“Then, I got company… People told me it gave them hope”: Forrest Gump-style Journey of Hope ends after 31 days, 7 countries and a string of followers
From paper to reality, the Journey of Hope came to life last month and ended after 2500km and 31 days on the road for our four tour leaders, Feridun Ekmekci, Adnan Cangir, Aysel Atas and Meliha Kaya. The team had more than doubled in size when it arrived in Vienna on Saturday 17 September to a public reception.
And just like Forrest Gump, the team “got company”. And then it “got even more company”. Around 50 followers left with the team from Copenhagen to Roskilde in Denmark, and ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby and Head of Projects Saska Benedicic Tomat joined them all the way to Aarhus. ISCA member and partner DGI ensured a smooth trip through the country and more followers along the way, including DGI staff and the Rødekro Cycling Club.
The next main event on the Journey of Hope calendar, Kilometres of Positive Energy in Wroclaw, Poland, was a more visible celebration of cycling for all. The team joined ISCA member V4Sport and local partners WCRS and Wrocław Miasto Spotkań for a day of activities with the locals, including bike simulators that captured the imagination of participants young and old.
“Our small team has had the pleasure to meet ISCA bike team in Krakow, Poland,” Mihai says. “But to enter into the ‘cycling atmosphere’ we had to start on the road on Rarau Radical-MTB Race, Campulung Moldovenesc, Bucovina Region. The next day we cycled through Cluj Napoca city. The third day we drove the car in the rain up in Krakow, Poland by crossing Hungary and Slovakia. When we arrived we found a city that is welcoming and respectful of cyclists, with areas designated for them and bike rental shops… In the evening we had the pleasure to meet our colleagues from Turkey again. We exchanged our travel stories, differences between pedalling inside and outside the city, and ideas for future actions to involve more young people, particularly in events like Skirts on Bikes.”
That was the first of three epic journeys made to meet the team. The next came from Croatia, with the medical team from the Institute of Public Health County of Međimurje arriving in Kosice, Slovakia, on 10 September to join the team for a ride around the city and the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture Youth and Sport, Tibor Navricsics, on the stage at a special Journey of Hope reception.
In Slovakia, the team gained three more members from Turkey, a group of friends and cycling partners from Izmir, who followed them to the end of the tour. The next stop for the new-look team was Budapest and a feature event welcomed them on Heroes Square in the city. Then on to Bratislava for a combined European Week of Sport and Mobility Week event, where the team braved some daredevil stunts.
To round out the tour, the team re-gained its loyal “honorary” member Saska Benedicic Tomat, who travelled from Slovenia to finish the last leg of the Journey of Hope. So a team that started out as four finished as 10 and gained at least 90 more followers at different stages along the way.
And we are just as humble and grateful as Forrest to see so many people support the journey along the way.