Węglokoks S.A.

 


 


Our pics from TransAlp with "Crumbs of Life" (more will be available soon)



[Saturday, July 26, 2008]

 

THE END
Is this the end? We cannot believe that tomorrow there will be no everyday rush before the start. We have made it to the Transalp finishing line in Riva! We have done it! We have completed the race! Over 660 km and the total way up of 21 thousand meters. From Germany to Italy – via the Alps! We have not achieved our sports aim but to be honest we knew as early as stage 2 that dreams about the first 20 were not going to come true. The sports level has increased significantly since last year! So has ours, but obviously it did not suffice. In the entire race our average speed was 6km/h higher than last year, despite the fact that the distance and the way up were longer. We have, however, achieved our no. 1 goal, which was collecting Crumbs of Life for Piotrus at 20 passes of Transalp. After coming back to Poland we are going to start preparations for the auctions. We are counting on your participation.

Today’s stage yesterday seemed to be a piece of cake, but knowing from experience, we expected the worst. It came at the very beginning of the stage, as the organizer decided to take us through our paces by a really long steep climb. The ride was tough as the night at the camp was horrid. The level of stuffiness (smell if you like) has exceeded all norms and we had to run to the corridor. But back to the race – after 22nd km of “stepping” all the way up we made it to Passo San Giovanni where we picked up a stone for Piotruś and an extra stone for the supporter whose ticket will be drawn by him. We finally saw the long expected Dolomites and … Garda Lake down below – the destination of our week’s adventure. Ahead of us though was still the main attraction of this stage, a few kilometers long, supersteep stony and rocky downhill down a forest path which was as narrow as hell. It taught us modesty and today our arms are even sorer than our legs. We finally left this path and got to the asphalt which was to take us to the finishing line. During the stopover at the catering point Pia Sundstedt (world champion in MTB marathon) and her partner Alison Sydor, as well as a number of other teams caught up with us. The rest of the race was more like regular, rather than mountain cycling. We made up a fast train “eating up” one team after another. Escape trials started 5 km before the finishing line.

We could see the route and we planned our attack too. We were just waiting for the right moment. It occurred 1 km before the finishing line. I gave Mat a sign and jumped ahead. The circumstances were in our favour, as we have just entered Riva and the group chasing us had no way of overtaking us. We were the first ones to reach the finish. We completed the race at 38th position with the time of 2h 59 min. Right before the start myself and Mat pondered that there will be no-one to greet us at the finishing line. So we were shocked when a few folks ran up to us – they turned to be from Rzeszów – and congratulated us and took pictures. We were also offered congrats by some unknown to us Polish girl.

 

STAGE 9
At Garda Lake from the west there is a high mountain, whose peak may be reached via a rocky shelf hanging over water. We decided that, on order to express our gratitude for friends and family, who supported us every day, we would go there and pick up a few more stones. This is what we did. At about 1.30 pm we set our feet at the peak. Thank you for keeping your fingers crossed.

THE WAY BACK
The bikes have already been loaded onto the trucks. Tomorrow we are taking a coach to Fussen, where we left our car, and then to Poland. Right now we are sitting at the party celebrating the completion of the race, awaiting the greatest trophy – FINISHER’s T-shirts. A really looooooooong night ahead of us J
Best,
Fil & Mat

 

 

 

[Friday, July 25, 2008]

Stage 7 /KALTERN - ANDALO/

FAIL FOR THE ORGANIZER
How can one go through the Dolomites – one of the most beautiful mountains in Europe – without seeing them? We keep asking ourselves this question after today’s stage from Kaltern to Andalo. The organizer decided that the route would run through forests, thus depriving participants of Transalp’s biggest attraction – the views. Today’s stage started with 22 km of strenuous climb onto Graunerjoch (1,813 m above sea level). We shot off from the start and we ended up at 27th position on the mountain peak. Then tricky downhills started – down single tracks and broad stony roads. I was nice until the route led us to the scorching hot asphalt road going slightly up through 8 km. In the sun like today’s such roads are hardly pleasant. A steep uphill led to the finishing line in Andalo. We could hardly pluck up the strength to carry on and at some point started to see white mice. We completed today’s 75-km stage at 39th position. We have already got 600 km in our legs and the finishing line of the whole race in Riva is only 61 km away, out of which 40 km are downhill. We can say that the worst is already behind us. You might wonder how come I am so optimistic if only yesterday I was moaning about the injury of my right leg? Mhm… looks like Voltaren ointment and painkillers will let me finish the race. It was ok today. I believe it will be the same tomorrow. 

From today’s stage we have got 2 stones for Piotrus. During the whole race we have picked up the total of 20 stones. Tomorrow we have an extra task ahead of us – to find at the last pass of the race – Passo San Giovanni – a stone for the supporter who will be chosen from among the persons signed in the Fan Book by no other than Piotruś. You may still sign the Book J Your support is necessary for Piotrus to help him fight the disease. We need it to fight in the race.

DREAMING OF OUR OWN BEDS
Two more nights to be slept at the camp. On Sunday morning we are hopping onto a coach from Riva to Fussen, where we left our car. The night from Sunday to Monday will be spent on the way back from Germany to Poland. Right now we only want two things – seeing our nearest and dearest and proper sleep in our own bed. Without ear plugs…
Best,
Fil

 

[Thursday, July 24, 2008]

Stage 6 /NATURNS - KALTERN/

FOREST PEOPLE
We are somewhat disappointed with today’s stage, which was recommended by Ul Stanciu, event director, as royal. Honestly – before the race statistics of the route of this stage were impressive – 97 km and total way up of 3,929 m. Never before had we climbed so high. After the previous stages, rich in breathtaking views, we expected extraordinary adventure with enormous effort. But to tell the truth all we experienced in today’s stage was the winding asphalt way down to Kaltern. Speeding down we felt as if we had been at the Italian route of car racing world cup. Rocks and numerous serpentines at every turn. And the speed in the region of 80 km/h. Cool! The remaining part of the stage were strenuous climbs in a …. Forest.  Thus our disappointment. The forest, which protected us from scorching sun, obstructed all the views. And all those fast stony downhills, quite like those in the Beskida mountains. Mat fell at one of those – he got a few bruises. Nothing serious.

This somewhat boring route was otherwise rich in Crumbs of Life for Piotruś. We picked up 4 today but without expecting particularly impressive surroundings. Today I came up with the idea to lift up one hand and hold the stones up in the other on the finishing line. This fact was noticed by gathered supporters. Besides, we can see that participants are aware of the fact that two guys from Poland pick up stones for a sick boy. Today we were asked by a couple from Germany about the undertaking. Transalp official journal also provided coverage of the action.

WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Today’s stage was for me not only struggle with the route but also with the pain of the right knee. Most probably I strained it during the 122-km stage from Livigno to Naturns, trying to make up for the time lost on chain repairs. Today it hurt like hell. On the first climb I was so slow that I got overtaken by some grandpas. Thanks to the freezing spray I managed to pull myself together and we carried on smoothly. We finished at 44th position. After that I went straight to the Rescue Team. After examining my leg the doctor gave me some ointments and painkillers which I will be on tomorrow and the day after, on the way to the finishing line in Riva. A kind of stimulant J But it’s legal. 

CAMPERS
We are getting nearer to the end of the story on Transalp participants. The last category I want to tell you about are campers, i.e. competitors who every night sleep at Camp. Camp are different places depending on what the stage town has got to offer. Most frequently they are sports halls like the one I am now in with another 200 campers. Sometimes camps are organized in other strange places, e.g. atomic bomb shelters, underground car parks or military quarters. Camp is created by people and their equipment. On the ground there are massive bags (all participants get them from the organizers. The bags are then transported by trucks to the next stage town when the participants are cycling the race), next to them mattresses and on them competitors bodies. At every element protruding from the wall there is a drying piece of clothing. It looks like a Korean bazaar. By the entrance there are hundreds of drying cycling boots. 

OK then – and what does a camper’s day look like? There are no strict rituals. Every camper has their own way. Generally they get up and make their way for breakfast at around 6 am. After breakfast they quickly load their luggage and bags onto trucks. Then campers go to the starting line. After the completion of the stage campers have to wash their bikes, lubricate it and take it to the garage, have a shower, give themselves leg massage, eat something (pasta party starts no earlier than 6 pm), and wash their clothes. There is very little time to rest. There is no social life. At 11 pm lights go out. 

It’s an interesting fact that there are very few Germans at the camp; especially that they account for most of the participants of the race. English, Spanish, Danish, Dutch and other languages can be heard. In order to survive the camp one needs three things: mattress, sleeping bag and ear plugs. 

The lights have just gone out. Bye then.
Filip

 

[Wednesday, July 23, 2008]

Stage 5 /LIVIGNO - NATURNS/

BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS AND OUR BAD LUCK

We have entered the Dolomites. Today’s stage from Livigno to Naturns was 122 km long. The fastest bikers rode the distance in a matter of 5 hours; it took the slowest ones twice this long. We are not too happy with our result (our time was 6 h 07 min and 58th position L). From the very start we were in the first 40 but unfortunately at 60th km Mateusz broke his chain. It wouldn’t have mattered if it hadn’t been for the fact that we had to shorten it significantly. This resulted in it getting stuck under the frame on steep climbs. A number of times we had to stop, which made us lose the good pace achieved at earlier.

Today’s and yesterday’s stage were one of the best days of my life. Severe mountains and the highest peak of this year’s Transalp – Bocchetta di Forcola (it wasn’t Idioch after all – sorry about the mistake earlier), where at the altitude of 2,768 m above sea level we picked up a stone for Piotruś. The other Crumb of Life was somewhat lower – at 2,200 m, at Passo Trella. Today’s stage could be called the stage of life and death. The route – or rather path – to Bocchetta di Forcola led through shelves hanging over abysses. One wrong move of the handlebars, one otherwise innocent skid of a wheel and you’re falling into an abyss without any chances for survival. When I am now pondering those views which I managed to register when I was not busy focusing only on cycling, I reckon it would be better to go to Transalp to experience an adventure rather than to participate in a race. To take a backpack and a good camera and stop by to record all the views which – with time - are going to leave my memory. Maybe some day…

TOMORROW’S ROYAL STAGE
Let’s get back to reality. Listen – we may finally defrost all our body parts in the Italian sun. Naturns welcomed us with scorching sun. No more chill!!!
Tomorrow’s stage is royal. According to organizers, it is the most difficult and the most demanding from the physical perspective. The stage to Kaltern is 97 km long and… mind you, the total way up is 3, 929. Certainly a bit to ride.

CARAVANEERS
And a few words about competitors whom we call “caravaneers”. (Yesterday I wrote about professionals). There is this species, who come to Transalp by caravans with families and friends. They constitute a social group at the race. Their day looks somewhat like this: in the morning they make their way to the starting line and while they get tired during the race, their caravan makes its way to the finishing line of a given stage. When the caravaneer completes the stage, dinner and a mechanic await him at the caravan. Outside there often is a private massage bed. Who wouldn’t like that? Mat and myself belong to the camper group, but I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Best,
Fil

P.S. Today I got a superb stimulant. Misia – my wife – sent me a movie in which my daughter, Jagusha, blows me a kiss. I felt like crying.

 

[Tuesday, July 22, 2008]

 

Stage 4 /SCOUL - LIVIGNO/

AND IT WAS MEANT TO BE SO NICE

Going to bed last night in Swiss Scoul we were quite positive about today’s stage, which brought us to Italy. Our optimism subsided as the air in the sports hall where we were accommodated got more and more stale. Just imagine two hundred persons sleeping one next to another in a badly aired room. It was impossible to sleep in those conditions so I took my mattress under my arm and went to sleep in the corridor. Yet another morning welcomed us with cold and drizzle, but somewhere in the deep sub consciousness there was a spark of hope – we are going to Italy, where the weather is supposed to be good! We couldn’t have been more wrong!

I would say that today’s stage was even more difficult weather-wise than yesterday’s. The route led us in 6-degree cold and rain and occasional bit of snow through beautiful traverses to Livigno – famous centre of Alpine sports. We got to the finishing line at 44th position with the time of 4h and 16 min. Today for most of the route we rode with World Champion of MTB Marathon – Pia Sundsted and her no less famous partner – Alison Sydor. After 45 km, when we busied ourselves with picking up Crumbs, the girls accelerated significantly and left us behind. Today we have picked up 4 Crumbs of Life for Piotruś. This time the pictures by means of which we evidence our undertaking, present superb Alpine views.

CATEGORIES OF COMPETITORS
A few words about cyclists. At Transalp they can be divided not only into categories of gender and age, but also according to accommodation and the way they pass leisure time after completion of each stage. They have professional teams – mechanics, masseurs, people waiting en route passing food and drinks. A professional rides the race without stoppages at buffets. After he passes the finishing line, warm food awaits him and his bike is taken over by mechanics. After having dinner he goes to a hotel, where he is taken care of by masseurs and – sometimes – physiologists. The following day he turns up at the starting line like newly born. As you probably have already guessed, Matek and myself do not belong to this category J

Another portion of information about another category of Transalp participants – camperers - will follow tomorrow. The day after tomorrow you will be able to read about us, i.e. campers.

Best, 

Filip

 

[Monday, July 21, 2008]

 

Stage 3 /ISCHGL - SCOUL/

WINTER IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER
3 days of racing behind us, 230 km in our legs. We managed to finish the competition during stage 3 of the race from Austrian Ischgl to Swiss Scoul in 51st position, losing 40 minutes to the leaders. The morning in Ischgl welcomed us with rain and the temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, but the cold bothered us only for the first 15 minutes of the race – until we started a climb to the highest peak of this year’s Transalp – Idioch, measuring 2, 737 m above sea level. Never before had we been at such altitude on bikes. The director of the race warned us before the start that the temperature at the peak may be as low as -2 degrees Celsius and that it may snow. He wasn’t all that wrong. My pulse meter recorded 0 degrees Celsius and we rode in snow for the last kilometer. At the peak we picked up the most important Crumb of Life for Piotrus. To be honest, the cold, snow and steep climb de-motivated us a number of times but the very thought of the fact that at the peak of Idioch there is a stone to be picked up forced us to press down the pedals even harder. The stone itself is exceptional; different than the rest. It is of greenish colour.

Unfortunately the view onto the Swiss part of the Alps, which, according to Uli Stanciu, was supposed to take our breaths away, was lost in thick clouds and fog. But as soon as we started making our way down, we saw a view which cannot be described by even the most sophisticated epithets. It is worth living for those moments when you are rushing downhill among such beautiful mountains. The second stone of today’s stage was picked up at Kobleralm Pass, at the altitude of over 1,900 m above sea level.

Scoul, where the finishing line of this stage is located, is a picturesque town in Italian style, surrounded by rocky peaks. The locals are totally relaxed, nice and hospitable. But who wouldn’t be, living in such scenery, away from city noise and dirt; away from the rat race experienced by most of us?

Tonight we are not sleeping in tennis courts but in the sports hall of the local school. Tomorrow we are making our way to Italy. 77-km ride ahead of us. Hopefully in sunshine, and with beautiful views.
Regards.

Filip

 

[Sunday, July 20, 2008]

Stage 2 /IMST - ISCHGL/

Ischgl – mountain bikers’ Mecca. Gee, it was hard to get here today. 76-km stage from Imst was a major challenge and a true test for us. Multi-kilometre climbs, over 3,100 m of total way up and the cold did their job. We finished the stage in 60th position. The race today was not going as we would have wished. Unfortunately, lack of training on long and steep climbs took its toll. There are 6 more stages ahead of us and we will try to make up for the losses. We are also under the impression by observing the competitors finishing ahead of us that the level of this year’s Transalp is much higher than last year’s. Bulls Team, the most successful specialists in stage races in the world have lost today to Craft Team. Other teams are breathing down their necks, too. At our level a number of great teams are at each other’s throats.

3 CRUMBS
At today’s stage to Ischgl we picked up 3 Crumbs of Life for Piotruś. 100% of the plan completed. Tomorrow shall see us tackling the climb to the highest peak of this year’s Transalp – Idioch of about 2,800 m above sea level. Today’s weather forecast says that the temperature there may be as low as zero degrees Celsius and snowy. (It is pouring down with rain in Ischgl at the moment.) Uli Stanciu promised, however, that the view from Idioch onto the Swiss Alps is well worth the effort even under temperatures below zero. We’ll see about that. Maybe it will be necessary to look for the most valuable Crumb under the snow?
Take care.

Fil

 

[Saturday, July 19, 2008]

Stage 1 /FUSSEN - IMST/

Bang bang
We have reached Austrian town of Imst, where the finishing line of the 1st stage is located. We completed the 80-km competition on 51st position with 35-minute difference against the victorious Bulls Team. It is a progress of about 20 minutes as against last year’s result. We rode steadily – at our own pace, not reacting to overtaking cyclists. Today’s stage led among slopes with one major climb to Marienbergjoch, where we picked up the first Crumb of Life for Piotruś. At the peak – wonderful atmosphere: numerous supporters cheering on competitors and… a highlander playing bagpipes.

Total distance up – mere 1,962 m. Good warm-up.

BIG BANG
Today started somewhat differently. After packing our luggage and having breakfast we left roofed tennis courts where we slept and we made our way to the starting line. It was still early when I, and actually the explosion of my tyre, woke up the inhabitants of Fussen. The Shimano mechanics at whose I tried to pump up the misfortunate tyre called me Mr. Big Bang J We deemed it to be a good sign. We are riding on. Tomorrow is a truly Alpine stage to Ischgl – 76 km and a total of 3,171 m up.
Catch you tomorrow.

Fil

 

[Friday, July 18, 2008]

 

Stage “0” FUSSEN – Germany
After 10-hour journey we are finally in Fussen – a pleasant mountain town on German-Austrian border. It is here that the anthem of this year’s race - AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” - will sound. The organizer plays it traditionally before the start of each stage. Listen to it – this piece works like a great stimulant. The title goes with the event, too.

The organization of the office – state-of-the-art, as ever. Like clockwork. The opening ceremony started with the parade of nations represented in the race. It is quite impossible to name all the countries, there are so many of them. There are people from all over the world, including places so exotic from the cycling perspective as Libya or Japan.

The ceremony was led by the already legendary event director – Mr. Uli Stanciu. The guy really has the gift of the gab when it comes to talking about the route. During the briefing on tomorrow’s stage jaws of hundreds of competitors dropped when Uli started to talk about the stage showing its bird’s eye view animation. Tomorrow’s warm-up is relatively easy – 80 km among slopes with one substantial mountain – Marienbergjoch (approx. 1,800 m above sea level), where we are going to pick up the first Crumb of Life for Piotruś. We are going to set off at 10 am to the rhythms of “Highway to Hell”.

Speak to you tomorrow. Fil.

 

[Thursday, July 3, 2008]

Going ahead :)) But on the edge :((

A few news items - some good and one bad .
#1 - next media has joined our initiative. Since Wednesday the biggest and most opinion-making business portal wnp.pl has been promoting Crumbs of Life logo.

#2 - On Wednesday Grzegorz Golonko, director of one of the biggest MTB marathon leagues in Poland - MTB Marathon, and well-known multistage races Beskidy Trophy and Bike Challenge decided to support promotion of Crumbs of Life by placing our logo on websites of mentioned events.

#3 - at last Transalp organizers have replied to my requests. You can read information on Crumbs of Life on Transalp offical website here. Available in English and German.

#4 - a couple of days ago Emilia Szymanska, famous Polish mountainbiker and well-known participant of multistage races such as Transalp, Trans Germany and Bike Challenge  replied to my message. She is a member of organization to children "Right to Play" and has a number of friends abroad.  Emilia promised to help us with promoting Crumbs of Life. Her support would be priceless.

On behalf of Piotrus and his parents we thank all the people who have declared their support and contributed to Crumbs of Life initiative.

#5 (bad one) - yesterday I received my morphology report and ... it seems I have to rest. I am balancing on the edge of being over trained. This is nothing extraordinary taking into account that the latest races were quite hard. Besides I often go to bed too late. My body needs recovery. So I give up marathon in Szczawnica on Saturday and instead of racing I shall spin a bit with my daughter in the woods. It'll be OK. Blood parameters should reach proper levels before the start of Transalp.
Take care, Fil 

 


[Tuesday July 1, 2008]

Last improvements

July has come - the month in which Transalp has being organized since 1997. Only 19 days are left to the start. We've begun last preparations. They look a bit different than last year, when Mateusz took part in as many races as possible. This year, due to the fact that he's changed his job, he has spent less racing hours on the saddle and I am a little worried about it. On the other hand Mat is supervised by a good coach and I believe he will be well prepared for our Alpine challenge.

In current season I have roughly 7 thousand kilometers "in my legs" and 4 starts in one-day bike marathons, 2 multi-stage events Beskidy MTB Trophy and Bike Adventure. These two stage races are crucial for improving my performance before Translap; they should have shown me the elements which should be brought to perfection.
MTB Trophy - proclaimed "massacre of the season", because of heavy rains, chill and "ubiquitous" mud - was for me like Monthy Python's foot falling on my head. The second stage I was riding ... No! I was wading through mud almost 6 hours! Every minute of this struggle thoughts like "I shall give up soon" and "not now, later" came and passed. And suddenly the finish line appeared. And then chicken with buckwheat and olive oil - my return to the living world!Next stages were better but at the fourth one I started to feel pain in leg muscles.

The second stage race - Bike Adventure was a totally different story. In comparison to the previous one - Beskidy Trophy where tracks had been technically difficult, where riders had to survive in chill and rain, Bike Adventure was like lying on a sunny beach. Just before the race everything looked easy - profiles of each stage showed that it should be nice spinning mostly in the woods. No steep climbs. But a few minutes after the start it turned out that there are no downhills either which simply means you do not have any possibility to rest. You have to pedal all the time.  But to sum up - it was very good training before Transalp because I managed to keep my heart beat on the threshold (165 beats per min) or slight below. Therefore I prevented increase of lactic acid in my blood and muscles.

I accomplished the race on the 10th place in open general classification and on the 2nd place in my age clssification. It was very nice and a kind of privilege to shake hands with Andrzej Kaiser - "The King of Bike Marathons" who finally won overall classification.

Now - time for regeneration. A few days of rest. Most likely I shall spin a bit with my wife Mika. I am glad since she has become a bike enthusiast and started to compete on short distances with other ladies. She now looks stunning and healthy. Generally she looks cooler than ever.
Take care, Filip

 

[Tuesday, 25 June 2008]

 

We’ve finally launched the “Crumbs of Life” web site!

In this blog we’re going to tell you about what preparations to “Crumbs of Life” look like and the progress of workouts before TransAlp.
Please visit this blog as often as possible to read stories of Tomasz Waluga – dad of the sick Piotrus. He shall tell you how cheerful Piotrus is, how willing to live he is and how the whole Waluga family fights with Piotrus’s disease.

I can’t imagine starting this blog without expressing our thanks to Friends without whom the “Crumbs of Life” undertaking would not have happened. Each of them contributed a portion of their heart, their engagement and commitment, their skills.

Special thanks go to:
Robert Gajdzik
Artur Chodór
Andrzej Krzyształowski
Wojciech Smolarski
Sylwia Winiarek
Agnieszka Gumieniuk
Jola Dobrowolska
Ewa Oczkowicz
Michalina Kasprzyk-Kuźniak

Take care, Filip & Mateusz