It seems like just yesterday that Miguel Indurain was pedaling up the steep road on Mont Ventoux in 1995. The whole thing fascinated me with such intensity, I had a hard time thinking of much else. That was the year he won Tour de France for the fifth time in a row, making him the only cyclist with such a record at that time. Unbelieveable, I thought. That was the moment I realized I wanted to be just like him.
It wasn’t until an incident with my classmate from Kremnica, Slovakia that I really started to cycle. Steve and I would ride together whenever we got the chance. It was exhilarating, but still amateur, of course.
One day after school, Steve told me that instead of taking the bus back home he’d ride his bike. I thought he was crazy! The trip was nearly 100 miles long, but not long after I got off the bus, Steve was there smiling and full of satisfaction. I couldn’t believe it. He made it! It was right then and there that I realized that if you want something bad enough, all you have to do is try.
After that day we rode our bikes to school almost every day together. I spent the weekends making even longer trips, overcoming distances I’d only dreamed of in my fantasies of becoming my hero, Indurain. After a while Steve found himself a girlfriend and stopped going cycling with me. I didn’t mind, really. From then on it was just me, my bike, and my dream.
In 1997 I received my very first mountain bike. It was nothing glamorous, but it got me from point A to point B in one piece. Only one month later someone stole my brand new mountain bike. I cried hard tears, realizing my biggest hobby and my dream were gone. When my parents saw me crying they knew that without a bike I was hopeless, lost. To this day I thank them, for without them I don’t know where I’d be today. They got me a new bike, after which I started to train even harder.
Soon after, I took part in my very first MTB marathon. I was enthralled by the experience. I decided to go to every race I possibly could. Dependent on my parents for transportation, I was very lucky to get their support in my lifelong dream of cycling.
It didn’t take long until I was approached by the Slovak Federation of Deaf Athletes. “Would you like to represent your country in cycling?” Hell yes was my answer. After all, what could be better than doing what you love and representing your country doing it?
By now I’ve taken part in thousands of races. So many I’ve lost track. I consider my biggest success to be from the World Deaf Cycling Championship in San Francisco, where I took home 2nd place. I’ve also had my taste of success at the Sochi Deaflympics where I won 6th place, 7th place at the International Race Around Taiwan in 2014, and more recently at the European Championship 2014 in Kirchberg, where I ranked in 2nd place.
I may still not be as good as Indurain, but at least I put my heart and soul into every kick to the pedal. Every time I’m on the track I focus on cycling like it’s the last time I’ll ever race again. My son is 7 years old now and seems to be just as excited about cycling as I was… if it stick then who knows, he could be the next Indurain.
My biggest thanks go out to my parents, who’ve supported me from the very start as well as my girlfriend, who continues to cheer me on despite having to care for our two children. Thanks to her belief in me I’m able to get on my bike and cycle literally every day. To me, that is the #DeafinitionofSuccess.