On 19 April this year, Darren left his home in Park City, Utah, USA. He has been in Europe ever since, cycling through Iceland, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Turkey. By the end of the year Darren will have also cycled through Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Poland, and of course, Ukraine.
Where else are you planning to stop in Ukraine?
I’ve created a plan for myself in Ukraine that consists largely of having no plan at all. I don’t know a whole lot about the country or which areas I should see/experience first, so I’m just going to cycle into Ukraine and let the wind blow me in whichever direction it pleases. I plan to be in Ukraine for about a month.
What do you know/think about Ukraine? Will this be your first time here?
This will be my first time in Ukraine and I am really looking forward to it. By the end of the year I will have spent more than 8 months in Europe and cycled through more than a dozen different countries, but Ukraine is the one country I have been looking forward to the most. I think the reason is because I know so little about it. In fact, a lot of people have told me that I shouldn’t go to Ukraine. That it isn’t safe, that there’s nothing to do there, etc. But then I ask them, “Have you ever been to Ukraine yourself?” And of course the answer is “no”.
What are the main reasons you are doing what you are doing?
When I was 17-years-old, I graduated from high school and wanted to do something big and exciting before going off to college and starting my professional career. It was at this time that I decided I was going to ride my bicycle from Oregon to Mexico down the California coastline – a distance of approximately 1,700 kilometres. At the time, I figured that if I could complete that trip by bike, it would be something I would look back on for the rest of my life and regard as one of the best experiences I ever had.
As it turns out, that was true! I completed the bike ride down the California coastline in 30 days and started my first year of university two days after finishing the ride. I had never thought I’d do another bicycle tour after that one, but when the next summer came around, I went on another big bike trip across the United States. And each year after that, for the remainder of my time in university, I spent my summer breaks riding my bicycle across massive portions of North America.
Then, when I got out of college and started working, I just kept riding during every available break. These post-university bike tours, however, took me overseas to different countries and different continents... this is where I really started to learn a lot.
What would you say about bike touring to those thinking of doing it?
Well, I love bicycle touring because it’s such a great way to learn. I was always good at school, but I didn’t realise until I finished my formal education that the best, fastest and most fun way to learn something new is to simply get out there in the world, do what you love to do, ask questions, go to places you are interested in learning about... and to really get your hands dirty. So that’s another major aspect of bike travel that keeps me coming back to it time and time again. I just love learning about new places, people, ideas, approaches to life/business, etc. I’ve gone to so many amazing places and met so many interesting people. I’ve been able to live a life few people even dream of.
For now, Darren is dreaming of being in Ukraine and would be grateful for any tips and recommendations on what he should do here. Please don’t hesitate to contact him through his website, www.bicycletouringpro.com