Generally, we don’t want to go head over heels for any big events, and with the world dealing with a pandemic, the times are tough. That’s why we have decided to test the route in the trial run first. Although a mere prologue happened this year (2020), the guys took it with a great responsibility: Jirka Severa was training hard and Dan Polman was building his full-fledged team. Both wanted to demonstrate their maximum levels of capacity and on the start day, it showed. You could feel a bit of tension in the air and the typical nervous feeling was there as it’s supposed to be. All fine then!
A group of fans gathered on the square, some of them fans of Dan’s came all the way from Paka. To make it look more pro, we even had a few banners prepared with the inflatable gate and all, and to top it all the August sun combined with the concrete ground showed us the real summer scorcher.
Anyways, Jirka set out for his 3540 km long journey at 4 PM and Dan at 4:15 PM.
They both kept their strategies to themselves and did not want to spill, and we, unaware of those ultracycling secrets not knowing what to expect, were greatly surprised as anticipated! Both our guys took it easy, as if they were going for just a few dozen of kilometres… How naive of us to think that we will wrap up on the square and catch up with them in Soláň peak, as they were already far too ahead of us, but eventually we caught up with Jirka nearing Frýdlant nad Ostravicí…
The guys were going full speed and the very first minor slowdown was caused by an intense storm with heavy rain catching up with them just before Opava. They didn’t let themselves be swayed by this event, however, and went on. We waited if Dan would get off his bike and we could exchange a few words on the camera, but it was hopeless. His team assured us that if everything goes well, he can get off his bike the next day at noon and spare a few words with us, but it might as well be much later than that. So, we tried to find out some behind-the-scene information then, such as what was his chef making him that day in the van and how did he eat it, for example? Well, that’s easy, we were told, once the food’s ready the team carried it to the accompanying car and Dan ate it whenever he felt like it, being served straight from the car’s window. To eat is not a reason big enough for slowing down, of course… Alright, so what exactly does he eat, then? That depends on what he feels like eating. For example, at that moment he felt like tortillas, and got toasts. Tortillas were out of stock and toasts are basically the same, they thought!
We got lucky with Jirka, at least, who stopped and got off just before Krnov. He had to clean his bike after rain, as said in his own words (as he likes to say about himself), he is that tourist who hates rain and no one would force him to go out in this weather under regular circumstances! He asked his staff for his jersey to be washed and hung up to dry, proceeded to eat a bowl of broth inside a bus station and got off into to the dark at 12 at night sharp. Suddenly Dan appeared out of nowhere and rode passed him. Gone was the fifteen minutes lead from the start…
And whilst Dan was speeding non-stop further into the night, Jirka finally went to bed and dozed off for an hour, his body simply needed to rest. So, it turned out that Dan was already some solid 60 km in the lead by the morning!
The next day the weather was nice enough for us to view the beautiful Orlické Mountains. Naturally, a storm came by the noon causing issues for our racers, with short periods of sun going on like this throughout the whole afternoon. Whilst Dan was speeding head over heels by the cheerful chants of his fans as he proceeded closer to his homeland, Jirka switched to the chill state of mind and ordered his team for a lunch break at a restaurant. He had some sort of a plan for the first day that he knew it was impossible for him to achieve by then, but would still like to make it to Vrchlabí, which was doable even with the lunch break. He waited out a storm hidden under a roof, which was a bonus with the steak and potato meal.
Even Jirka met a fan of his. He had no idea who that fan was but was all the happier when someone called him by his name and greeted him!
Bottom line, the first day in numbers:
Jirka Severa - 527 km
Dan Polman - 636 km