Cycling towards Siberia vol. 1/3 (with no intention to reach there)

Náš rider Paulie se jednoho dne rozhodl, že pojede na kole pro dobrou věc. A tak jel a jel a jel směr Sibiř... no a o tom jak jel, proč jel a kam dojel čtěte dál - zde je první díl a další dva Vás ještě čekají! Dole je potom návod jak přispět na onu dobrou věc - pořízení jednoho invalidního vozíku....
"I have never been too good in pursuing a career, wealth and those kind of things people usually do. However, I have always been driven and one thing I was capable to do better than others was pursuing my dreams and ideas – often stupid ones."

... so when approximately two years ago a friend of mine gave me a book with a short comment, “I have not finished it, but I think you will like it...”, the whole thing triggered. The book was about a somewhat unsatisfied teacher from London, who longed for adventure and set himself a goal to cycle from Siberia back to London. The journey took him over 3 years and led him through numerous exciting destinations on both the northern and southern hemisphere. At that time, I was fulfilling a tedious duty of my master degree in economics, spending most of the days sitting on my butt, reading “intelligent” books to prepare myself for the final exams. Every night, when getting to bed, I read a chapter or two from this thrilling book and it had a huge influence on my mind. My life seemed so empty and futile that I felt an urge to go on a prolonged bike trip myself.

Pavel Drastik start Cesta na Sibir

After successfully finishing my degree I immediately departed to catch up with mountains, skiing and old friends in Chamonix, France. I had 3 months to enjoy before getting a shoulder operation, an untreated injury from the previous winter, back home in Prague. After fast rehabilitation I left for summer in Norway to surf and have fun and because I had so much fun there I decided to stay for a whole year instead. I had a lot of plans on my mind from a surf trip to Indonesia to a bike trip. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do first, but since I hadn't departed to Indonesia I kind of had to go somewhere. So when I got six weeks free from work I knew I would give the bike trip a go. My planned itinerary has long been Prague – Saint Petersburg. I think I wanted to end up in Russia and I desired to visit the Baltic states too, those were probably the reasons. Roughly a three thousand kilometer long odyssey, just me, my bicycle, a tent and lots of nature along the Baltic coast, or at least this is how I imagined it.

Cesta na Sibir Cesta na Sibir Pavel

After my Last day at work in Norwegian oil capital Stavanger, I stuffed my car with whatever I might need, including a borrowed cross bicycle, and headed south direction Prague. There was a lot to take care of before I would be ready to set off. First of all I had to put together the bike, which hadn't been used in some years. I was grateful to the effort of my friend who did his best to prepare the bike in almost no time. I had to collect pre-ordered bicycle racks and waterproof panniers, borrow a brand new lightweight tent and got a hold of many other smaller pieces of equipment. I was slightly stressed thinking of what have I put myself into. I felt ill prepared and had no chance to test any of the acquired equipment. Not quite the beginning you hope for. As if this was not enough, the doctor I visited discovered an infection and prescribed me twenty-day’s antibiotics. At this point I had a good reason to call the whole thing off. It would certainly ease my anxiety and fear for the moment, but it would very likely cause more damage to my adventurous spirit in the long term. It just didn't seem to be the right thing to do after I had spent a considerable amount of time preparing for my trip. Getting a Russian visa was an ordeal of it's own, as was hustling potential sponsors, and above all, I wasn't doing the whole thing for my own sake. It had become a charitable ride where we were trying to raise funds to buy a wheel chair for a person who had injured himself in an unfortunate accident.

Cesta na Sibir kolo Cesta na Sibir - posed

I visited another doctor the day after and he, understating my point, gave me a “GO” with only six day's antibiotics and assured me that it should not cause any harm to me. This little postponement helped me to fix many details and allowed me to go for a two day test ride to the water reservoir Orlik, a place we used to go camping since my early childhood. I gained the important confidence in my material and calmed down. The evening before the departure I went  through the load with my dad, an experienced bike-tourer, who acknowledges saying “less is the best” and he took  away the rest of my few clothes. Thanks to him, I would feel like the odd one out as I would unwillingly wear my cycling pieces in the numerous cities that I visited along the way. The next day I would finally set off.

It was around noon when my dad, a few friends and me gathered in front of the Prague castle. We patted each others shoulders, snapped a few pictures, some more and I was finally on the road, cycling towards Siberia. Rather than uneasy I felt relieved, there was not much to take care of any longer, my needs would be limited strictly to those physiological ones – eat, sleep, keep safe and warm. I enjoyed cycling in my country and talking my mother tongue. It didn't take long until I pulled over by the first house to ask for some water. I felt a bit awkward answering a typical “where you heading” question, it just seemed to be so far to be true and most of the people looked at me in disbelief. This had happened on more occasions and I got the feeling that it sounded really quite odd, that it might be little bit exaggerated, that I might not be cycling this far after all. I was just tens of kilometers away from Prague. So I decided to forget about Saint Petersburg and rather pointed out a bigger city on the way or a state border at the most.

Cesta na Sibir pavel vecer Cesta na Sibir Pavel kuk za stanem

On my first day the cycling went reasonably well and I covered circa 90 kilometers riding at a calm pace. The weather was very favorable as well, and later on I found a lovely place between corn fields to put up my tent, witnessed my first sunset on the trip and I felt pretty happy really. My plan for the next day was to reach the polish border. I had plenty of time to cover that distance so I cycled on the back roads, occasionally getting lost and found again. I managed to do almost twice as many kilometers as I initially thought. Just before dusk I reached the Rock Town, a place I had visited many times with my sister and my dad and his climbing companions. The Rock Town is a natural reserve with impressive sand stone rocks, a place popular with rock climbers. It was raining by then and I was excited to find a shelter called Echo, a little picnic place with tables and a roof where climbers would occasionally find shelter for a night. This would be my last night on Czech soil. After swallowing pasta for dinner, sending a few text messages, studying maps and planning for Poland, I fell asleep on one of the tables. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one planning on spending the night there as I found out later. Five young climbers, considerably high on alcohol, appeared soon after 2 am, when they were thrown out from a local pub. They were as surprised of my company as I was of theirs. I refused politely the wine they offered me as I was worn out and having antibiotics. They were loud and kept on climbing a rock wall inside the shed, constantly falling off. I was trying to sleep, but I was also concerned about my possessions and bicycle. At least two of the boys were feeling obviously bad and fighting their balance and occasionally puking. I feared having my bicycle crushed and vomited on.

When I woke up I checked my surroundings for vomit. Luckily, the boys stayed out of reach. A ranger came before the first visitors and asked us to leave. I quickly packed my panniers and said good bye, receiving some apologies in exchange. At the border I refilled my bottles, exchanged the rest of the Czech crowns for Polish zloty and crossed to Poland. Poland is a big, flat country and the least exotic on the way. I didn't want to waste my time here, I wanted to get to the Baltics as soon as possible. And because of my delay and expiring Russian visa, I decided to hop on a train from Wroclaw to Ilawa, saving about 4 days, which would come in handy when cycling around the beautiful coastline. I cycled, ate and slept day after day with not much happening. The best thing in Poland were numerous stands by the road with fresh homegrown fruit and vegetables. I ate heaps of cheap strawberries and raspberries. After four days I reached the Baltic sea close to Elblag. It was not quite a sea yet, it was rather a huge lake with a tiny entrance to the sea, but in any case the water was salty. I was approaching the Russian border and I was feeling the pressure. Who of you has cycled in Russia? Who of your friends then? Few or none? Exactly, the only person I'd heard of was the guy who wrote the book, which inspired me. And he, by the way, was robbed twice on his 3 year journey. One of these times was at gunpoint right there in Russia. I simply didn't know what to expect. The proverb “fear is not knowing” was accurate. The main road, the only road on my map, leading to Kaliningrad, didn't seem very scenic either. In the last town before the border I met some German cyclists, who came from there. At least I knew they had cycled the same way I was planning to. I was worried but I had to go on...

Cesta na Sibir strast cesta Cesta na Sibir - leták

A jak to bylo dál se dočtete v pátek... a to vlastně už bylo takže druhý díl Pavlova dobrodružství naleznete tady! No a zde je také finální část Paulieho dobrodružství.
Second part of the story is here! Stay tuned ;) Well, here is the last part of Paulie's adventure.

Pavel spent 5 weeks on the road, visiting 7 countries and covering approximately 2500 km. He cycled on a borrowed bicycle and slept in a borrowed tent, some of the other pieces of equipment were as well borrowed. Most of his meals he prepared on a little gas stove he was carrying, his bathroom was Baltic sea. Apart from Pavel's personal goals, his intention was to raise money for Olga Havlova Foundation, Olga Havlova was a wife of the first president of the Czech Republic - Vaclav Havel. Pavel chose to help to a young person, who ended up on a wheel chair, after an unfortunate accident.
 
So far the expedition has raised 13 566 CZK.
 
Please feel free to help with Pavel! You can directly transfer your donation to the account of Olga Havlova Nadation:  
Account number: 625625625/0300
 
For international donations please use a money transfer to:
IBAN CZ72 0300 0000 0004 7843 7033 BIC/SWIFT Code CEKOCZPP Bank Account Number 478437033 Beneficiary Bank Name ČSOB, a.s.  
 
In both cases please state “Siberia” in the field for notes or message to receiver.
Your help will be immensely appreciated!