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    For peace in Ukraine: The priest and the youth travelled 2000 miles by bikes from Poland to the Nordkapp [PHOTOS]

    Just 20 days was enough for a group of young cyclists to travel from Kokotek, Poland to the North Cape in Norway – almost the northernmost point of continental Europe. But this is not the end of the trip. Operation: MIR is underway – another journey of the legendary NINIWA Team cycling group. They go for peace in the world, especially in Ukraine, and are under the patronage of… Saint Nicholas.

    Yes, the same Saint Nicholas who is mainly associated with gifts and flying reindeer sleighs, and who was in fact the bishop of Myra known for helping the poor and needy. Considered a saint who gives help in every need, he is, inter alia, patron of reconciliation between East and West, Russia, Moscow, and Berlin, as well as pilgrims and travellers. Therefore, it seems to be directly created to intercede for an expedition, the intention of which – in the light of current events – could not have been different. Last year’s journey of the NINIWA Team led to Ukraine, this year’s – it goes for peace for it and the whole world.

    Nordkapp 2.0

    A group of 24 cyclists set off on August 1 from the NINIWA Oblate Youth Center in Kokotek in southern Poland. During 30 days, they want to travel a total of about 2,500 miles (4,000 km) through 7 countries: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. According to the NINIWA Team driving rules, they travel only on bikes, without a supporting car and scheduled overnight stays, carrying all equipment – even over 166lb (30 kg) per person.

    ‘For the 10th anniversary of the first expedition to the North Cape, we are doing a repeat of it in an almost completely different team. Nordkapp itself is a very attractive destination, far from civilization and close to nature. It is such a mecca for cyclists’ – emphasizes Fr. Tomasz Maniura, Oblate and leader of the NINIWA Team. He adds that the still-in-force restrictions on crossing borders dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic prevent the group from organizing expeditions to other, previously unconquered continents.

    NINIWA Team cyclists have already travelled all over Europe, toured Africa, and the Middle East and faced Siberia. If the group wanted only to travel to the closest country they have not yet visited, Armenia, they would have to bike first… about 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometres)! Therefore, the trip around the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada, which has been planned for more than two years, still remains only in an undefined perspective.

    Ripped tires, cracked frames…

    The first three weeks of the Operation: MIR passed the cyclists quite efficiently overcoming the next stages because instead of the standard 50-kilometre sections, they were more often than 60–70 km between breaks. They managed to make solid distances despite such adventures as an unexpected mud bath after a fall from a bicycle or elements of clothing being torn up by a blast of air and flying over the peloton. There were also trivial and slightly more serious failures: ripped tires, damaged inner tubes and spokes, or cracked frames. Most of them were repaired by more experienced participants of the expedition, others were temporarily repaired. The strength of the group is cooperation and mutual assistance.

    While driving, we talk and get to know each other a little better. We are from different regions of Poland. We have different experiences of travelling and cycling. Some people have been cycling ultramarathons for years. Others have only recently purchased a bicycle with the intention of making such an expedition. There is a saying among us that the former go ‘by the condition’, and the latter – ‘by faith’. However, we are united by the purpose of the trip. Do you know what is the power of the community we build? The fact that everyone commutes is equally useful. Because we all have different talents, with which we learn to serve each other’ – says Michał from Krakow, for whom this is the first trip of the NINIWA Team.

    ‘Some of us decide to walk next to the bike because are not able to ride’

    Last Saturday, after a night on the road in the middle of nowhere in Norway, cyclists made the heroic decision to attack the Nordkapp. When they set off at 6:00 AM, they were 140 miles (226 kilometres) from their destination. Along the way, they had to face terrifying tunnels, lethally steep hills, severe downpours, and a maddening gale. The last distance was already a real fight with themselves.

    ‘Uncertainty paints on everyone’s faces, but we ride together, waiting for each other in the climbs and motivating each other. The pace is dramatically slow. The wind throws us left and right. Some of us decide to walk next to the bike because are not able to ride at such a slow pace and the air resistance is too much of a challenge. Always uphill and still in the wind blowing us off the road. The chasm on the left and the right does not make the task any easier. While squeezing the steerings, we fight with the last of our strength, but the distance seems to be not decreasing. We keep climbing, puffing, panting, and groaning. Only now are we experiencing the harsh Scandinavian climate and the fact that Nordkapp will not give up easily’ – reported Klaudia, one of the participants responsible for the daily coverage of the expedition.

    Despite all these adversities, the group did not give up. Shortly after midnight on Sunday, after 18 hours of cycling, the group reached the Nordkapp in extreme exhaustion. They participated in the Holy Mass under the characteristic globe monument – in the dark, surrounded by the sea, on sleeping mats. Later they pitched tents there for the night.

    With 2,000 miles (3,200 km) shot in three weeks, NINIWA Team doesn’t end its journey. They still have almost a thousand kilometres to go to Tromsø, from where they will fly to Poland on August 31. As Fr. Tomasz Maniura points out, it is the last week of driving along the Norwegian fjords, far from civilization, that may pose the greatest challenges for the group. ‘For us, a trip is a miniature of life, learning to accept with gratitude everything that life brings’ – he emphasizes.

    You can follow daily reports from the expedition on the NINIWA website – – and on social media: Facebook, Instagram and TikTok – @niniwa_omi.

    Great NINIWA Team’s expeditions

    The NINIWA Team bicycle tours have been organized since 2007 by the NINIWA Oblate Youth Ministry. The first, completely amateur trip for a dozen of young people led to Vilnius, Lithuania. In the following years, cyclists set themselves bolder goals, the furthest of which was a trip to Siberia in 2013 – 5,207 miles (8,380 km) in 77 days! A characteristic element of each trip is a huge white and red Polish flag carried on a long fishing rod by one of the participants.

    During their journeys, the NINIWA Team cyclists visited all European countries and some countries in Asia and Africa – a total of 56 countries on 3 continents. Over 200 people have already participated in the several-year history of bike expeditions.

    Each trip lasts several weeks and is guided by the current prayer intention, thanks to which fans and supporters who follow its course on the Internet join the journey. Every year after their return, NINIWA publishes a professional book with reports from each day of the journey and with descriptions of the participants’ experiences.

    credits to: NINIWA Team Archive



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