3251km of a lone bike trip

  • 28.04.2018, 11:40 (update 03.08.2018, 15:43)
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3251km of a lone bike trip
Paul Koch - a 30-year-old traveler with an abundance of passions. Paul is a professional firefighter who loves his job, but his world does not revolve around it. He is a one-man-orchestra: a devoted mountaineer, diver, mountain hiker and, above all, a passionate cyclist. He received some world recognition last year, when he cycled to Athens in 30 days, all alone, for his little friend suffering from leukemia - a five-year-old girl named Jagoda. This, however, wasn't the first, nor the last, bike expedition for the brave firefighter.

1. You are an active man - a firefighter, a devoted mountaineer, a diver. Where did your passion for cycling come from?
I got into cycling through a friend of mine, an Englishman who cycled around the world! As a young boy I used to be a boy scout and there I learned how to be active. If it wasn't for this, I would probably be spending my holidays lying on a beach. My friends sometimes ask me, if there is anything I haven't done yet, but being a boy scout has shown me so many different directions.

2. If you were to write down your cycler CV what would it look like?
My first ride with bike panniers was just a weekend trip, some 300km.there and back again. Then, I took a 7-day-long trip around Poland, and then it was Paris, France, Bornholm in Denmark, and last year, Athens, Greece. I didn't cycle much between these long trips. I ride my bike every day, so I don't need to engage in any serious workout.

3. How do you prepare for your trips?
It is difficult to divide my preparations into stages, but there is always time for preparing a route plan, doing some shopping and initial packing. There is not much that can be done beforehand. Last year I bought a bike hardly a week before my trip, so I was cycling on an equipment that wasn't fully tested. Even though I ordered it earlier, they sent me a wrong bike. It turned out, that there was no way to fit in the panniers. I went to the Czech Republic to take it back and finally got the right bike a week before leaving. I only managed to go to Stegna and back. The biggest test was the expedition itself. But, as you can see, it worked perfectly well, because nothing broke down.

4. Are you not tempted to try and take part in a professional competition - get some cycling trophies?
No, I am not a competitive person. I prefer sports were I am able to test myself alone. I thought I could take part in an Iron-man competition someday, but I would have to improve my swimming. Of course, If I would do it, it would only be for myself and not for the medal, as those are not at all appealing to me..

5. Unlike your expedition to France, your last trip was also a charity action for your friend, Jagoda,  who is suffering from leukemia. Did such a noble goal give you wings, or did you feel a bigger pressure?
There was no pressure, but there were moments of doubt. However, even when I felt that my legs were hurting, or when the rain was falling down heavily, I always reminded myself how small these problems are, and that people have much bigger problems. And then I thought about my young friend.

6. What are the reactions of people you meet along the way?
Always positive. Not once did I feel threatened. Even in Albania, at a gas station, when I wanted to inflate a wheel, I was assisted by 4 locals. They wanted to help me so much.
In Western Europe, the inhabitants are perfectly familiar with cyclists. From the 900 km route through Germany, I covered up to 800 km along bicycle paths. The infrastructure is prepared 100%. There were nothing but corn fields and between these fields threre was a beautiful bike path with perfect signs and nicely poured asphalt. Similarly in France and Belgium.

7. There was Paris and Greece - what 's next? What are your plans for this year?
I usually come up with plans for my next expedition when the previous one is still underway. Right now I'm planning a trip on the route: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, ferry to Finland, Sweden, Denmark and return to Poland. An expedition around the Baltic Sea. I have the route already in my head, but, obviously, you cannot really plan trips that long. There will always be problems along the way, so plans need to change as well. As always, I will start my journey in September. If it will be a dedicated journey, I will once again support Jagoda and I will put my whole heart into it!

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Benny 25.07.2018, 12:42
Wow. This is quite an achievement. What a dude!