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    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Goulash Soup w/ my Hungarian Host Family: Bettina, Laszlo
    and Betinnas son Marcell n friends TAmas n Nandor

    And my new friends from the Budapest cycling community--Friday night preparty

    They guys ride everywhere! So so fun!

    The event at the Velodrome where I rode w/ tons of folks

    This guy Milkos has 3 tandems and takes blind riders out and more!

    Budapest Update, June 24, 2008

    I'm in love with this city! The cycling community is rich, committed and funky cool. I am finally filling the holes in my equipment list after some serious issues with my bike and kit. It was all meant to be as I was in no hurry to to leave and my host here Bettina and Laszlo have been like my mom and dad. I even have a Hungarian little brother Marcell! I sort of needed it after some rough emotional patches in Serbia. My mental crash after Bosnia was significant and I've grown a ton from it all. Right now I'm happy to say I'm on the up n up, VERY excited to pedal off tomorrow towards Slovakia, and have some great riders set up to share their culture and country with us all.

    I'll write more later but have a busy day in store getting ready to ride tomorrow AM early towards Slovakia! Turns out that I am actually part Hungarian! My great grandparents are from former Hungary, now Slovakia . So hoping to have better luck searching them out than in Italy!

    Over n out for now!


    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Serbia Blog, Written June 20, 2008

    Greetings from Budapest Hungary. I wrote this a few days ago and since then have landed at the lovely home of Bettina and her lovely family. I have met some great souls here in the wild bike messenger community and have been gearing up for my ride northwest to Slovakia then Czech Republic. More later on Hungary, here's the skinny on the rest of Serbia....

    Photos of Serbia are at

    So the divine plan of yummy goodness I left off with involved me taking some time off the bike and away from video cameras and microphones. I’ve been going non-stop since Italy for the most part and the broken bike racks, flat tires and lack of inspiration were clear signs to relax.

    I made it to Bobo’s book signing and launch event and he was so grateful for my support, and especially Mirela’s long drive from Sarajevo. Mirela showed up just as it was wrapping up but was able to meet, and was warmly welcomed by, some of Bobo’s fans and supporters. I did not know much of what was being said as several speakers came up talking to the crowd in Serbian. But I knew it was important and meaningful and I was told later that most of the speakers were quite famous philanthropists, artists and leaders in various positive movements in Serbia.

    Mirela brought a bunch of amazing famous pies and cakes from Sarajevo that disappeared as fast as they came out. After that we hit a café for a last drink with Bobo and his lady Zorca. It was at the café where we learned a few more things about Bobo. What I had seen of him living at his house for a few days was a man struggling to get by as a spiritual novel writer, living the artist life.

    But just about a decade before he had two successful businesses with a brother and owned a big flat in the capital Belgrade. But just like that, the famous dictator Slobodan Milosevic decided to take it all away and he was left with nothing. But, like and my bankruptcy of 1999, we used the even to ask ourselves what we really wanted and used the event as a pivotal turning point towards living the life we really want to live. Since then he has written several books and seems quite content in his own unique way.

    Mirela and I drove Zorca and Bobo back and I gave them both a huge hug. I was amazing to meet Zorca and Bobo, and we vowed to meet again my next trip to the Balkans. The hug I gave Bobo caught him off guard and I think I might have injured him a bit, but he smiled warmly after it settled in. We waved goodbye and drove off together towards Novi Sad where I left my bike after my wild adventure into the city.

    I kept my room for the day before in Novi Sad so we dropped off Mirela’s bag, took a shower and hit the town for some fun. Now that I had Mirela with me the town was bright, cheery and tons of fun. We found a gypsy bar with amazing musicians and delicious wine, walked the fairy tale streets of Novi Sad chatting away, and ended up at a Red Cow Irish Bar (in honor of our friend Nevena in Sarajevo) bar to grab my first Guinness beer in over 6 months (I love Guinness!) and chat while overlooking the people walking by.

    Yesterday we slept in until 11AM, something neither of us had done in very long time. Mirela, like me, is a very ambitious and hard working person. She not only works with the European Union full time but also has two part time businesses in accounting and interior design. Needless to say, we were both happy to just lye in bed and take cat nap after cat nap while listening to Novi Sad’s busyness go bay out the window.

    Mirela decided to take today, Friday the 20th of June, off work and was happily supported by her coworkers to stay the night and today with me. This gave us time, and me the opportunity, to finally give Mirela her first camping experience. It’s hard to believe someone as natural, simple and fond of nature had never gone camping but this was about to change. We did some research at the tourist office and found a lovely lake in the north of the country on the border of Hungary, near the town of Subotica.

    We went out to the sad sight of my bicycle in the back of the hotel to start packing up. She is looking so tattered! The cheap Serbian tire was flat, the rack bent and with a fresh break in the Croatian welds, and the seats soaked in water from the rain. I was happy to pack her up and not think about riding until I got to Budapest to get my shipment of parts, including a new SRAM drivetrain.

    Mirela was so excited as we drove north and the weather cleared up big time with tons of sunshine, scattered clouds and perfect temperature. We were hoping to be able to make a fire and BBQ so we picked up fresh veggies and aluminum foil for the cookout. But when we made it to the campsite, we had a few challenges. For one, the campground was closed. I guess they don’t open until July, so we just drove right in and served ourselves up a chunk of grass.

    Yep, the place was closed, the water just trickling out of the cobwebbed pipes, and our BBQ pits were nonexistent. But Mirela was so happy to just finally be camping and I went to work teaching her to set up the tent, blow up the mattress and set up the nest for a good night sleep. Mirela was like a little girl, all bouncy and giggly inside the tent for the first time. It just so happens that I have a new Sierra Designs sleeping bag and new mattress coming to Budapest so I decided to donate my current setup to Mirela to support her new passion of camping! Of course, she was stoked!

    With my beat-up bike still in the car we walked over to the lake hoping to take a swim in the setting sun. We found a lakeside café playing rock and country music and serving ice cold beers in lounge chairs so we thought we were set. I was just ready to jump into the lake, which did not look all that inviting due to tons of algae, when the waitress gave us the shocking news that it has been poisoned by illegal dumping. It’s such a shame because Sebria has no real natural tourist draw card and this could have been it.

    Luckily the sunset was stunning, the cold beers and music just right, and the company divine. We hit the town for some dinner, a full moon walk on the lake before getting a perfect night sleep and waking up naturally to the peaceful sound of dozens of birds singing lovely songs outside our tent. We were both extremely content, but I was already starting to get sad again as I knew I would once again, for the 3rd time, be saying goodbye to my lovely Bosnian princess Mirela as I made my way to Budapest.

    We got to the train station for my 10AM train, which was fortunately late, giving us more time to just be together. I don’t usually go into much detail writing about my travel romances. Most people can “read between the lines” of my adventures to figure out some bits and pieces. But in this case, the fact that Mirela and I have had three different adventures together does not take much reading between the lines to figure out that we really like each other.

    Fortunately Mirela is a wise and strong woman. We both know that I’m on my path, doing the work I am called to do in the world, and am soon out of reach from quick drives in her VW Polo. As we shed our last tears at the train station it was quite a surreal experience. Like the SMS she just wrote “It was like saying goodbye after being together for a very long time, but feeling we will only be apart for a short while”. Who knows…

    We had quite a funky scare getting on the train. There was a mad dash to get my bike and kit all on the train as there was no storage area. The bike was in many pieces and just as the train pulled out I lost my breath because I did not see the entire rear section of my bike! I looked all over but it was nowhere to be found! Then I went to call Mirela and a man picked up her phone and hung up. I thought for sure she lost her phone and some stranger had it. As I was rushing up and down the isles, and Angel handed me back my camera that fell off my butt pack (whew!), and I found the bike part in the bathroom! Then I got an SMS from Mirela saying she was fine but that somehow the lines while roaming are being crossed and she’s reaching somebody different calling me and I’m getting some strange man!

    I settled into my seat, dripping in sweat, and let the adrenaline finally mellow out. Of course, as it did, the tears flowed as we exchanged the last few SMS messages with my remaining credit on my Serbian phone line. I don’t know what will become of Mirela and I, but we both know that we will meet again someday, somehow. For now I just celebrate a unique connection with a special woman from Sarajevo!

    And, although I’m still a bit sad, I am getting excited for Budapest and the adventures in Hungary! From the train I can see people on bikes (a rare scene in Serbia and most of the Balkans), and quiet back roads once again! I have great new friendships to form up ahead, cultures to explore, and I’ve got a nice network of people hosting me in the capital.

    To close on Serbia, I have come to the conclusion, with the help of Mirela, that it’s not the country and people of Serbia that created this emotional blockage so much. In fact, my last blog was pretty dark on Serbia. I really think it comes down to the fact that I did not plan enough and line up a good network to play with in advance like I did in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. I made an assumption that Bobo was going to be a hub of active, fun, adventurous people but that simply was not the case. So it might be more a matter of expectations not being met than reality, if that makes any sense to you.

    So I’d like to give Serbia a second chance one day, but for now I don’t have many regrets how it turned out. I made some great new friends Bobo, Zorca & Yasmin. I helped Bobo launch his book and inspired several people with our story. And I had a lovely two adventures in Belgrade, Novi Sad and the north with my Bosnian friend Mirela that I’ll never forget!

    The train is pulling into Budapest on a Friday afternoon!



    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Bosnia and Serbia Blog-June 18, 2008

    My farewell from Vegehana in Sarajevo, Bosnia

    My last day relay crew Nevena, Mirela, Reza and I

    Milan and Jamie 82km out of Sarajevo

    Mirela from Bosnia and Bobo from Serbia

    Greetings from Novi Sad, Serbia! I have good news and not so good news for you blog readers. Good news is that I posted an amazing 7 page newsletter with stunning photos of my most recent Balkan adventure in Bosnia. I have decided to keep the tradition of newsletters going as I’ve had about a dozen regular supporters request it and I want to make the time to write good stuff for my book. So the blog will just be short updates and links to the newsletters. I think that sounds right :)

    I strongly suggest taking the time to have an armchair adventure with me and some very awesome Bosnians—head to and enjoy the ride! Do it!

    The not so good news is that I’ve been here in Serbia for about 5 days and I’m hitting a few speed bumps on getting the pedals moving both physically and emotionally. Yesterday I had my first day of official riding here in Serbia and something still is just not right. In fact, ever since I crossed the border I have not felt comfortable, peaceful or any real connection to the people or the country. It is likely just a case of “Balkan Burnout”, or perhaps some fears or even anger I have towards the country and its recent flexing of military muscles. But whatever it is from an emotional standpoint it is manifesting into physical issues too.

    Check this out. Just as I arrived last Friday and was riding into town my rear rack bent again and the tire was rubbing the rack. Then when I attempted to bend it back I broke my rear hard case so now I have to strap it to the trailer, making the use of the rear tripod impossible. I decided to leave that event in the past and hit the town that night to experience some of the famous Belgrade nightlife. But for some reason all I found were heavy smoking, almost as heavy drinking and cold groups of people that seems to me to be unhappy deep inside and just hiding it with this big party. Could this just be me in a negative mood? Me being sad and projecting it on others? Perhaps...

    Now that was just my initial feeling but as I went out walking the next morning I still experienced the people the same way—coldness, sadness, tension, anger and aggressive vibes all over. My smiles were met with a cold looks, my “Dober Dan” (Good Day) greetings unreturned, and this happened over and over again. As I sat on benches to just observe I saw a business and worried look on the majority of the people. I still don’t know if it’s just me or if it was really just the way the Serbians I saw were.

    Things started looking up later Saturday morning. My good friend and guest rider Mirela from Sarajevo decided to join me for the weekend in Belgrade and hopped in her car for the 4 hour drive. While she was on her way I met my host Bobo, another friend of Svemir from Croatia. He is a sweet man who just published his 5th book about people who “protect the light” and has several portraits of people making a difference in the world. He is doing a book signing and release party and wanted me to be part of it. He lined up a meeting with the Blic newspaper for me, which resulted in a great full page article the next day, which I was very grateful.

    I had a 20km ride to get to Bobo’s house and he was not interested in riding it with me so I pedaled my way out of the busy capital just as the rain began to fall once again. It was then that I realized my rear hub was locking up and the freewheel was not working. I also noticed that the rear tire had a bubble in it and was on the verge of popping! If that was not enough, the front rack also had two cracks in it, likely from when I loaded it up when the first rear rack break happened. Now you see what I mean when I say the mental stuff and the physical stuff were coming together here!

    I rolled into Bobo’s place just as Mirela arrived from Sarajevo and my funky mood immediately turned to bliss. Mirela and I get along so well, and we were both very grateful to be back together for some more adventures. We had a great meal with Bobo and his girlfriend Zorca then hit the town for some yummy drinks back in the center. For the next 24 hours it was really all about relaxing, taking in the sights, getting to know Bobo and Mirela, and enjoying our time together building our friendships.

    Mirela had to leave early Monday morning and when I woke up to start my day I just could not be bothered to get out of bed. Bobo must have felt the same way as neither of us got anything going until after 10. I spent most of the day working on fixing all the issues on my bike and equipment, washing up stinky clothes from Bosnia, catching up on newsletters and missing Mirela and my Bosnian crew big time. Again, as I was out on the town getting my tasks done I still did not find anyone I connected with like in other countries, and the hopes of finding a rider out of town with me were fading.

    I did some maintenance on my hub, got a new tire, found a way to bend my rack back enough to ride and thought yesterday would be the day I’d pedal on north. I rode off solo with a late start to Novi Sad at about 4PM. It was only a 60km ride so no sweat getting to the city before dark, so I thought. I was rolling along great at the start but at the 30km mark the rack started to bend again and the tire rubbing. I had to take all the weight off it and put it in the rear bag, a process that took about 30 minutes.

    Then I got my first flat tire at about 30 km mark, which I feared would be the case on a cheap tire, even though it was the best I could find. And it takes a while to fix a flat on my rear tire, another almost 30 minutes. Then came the climb over the mountain that never seemed to end. Nearly at the top, just as the sun was going down, I realized I had another flat tire! I pumped it up and it held, meaning it was just a slow leak. I figured rather than take the 20-30 minutes in the last bits of daylight I’d pump it up and hope to make it to Novi Sad like this. The slow leak got faster and faster, it got darker and darker, and eventually I was riding at night with heaps of cars having to stop every few kilometers to pump up my tire. Oh, and it started raining too. Nice! Not.

    If that was not enough, when I arrived into Novi Sad every place in town was full from convention in town and it took me over an hour to find a bed. I was showered and ready to finally eat at 11PM, but tried to remain optimistic about going out and meeting some folks to ride with me the next day. I walked around the stunning town of Novi Sad, gave friendly smiles as I normally do, tried to meet some people and tried to meld into the community a bit. After 3 hours on the town I just gave up and accepted that I am not meant to ride the next day with anyone

    I slept in this morning until 10AM as the rain hammered the roof, only making me feel worse. But the good news, and only really positive thing getting me excited right now as I sit on a train, without my bike, back to Bobo’s book launch event, is that Mirela is going to be there too. Mirela and Bobo connected and built a great friendship last visit and Bobo painted a portrait of her for his event. And, because the book is about peace and positivity in many ways, he invited Mirela to return from Bosnia to Serbia for the event. So Mirela has today and tomorrow off work so at this point I can see us just hanging out together and scrapping the rest of my ride in Serbia for the most part, unless some of these crazy bike issues and emotional blocks start mellowing out!

    That’s the latest from the road. It’s not always peachy perfect but even my worst days out here on the road are still pretty darn epic! It's actually facinating to just watch my own head, emotions and thoughts during all the ups and downs of life on the road too! Just gonna go with the flow, give myself some time to digest everything, listen to what God or “The Universe” might be telling me, and I have no doubt it’s all part of some divine plan of yummy goodness!

    Over n out from somewhere in Serbia!


    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    Slovenia and Croatia Blog. June 9, 2008

    Svemir and Jamie before the steep island climbs. Brac Island, Croatia

    Long and Juicy—about 6 pages

    Updated Photos of Slovenia at:

    Funky Fresh Photos of Croatia at:

    Thanks to Panasonic for the camera equipment!

    Greetings from Sarajevo, Bosnia! I just rolled in last night with my Croatian guest rider and great new friend Goga. We were welcomed with many open arms as we connected with some of our Croatian brother Svemir’s great friends Nevana, Tarana and many other amazing local souls here in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has been raining almost non stop since I arrived, but you don’t have to venture far to simply feel the vast difference between here and any other place I have ever visited. More on the “now” at the end of the post, but first I want to take you on an adventure from the tail end of my Slovenian adventure through the magnificent country of Croatia.

    For those of you following the blog you know I skimped on the juice of the Slovenian adventure from when the stunning Mojstrovic sisters Vesna and Sonja joined the ride. My AMAZING Austrian friend Helene went nuts when I told her I was heading to Slovenia because she had two great friends Vesna and Sonja that she said I just MUST meet. And boy she was not kidding. From the first few email introductions until the first day we got our welcome hugs and throughout the adventure together I simply adored these two sisters, and I think the feeling was mutual as we were non-stop smiles and giggles for days!

    Turns out the Peace Pedalers rainbow was following me and shining bright as BOTH the sisters had a day off work miraculously the day that Leonard had to go home! So they drove out to the town of Ivancna Gorica where we were camping and we began the Mojstrovic rely ride about 85km to their house through some of the most stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen, on a day custom made from the heavens with perfect temperatures, sunny skies and a cool and gentle headwind.

    Sonja was the first taker and we were able to offload about 60 kilos of weight in our support vehicle so the going was smooth, fast and effortless. Sonja’s positive attitude, endless smile and strong legs kept the fun going as we rocked our way from towards Otocec where we would meet Vesna. Vesna had a kidney failure many ears back and has been a kidney dialysis patient several times a week. But what impressed me so much about her was the fact that she did not let this slow her down a bit! She was strong, vibrant, positive, and active and even still traveled the world while handling the realities of her health challenges. She inspired me in a huge way and hopefully will inspire anyone making excuses from health challenges.

    We stopped plenty to do some filming, took several dozen great photos, and found a picture perfect stop on the river where we met a lovely local woman who took us in like family with food, cold beers and some riverside shade and giggles. It was simply a perfect day! As the afternoon rolled around we got in touch with Vesna about a meeting point on the river next to a castle. Vesna had amazing food and cold beers waiting for us, and a swim in the fresh river was just what the doctor ordered!

    Vesna and I did the final 25km or so to the house where more amazing conversations and philosophizing went down. We had a nasty headwind and sun at our back so I decided not to do much filming that day as it was getting late. We finally made it to their small village of Kostanjevinca na Krki where we picked fresh organic strawberries and salad for the evening from their garden. It was a perfect day, but we did have a pretty huge buzz kill about 10PM when I went to show off the 54 photos that I had taken throughout the day.

    Leonoard heads home and Sonja takes the bars for the day

    For the last six years of this adventure I have NEVER had any issues “losing” photos or having them disappear. But there is a first for everything because when I looked at my SD card there were NO PHOTOS of our adventure together. Yep, something, somehow, mysteriously deleted 54 photos from the SD card! We were gutted! We only had a few from after the ride but EVERYTHING was gone! We are all pretty strong but we could not help from being disturbed from this event. However, we are still searching in some mystery volumes of space from the SD card so PLEASE say your prayers that they show up. They are stunning!

    Okay, so the buzz kill wore off and the next day we were all in good spirits again! Vesna took her sister to dialysis in the early morning, then took me and my bike down town where I would catch a train to the capital Ljubljana to do some media work with the Delo newspaper and meet up with my friends from Ljubljana and Kranj. Vesna was able to fetch Sonja for a cup of coffee together which filled me up with positive energy and some great contacts for the newspaper mission in the capital.

    My media contacts from Vesna and Sonja worked like a charm and, as I write, the NeDelo Sunday paper is telling our story to the nation of Slovenia ;) Turns out that the reporter of the paper knows BOTH Bojana and Ursa who we rode with in 2002 in China! Small world after all! After that victory at the papers nation of Slovenia should be in “Friday Night Boogie Fest” I was hoping to organize to reconnect with everyone I had met as it was my last night in Slovenia.

    The Boogie Fest w/ the boyz Rok and Luka

    I was pleasantly surprised when I packed in nine people into an apartment I rented for the evening. I did not have to pay for one night of accommodation the entire week in Slovenia so I decided to treat our crew to a central location to gear up for the night. And what a night it was! Slovenians know how to party, I tell ya that! We were rockin and rollin to disco till 5AM or so! Amazing last night! I even got an escort to the train station and tears almost fell from my eyes saying goodbye to everyone!

    My lovely escort out of the capital. Can't beat it!

    But Croatia was calling and the plan was to ride with Vesna from Kostanjevinca na Krki to Zagreb, Croatia in the late afternoon with Sonja as the support vehicle. I was thrilled when they agreed to accompany me to Croatia, especially from the symbolic standpoint of peace making. Slovenia and Croatian often do not get along well and tensions are high on several political issues. So I was happy to bring a few Slovenians over to play with the Croatians!

    We had a few hiccups to our plan as the trains back from the capital were far and few between on Saturday and I had a major mechanical issue on the bike just before departure. But it was meant to be as I met back up with a Slovenian friend Sloako who is a tattoo artist and recently unemployed by choice. Sloako accepted the invitation to ride to the border of Croatia where he would turn over the seat to Vesna for the final ride to Zagreb, Croatia. We had a stellar sunset ride, ran the camearas for an inspiring moving interview, and hit the border as the sun was setting.

    Me and Sloako off on our evening ride

    Turns out Sloako took us to a remote border and the support vessel was at a different one. Combine this with the setting sun and we soon realized that it was safer to just pack up the tandem in the car rather than try to ride into the capital at night. Vesna already had a spin on the bike so it was not the end of the world. We met back up, packed up everything in their station wagon and off we went towards the “Flower Power Peace Pedalers Party” that Svemir had organized for us.

    After a wild adventure finding Svemir’s house we finally arrived and were greeted in the streets by a dozen very welcoming Croatians. Svemir set us up with great people, food and our own room to store our gear and sleep so we were set. We showed videos, chatted with new friends until 1AM and had a slumber party with Vesna and Sonja until we smelled breakfast cooking.

    Svemir had this on his wall to welcome the guests and us

    The first day in Croatia was a Sunday and we had a full plan by Svemir including a great breakfast with our new friend Goga, Vesna, Sonja, Svemir and I on the balcony in the sun. After that Svemir and I went off on the tandem to join a massive bicycle event with about a thousand Zagreb cyclists pedaling away in the warm sunshine to the city lake. It was great to feel the energy of so many folks cycling and I could think of no better first day in Croatia! It was amazing to meet back up with Svemir after over 6 years since our connection in Nepal in 2002. It was like nothing had changed—still a strong, positive and fun connection. We were having a blast!

    Riding in the huge bike event in Zagreb
    The local park was stunning with a clear blue lake for swimming, a huge stage with live music, tons of restaurants and bars and big open space for families to gather. I loved Croatian lifestyle already! We had an interview scheduled by Svemir with national TV station RTL Croatia. After a hot interview in the sun we hit the cool lake for a swim, Balkan history lesson and some chillin time at a local restaurant with more cool new friends. Life was good indeed, but we did finally have to say goodbye to Vesna and Sonja and that took a bit of wind out of my sails. But I know I’ll see them again and the memories of our time together I will not soon forget!

    I spent the rest of the day with Svemir and a new friend Goga who both Svemir and I really like. We had some lunch, coffee, took care of my Croatian mobile number and began talking about both Svemir and Goga coming out on the ride with me. We got a good night sleep as the following morning we were up early to hit the second major national TV appearance Svemir set up for me on “Good Morning Croatia”. It was an amazing experience to be able to share Peace Pedalers with so many people as in just one day we reached hundreds of thousands of people between this show and the RTL “Exploziv”. Thanks Svemir!

    We hit downtown after the show for a peak at the amazing Austrian-Hungarian architecture and the happenings in the capital. Our tandem riding inspired Svemir to accept the invitation to ride the next day with me down in the islands off the coast of Split so we pedaled home like little kids to make our final preparations. But in the excitement we were pedaling over 30km/hour and went off a curb and broke my rear rack! It was a shocker as aluminum is hard to weld. But Svemir and I had clear intention of leaving the next morning so Svemir went right into action and took his bike to ride to the ONLY aluminum welder in town just before they closed. He made it just in time and came back smiling with the welded rack, but quite exhausted.

    The rest of the night was mostly work for us both, and Goga came over in the evening where we shared our desire for her to join us out on the islands. Turns out that Goga had some time off and yep, you guessed it, she also accepted the invitation so now the tandem was filled with great Croatian souls down in paradise! Whooo hoooo!

    After only a few hours rest we were up at 5AM to catch our train to Split and hit the island of Brac in the afternoon. As we passed hundreds of destroyed houses Svemir explained more the history of the recent war in Croatia. It was sad to think of all the pain, death and destruction in such a beautiful country.

    Svemir has a friend on the island of Brac we could stay with so that made the decision easy to hop a ferry there and begin our cycling on the most mountainous island in the region. Neither of us really knew what we had in store for us, we simply knew we had to go over the mountain to get from Supetar to Bol, and figured the 33km could not be that tough in one afternoon.

    The weather was quite unsettled and a massive thunderstorm hit just as we arrived so we had some lunch and waited it out. But we ended up starting our climb in the rain, with thunder rumbling as we left at about 5PM hoping to arrive with plenty of daylight left. The climb started off great but then got downright brutal with 12% grades that never seemed to stop. We did not know it at the time, but we set off on one of the most difficult climbs in the entire area!

    We had to climb from sea level to almost 700 Meters in just 12KM (that’s 2500 feet in 8 miles!) and we were dead tired by the time we his the plateau and got a taste of downhill. But the rain was nonstop just about all day and just as we got some downhill we had to climb more, and more and more! It was a tough day, especially for Svemir. Steep hills and a 100 kilo bike do not go very well together and I vowed from now on to investigate my rides more closely.

    But the scenery was amazing, the teamwork experience unforgettable and we rolled into Bol to meet Alfonso at his restaurant at about 9:30 feeling strong and proud. He was not getting off for several hours so we found a place to grab some food, meet some new friends and celebrate our victory. But we both grew totally exhausted waiting for Alfonso and ended up sleeping next to our bike waiting until almost 2AM to push the heavy tandem up the final 18% grade we called “Calvary” to Alfonso’s apartment. It was a tough day indeed!

    Dead to the world in the middle of the night. Bol, Brac. Croatia

    We both got amazing and were eager to get up and hit the ocean but the rain showed no sign of stopping. It was cold, windy and grey all morning with just a short clearing enough for us to take a spin to the beach and a quick dip in the ocean in the afternoon. We decided to just spin around locally on the bike rather than head back out in the rain and enjoy our last day together before Goga arrived in the evening to join us.

    Goga arrived just as the next major dumping of rain was beginning to fall but nothing could dampen the spirits of us all coming together again on the islands! We found a nice café to enjoy some warm drinks and chat the afternoon away meeting some new friends. We then hit our apartment, which Alfonso gave us fully to ourselves, and had showers, giggles and chats until our hunger bugs hit and we went out for a final meal together at an amazing Konobe local restaurant.

    Svemir and I had some touching last moments together and shared our desires to not only stay in touch but commit to support each other on many shared goals and visions for our lives. I’ll never forget this man and I suggest if you ever go to Croatia and want to meet an amazing soul, this is your guy! He had to get back to Zagreb to continue work on launching his new music therapy book and CD called “Om Didge”, where his master didjeridu playing and throat singing is ready to rock the world. For more info on Svemir, check his website . He’s a star!!

    At 6AM we got our final goodbye hugs from Svemir and by the time Goga and I woke up the weather had fully cleared and the sun was shining brightly on the island of Brac! It was so good to see! We had some breakfast and charged on the bike down to the water to catch our boat to Hvar where we hoped to catch another boat to Vis to do a few days of riding. The scenery was stunning with bright torqouise Adriatic waters glimmering in the new sun and buildings shining white after days of rain.

    The boat ride was awesome with endless views of all the islands in every direction. But it was clear that the sunshine was not there to stay as by the time we got to Hvar it was threatening once again. Turns out there was no connecting boats to Vis island so we decided Hvar was going to be our island of exploration. After a nice meal overlooking the million dollar yachts and spunky crews roaming about we did the short but extremely steep and brutal climb over the hill in the midday sun. Our destination was a campsite we decided to stay at to drop our weight for more enjoyable cycling adventures on the hilly island and we found a winner spot overlooking the ocean with a perfect hammock area!

    Goga and I shared two amazing days of swimming, hammocking, cycling, eating, philosophizing, filming and sharing our very similar visions of life. Goga has been a passionate dancer all her life and recently has fallen in love with the 5 rhythms dance (info at ). Professionally is a psychotherapist working as a school counselor. She is hoping to combine her passion for dance and therapy into something special, and she also has a vision for a center for vegetarian food, meditation, healing and events similar to one I have had for years so it was great to synergize and share ideas. Goga loves butterflies as much as me too. I have a tattoo of one on my ankle and she has them all over too. So I simply called her butterfly and we fluttered around our island base camp blissfully!

    Our last day was an early morning sunrise ride back over the steep hill to the catch a ferry to the mainland town of Split. The weather cooperated and we got a truly amazing moving interview with scenery to die for. With all the time we had together the conversation flowed perfectly and we rolled into Hvar with just a few minutes to spare to get on the boat—and boy was that an adventure! Turns out that we had plans to take a boat that did not allow bikes! But this is where the power of clear intention works it’s magic.

    A perfect last day of riding in Hvar, Croatia!

    I had a speaking engagement already set in Sarajevo that night so it was “not an option” not to catch this boat. Goga told me that the ticket office said “no bikes”, but I asked the conductor of the boat if I could make my bike into pieces and gave her a Peace Pedalers sticker to get her onboard. In a sweaty, frantic and wild last minute disassembly we got all the parts, pieces and bags on the boat JUST IN TIME, just seconds before the boat left! I knew then that my mission to Sarajevo was indeed meant to be and I was happy I made the change of plans and accepted the invitation up there.

    When we hit Split I invited Goga to come to Sarajevo with me as she had never been there, but knew several people through shared connections. She was hesitant, but finally accepted and we were both excited to have one more day to share together. We caught a bus with no hassles at all and entered Bosnia in the pouring rain but with happy hearts. We got picked up at the bus station by Nevena and Mario in a VW van and whisked away to a vegetarian food club, the only one in town, which made the vegetarian Goga VERY excited.

    Turns out that the owners of this Vegetarian Club, a group of 7 passionate vegetarians, also host events and speakers and this would not only be where I speak and eat, but also where I sleep and where I write this now! I’m in my host Tarana’s room now in the upstairs apartment surrounded by posters of Hindu goddesses and enlightened gurus in India. It’s amazing!

    The presentation went very well and I have been blessed to meet some very gentle, conscious, genuine and connected local Bosnian crew already. Most of them had to leave the next day to an event back down in Split so I have spent the last 24 hours working, exploring the city of Sarajevo and getting some time to myself after a very sad final goodbye to my butterfly Goga.

    That’s the latest from Bosnia! I’m off to Serbia tomorrow and then its direction north to Budapest and onwards to Scandinavia by late next month. Life is good!!!

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Slovania-Croatia Blog. June 3, 2008

    A friendship flower! I LOVE SLOVENIA!!!

    Check pics of Slovnia at:

    And rough cut of Croatia so far at:

    Slovenia has impressed me in endless ways. For such a small country it is packed with everything I could ever want—unreal natural wonders with 65% forest, great wine, epic riding and endless jaw dropping scenery and, most of all, some of the WARMEST, MOST GENUINE, FUN, REAL, OPEN AND ADVENTUREOUS PEOPLE! I LOVE IT HERE!

    So I left off with my choosing to stay in my old town Kranj nest at Ursa and Luka’s pad, which was a great call. I was blessed to meet Ursa’s brother Blaz and we had an awesome connection from the first moment. He invited me rock climbing and Luka came along too. So it was the boys day on the rock and I’ll never forget it! They were patient, supportive (even too supportive with the chalk marks on the best hand holds) and even challenged me to lead a climb for the 3rd time in my entire life. We followed that up with a late night barbeque on the terrace of Ursa’s pad.

    On a personal note, I had been struggling with the inspiration to get my video cameras rolling again and was getting quite frustrated. Luckily, with some support from friends, family and my new crew in Slovenia I’m feeling the film maker/host/producer mojo once again and have captured some great stuff for the world to see, feel and hear the magic of Slovenia and beyond!

    The time finally came to hit the road and my first rider was a man named Leonard who I met only a moment at a bike race on my first day in Slovenia. Leonard shared with me that day that he had been dreaming and even preparing for of a worldwide bicycle trip for several years. So it was not very tough to convince him that we were mean to adventure together on the tandem.

    Leonard met me in Kranj with the unique mix of excitement and fear of a little boy waiting in line for a scary roller coaster ride; our ride together was not far from one, especially emotionally for my boy Leonard. We had a scorching hot day for European standards with heats pumping at 33 degrees (95F) as we got a late start. But we were rolling along in no time with an endless stream of conversation going all the way to the capital of Ljubljana.

    Leonard had only planned to join me for a few hours, but after a nice picnic lunch on a bench in the capital he was not going home in a hurry. He stayed on as we made our way towards ???. But what I did not know was the chaos going on in Leonard’s head as we pedaled further and further away from his “comfort zone” of family, work and wife. About 10km outside the city he was ready to call it quits—not from the heat, but from the fears that were coming up in him that he was very open to share with me.

    I talked him into moving on an we had deep talks about his dreams, what was holding him back and it was some of them most intense tandem cycling conversations I’ve ever had. But as we talked and talked, and rolled an interview on the bike, and moved further away from the capital, he loosed up just a bit more. We finally made it to the town of ??? where he was planning to take a bus back home to his “nest”.

    But as we were waiting for his bus to come we shared a beer and talked about the day. I knew he did not REALLY want to go home, but I also knew he had a wife and 4 kids so I was not going to get in the way of his responsibilities. But as Leonard heard me lining up a free camping spot at the local school and going about the business of international bike touring, he knew he had to stay with his “mentor”. It probably helped that a local guy Mathius joined our table who was celebrating his birthday and bought him his 2nd beer, which loosened him up just enough to order some pizzas, have some laughs and eventually make our way to the local high school where we were told of some epic free camping for the night.

    --------------It’s 1:30 in the morning here in Croatia and pretty dead tired from a massive media campaign my buddy Svemir organized for me. We are up early to hit the road so I’ll wrap it up here sooner than later and write some more when I catch up with myself  For now, here’s the “nutshell version…” check the pics of Slovenia for an idea of how awesome that place is and how amazing the people are. Very much at the top of my list of favorite places on earth. And Croatia is feeling like it’s gonna be just as awesome!

    Sooooo, after Leonard I was blessed to ride with two sisters Sonja and Vesna, who are good friends of my Austrian rider and good friend Helene. I’ll write more later, but these two are now my sisters and we shared some of the most amazing times together.

    I hit up the capital for some media work and a last night of good times with my Slovenia crew and was blessed to party down with a group of 9 amazing souls at my apartment I treated myself to for the night, followed by dancing to disco music till 6AM. It was amazing.

    We made an attempt for the border to Croatia a bit late but I got a chance to ride with a great Slovenian guy Sloka to the border before it got dark. Luckily, my Slovenia Sistas were right behind me in a station wagon support vehicle to take to safely to our final destination—the “Peace Pedalers Flower Power Party” at Svemir’s house in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb.

    We were greeted with warm hugs and mucho respect from Svemir’s soulful crew of friends and we were up till about 1:30AM sharing, eating and enjoying. As if it could not get any better, the next day was perfect weather and a huge bicycling event to a clear lake that did not seem like it belonged in the capital—it was lovely! We were met by a team of great people, the media to do a major story on us, and all sorts of big smiles all day.

    Today we were up early to go on the “Good Morning Croatia” national TV show. So in one day Peace Pedalers were seen by hundreds of thousands of people and we’re ready to go greet them in a few hours as Svemir has cleared his schedule, as well as our friend Goga, for 4-5 days in the south on the islands and beaches, ridin, swimin, eatin, filmin and lovin it! Can’t wait!

    Wish I could write more, and hope to do so soon, but it’s now 2:43AM and gotta hit the hay and great ready to rock.

    Epic scenery leaving Kranj w/ Leonard

    Life is good!

    The transfer of riders to Sonja and Vesna

    The party Svemir had set up for me, Vesna, Sonja and his crew

    My brother Svemir I met 6 years ago in Nepal

    Another day in the office ;)