario and Polak Potrafi’s projects but also a superloooong and supergooood conversation with The Jillion‘s people – supernew and supercool crowdfunding platform. And if not this whole amount of work I’ve already done for Polak Potrafi, I’d totally crowdfund with them, because they have so much energy and I just simply love their idea!

Ps. I registered yesterday at workaway – and this is where the magic happens!

Warsaw, Poland, 2 August 2015

Day 21: Cracow, Poland, 30 July 2015

So the whoooole day yesterday I was working on Girl on Bike or actually on my Polak Potrafi profile. What is more! I was creating a film scenario as well – for the very first time in life! I’m actually extremelly stressed about this film becasue I have never done anything like that and I have no idea about it. But I watched some other films which other people did and I eventually started creating the idea for my own one. And I sent it for consultations – I’m already receiving some comments! Nikodem agreed to shoot on Tuesday afternoon – maybe a bit late, but some things cannot be speeded up, so I just simply accepted it.

I also work a lot on gathering the team and the most urgent issue is to find someone, who is a communication specialist to consult the whole process and all my ideas. I have no clue about it which makes me feel totally lost. Although I received a lot of good advices from the Polak Potrafi team, I need to sit down with someone professional, who will just spend some time with me and using his/her knowledge and skills, will advice what I should do and how to do it step by step. I keep sending different e-mails now and let’s see what the result will be. Fingers crossed!

I also decided yesterday to create a gallery with pictures from the countries I have visited and I will visit – because this is usually the place I visit on other people’s websites. The idea came to my mind after I visited the website of a cyclist couple – Własna Droga – thank you, guys, for the inspiration! And hell yeah, they have the real adventures and really really good pictures – check it on your own!

Aha, and probably the most important thing for today – more for today than yesterday actually. I decided that I will make an official announcment of the website’s FB fanpage today! I just thought that it’s probably a good moment, because it’s exactly one month before I will departure. Which makes me think that one month only and I will be back on track, yay!

I’m also quite worried that I will not make it but I try not to focus on that too much.. And I started to think what will happen if I delay the departure. But I really really hope it will not be the case!

And in the evening I just got this information that I cannot take Peggy with me to Istanbul. Peggy with her story and our story, unfortunately, has to stay in Poland.

Peggy during my bike trip to Hel (April 2015)
Peggy during my bike trip to Hel (April 2015)

But that means that I need a new bike, which is another thing I have to add to my (constantly growing) “to do list”. Finding a bike doesn’t sound optimistic as for the bike trip starting in one month, which means the priorities do change and I need to figure out, how to solve this problem. “Challenge” – if we would like to call it a bit more sophisticated way! I have one idea and I’m in the process of checking it.. fingers crossed!

Good news:

– I opened a FB fanpage and sent the invitations to my friends today – at the end of day one of its official existence, I got 137 “likes”. Let’s see how dynamic the situation will be!

– I sent my ideas for Polak Potrafi to three different people that work professionally with PR/communication/advertisment and all of them agreed to help! This is such a wonderful information! So we are having one meeting on Sunday morning to discuss the ideas about the film, but also to work on the communication strategy!

I also had a very very good and productive meeting with Paulina. And I’m really happy to say that she is willing to join Girl on Bike’s team, yay!

Cracow, Poland, 30 July 2015

Day 19: Cracow, Poland, 28 July 2015

A good news came today! Polak Potrafi accepted my initial new crowdfunding idea!! Which actually came to my mind straight after Sunday meeting with Ania – the one who asks the question How to (ex)change the world? And I wrote in a very short time (the former one took me almost two weeks to be submited.. and one hour to be rejected.) Ania, thank you for the inspiration!

So.. the birthday is over which means – get back to work! The acceptance is only inital which means a lot of work before it will be eventually a project ready to be presented to the world. And it means a looooot of work before that happens!

Cracow, Poland, 28 July 2015

Day 15: Warsaw, Poland, 24 July 2015

We have a logo, we have a map!

It’s been a long day, full of good messages and very intensive meetings! Just to quickly sum up:

1) Rafal agreed for all my ideas, so it looks like Girl on Bike will start cooperation with Plan Planeta very soon! All we need to so is to discuss the details – I’m sooo happy!

2) We’ve made a huuuge progress with Niko, which means – we have a logo and we have a map – here you can see both!


Now I really feel like we made it and I’m so proud of all of us and that this project is progressing. Tomorrow a session and final photos to shoot. Which means – I’d like to finish this project during the upcoming weekend – to be ready with it on Monday for my birthday. And to be able to start thinking about sponsors, partners and patronages of the project.

Warsaw, Poland, 22 July 2015

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