Dunav Ultra – 670 km in 38 hrs! An interview with the cycle team Andreev/Donev

(Прочетете на Български ТУК) The two friends and velo enthusiasts Svetoslav Andreev and Daniel Donev are amateur cyclists from the Bulgarian city of Varna. At the end of the summer 2018 they participated as a cycle team in the unique 670-km cycle challenge named Dunav Ultra: Teamwork. The challenge took place on the bicycle route along the Danube River in Bulgaria with the same name – Dunav Ultra

On 7th of September Andreev and Donev were two of total 29 cyclists from Bulgaria and Romania which started their endurance cycle journey from Stambol Kapia in Vidin (Bulgaria) to the end point of the cycle route at the Black Sea near the Bulgarian village of Durankulak. (few kilometers from Vama Veche, Romanian side)

DISCOVER: Dunav Ultra: Via Pontica 2019 – Self Supported Cycle Adventure

dunav ultra

Stambol Kapia, Vidin, the starting point of the Dunav Ultra:Teamwork challenge

Although Dunav Ultra is not a race but endurance cycling adventure – it offers opportunities the 682-kilometer route to be “overlapped” for two, three, five or even more days. Still Andreev and Donev’s team overcame the distance from Vidin to the Black Sea for… 38:00:00 hrs. Let’s learn more about Svetoslav, Daniel, their friendship and the Danube bicycle route in Bulgaria directly from the fastest riders in the Dunav Ultra: Teamwork challenge.

.: Congratulations on your successful participation in the Dunav Ultra:Teamwork Challenge! Your team managed to travel more than 670 km along Danube to the Black sea for exact time period of 38 hours – what an impressive sporting achievement for amateur cyclists. On the other hand, even if you are outside professional sport, you are still cyclists with many years of experience. What has caused your interest in participating in such a different type of adventure as the Dunav Ultra challenge?

Svetoslav Andreev

Svetoslav Andreev holding the map of the Dunav Ultra Cycle Challenge

Svetoslav Andreev: First I want to thank the whole team of Dunav Ultra for the perfect organization and logistics during the Teamwork event. We have participated in many cycle marathons, including abroad, but the level of organization was really incredible.

Regarding your question – our interest was due to the fact that we have never been at the area along the Danube river from Vidin to Ruse (Bulgaria). We only passed the section from Ruse to Silistra, and as you know – for every cyclist the most interesting and exciting part is when you experience a route for the first time, because you do not know what exact to expect.

Daniel Donev: The first thing that caused my interest was of course the Dunav Ultra Cycle Route. I have never went through this region before going on the Dunav Ultra event. I have not participated in such a team-based marathon before as well. That were the two main reasons that attracted me.

.: Which part of the Dunav Ultra route was the most impressive for you? A specific stretch where you have been impressed by nature, site or landscape and overall – a positive feeling of a true cycling adventure?

dunav ultra ostrov

Daniel and Svetoslav at the river port of the village of Ostrov

Svetoslav: In the evening before the start we went to the first checkpoint – the Baba Vida fortress in Vidin, Bulgaria. We were unable to look at the castle from the inside, but the sight that was revealing to the Danube was impressive. The other place that impressed me was a small river port near the village of Ostrov. Daniel and I stood beside the railing, enjoying the scenery of the Danube. We would like to thank the women from the village who have prepared different things for a snacks. For the first time I tried a traditional Banitsa that tasted sweet like Baklava – it was very delicious.

Daniel: The views over the Danube river were incredibly beautiful, and I remember walking through the Oryahovo harbor area. I was particularly fascinated by the river.

.: Is there any specific mood that the Danube itself gave you during the travel? What does the Danube  River look like through the eyes of Svetoslav and Daniel? (Svetoslav and Daniel are born at the Black Sea’s “capital” of Bulgaria – Varna) 

Svetoslav: The route along the Danube is really beautiful and it seems to be leading you ahead, and it gives you the strength to keep moving faster and faster. However, as fatigue accumulates, you are starting to think about other things and the river is a bit in the background.

Daniel Donev

Daniev Donev with the special Dunav Ultra certificate

Daniel: Maybe because of the rules of the Dunav Ultra challenge, the senses are sharpened and despite the short time the impressions are much more intense. The Danube has greatly impressed me with its size, its tranquility, its enormous significance for the region, nature and more …

.: What are your impressions of your contacts with the locals? How did they accept you?

Svetoslav: I was surprised, because in many places people from the villages welcomed us so warmly. At the junction to the villages of Gorni and Dolni Vadin we were expected from at least 10 small children who, together with their relatives, had made a support point. We stopped for about 10 minutes, talked to them, drinking airan (traditional beverage) and taking pictures. For me it remains as an unforgettable memory. Then a boy from the town of Svishtov was waiting for us in Nikopol. He came by bicycle from Svishtov to Nikopol specifically to see us and to escort us back to Svishtov. We chatted, rolled together, took pictures and went to the checkpoint – the church of St. Trinity in the city center. I also want to thank him – It was a pleasure to meet you!

Daniel: Wherever we went, we were very, very welcomed. We met incredibly good and nice people ready to help us immediately if we needed something.

.: During the event, you had to reach up to 10 checkpoints, each of which was a specially selected object from the Dunav Ultra Cycling Route. Which POI impressed you the most?

Svetoslav: I am most impressed by the memorial-monument Hristo Botev in Kozloduy. I do not know exactly why, there seems to be some non-Earth energy in this place.

Daniel: I was in these beautiful places for the first time. All checkpoints from Vidin to Silistra were impressive, but one in Tutrakan (the ruins of Transmariska fortress) was the most prominent for me. The park there also has an impressive view over the Danube.

.: What do you think is the biggest challenge that one has to deal with, taking alone and participating in the Dunav Ultra Challenge?

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Daniel Donev (right) and Svetoslav Andreev (front) at the front of the cycle group

Svetoslav: To get involved in such a long distance endurance experience, you must have the necessary preparation. It is very important how you spend your time on cycling, resting and sleeping. We had made a preliminary plan where to rest, where to eat and where to sleep. We even did it over 100% because we had not planned to finish so early. So planning and preparation is the key to success. When you are well prepared, you do not think only if you are going to end for a certain time, but you can enjoy the nature and fill yourself with positive energy. But the most important of all is to have a loyal friend as a teammate, then the adventure is unforgettable.

Daniel: First of all, the poor road surface, which is always a prerequisite for accidents but also the long hours of cycling! So I’m glad we were with Svetoslav! When you’re not alone, it’s always easier!

.: Do you think that the Dunav Ultra cycle road and its Challenge will have the potential to attract even greater interest in the country and abroad?

Svetoslav: I am convinced by this organization that there will be an international response. I would take part in the challenge every year.

Daniel: That’s undeniable to me. Such events contribute to people from different parts of the continent gathering together to sport, exchange experiences, impressions …

.: Do you plan to participate in the Dunav Ultra: Via Pontica 2019 Challenge?

Svetoslav: I look forward to the opening of the registration and we will sign up with Daniel. And maybe we can make a team  of 4 to make the experience more exciting.
Daniel: 100% sure!

* Svetoslav & Daniel joined the Dunav Ultra: Via Pontica 2019 event in a “Team 2 Cyclists” category. On 6.September ’19 more than 100 cyclists from total of four countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Netherlands and Germany) are going to meet each other in Vidin to join the multi day cycle challenge.