Saturday, 14 July 2018

Day 38

This blog starts shortly after midnight where I was camped inside Chappie under a bus shelter. It was probably the worst place that I’d chosen to sleep on this tour so far. Having only got to sleep at approximately 0100, I was woken up by a bus pulling alongside Chappie. I saw a person get out to take a photo. In the spirit of the occasion I stuck a thumb up for the photo and the bus left. 

I was just drifting off to sleep again when a car with a trailer pulled into the bus stop. I could see the driver sitting smoking but not doing anything else. I assumed he was taking a rest break. Soon after, another car pulled into the bus stop. The passenger and driver got out of the car and I could hear them talking. 

There was no way I was getting any sleep with people nearby in the early hours of the morning. 

A bus arrived and the passenger of the second car got on board and the car drove off. This just left the original car and trailer. A van arrived at 0200 and the man in the car went to collect some large drums of something. He lifted the drums into his trailer. The van left and the man attempted to start his car. No luck! His car would not start. He tried numerous times to start his car over the next few hours and I think I drifted off to sleep at 0400. 

At 0500 I sensed someone nearby Chappie. I looked out of the window and the man was standing right beside us ready to have a closer look. I said hello from inside and he replied with “Sorry” and returned to his vehicle. 

I lay awake until 0800 when some people turned up to fix the man’s car. I packed up camp, lifted all 70kg of Chappie onto the road and loaded my supplies into Chappie. 

I set off running at 0830 and not only felt extremely tired but also very hungry. I hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday’s breakfast. While I was moving, I ate a few snack bars. I followed this up with a painkiller. My right foot was in a lot of pain. Thankfully, the pain that started last Tuesday in my left ankle has improved greatly. 

There were climbs all through today’s route. I’m done complaining about them. It’s better to focus on getting to the summit of each one. 

I found a CO-OP just after the first mile in Nyzhchi Lubianky. The only thing I could see to buy in there was a big bag of crisps and a Coca Cola. That was breakfast. 

As I got stuck into the climbs it started to rain. On went the waterproof and I was gutted when I realised that my rain poncho was deep inside Chappie. The sign below was one of many up/down hill signs that I saw. 

I didn’t look at my watch today so I’m not too sure at what mile I pulled over at a bus shelter to empty Chappie in the loading down rain. It was worth the effort as I retrieved my fleece and rain poncho from inside Chappie. I was quite cold and continued on my way wearing a base layer, fleece, waterproof and rain poncho. 

I listened to more episodes of Desert Island Discs to help get me through the morning miles. I enjoyed the Stephen Hawking, Kylie Minogue, Denise Robertson, Ant and Dec and Charlie Brooker episodes. I think I must have listened to 30 or so others on this tour so far. 

The rain pelted down and I was very snug within my 4 layers. I wish that I’d worn my waterproof socks though. I could feel my right foot disintegrating. 

The rain stopped and started. The climbs came and went. The road surface was once again poor today. There haven’t been many potholes in this Oblast but the roads are buckled. This makes life very difficult for me as I have to suffer on uneven ground or Chappie does. 

I stopped at Vyshhorodok when I saw a shop. I bought a few long life croissants and a coffee. I wolfed them down and started the long steep climb out of the village. That particular climb was the one I’ve circled below. 

Once the coffee and croissants started providing fuel I felt pretty good. Throw in a painkiller and some decent tunes and it was a platform to increase the pace in the afternoon session. 

Miles 14 to 20 were the quickest of the day and I felt that I had a decent total of miles in me today.

I reached Lanivtsi which was where I was due to make a right hand turn towards Starokostyantyniv. A group of people were waiting for me and we took a few pictures. They had seen coverage of my run in the local news. 

I asked them if there was anywhere that I could get a shower in the town. They called the local hotel but no luck. My feet were in desperate need of a good clean as was the rest of me I suppose! 

Another couple (Yuri and Victoria as I later learned) pulled up in their car and said that they could help. They had seen coverage of my run on a Turnopil website. Not only could I have a shower, but they had accommodation above their workshop. I walked the remaining few hundred metres to the “hotel” and was shown to my room. To me, at that moment, it was like seeing the Ritz hotel. I desperately need at least 5 hours sleep and I knew that I stood a good chance of getting it here. 

Victoria asked what time I’d like to eat! “6pm would be great” I replied. I couldn’t believe that I’d have a shower, roof over my head, food and a good chance to treat my feet. I’d been thinking all day that this would probably be the first day when I wouldn’t meet anyone in particular or be shown the type of kindness that I’ve seen so many times in Ukraine on this tour. How wrong I was! I showered and soaked my feet. My right foot was as bad as I thought.

I arrived at the dinner table which was set outside. It was a very short walk away from my room. A lot of Yuri and Victoria’s family were present. We had some good laughs which mainly centred around our language barrier. Yuri and Victoria said what so many other people have said on this tour. They can understand me when I talk in English but sometimes they don’t know the words to speak in English. 

Dinner started with Borscht (soup). It was delicious and is fast becoming one of my favourites. Then the main course was barbecued sausages, potatoes, salad and a home cooked pork. It was all so very tasty and I definitely replaced some of the calories burned over the last two days. 

Dessert was a 16kg melon. It’s approximately the same weight that I’ve lost so far on this tour. Yuri skilfully sliced the watermelon, it was very sweet and a perfect end to a perfect Ukrainian meal. 

We discussed the various route options to Kyiv. My original route is 5 miles longer than the route everyone uses to drive to Kyiv. My route, however, has a hotel booked on Monday night. The quality of the roads on my route aren’t as good and, I suspect, it isn’t as heavily populated. That’s good news for me though with slower and less traffic. I also have the luxury of a shower on Monday night. 

I’m sticking to my original route to Kyiv, via Starokostyantyniv and Zhytomyr. It’s going to take five days of 29 miles to get to those towns on time. I then have a rest day in Zhytomyr before four days of 22 miles to Kyiv. There is a faint light starting to appear at the end of a very long tunnel!

A huge thank you to Yuri and Victoria for turning a stressful, nervy and tiring day into a great day with wonderfully kind Ukrainian hospitality. Breakfast is at 0900 I’ve just been told.