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Cycling is not always sunshine and lollipops – an interview with Emily Suchy*

Emily, a bit more than a month ago you have finished your first cycling solo trip. How did you come up with the idea of cycling?

It was actually my dad’s idea. I have just graduated from the high school, decided for the gap year and then my dad came and said: „Oh, you should go cycling”. I thought it was a good idea, becasue I have a problem with my hip, so I cannot do a lot walking and biking seemed a really good option for me to get around the places.

I didn’t think I was going to go that far. Continue reading “Cycling is not always sunshine and lollipops – an interview with Emily Suchy*”

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Feriz & Rijeka*

1st May street – here it is! I breathed thankfully as I wasn’t sure how many more hills will my knees bear. It felt as if the bones were rubbing each other. And it didn’t feel right. „Number 12 is here which means only few more houses and I will be there” – I lifted up my head and I saw a tall smiling brunet waving to me. „Just on time!” – I hailed back and got off my bike.

The story of Feriz seemed to have no end. Or no beginning. Continue reading “Feriz & Rijeka*”

Graz with Malte & Alex

How many flags can you recognize?
How many flags can you recognize?

Malte is a DJ. He studies sustainable urban development – that is how to plan the city’s development in order to make it develop more sustainably economical- and socialwise. That simply means – more people-friendly. He currently focuses on co-working issue, a really cool concept, quite close to me at the moment although I have only once worked in a co-working place (maybe you remember, it was in Krakow, late July, and I was writing there a scenario to the video promoting this trip – wow, that was light years ago!). Continue reading “Graz with Malte & Alex”

Hartberg with Uli

Today I got to know about another bike adventure. Such an inspiration! Kasia and Andrzej just got into the plane to Melbourne, where they are planning to start their bike trip back to Poland. I have to admit – I like it! Even more than very much! I’ve read their whole blog (short one so far), got inspired, noted a few things to my personal notebook. And now I just want to share it with you – in order for you to know abou such amazing things people do! Just check it out here.

But before Kasia and Andrzej decieed for this tripe, they’ve been in another one. And there was this sentence, like an enlightment for me, that had explained everything I couldn’t understand before that. The sentence was (my translation): “In Singar we were doing everything, what cyclicts do in their free day – we were eating and sleeping”.

This is how my free time usually looks like, especially since I lefe Modling. I really wanted to see Ternitz, but I wasn’t (physically) able to do so (simply too tired). I gave myself two days for Hartberg – and I managed 1,5 hours walk. Luckily that’s kind of enough for the 6,5-thousand inhabitants city to see all its attractions.

But it still seemed kind of weird for me – how can I all the time be so sleepy? And here came the answer – maybe when you spend 10 hours on a bicycle, it’s not so weird to be in a need of rest and you are even allowed to play “Eat-Sleep-Repeat” game the following day?

Continue reading “Hartberg with Uli”

Rafal

Rafal in Kyrgystan in 2007 (photo from Rafal's FB)
Rafal in Kyrgystan in 2007 (photo from Rafal’s FB)

I’ve known him for many years. He has always been huge, such a brawny guy. He used to come to our office with those huge hands and huge nose and kept joking, all the time. Afterwards he always flew to Libya or Haiti or somewhere else in the world, to help those who have just lost everything – becasue of war, of an earthquake, tsunami or any other humanitarian catastrophe.

I’ve been always wondering how come he keeps joking all the time. How is it possible? How can one be able to watch so much suffering and stand it all? Be able to joke? Come back and behave normally? Simply business as usual. One day I came with this idea that maybe it’s becasue he is so huge and if you are such a huge person then you also have a huge heart and huge space in it for everyone, for all the people of the world. Because Rafal’s first love are people.

Continue reading “Rafal”

Agata

Agata
Agata

A big smile and a shock of red hair have welcomed me in Grojec. “Hi!” – said Agata, standing in the doors – “Welcome to Grojec!”. I was so happy that it was here, becasue it meant I did it – I just cycled the distance planned for the first day. And I was allowed to take rest from now on. I smiled back and answered: “Hi!”

“Leave the bike in the garage and come home, I will show you everything”. So we did. “Are you hungry? Wanna drink something? Tea? Coffee? Water? Stewed fruit?”. “Stewed fruit!” – I answered excited. Yes, it was Agata who started this tradition that has been continue the whole long way over Poland. “I also made the dumplings with potato&spinach filling”. Oh, with every sentence I liked my stay in Grojec more and more!

Continue reading “Agata”

Bike adventure of Rafal’s dad and brother

That was a real bike adventure! Not the one like mine. Can you imagine that? Bike trailers made with their own hands, packed with stuff for the whole way. I can only try to imagine how it was like. Hard-boiled agges, preserves in glasses, probably a few loafs of bread packed. The whole instrumentation – gas cooker, pots for cooking. A tent, sleeping bags. Well, everything.

And leaving Poland back then – that must have been so exciting.

Rafal’s mum says that the longest bike trip – the one to Rome – lasted for six weeks. From Zywiec to Rome is about 1,5 thousand Kilometers. That gives some 500 Kilometers a week. Quite a lot, I would say.

Quite a lot, especially when you ride an old Polish bike with old inner tubes, which break every few Kilometers. When the bike patches and the glue are of Polish, communist quality. When the hand-made bike trailers are rolling after the bikes.

But I also think how much satisfaction must have been there. And how much joy! That reaching the destination must have really meant a lot. It has not been an adventure only but much much more. Such a real crossing of the borders, entering a completely different world.

Rafal’s brother was 13 years old back then. I was 13 years old in 1996. And going abroad seemed to me someting unconquerable. What would it have to meant in 1980?

Just have a look at those pictures!

Katowice, 9 October 2015

Ania (that is a short story about making dreams come true)

I’ve beaten that mountain. It was a steep one. 600 rough meteres uphill. But I did it. I cried at the end but I managed. Beata said that it was going to be the toughest one that day. Which felt actually good at that moment, becasue it was only the beginning of the day. And I didn’t really feel like having the energy to ride any more such steep uphills. I sat down in front of the church monitored by the company called “Cerberus”, took my notebook and started writing. An hour back, at the moment when I got that message, I already knew that the story had just happened to have the beginning and the end. I just had to sit and write it down.

Ania used to be my high school friend. It was a good and deep friendship, altgouh it didn’t look like this at the beginning. A friendship during which Ania was saving my life while my first hangover and I was explaining her math complexities before the tests. A friendship during which we were driving a car there and back across our village – because it was the best (and only) entertainment available (you could eventually also “polish the pavement” meaning walk the village there and back – what we also used to do when there was no car available). We knew about each other’s happy and less happy love stories. We even happened to visit together a disco once in a while. A friendship like that, you know.

At certain point our paths divergeed. Ania left to the UK, I left to Krakow. After she came back to the country some time later she first setteled in Gdansk, then – eventually – back in our village. At that point we happened to meet each other at the cementary during Holy Saints Day in November. Nothing wrong, we just somehow didn’t really have anything to talk about (you know, so many years passed..) or maybe we even didn’t really want to talk anymore (you know, so many years..). Every time I saw her she had different hair color, but the haircut always remained the same. And her smile remained the same as well. I knew that smile.

In August this year I came to my village for a bit longer, to spend there one month. A month with my family – that was a plan.

We met each other already few days after I arrived – she came, picked me up and took me to the lake – a place I’ve never been before but looked like the one to go to right now. To talk. We’ve spent long hours at the pier together telling each other stories of the whole unseen life. She was smoking cigarretes, I was drinking coke. The sun was slowly getting down.

“You probably already know that I’m getting divorced?” – she asked glancing at me. “Well, everybody knows already” – she answered herself.

How could I know? I haven’t been at the village for years. I happened to visit for a weekend from time to time, but only to see my parents. I knew nothing, especially no gossips.

She told me the story of her marriage, I told her the story of my finished-not-that-long-time-ago-relationship. Surprisingly,we discovered so many similarities! A lot of laughs, a lot of tears.

I told her how I decided to quit job to fulfil my dream about traveling and even though I was very very scared (and still am), I decided to try. And so I asked her to help me with my project. She became a terrace’s piece of furniture – a place that became my new designed office: a table, two chairs, a lot of grass and a lot of space. We’ve sit through many hours over there, Ania did different reseaches for me, sent some e-mails, made several phone calls. She was getting more and more involved in my project and I could see how happy she was about our progress and little successes every single day. I was happy about seeing her every single day.

When I picked up Peggy from the workshop, we even went for a bike trip together, to visit my granny. Only the told me then about her biggest dream. I answered that I believe that dreams are to make them true (knowing – too well – that it’s much easier to say than do).

On a trip together: Ania & me
On a trip together: Ania & me
Ania
Ania

A week after I arrived to Warsaw when I was visitting Iza to borrow a dress from her, I got a message from Ania: “I’m signing for a truck driving license course tomorrow. Becasue dreams are to make them ture”. I jumped up of happiness almost hitting the ceiling, and told the whole story to Iza. Iza jumped up almost hitting the ceiling as well.

A week later, that day when writing the story, I received such a message: “Hugs from the road”, attached to the picture on the right.

Ania, I’m so so so proud of you! And you even don’t know how happy I am about having you back in my life! ❤

Krakow, 26 September 2015 (written in Biskupiec on 19 September 2015)

Iza

Iza as Panna Pollyanna
Iza as Panna Pollyanna (pannapollyanna.pl)

Iza is a friend of mine. We’ve got to know each other some years ago by working for the same organization. I still remember the very first day when Iza came to work. She had extremely long and beautiful eyelashes. Not only eyelashes! The way she looked that day was so beautiful that the moment I saw her, I started wondering how long will she manage to stay with us, NGO-like-dressed people. I haven’t been working for that organization for quite a while already. Iza is still there, doing awful lot of good job.

That day when I first met Iza I could also not suppose that she will become one of the most important people in my life. With her deep belief in people. In every single human being. Like nobody else. I often wonder where she takes those loads of positive energy from. I tried to read it out between the lines on her blog Panna Pollyanna, but all I managed was to get inspired by her more and more to be a better person and enjoy every single second of my life.

Michal Woroch (fot. donttellhimplease.blogspot.com)
Michal Woroch (photo: donttellhimplease.blogspot.com)

Becasue Iza is the most inspirational person I’ve ever got to know. When I told her this, she answered: “It’s not me, it’s Michal. It’s him who is so inspiring!”. Michal – a photographer and a traveller, suffering from muscular atrophy, which makes him a wheel-chair user. A co-founder of the WheelChairTrip project – a travel across South Africa together with Maciej Kaminski, another wheel-chair user. On their own.

Impossible is nothing, as usually says Iza.

When she told me about this project for the first time, I opened my eyes (and jaw) time and again. I was stunned. Who else if not Iza would be willing to help two guys on wheel-chairs make their dream come true and go to South America? Only someone who believes that impossible is nothing. She made all of us believe that impossible is nothing. In four days she managed to get almost 1.5 thousand people passionate about this trip. Collected something around 10.000 PLN or I don’t know how much, becasue people keep donating all the time. And she just started. #DontTellHim – she asked all of us becasue that was supposed to be the most secret crowdfunding action in the world. Well, it’s difficult to keep something secret when dozens of people join your passion, belief and want to be part of what you’re doing. How the hell did she dare to ask us #DontTellHim when all we wanted the most was TO TELL HIM! We managed for four days.

When Girl on Bike was coming true (although it was not yet Girl on Bike back then), I skyped with Iza. I was sitting in a canteen in Jerusalem, Iza was in her office. In her very first words she told me that this is an awesome project and I definitely have to make it happen and she presented to me at least one hundred ideas what I can take into consideration. I was stunned and entranced that someone can believe in me and my idea so much. That’s how she made Girl on Bike to come alive.

Our common friend said recently that Iza is the reason why she keeps coming to work every day.

Do you know how inspirations work? Michal inspired Iza, Iza inspired me, I – via Girl on Bike – inspired Ania (and I already have this story about Ania ready for you as well, just need to sit down and finish it eventually, because it’s waiting in my notebook!). Who will be inspired by Ania? Let’s see!

Each of those stories is a story of making some dreams come true.

And I think that this is what life is about – to make dreams come true. Not to fear them. To face them and chase them when they start running away.

Iza made me believe in my project. Iza made Michal believe in his project. Iza made me and thousands of other people believe in Michal’s project as well.

Become a part of this beautiful story and join us – the dreams belivers. Believe in it and support it: wheelchairtrip.com.

Michal & Maciej (fot. wheelchairtrip.com)
Michal & Maciej (photo: wheelchairtrip.com)

Krakow, 23 September 2015

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