Okay so after the day before with the crash and the mangled bicycle and the fact I couldn’t make it to a town and had spent the night in a frozen bivvy bag with ice on the inside as well as out I thought I should probably get up and make a move to sorting things out. I unzipped the top of the bivvy and inevitably shards of ice fell on to me. This is just a part of camping in this part of the world!

Typical camp in Ukraine;

I took camp apart and looked at the food and the water situation which I had and knew things were not great. Did not have the best time the day before so was not organised. All water had frozen and I had some nuts left only. I thought it cannot be too far to a petrol station so didn’t worry, put luggage back onto the bicycle and roped the front panniers into position.

It is incredible how you lose all your dexterity from your hands when they are cold and tired. I don’t know if it the way I ride or what but my little fingers have felt numb for the past 2 weeks and simple tasks like doing laces up on shoes is a struggle. I find it difficult to use a pen also which is amusing at the best of times.

Emerging from the snowy forest I rejoined the road, I always wonder what the trucks and cars must think when I come out of the forest dragging a bicycle covered in snow and frost. I started to ride down the road thinking 34km to Korosten, the nearest town and started to count down km by km. After about 6km I came to a petrol station, I bought some orange juice and rehydrated with a litre. I also eat some nuts, the snow was again coming down quite heavy and my head was full with negative thoughts I just wanted to get to a town and get things fixed.

It was here that I made the decision to contact home and try to pull Ukrainian contacts, I knew a woman who was following the race had a big support network in Ukraine so I text my brother and his wife to give her my number and ring me and she did and she said she would send some emails about.

I plodded on from this petrol station and kept going down the road. I was unsure as to whether anything would happen I just knew I had to keep making progress albeit slow and not happy progress. I did about another 10-20km on the bicycle and came to another petrol station which was a bit bigger and had food in it. I bought some chocolate and some biscuits and a bottle of coke and sat down to refuel in the warm.

I got a phonecall from a Ukrainian number and it was a person called Vlad he had got the message from Wendy, the person with the contacts from the UK and was going to work out a plan to sort me out. I spoke to him for a bit and handed the phone to the guy at the petrol station to say exactly where I was, there were a few other people hanging around the petrol station drinking coffee and something was happening so I decided to sit tight and await other phonecalls. The guy from the petrol station gave his phone number to Vlad so that we were not spending a fortune on phone calls and before I knew it, two guys from the petrol station would take me to Kiev for 70 USD which I thought was okay as I didn’t really have any other option and it was about 160km away.

I took up the offer loaded everything into the van and was on the way to Kiev. The phone kept ringing with people trying to figure out what was wrong with the bicycle and what I would be needing in Kiev, I didn’t really know what was going on but it was good to be moving. The journey was quite uneventful, I was just bemused by how fast we were going past the km marker signs as travelling by bike speed is a lot slower!

We arrived in Kiev and I saw that it was busy! Something which I had not seen yet in Ukraine and we made our way to the hot air baloooning HQ which is where Wendy has her contacts and I got dropped with my bike and kit here. I was given a coffee and access to the internet and the guys were great. Really friendly and wanting to help, I knew I was in safe hands. After checking some things online, we went out in the car to search for accomodation and then to go to a bike shop to do the repair.

I was travelling with a guy called Igor, he was 18 and at university in Kiev, he speaks good English so is handy to have around and we immediately got on. We got some food and went to bike shop to drop bike off. It is a bank holiday in Ukraine today, (Woman Day) or something so we were unsure whether the bicycle could be fixed but they said it should be ready by 5 PM. I hope so!

We found a hostel for me to stay in and Igor gave me his notebook for the night. This has given me access to the internet and enabled me to be able to keep everyone updated. I am very grateful to Wendy, Vlad, Igor and everyone else who has helped me thus far. Yesterday was a whirlwind day and I am happy to be in Kiev now so I can collect my thoughts and work a way forward. The kindness I received yesterday was something special. Strangers had no obligation to ferry me around in a car with all my kit to ensure I was somewhere safe and my bike could be repaired but they did and made sure I was okay for food and medicine.

Tough times early on in Germany;

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