"Slovenia is Great" or My Cycling From Hodoš to Piran

Jernej Sluga - Nejc

I have been involved in sports my entire life – as a child I was training Hockey, and I was enthusiastic about skiing, cycling, playing basketball and tennis, etc. I have never given up on sports despite the responsibilities with school or family. At the age of 39, in the highlight of my life and its creativity, I suffered a massive stroke. What followed was a long recuperation period and realising nothing will ever be the same. I was left with my will and communication skills as I have always loved spending time with my friends. This was the reason I established the Sports and Party Section within the Society of Patients with Cerebrovascular Stroke of Slovenia (CVB) to assist us in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To successfully solve my financial issues, I have remained active in my company Špica International within the 4-hour workday.

I was tempted by cycling rather soon after the illness, and experimented with various bicycles with modifications that would suit my physical abilities. As it was expected, I was faced with falls and minor injuries in the initial attempts. It was three years ago my long awaited dreams came true with the help of the "ICE Adventure" bicycle. I can venture on lengthy cycling routes, I do not qualify as the slowest on the streets, and I feel safe with the appropriate additional equipment.

However, I yearned for something more. Why not attempt at cycling through entire Slovenia, from its far east to its far west? From Hodoš to Piran – 370 km? The green light to chase my dream lit up after the successful physical examination and the stress test. Dr Prim Tatjana Erjavec sent me on my way with some appropriate advice: the daily cycling distance should be the maximum of 50 km, the heart rate must not exceed 110 impulses per minute and I cannot have more than one cup of coffee daily. I must admit, the agreement on coffee was broken several times.

The weather was not agreeable, and it mostly rained during the selected week of 13 to 20 September. The start in Hodoš was rainy, as well as the next day at the Ključarovci, only to be welcomed by sunshine in Ptuj.

Along the path I was supported by my friends, acquaintances and numerous people who found out about my venture and were curious. My bicycle was equipped with the GPRS satellite and I have sent out a map of the route to anyone who was interested in following me.

The third day marked the climb from Pragersko to Slovenske Konjice with 14 per cent of incline on the way up and 16 per cent incline on my way down (I even had to brake sometimes!), which was rather a surprise as I remember thinking this area was mainly flat. How lovely was it to finally arrive to Celje in the late afternoon for a well-deserved rest!

The next day I was to tackle the infamous Trojane turns. And without the doughnuts!

On the fifth day, on the route from Prevoje to Vrhnika, I made a stop at the Rehabilitation Institute and my company to commemorate the event, rather than taking a rest at home.

I spent the night in Vrhnika. Friends arrived to show support in the morning, and I had left them behind after a short coffee break as I was scheduled for the next 50 km to Razdrto.

My journey from Hodoš to Piran and the week was coming to the end, but before that I was to embark on an adventure – the descent from Razdrto to Bertoki via Črni Kal. I was carried towards the finish line with the speed of 50 km/h by the downhill slope.

On the last day I arrived to Piran, which was somewhat covered by the media. Not even the weather could rain on the joyful time with my friends.

This route was not taken simply because of my joy of cycling, but also to remind the healthy population to think about the disabled in their everyday errands and personal ambitions, as we do not always have the desire to fall behind or be at their mercy.

My intention was also to encourage the disabled to realise their abilities and areas where they can assert themselves. The days of blank staring and despairing at your fate are the lost days.

The venture also served its humanitarian cause – the donations have brought a new bicycle to a friend.