Saturday, 21 July 2018

Day 45

I’ve got to start this blog by saying a massive thank you to Alex (Oleksii in Ukrainian) and Irina for looking after me in their house since I arrived on Thursday night. They are lovely people and I’m so grateful to them for making me feel at home. 

Irina is a university lecturer and I’ve had some good conversations in English with her. We laughed when she kept using the word “tomorrow” instead of “yesterday”. At one point I thought she was a time traveller. 

I have mainly communicated with Alex via rock music which has been so brilliant and funny at the same time. 

Such lovely people. But that should come as no surprise based on my time in Ukraine. 

A huge thank you also goes to Svitlana who was my primary contact in Zhytomyr. She set me up with Irina and Alex. She also invited me to join “Zhytomyr speaks English” who are the group of people I met last night with a desire to practice and better their English speaking skills. It was a very interesting meeting with some great people. 

Svitlana also setup the media interview in Zhytomyr with Iuliia. Thanks to her for asking some good questions and providing further valuable coverage here in Ukraine. 

Day 45 started with a puncture unfortunately. It took a minute to put my spare wheel on Chappie. I set off through Zhytomyr at 1000. Irina wrote a Ukrainian word on a piece of paper. She said that I could get my tyre repaired wherever I saw that word. 

After four miles, which was on the outskirts of Zhytomyr, I saw the word that Irina had written. I used Google Translate to ask for a repair and the mechanic quickly started the repair. While I was waiting I had various conversations with the people around me about my journey. Two different people offered to pay for the repair of my tyre. The two men decided between them who would do it and it wasn’t too long before I had a fully functional spare tyre again. 

I managed to spend the next few miles on a bike track before joining a road very much like the A1. The good news was that I had a hard shoulder mostly to myself. There was the occasional roadside seller to manoeuvre around however. 

After 9 or so miles, I stopped at an Okko gas station for a couple of delicious cheeseburgers and had a good conversation about my journey with a guy called Andriy. 

I set off into the pouring rain and made it to a minor road soon after. The minor road eventually joined back up with the E40 but was two miles shorter. It was also very hilly! I stopped at another Okko gas station for a cheeseburger after 18 miles. Once again, I set off into the rain. I got talking to a lady in Korostyshiv who was desperate to help and asked if I would like to come to her house. I told her that I was on a tight schedule and pressed forward to rejoin the main road. 

I took a safer option for a few hundred metres through a garage forecourt and got talking to the men below about my journey. I think the picture sums up the level of enthusiasm and support of all of my days in Ukraine. 

I worked hard for the remaining seven miles and I had a hotel car park and picnic area in my sights as options for sleeping. As the light faded I made it to the hotel. The receptionist didn’t speak English but I was able to mime “bicycle”, “sleep” and “car park”. She kindly agreed to my liking and I parked Chappie up and headed for the restaurant.

As I’m writing this blog, I think I’ve ordered steak and chips. One thing is for sure, I’ve got my appetite back! 

Including today, I need to average 22 miles per day to reach Kyiv by the 24th July. You can imagine how pleased I am with 29.4 miles for the day today. The road to Kyiv in front of me is fast. I’m running on a flat hard shoulder but the road next to me is very busy. Concentration will continue to play a huge part as I look to bring stage five of the run around the world to a successful conclusion. 

There are now only 57 miles to the finish line. I keep thinking to myself that it’s less than the 60 miles that I ran on the 100th and final day of the run across the USA back in 2011. I’m going to try and get the remaining miles down to 27 tomorrow. That will buy me a bit of time when I reach the outskirts of Kyiv on Monday. 

The image below shows how far away the start line in Belgrade is. It’s the orange icon in Serbia. 

Finally again today, thank you to everyone who has made a donation to St Benedict’s Hospice. That includes a family who stopped me for a photo near Zhytomyr. If you’d like to show your appreciation for this journey then please visit where any donation large or small is always massively appreciated and put to very good use. 

PS. I got the order right. It’s just arrived.