Yury Shalapyka is a Sr. Agile Delivery Coordinator who is part of Godel’s growing development centre in Wroclaw. Yury’s passion outside of his work saw him recently embark on an experience that would test him physically and mentally, as he cycled from Wroclaw, Poland, to Budapest, Hungary. Yury discusses his experience, his favourite moments, and the challenges he faced along the way.

What made you decide to go on this journey?

I had a bike in my childhood like most children and it was a passion of mine that continued into adulthood where in 2012 I decided to buy a mountain bike (now I have a hybrid bike – half mountain, half road solution). And since that time, I have travelled for around 20,000 kilometres by bicycle, but never a long distance. The longest distance that I had travelled was 150 kilometres in one day, which I did only twice in the last 10 years. I decided, why not go for a longer bike ride, and not just one day but let’s say a week at least, to check if I’m physically capable of doing so and to see if I will enjoy it.

I planned to travel back in 2019 which seems like a lifetime ago. I dreamt of travelling in Europe and I had a Schengen visa so I wanted to travel to two European countries, one of them being Czechia, maybe Prague, and then onto Poland on my way back home. I would carry my bicycle on the bus, spend some days around Prague, sightseeing, drinking beer, and so on, and then settle for a 1000-kilometre ride back to where I was living at the time in Brest. Unfortunately, my plans were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. But it’s funny where life takes you as I am now here, living in Poland and being part of Godel in our Wroclaw location. And as I am here in Poland, the first leg of my journey is already complete.

I’m an ADC (Agile Delivery Coordinator) for one of our clients, Incubeta. I knew our Product Owner on the client’s side was located in Hungary, Budapest. It seemed the perfect opportunity to link my travel plans and my dream to travel across Europe across different countries. And at the same time meeting with the client. Why not?

How did you plan such a long trip?

I used a mobile app called Komoot to help me choose my route. This is a very popular app in the world for cyclists. In that application, I could enter the starting point in Poland and the endpoint was somewhere in the middle of Budapest. This app also allows you to choose your type of fitness and your type of road.

I chose a route that would include more tourism and less mountain biking. However, Poland and the Czech Republic have mountains on the border, so no matter how you make this route, you will have to go uphill for some time. Initially, my route was 550 kilometres so I thought it would take about five days to cover some 100 kilometres per day. My route was decided, I would begin in Wroclaw, Poland and travel to Czechia, then Slovakia, and end in Budapest, Hungary. Spoiler!: It started raining cats and dogs in Czechia, it looked like such weather would stay on, and I yielded to the temptation of shortening the cycling route a bit and buying a bus ticket to Bratislava for a 2-day rest.

I would say Bratislava and Budapest were my favourites, both in terms of weather because I had the chance to rest and dry off and the routes and landscape I discovered which were nothing like I’d seen before. I had a beautiful bicycle route from Bratislava to the Hungarian border along the Danube River (my recommendation!) where the water is just five to ten metres next to you for about 50 kilometres. It was like a beautiful landscape you see in videos.

Some other stand-out moments were the Czech mountains, which were humbling when you were overtaken by more physically fit cyclists travelling light (whilst you drag along a heavily loaded bicycle). I also have great memories of the downhill experience when you just ride very fast and at the same time make sure that you don’t fall from your bicycle. The overall experience was out of this world, riding through different types of elements and weather, hot sun, and heavy rain – I experienced it all!

What was it like meeting a client along the way?

I had the opportunity to meet with our team’s Product Owner from Incubeta, Gabor, who lives in Budapest. It was an interesting meetup as the expectation would be to talk about work. However, we did not just discuss our project only, it was more about relationship-building and getting to know each other. I think what distinguishes Godel from other companies is our strong relationship with our partners. Meeting a client whilst on holiday is a lucky coincidence, so it was good to take the opportunity to strengthen relationships and forge new friendships.

Gabor also offered to guide me for one day in the city. There are two banks of the Danube River, with long distances to cover on foot. One bank is flat, and the second bank is very hilly. Gabor lived in one of the hills. I was happy to have the chance to be guided up the steps, it was a really fun experience.

Did you encounter any challenges?

I would say the hardest part of this trip was the first 15 minutes of it. Before the start day, you spend all this time making plans and you know it will be in some distant future. But when this day came closer, and the day was here, I was completely packed up with my bicycle was ready to go, went outside, and just stopped for a moment because it was drizzling. It was the first step or the first cycle that was the toughest and then once I set off it was easier and I was rolling, rolling, rolling. It was a bit like a life step, the first one is always the hardest.

In my opinion, travelling by car or plane is nothing in comparison to travelling by bicycle in terms of physical stamina. On my very second day of travelling, my stamina was tested in the Czech mountains because the uphill gradient increased, and I did not travel lightly. All that gear, plus food, plus repair equipment if my bike is broken down. All the cargo was carried on a bicycle itself, and I was just travelling in my bicycle outfit. Eventually, I ended up pushing my bicycle for some 15 km altogether instead of trying to cycle uphill. After that, anytime I saw a mountain with a dramatic uplift, I dismounted from my bike. At the same time, it is very rewarding because after every mountain you have these downhill sections which you cover, which of course means you can ride down very quickly in comparison with how much time you spent going uphill.

Would you do another cycling trip in the future?

I expected this question to come up, as I have already been asked it several times by colleagues. But the answer every time is yes!

Where? Is always the follow-up question. My next ambition would be to visit the UK, I have not been to the UK for almost 10 years when I visited London. Manchester, where our Godel headquarters is located is very flat, so it would be a good place to start, and it would be a fantastic opportunity to meet our Godel team in Manchester. Then I would move on to some of the hillier parts of the UK and work my way up. I will also need to get used to cycling on the left side of the road!

So here’s my story of how an Agile Delivery Coordinator in Poland achieved something I have wanted to do for a long time. I want anyone reading this to feel that anything is possible, you just have to take the first step.

And finally, sum up your experience in three words.

The three words that instantly come to mind are: Challenging, Rewarding, and Unforgettable!