Saturday, 14 July 2018

Day 37 (13/07/18)

Chappie was stored in a secure garage overnight and I had to go down from the hotel room at 0800 to move him to the hotel forecourt. I had a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant and I have to say a huge thank you to the owner (below) and the local council for arranging my stay at Hotel Bratislava. Thanks also to my contact Iryna in Ternopil for her assistance too. 

I was in no rush to get started today as the local media weren’t arriving until 1000. We chatted for 45 minutes and I was on my way through the busy streets of Ternopil. I tried to pick the most efficient route and just about got it right. 

I hadn’t gone 100 meters before a man in a passing car handed me a bottle of water. I had 6 bottles on my shopping list so that was definitely a good start. 

As I arrived at the man made lake a man and women pulled over in their car. I described my journey to them in the usual way and the man offered me some accommodation, shower and food. I’d just had all three and tried to get that message across. He wasn’t having any of it. He then looked around for a passing young person on the basis that they would be able to translate. He brought a girl into the conversation and she was able to get my message across. He shook my hand and on I went. When people see me here in Ukraine, they are desperate to help in some way and this was just another shining example of that. 

Ternopil was much bigger than I expected. It’s probably the biggest city that I’ve seen since Belgrade. It’s a pity that I couldn’t have spent more time here. 

The city was busy but I felt very confident on the road and ever since I left Belgrade I’ve had a lot of confidence in the passing traffic. That doesn’t mean that I ever get complacent mind you. 

I had a brief chat with some cyclists in the city centre. They were on the way to Poland I think. I twisted and turned through the streets and alongside the busy traffic until I reached the National Revival Park. 

A man asked me if there was anything he could do to help? He was a doctor and spoke English. After a brief conversation he rushed off to a nearby shop to buy some water. Thanks to his kindness all that was left for me to buy was some Coca Cola. 

I eventually reached the city limits and spotted a gas station. I picked up a few bottles of Coca Cola and the equivalent of Irn Bru. The man picture below insisted on paying and also gave me a donation to St Benedict’s Hospice which I paid in straight away to my Virgin Money Giving page. 

I left Ternopil with all of the supplies that I needed thanks to all of those kind people. I do have a small budget for such things but I appreciate all of this support nonetheless. 

I looked back to the city and got stuck into a few climbs. “It’s got to flatten out soon” I thought. I’ve been thinking that for a few days now. 

Thank you to everyone who made a donation to St. Benedict’s Hospice today in recognition of my birthday. One such person was Jason Stobbs who had been in the support team in Australia and Europe. I took the photo below for him. If we ever saw one of these in the distance during our time in outback of Australia we knew that we stood a good chance of getting a mobile phone signal. It wasn’t always the case sadly. 

After 12 miles, I saw a sign for Kyiv. This was my cue to turn due east and I felt happy to be running in the correct direction after the many twists and turns of the previous five weeks. 

The new road was a lot quieter and had some nice climbs to get stuck in to. A few people pulled over for photos and I was more than happy to oblige. 

As the dark clouds came in I decided to call it a day at the 17 mile point. It was starting to rain and I setup camp at the side of the road. It was a safe distance away from the traffic. It was 1730 when I finished for the day. 

I climbed into Chappie and after an hour of snoozing decided to watch a movie as a birthday treat. The choice was American Assassin. With 10 minutes of the movie left a car pulled up and I had a very confusing conversation with a man and his two sons. 

I thought he was saying that it wasn’t safe here but I could sleep at his house and have food. It was only 1km away. He drove off and I assumed he would be waiting 1km down the road. I packed everything in Chappie and reluctantly made my way down the road in the fading light. 

After half a kilometre another passing car stopped me and I heard “Mark, selfie”. I told them that I had to keep moving and half a kilometre as the darkness would soon be on us. That man and his son stopped at a garage and we took some photos. A kind donation to St Benedict’s Hospice was also made and paid in to my Virgin Money Giving page after they left. 

It was at this point that I realised that the first man was telling me that there was a gas station 1km away and that would be safer to sleep in. Next time this happens I’m going to use Google Translate! 

I kept on running and found a bus stop to sleep in with the final light of the day fading. There was a huge kerb into the bus stop so I had to dead lift all 110 kg of Chappie into it. I let out a huge groan as I lifted. It’s the last thing I needed. 

It’s pitch black outside as I’m writing this blog. I’ve just caught sight of my own reflection, lit up by my phone, in Chappie’s window! I didn’t even flinch. I just assumed that it was just another kind Ukrainian bearing more gifts, good wishes or after a photo. 

Happy birthday to me from a little bus stop in Ukraine.