Biking across the border
With support from Norway through the Norway Grants, 60 young people from Slovakia, Ukraine and Norway crossed the Slovak – Ukrainian border together on bikes in mid-August.
The event took place under the Slovak-Ukrainian Cross-Border Cooperation programme, funded by Norway through the Norway Grants with the aim to support people-to-people activities and promote soft tourism in one of the poorest regions of both Slovakia and Ukraine.
The event could be summed up by words of Mr Oleksander Petik, Deputy Governor of the Ukrainian Region of Transcarpathia, who said to the Slovak broadcaster JOJ TV: “I do not want our young people to look through the tanks’ periscopes and aiming with guns. Rather let them sit on bikes and look into cameras, or, even better, into each other’s eyes.”
When the young cyclists reached the border they were welcomed by Ambassadors from Slovakia, Ukraine and Norway who joined the peloton to see the beauty of the Slovak and Ukrainian nature. The whole area at both side of the borders is a state natural park. With limited economic activities and relatively scarce population, the park is very suitable for outdoors activities such as mountain biking and hiking.
On its way through the area, the peloton visited several of the churches restored by the local NGO Carpathian Wooden Churches under the Slovak EEA Grants “Cultural and Natural Heritage” Programme. The NGO has been working hard to establish cross-border cycling trails for many years. With the EEA Grants funded project, they have been able to restore several wooden churches in the region and promote the beautiful cycling route that runs between them.
Joined by world champion
On the third day of the event, the 2014 world champion in city downhill biking, Filip Polc led the peloton in the mountain terrain:
“Here you can see beautiful views on bikes, many important cultural sites and intact nature. You may test your skills and get a very nice experience. Of course, this would not be possible without having the cycling trails marked” said Polc to the Slovak Television.
On the fourth day, the cyclists took their skills to the water. The sport club of the Technical University in Košice called Akademik, which has also been awarded funding under the Norway Grants, organised a day of water sports at the Domaša water reservoir of Eastern Slovakia. Kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing, under the auspices of the Akademik’s instructors, quickly became popular among the young people. At the end of the day, all participants were given medals and the two youngest participants, 9-years old Kubko and 10-years old Dianka were awarded special prices signed by the world champion Filip Polc.
The event was held under the auspices of Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák and supported by Norway through the Norway Grants and the State Budget of the Slovak Republic. With its great success, both the participants and organisers are already hoping for a second edition.