Hear from Radosław Szmit, head of growth at DAC.digital, an avid cyclist who has traveled 700 km in 6 days to raise eco-awareness and promote cycling both as means of transportation and as a way to spend your time in an active manner.
- Let’s start from the very beginning. What inspired you to take on the challenge of cycling throughout Poland, from Wisła to Gdańsk?
One day last year, just after we refurbished the office in Gdańsk and prepared it for everybody wishing to commute by bike, I thought that someday I could actually take the chance and come over by bike. First, it was about taking the bike via train but then, inspired by many people taking longer summer bicycle trips, I thought – why not, why not me. It took about 6 months to plan and get all of the equipment needed for a light, bike-packing type of journey. I’ve been cycling for many years and I knew some charity fundraisers from other countries where I lived that I could somehow connect with the trip and with the help of the DAC.digital marketing team, we found the right one where the kilometers will be converted to money.
- What are your feelings after taking such a long route? Your best memory of the route?
There is joy, excitement and the feeling of a personal accomplishment. One stage, the longest one from Włocławek to Nowe, was the hardest one, especially due to the heat and almost 600m of elevation gain. The last 800 m of that stage were super hard, uphill from the Wisła Valley to Nowe, with gradients reaching 14%.
The best memory was definitely the last day, when I reached the mouth of the biggest Polish river, Wisła. Seeing it from a distance, where it connects with the Baltic sea was just a great feeling. The stage itself was also fantastic – the types of roads (mixed of gravel and well-prepared bike paths), the scenery of the Żuławy region and the final meters when the DAC.digital team greeted me in front of the office.
- What places have you visited along the way?
The route was planned for six days. I tried to plan it in the most straight way from Wisła, where the longest Polish river has its source, and then go via Pszczyna, Tychy, Katowice, go nearby Częstochowa and Łódź, then via Włocławek and Grudziądz, Tczew and end at the mouth of Wisła where it meets the Baltic Sea. Finally, to our HQ Gdańsk office. Each stage was approximately 115 km long and planned along regular bike paths or minor local roads with low traffic. I was sleeping in hotels due to the fact that I didn’t want to take a lot of luggage with me – just the necessary staff.
- What challenges and difficulties did you face along the route?
Tiredness was something that I had to deal with. This happened although I tried to prepare for the trip and up to now cycled approximately 1200 km in March, April and May. I was trying to remember that it is not a sprint but rather a marathon type of ride, I didn’t rush and my daily velocity was limited to an average of 115 km, with an average speed between 18 and 20 km/h.
- What are your favorite aspects of cycling, and what were you most looking forward to on this journey?
A solo ride gives a lot of time to work on mental aspects like concentration or delivering a project without extra help from a team. That was also a chance to see some of the parts of Poland I’ve never been to and taste regional food on the way. Cycling also means freedom and keeping my body in good shape.
- Have you made any special preparations for this bicycle journey? How has cycling impacted your personal and professional development?
Before the journey, I had to service the bike to be sure it worked well and could handle such a trip. I also had to organize the bike packing set and test how much luggage I could take so the bike did not weigh too much. Preparing physically was also crucial with the first rides conducted in January and then progressing each month. The training was planned along with my professional work and it taught me how to… wake up early in the morning to get my training before work.
- How did you plan to take care of your health and well-being during the long journey? Can you share any of your recovery strategies?
First and foremost, remember to drink a lot of water and eat regularly. In fact, for every 1h hour bicycle ride, drinking at least 0,5l of water is recommended. Regular nourishing meals are extremely important, too. On a daily basis, I was burning approximately 2500-3000 Kcal of energy just to keep me going. When it comes to recovery, remember to sleep for 8-9 hours (at least) to rest well.
- Do you have any prior experience with long-distance cyclin? What are your previous achievements in this field?
80-120km rides are not new to me However, this was the first time that it’d happened six days in a row. This was a challenge, but I believe I was well-prepared.
- Can you share a particularly memorable experience related to your hobby?
When I was younger, I had a chance to train along with Maja Włoszczowska, the Polish silver MTB Olympic Games medalist. This was back in the times when I rode with other cyclists from Śnieżka Karpacz club and taking part in Polish Cup or Polish Championships was great fun.
- How does working at DAC.digital allow you to combine cycling with your professional life?
With remote work and trust given to the employees, we can plan our daily activities in a way that allows us to combine a full-time position with hobbies. Some of my daily calls or meetings are with people from different time zones. That allows me to plan cycling activities and training without interfering my professional responsibilities.
- What is your favorite cycling route or trail? Do you prefer cycling alone or with others?
One of the nicest trails I’ve had a chance to ride recently is Żelazny Szlak Rowerowy (Iron-ore Bike Trail) located in Poland and Czechia where you can explore the history of the Silesian heavy industry riding a bicycled path that used to be a local rail trail with trains getting iron ore and coal to the local factories.
Both solo and group rides are fun. With solo rides, I can focus on individual training and improve my cycling technique. Group rides allow you to meet other riders and get the chance to compete, even during ‘non-official’ group setups (e.g. gravel).
- How do you see your hobby evolving in the future? Do you have any goals or aspirations related to cycling?
I hope next year I will be able to take part in one of the most famous Polish long-distance races, Wisła 1200, which goes directly along Wisła river and the riders must finish it within 170 hours (which makes approximately 170 km riding per day!). There are also some shorter races like Wanoga (600 km) which takes place in the north of Poland – Gdańsk and the Kaszubian region which would be interesting to finish.
- What advice and tips would you give to others who are interested in undertaking similar cycling challenges?
Prepare well! Both on the physical and mental side, be prepared that there will be fatigue and tiredness during such long rides. Remember not to plan too much or over your possibilities. It is better to ride for two days with 150 km and be happy with the result than drop the ride after one long 200 km trip. Prepare the bike well, check it with someone who can fix it and set up the best way. One of the best ways of preparing for such cycling challenges is… you tube and videos from travelers who often cover distances of a few thousand kilometers during one trip. Last but not least – be patient and build your form step by step!
Junior Employer Branding Specialist