The morning wasn’t good. Yes, I was content with the fact that nothing ate me at night, but, on the other side, it was raining and everything was wet. It was really hard for me to put on clothes. I couldn’t even stay in my sleeping bag for a long time, because people were looking weirdly at me.

I passed a grocery store but I told myself: “Next village is close, I won’t have breakfast now, it can wait.” Problem was that on a map everything looks small, but it is much much bigger in reality. Especially on my bike. Humidity was at 100%. Almost every part of my bike was grinding. It was a great defence against bears, but also a free ticket to a psychiatric hospital.

Low Tatras right before my nose

I was trying to clean my bike, oil the chain and do everything I could to make it workable. After three exhausting hours, I finally arrived at the village that should have been very close to my morning location. When I asked locals, where I can buy food, they told me there is a shop next to the church, so I can buy something there and then pray. Maybe I really shouldn’t have missed the second suggestion.

Živé sekačky a pravý slovenský bača. #1000mil

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I regained strength (at least some) and I headed to Low Tatras. I didn’t understand, why they are called low, because they are very high and treacherous. I wanted to cross over a small puddle once, but it turned into a deep pool with cold water. I was lucky that it was pretty hot. With the sounds of chainsaws and falling trees, I reached three 1000 metre high mountains and I managed it to Liptovská Osada tired to death. I wanted to sleep here. I wasn’t willing to end up in some Slovak mountains at night.

And then it happened…

I met two other racers that wanted to reach Křižná, the highest mountain in the entire race. I told myself – if they can do it, I can do it too. I ate my lunch/snack very quickly. It was a race against time, because in that area, biking during the night was forbidden. According to my calculations, I only had a small chance to make it in time.

Križiná is 1500 metres above sea level. I could bike several hundred metres, but it was getting harder and harder. When the hard rocks came, I started to push my bike. But that wasn’t the worst thing. About two kilometres under the peak the sky went black and released thousands of big water drops. I even felt ice in it. In a minute, everything on me was wet, including my shoes. That was the worst. My warmest clothes were a T-shirt, a short sleeve jersey and a light jacket. It wasn’t funny at all. My only hope was to climb on the top.

My hands were freezing

I was in a hurry and I wanted to get on the top as soon as possible. The wind was very strong and it was hard to even push my bike. I didn’t realise that my suffering won’t end on Križná. I didn’t find any endorphins on the top. It was so cold I couldn’t even stop. I met some walker with warm winter clothes. I had to look like an idiot with a T-shirt and shorts. I had long sleeves on legs in my backpack but I was telling myself I will make it without them.

My fingers were freezing and I wasn’t able to brake. Somehow I managed it to a warm cottage that was nearby. I met other bikers here. I wanted to stay here for the night, but I decided to challenge myself. They told me it is only 12 kilometres to another town and it is downhill.

Between four walls for the first time

I continued on as a frozen man. I acknowledged soon that going uphill in a cold weather is much much more pleasant than downhill. I couldn’t feel my fingers and my knees were in a frozen hug. When downhill turned to uphill again, I couldn’t continue any longer. I had to rest.

I went off my bike and put on my long leg sleeves. I ate something and drunk some water. Suddenly it wasn’t so cold and only the water pool in my boots was bothering me. But there was no time for thinking in a bear zone. The light was escaping from me and I was alone and scared. I was seeing bears everywhere. Somehow I managed to get to the nearest town. They told me 12 kilometres by downhill and in fact, it was more than 30 and I spent almost two hours on the track. At that time I didn’t want to blame anyone. I was just glad that for the first time in my life I was in Turčianske Teplice.

With my bike colleague, who I met on the road, we found a nice guesthouse. I spent almost all my money there, but it was worth it. I felt that after such a difficult day I deserved it.