Bicycle Tour from Seattle to Los Angeles – The Adventures of the “Naplovagok”

By Zsuzsa Stanfield, translated by Bea Ringbloom, illustration by Márton Huszár

The story begins with a Facebook post by Csaba Makra from Kecskemet, Hungary. He and his biking companions Pisti Bozso and Zsolt Czimbalmos were planning to do a bicycle tour from Seattle to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast. They asked the Hungarian community in Seattle to help with accommodations.

This extraordinary plan came from exceptional circumstances. Pisti Bozso lost his left arm at the age of 18. Later he qualified for the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona as a long-distance runner. Unfortunately, he could not compete because of conflicts within the Hungarian national team. This was a huge disappointment that led him to the decision of getting to the Olympic venue on his own, on his bike from Szeged to Barcelona, proving that he had the right to be there as a paraplegic at the world competition. This undertaking turned into a tradition. Later, he biked from New York to Atlanta with a friend in 1996. In 2000 he and Csaba rode from Adelaide to Sydney to the Paralympics, traveling around 2100 km. In 2004 Zsolt joined them on their journey from Szeged to the Athens games. The three of them pedaled together on their 2000-3000 km long trips to the next Paralympics destinations such as in 2008 from Shanghai to Beijing, in 2012 from Szeged, Hungary to London and in 2016 from Argentina through Uruguay to Rio in Brazil, riding 3100 km, the longest distance.

They could not make it to the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo because of Covid. Japan did not allow tourists to enter the country, not even in 2021. To make good use of all their efforts in training and finances invested in their preparations and travel, they decided to choose Los Angeles, the location of the 2028 Paralympics, as their next destination, travelling from Seattle, about 2400 km. 

Their goal is to set a good example through Pisti’s story that anyone can live a full life and reach their goals, even with a disability.

Pisti’s story was very moving for several members of our community and some of us got excited about organizing help. Fortunately, the HAAW election dinner was approaching during which we had a chance to talk about Csaba and his friends’ plan. While the three of them in Hungary were excitedly preparing for the big challenge, we also started to plan and organize things in the background.

The guys arrived in Seattle on June 28th. Judit Velcsov and her husband Rush picked them up from the airport while they were dropping their kids off to fly to Hungary. What an interesting coincidence!

The bikes arrived in three big boxes disassembled. They put them together the next day for their long journey. Judit’s family was hosting them in their home. During their stay of a few days they were able to visit Snoqualmie Falls, the Microsoft Campus and even do some sightseeing in Seattle and finally taking a trip to Mount Rainier. Every night they were invited to have dinner with a different family.

We decided to do the send-off on Saturday, July 1st so many local enthusiasts could join us at Tibbets Park in Issaquah, WA. We met at 8:30 am and took lots of pictures and were joking around. Finally, the good old “Barack palinka” helped elevate our spirits, and we gave the three cyclist friends a fond farewell.  As we were waving goodbye to them, our hearts were filled with joy because of the many ways we helped them depart Seattle with unforgettable memories, well rested, renewed, and ready to continue on their exciting journey.

Some of us followed their adventures on their Facebook page where we continuously cheered them on so they could reach their destination successfully. If you have not seen it ( you can read how they cycled from Seattle to Los Angeles. 

Their mission is very motivating and exemplary. We are very proud of them. Go Hungarians!

We wish them many more successes and exciting trips!

Special thanks to Andi Szirbik for coordinating, Judit and Rush Velcsov for hosting and transportation, Bogi Marosan for Seattle sightseeing and the trip to Mount Rainier, Zsuzsa Kalman, Kinga Csepreghy and Zsuzsa Stanfield for hosting our fellow Hungarian cyclists at their home for dinner.

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