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“I've spent 2 months in Ukrainian mountains as a mountain hut manager.” Half a year after completion of our mission, the recent news of him arrived in Alaska, at the end of its short summer.

29th Dec 2015~4th Feb 2016

white scene

A ray of sunlight through the clouds enabled me to see diamond dust falling onto white-colored ground every morning from Lithuania to northern and middle parts of Poland which was truly a gift from something above. The momentary shine of the nature work was much more valuable than that of diamond inside a showcase at least for me.


Pedaling while feeling the wind with daytime temperature more or less -10 degrees Celsius, I found myself becoming like a devil man with frozen beard. He sometimes scared people when I went shopping forgetting or without knowing about my transformation.


I just kept going slowly on an icy road with extra care though my bicycle didn’t have spike tires. Downhill was especially dangerous even with a gentle slope. I slipped and fell down many times regardless of my careful driving, and each time fear increased. But I kept on keeping on in the same way because that was the only way to proceed. Actually pedaling was not a big problem, real problem was sleeping on wet snow under -20 degrees with insufficient equipment for this kind of winter I had carried on my bicycle. Much harder to overnight from second night onward as every gear including my tent and sleeping bag was frozen or badly wet before use and no chance to dry them up in that wet climate.



Kind of pain that constricted whole my body came on the tip of my toes. Losing sensation in the foot by the time I closed my tent and got ready, I groaned out with pain standing in snow field. The morning preparation was hardest time, made me seriously think that I could not even leave the place. Thus, I was always feeling gloomy the beginning of the days.

white house

I wore boots that I bought for 300 Ukraine Hryvnia (some 12usd by the exchange rate that time) at a second hand clothing shop in Kiev, the capital town of Ukraine. Those were in good condition which looked even unused. It was their charm that they easily allowed water to come inside even though there was a note of waterproof function on the tag. I was totally satisfied with the cost performance and they kept my feet warmer than normal sneakers I had worn. Outsiders could buy local products for surprisingly low price that time in Ukraine under sharp currency’s decline, but not as for imported products like cloths and shoes. So I was pretty lucky to find the shop when really needed in the town where I had first snow of the winter. And that’s the place I also got a jacket and trousers for cold weather along with the boots.


However, the shoes didn’t have enough quality bearable on a snow-covered field for a long time. I shouldn’t have been careful much about cost at least to protect my feet because I knew in advance that I had to camp in intense coldness. Winter cycling can be done only with decent equipment. I must say I was lacking in consideration of protection for my precious feet.

Excluding Russia and highland in the area, as far as I guess, the north part of Eastern Europe and the interior land of the Baltic countries may be regarded as the coldest place in entire Europe, of course following the inland of Lapland or the nearby field in northern Scandinavian Peninsula. I don’t know why but maybe it’s because those areas are hit by cold air from Siberia as well as Hokkaido in northern Japan isn’t it? When I was staying in Cape of Good Hope nursery in Cape Town, I clearly felt a big effect that ocean current gives to temperature and climate. Given the high latitude, the Atlantic coast or the Baltic coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula, in addition to the most parts of Western Europe, have relatively or considerably warmer climate. And port towns along the Arctic Ocean like Hammerfest in Norway and Murmansk in Russia remain open through winter. Just the same, these are all due to warm ocean currents, the Gulf Stream and following the North Atlantic Current. Europe is too big and wide to put all together and say “European winter”. Temperature and climate largely differ according to area.


Winter scenery of Eastern Europe is very attractive. Even if you feel afraid at fast, once you jump into the white world you will know that. After painful morning-preparation, the rest of the day is a reward just think positively so. No green and dead leaves fallen in this season, if without snow, you will be forced to cycle through simply bleak landscape. And moreover, it’s almost always damp and shady in Eastern European wet winter for little anticipation of fine weather. I always rely on my multifunctional digital watch to know approximate altitude of the places but I had no idea about it that time as internal solar battery of the watch had not been charged for some weeks and it stayed asleep. So at least snow was necessary for me to have fun, I changed my mind like that after all. Whether cold or hard to go on, by finding great value in beauty of winter scenery I could think I was going on a right way.


dead watch

Sun rises around 7:30 and sets before 16:00. Much time needed until everything was set up in the morning from coldness and no time to enjoy picnic lunch from shorter daylight. In fact, too cold to have a picnic, I had a quick lunch straddling a saddle or at the side of the entrance of local market to warm up myself after buying something to eat there. Bicycle chain became wet soon from wet snow and the brake pads were going to wear out very fast. I put oil on the chain and changed brake pads or adjusted position of the pad at short intervals spending precious daytime for pedaling. I was always pressed for time considering of duration of my stay ruled by the Schengen treaty as well. As always feeling driven to go faster, what kept me stay calm must have been an appealing white scenery and hours of daylight slightly getting longer after the winter solstice, and most importantly of all, presence of a man who supported me in the back.


In October, Moldovan people, known as the producer of world famous high quality wine, were busy with picking grapes in their field. A man, who empathically gave me some advice on my self-mission, of cycling over the Carpathian Mountains in mid winter, with an European map on the wall in a hostel in capital town Chisinau, was a big Polish man, called Martin. He was on a car trip around the area with his friends from Krakow, in southern Poland. I think it wasn’t until that time that I clearly recognized that the area could be even much colder than-20 degrees in winter. Daytime temperature was over 20 degrees, but we had already freezing night that time and I just started feeling concerned about coming winter. The toughest part of my planning route I told him was mountains soaring across borders between Poland and Slovakia. “Even smallest mountain pass is as high as nearly 1,000m above sea level, go west toward Germany avoiding mountains.” He said to me first. I knew well how dangerous it is to pedal on a steep downward slope of the winter mountain. Indeed, I was almost freezing to death at a long snowy downhill in Uzbekistan in the previous winter. Martin gave me his contact and left the place earlier saying “Come to visit me if you stop by Krakow. Good luck.” Ever since that day, I had carried an image on my mind to pedal down a mountain pass under-20 degrees and been honestly feeling frightened of going there.

harvesting grape

Before the end of the year, when I was in Belarus I contacted him by email first time. Since then He kindly voluntarily started providing me with weather forecast of the area and condition of snow in the mountains from time to time. And additionally, after I entered Poland, he sent me information for some cycling route option with less traffic from Bialystok, a town in northeastern Poland, to Krakow, and also for cheap accommodation of the town he recommended to visit. “If you have any kind of problem in Poland, give someone my contact number, I will help and translate.” Those emails from him always ended with a Polish word “Pozdrawiam” in closing. And the word became one of the few Polish words that I still remember till now.


There were friendly minded people like Martin from the beginning of course, but since my entry to Eastern Europe, Not often I could get a return when I greeted people on the road from my side, which may be just a case of mine. It’s difficult to keep sending out greeting when with no return though I knew I didn’t need to fit myself in the way. In wartime, especially north part of Eastern Europe became bloodiest battlefields in between two big power, the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And continuously people had long suffered from control of Communism after World WarⅡ. Supposedly, people who know better about hardship in those days are subject to look at strangers with more suspicious eye and keep more distance from them. Aside from greeting, we need to find out a different way of interaction with people in different cultures. “Many men, many minds” in this world, you can’t travel around having always the same value of course, and which is actually most interesting point of travelling. In fact, even if people have a surly look on their face, once we become even a bit closer with each other for some reason, everybody easily gets even more than kind, which is what is good about Eastern Europe where homely and thoughtful people live.

At a market that I stopped by in a small town in northwestern Poland in order to buy foodstuffs, I had to wait for some 20 minutes at a cashier due to some trouble of their credit card reader. That was only shop in the town and there wasn’t enough cash in my wallet. By the time it accepted my card and I went out the shop, it was already dark outside. Soon after sunset, temperature dropped at once. I felt down because it’s a depressing job to find a place for my tent in a snow field in the dark. While pushing the foodstuffs into my cycle bags with my head light on, I found a badly drunken lady, I had seen at the cashier, standing behind me and looking at me. All the shop staff and shoppers looked at her with their scornful eyes when we were in the shop. She was waving her right hand toward me with an angry expression saying something like “Tei, tei.” It was likely to mean “come with me.” I followed after her and she stopped in front of a five to six-storied old apartment, which turned out to be where she and her mother lived shortly after that. She wanted to provide me with a shelter from coldness as she knew I didn’t have a particular place to go.

good place to dry

My body shivering from freezing air, immediately started defrosting and gradually warming up. I hung up my frozen tent and other stuff to dry in their storage in the basement floor and placed my bicycle there before I entered their house. She kindly brought me a big jug of herbata (tea). Yes, it’s not a cup but a jug for some 1.5ℓ. And apparently not for common use but it’s for me alone. Her wild way of serving herbata was so funny for me that she certainly attracted my interest. This alcoholic lady called Lena seemed to be in her middle or late 40s but she also looked like even an elder from her gray hair and a cough she badly had. She lived there with her mother, rather looked like her same-aged sister or friend, and three cats. “You bought alcohol again!!?” her mother was furiously shouting at her when I was struggling to stir up sugar I put into the big jug of herbata. I was just guessing the content of their conversations, but it wasn’t difficult at all to know the situation in that case without knowing their language. After having Kaszanka, a traditional sausage made of a mixture of pig’s blood and buckwheat or other grain like barley stuffed in a pig intestine, together with mustard and bread I lay down on a couch. I was irritated at the cashier some time ago but by this time I was feeling peaceful and grateful for a gift of a warm night the trouble of the card reader brought me. Correctly, I should say it was a gift of two warm nights as I would be able to sleep in my dried tent and dried sleeping bag the following day as well.


Next morning, Lena prepared a full jug of herbata for me again. I felt sad for I had to leave there. Staying in a warm place like there makes hard to prepare myself again for going out into the white world. “Tei! (Don’t tell my mother)” putting her forefinger on her lip, she started drinking alcohol again from morning. ”Are you drinking again!!?” her mother gave a shout toward her in a second from the next room. Meanwhile I was struggling to stir up sugar in the jug, of course. Just before leaving for a freezing world, she suddenly wrapped her scarf around my neck, saying “Tei tei (Take it)”. I love Poland, which would be largely because of the meetings with Martin and Lena, a warm-hearted alcoholic lady, for sure.

Since one night I spent at a gas station in Lublin province, everybody really obviously became more than kind. It was snowing all the day and snowstorm was still blowing when getting dark that day. Setting up a tent in the middle of wet snow blowing is very uncomfortable, so I left a small road and I was looking for a shelter with a roof while being dabbled with mud by passing cars on a main road with much traffic. It was truly very dangerous to cycle on the main road as so many trucks passed by and I couldn’t keep a right lane for bicycle since the road shoulder was covered by snow. But this time I took the road on purpose, because easier to find a building as a shelter and also at least not icy unlike back road. I finally found a gas station and asked a staff, a tall and big man like a wrestler, if he knew a good place for my tent. He said ” You can use space under the car wash if you want”. How lucky I was as usual. Honestly, even if his reply was “No”, I wouldn’t have had enough energy to leave there.


wet snow

“Hello.” At about 22:00, I heard somebody calling me from outside. I had a big scare then, because just the other day in Lithuania, policemen came to my tent almost at same time and I needed to move in a freezing cold night. I pulled myself out of my sleeping bag and opened zipper of my tent. There was a man standing, and he told me he was a journalist. I was greatly relieved at knowing he wasn’t policeman and at getting away from a move in coldness.

It’s not rare to see a journalist in my trip. I’m sure that this kind of thing can happen sometimes to anybody if you are on a long bicycle trip because they seem to like cyclists, I don’t know why though. I simply answered usual questions from him with my broken English as usual. Sometimes my story doesn’t become an article and sometimes it does, but sometimes even without being informed. I didn’t ask him anything from my side, so I didn’t get either his name card or his contact from him. I just pleasantly answered him with a big relief that I could stay there then went back inside my tent to sleep.


Day after next, I stayed at a tourist home in Kazimierz Dolny, a small town given a title of “a beautiful pearl of Polish Renaissance” that Martin recommended me to visit . How wonderful it was to be in the warm room with a desk and wall and roof. And it was the place that a staff at the tourist information office, who had heard about my arrival from Martin in advance, kindly introduced me with special room fee. “You are famous!”, only after I read a message from Martin there I knew about the thing. It seemed the article on me was published on web news in Lublin province the next morning just some hours after I got the interview from the journalist.






From that time onward, many people got to offer me a cup of coffee or hot soup or chocolate etc when I was pedaling in the area even by lying in wait for my coming and cheered me on. The people, I had been feeling some distance from, suddenly became super welcoming and warmly sent off the devil man with white beard like Iranian people, well known for their huge hospitality.

thanks for warmth


January 23rd, a blessing fine weather after -16 degrees’ freezing night. My snow garden was so brilliant in the sun fully shining in the blue sky. It was really an impressive morning as it had been a long time since I had such a refreshing morning before that. Placing my solar watch toward the sunlight to charge, I closed my tent and slowly made preparation. Since this day, it had pretty warmed up through the rest of the month as if season changed and snow scenery once disappeared. There was no sign of -20 degrees’ night coming again. But it was still unsettling and eerie warmth for me before going over the mountains.

shining morning

I finally arrived in Krakow next day and visited Martin after sunset. His house was on the top floor of an eleven-story apartment near the downtown. As it was a truly long and tough way down there, I was even so happy to be able to meet him again in safety. Martin was forty years old that time and had a computing work. He was a company worker but it seemed not necessary for him to attend his office and he always worked in his house where there were many camping gear. He said he had been in the mountain with his friends just 2 weeks before my visit. It was not until this time that I knew he was a climber. He said it was -20 degrees there at a night. But hey, how lucky again, he was just the man I should have met and talked with before going over the mountains.




When I think back, Krakow was the town I had longest stay in the European countries of the Schengen area. I stayed at Martin’s for 9 nights and was always busy with going around the old capital town in Poland that has a lot to see and with preparation for my travel onward. I had written him a list of the things I needed to do and get during my stay and he kindly concisely checked for me where exactly I could find them prior to my arrival. Thanks to his big help, I could devote myself to what I should have done in the time given to me. New rain cover making for my cycling bag from the nylon sheet that he kindly gave me, greasing bicycle hubs and replacing broken brake lever from a falling on the ice, checking and changing many other parts like wires, worn out pulley wheels and rear sprocket, I carefully looked after my partner for still a long way to go as I had been beating it up and made it have hardship by my rough handling on snow roads. All for going without any concern and any worry.

rain cover

grease up

Martin gently thought of my crossing over the mountains together with me as if his own matter. That time of course more concretely than the last meeting in Moldova. By the way, the reason I didn’t go west toward Germany avoiding the mountains would have been for my annoying self-pride from past experience that I had ever survived cold air in Hokushinetsu and Central Asia and other places. I just believed I could make it like always. A longer way, but I thought first it would be better to take the eastern lower Dukla pass for crossing to Slovakia. But not merely altitude, considering my safety first he picked up some less dangerous routes with less traffic for me.


A windy morning, just before I “gone with the wind” from Martin’s place, I handed him a charm I made of a second smallest gear of my old sprocket cassette, that had brought me from Cape Town to Krakow some 40,000km, as a sign of my gratitude and our friendship in my way. I did same with the previous one to my friend Nolan and Tai in Cape Town. It was a warm day like springtime, with temperature surprisingly rising up nearly +15 degree in the daytime.


February 3rd, there was no snow on the road around Krowiarki pass (1,012m). I had heard from Martin “After the pass, you can have a view of the Tatras”, a mountain range with highest peaks in the entire 1,500km length of the Carpathian mountains. But it could not be seen behind deep gray clouds. The smoky floating object wrapped around the Tatras looked like even a bigger cluster of summits. The following day, after crossing the border to Slovakia it started snowing somewhat heavily in the afternoon. Making a flat ground with my foldable scoop for the first time in the last ten days, I built my tent in the snow field. Only -5 degrees at night, it was far warmer than I assumed. Afterward, until my entry to Czech via Hungary and Austria I didn’t have a heavy snowfall and even a necessity of sleeping on the snow.

crossing to slovakia


first night in Slovakia

Thanks to warmer climate, it wasn’t at all a challenge to cross over the Carpathian mountains in this time of the year. But this self-mission at least unexpectedly gifted me a great Polish friend who loved mountains with his big body and bigger soul that were even likely to cover over the Tatra mountains across Poland and Slovakia, its figure unfortunately I could not see. In this way, “our mission” has been completed.


Hello Marcin,

how are you doing? Sorry for my laziness of not contacting you for a long time. I’m not at all good at keeping in touch with my friends. I spent this winter even further north. Alaskan winter began quite earlier than I had thought which put me in a real challenge this time. It was truly a hard and long empty way to my destination, a village of Yukon I happily could overwinter, however I managed to survive just thanks to the experience I shared with you in Eastern Europe last winter. I often reminded of those days on the road and in my tent at freezing nights.

I apologize for having felt too much at home during my stay in your place. But it’s just you that told me “Feel at home” then. Would be nicer if it’s in summer and under the clear sky next time I see you. And if in Poland, we should climb up the Tatras together.

Take care my friend.
Pozdrawiam (Best regards).



river shore





icy road


camp scene






wooden chirch


occhan chari



grape field


chisinau in


年末前にベラルーシから彼に連絡して以来、ポーランドの天気状況や南部の山間部の雪の状況、ポーランドに入ってからも、天気情報に加え、北東部のビャウィストクからクラクフまでの危険と交通量の少ない道、また彼が滞在を勧める町での安宿情報などを事前にメールで送ってくれていた。「ポーランドで何かトラブルがあれば、俺の連絡先を人々に伝えればいい、お前を助けるから」 彼からのメールは必ず末尾で「ポズドラヴィアム」と締められており、それは滞在中僕が暗記し今も覚えている数少ないポーランド語単語のひとつとなっている。



basha basha








thank to him

「Hello」22時頃、外で自分を呼ぶ声が聞こえる。”まさか…” と寝袋から身を抜き出してテントのジッパーを開け外を覗くと、一人の男が立っており、ポリスではなくジャーナリストだと名乗る。先日のリトアニアでの一件があった後だったため、寒中引越しを免れた思いで僕は胸をなで下ろした。



翌々日、マーティンから勧められていた”ポーランド・ルネッサンスの真珠”と称されるカジミエシュ・ドルニという小さな町に着き、民宿に泊まった。“屋根や壁や机があるって本当に素晴らしい”いちいち感激してしまう。自分の予算に合う宿はこの町にはなかったけれど、事前にマーティンから僕の話を訊いていた観光案内所の人が安く泊まれる民宿を探してくれており、温かいキッチン付きの部屋を衝撃料金で提供してもらえた。「お前有名人になってるぞ」 そこで読んだ彼からのメールで記事のことを知った。取材を受けた数時間後の翌朝にはルブリン地区のウェブニュースに記事が掲載されたようだ。男はインターネット上で配信されるウェブニュースのジャーナリストだった。







1月23日、恵みの快晴なり。我が家の雪庭は、青空いっぱいに気持ちよさそうに輝く太陽に照らされなんとも美しい。こんな天気はしばらくぶりだったので、それは一際キラキラしたとても印象深かい朝だった。腕時計のソーラー電池部を太陽に向けて置いたまま、テントを畳んでゆっくり仕度をした。 この日から1月いっぱい、季節が変わったかのように暖かくなり雪景色は一端姿を消した。もう-20度の夜などやって来そうな気配もない。 ただ、山越えを前にした僕にはそれは安心できない不気味な温かさでもあった。

winter plants


krakow 2



bike checking



強風吹く出発の朝、マーティン宅からまさに“風と共に去る”前、寿命を迎えたスプロケットの小さい方から数えて2番目の歯輪にヒモを通したお守りを彼に渡した。ケープタウンから4万キロを共にしてきた代物。初代の歯輪はケープタウンで一緒に働いていたノーランとオーナー家族の息子タイに受け取ってもらっていた。僕なりの感謝と友情の証でもあった。この日は日中15 度近くまで上がり春本番のように温かい一日となった。



at a shelter

first night in s








hiromu jimbo

Author:hiromu jimbo
I'm in a challenge to cycle around the world
since May 2009,started from Istanbul,Turkey.
Motivation for this journey just comes from big curiosity about the world.I'd like to see and feel the ordinary life of the people living in defferent cultures.



body text:

my journey
*special thanks to sekiji-san

68,781km (May09-May14)
77,679km (July14-June21)

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