Pedal for no Medal – Day 18
So boys and girls, we have another story for you now. The last day of the “Pedal for no Medal” adventure. The date was February 7, time was 8:15, the temperature was -1 degrees and the four bikes got on the last stretch of this legendary ride. Up and down they went, following the twisted serpentine road with the view of the Black sea and what a beautiful, challenging and interesting path it was. To fully understand, how interesting it was, imagine a 2,6 kilometers high mountain and then imagine getting to the top of it on your bike, and you’ll get the idea of the total ascent our riders did today. After 25 kilometers of uninterrupted ride the pedalers ran into the Magri check point which according to the rumors was as close as you could get to Sochi without the spectators pass. As you know, our riders didn’t have this piece of paper, but that didn’t stop them from trying to cross this final frontier. The dedicated officers of law were so surprised by the four cyclists, that in between many questions they failed to ask for the spectators pass, so after the passport check and inspection of the contents of the bicycle boxes the guys got through the unbreakable security chain followed by good wishes. It took them exactly 10 minutes. The arrangements had been made and the time was slowly but inevitably running out, so the riders pushed and pushed until Karlis B. pushed a bit too hard. Going down a serpentine road with a speed of 35 km/h he suddenly got a very close view of the wet asphalt. After sliding forward for some time with tremendous noise and almost giving a heart-attack to the driver of the Ziguli following him he just got up and on his bike again. There was no time to loose. During this fast and furious race with the time Karlis B. managed to give several phone interviews constantly pedaling and moving forward. Even Kaspars admitted, that Karlis B. is going a bit too fast. Afterwards Kaspars explained, that he couldn’t keep up with the pace, because he wasn’t in the right mental zone – after all today they had to ride only 110 kilometers, and you can’t get into the zone in such a short distance. The last 5 kilometers to Sochi proved to be the longest ones, and not because of the steep uphill rides, but purely psychological phenomenon. You know what they say – watched pot doesn’t boil. And they watched, they watched their gadgets closely, and it seemed like the digital kilometer indicator had fallen sound asleep. But, when after a lifetime of pedaling the gang finally got to the capital of the Olympic flame, it was they, who fell asleep. It felt like a diversion by an evil spirit – the guys took a wrong turn and realized it a bit too late to go back, so rushed by the clock ticking in their heads they took a “shortcut” through the yards and up and down some stairs. But the evil spirit didn’t let go so easily. Almost in every intersection it pushed the riders in the wrong direction despite the fact that they were constantly checking their navigation devices. At a certain point they realized, that it’s impossible for all of them to get in time to the arranged meetings, so the team split up. Kaspars and Karlis P. left the route to meet with the president of Latvia, but Kārlis B. and Roberts pushed forward to the Radisson Blu hotel, the headquarters of Latvians in Sochi. Of course the rushed planning was not the most successful, because both of the groups reached their destination a bit late. It’s a good thing, that even the president is sometimes late, so our guys didn’t miss the meeting. During the chat Andris Berzins told the guys, that he has an experience of 10 kilometers in the cheerful discipline of winter cycling, so he understands, what it’s all about. While the first group was chatting and taking photos with the head of our nation, Karlis B. and Roberts were still fighting off the evil spirit of misguidance. Again the confused two made a wrong turn and found themselves in front of a no win decision between a crowded pedestrian road and a two line one way street going in the wrong direction. The pedestrian road it was. The riders forced through the wave of people coming the opposite way just to run into a fence. What now? There was no way of going around it and the ride back would take way too much time. The only solution was obvious – they picked up their bikes and climbed over the obstacle. Someone would say that it was illegal, but the policeman guarding the nearby crossing didn’t even blink, when the two climbers rolled on the street diverting the traffic with persuasive gestures. To outrun the time the riders pushed their limits and then some riding up the hill with a speed of 55 km/h. There was no finish line, but, when the bikes stopped by the “House of Latvia,” that was it – the 2840 kilometers ride was over. The remaining two messengers delivered their package to Vilnis Baltins, the honorary president of the Latvian Olympic Committee, who will hand the children’s drawings to our Olympians. The honorary president of the LOC proved to be a warmhearted fellow and got really moved by the children’s drawings. After overcoming the sentiment he asked the guys a tricky question, “Why did you ride to the Olympic games?” “Because the Olympics are all about participation,” answered our fearless leader. “Wrong. The Olympics are all about participating in the race for the win,” with a wise smile explained Mr. Baltins. At this point our mission was done and the time had come to tell the story, so the guys gave a couple of interviews and wallowed in the eye of a camera for a while. After the formalities the team got reunited and finally could pat on each others’ back. They actually did it, they managed to ride from Riga to Sochi in winter in 17 days making a total distance of 2840 kilometers. That’s something by any standards.
So dear friends, this marvelous adventure is over, but you can be sure, that this is not the end of the road and adventures. At least not for us. So stay tuned on our frequency and don’t forget, that the adventure is out there.
BoB, over and out.