If your country was suddenly involved in a war & you weren't able to leave, would you still ride BMX? The answer is counterintuitive; yes, you would.

This is the story of  how a group of friends took the risk of driving into a war zone (Ukraine) to help Bmxers & skaters. People that keeps on riding while their country is bombarded & my personal analysis of why I think passion is stronger than fear. This is the story of our 'Cargo Mission'.


It all started while visiting Gleis-D in Hannover, Tim introduced me to Yuri a Ukrainian skateboarder that's working helping refugees. 

We talk about how I was also helping refugees in Germany through SABSAS. The similarities in our ideas & the possibility of future collaborations.

Yuri haf got skate material that he wants to send to support his the people in Ukraine. However, he hasn't found a way to send it yet. I told him I've got a bunch of BMX parts but shipping them would be really expensive & SABSAS doesn't have enough money to cover the shipping cost.

SABSAS is all heart but, financially we are struggling. We fight to get the economic resources for each shipment.

I suggested driving to Ukraine, that would be the easiest & most cost effective way to make this happen.

Yuri look at me in disbelief. I look at him & say: I meant it, let's do this! But if we are doing this, it has to be soon & quick, I only have around 22 days before having surgery. (BMX life).

Yuri looks at me & I said: let's f#*cking do it!

We head to Simon & Tim (main people behind Gleis-D) with a proposal, we want to make this happen & we need the support from Gleis-D to make it happen.

Two days afterthat, we had a online meeting. We decided to star a crowdfunding campaign immediately & organise a quick Bmx/Skate Jam to collects founds.

In the meantime we started organising with our contacts in Ukraine, @skateukraine & @lvivskateboarding will be in charge of distributing the skate goods, but we are struggling to find a reliable person to distribute all the BMX parts. 

There's no time to waste, we have to keep going. 

The jam & the crowdfunding were a success, we had enough money to go, we packed the van with as many Bmx & Skate parts as we can fit in  & we start the trip.

Our first stop will be Berlin, where our friend Tom (a French journalist with war experience) is waiting for us. The 'Cargo Mission' is finally rolling.

We spent the night at Mellowpark, Tom arrived the following morning. We had coffee with friends while talking about what's about to come. Everyone was experiencing mixed feelings, excitement & fear. None of us really knew what could happen once we've crossed the Ukrainian border, but we are still determined to go.

Yuri came to Berlin knowing that he cannot enter Ukraine, due to the martial law, if he does, he wouldn't be able to leave (men between 18-65 aren't allowed to leave the country). Sadly, he stayed in Berlin. That was a bummer, but we knew Berlin was his final destination. Now is just the four of us (Gabo, Simon, Tim & Tom). 

Last sip of coffee a call with the Bespaly brothers to get the contact of a reliable bmx person in Ukraine (@bikestuff_com_ua) & we are good to go, we only had to get there so, we started the trip.

We spent most of the trip driving, some days up to 12-14 hours. There isn't much to say about those days. Highway, coffee, toilet, sleep & highway again. 

The last 20-25 km were different though, as we approached the Ukrainian border no cars were to be seeing. At that time we felt the war for the first time.

We finally arrived to the border control, we saw the first cars waiting to get in Ukraine. There weren't many, but we weren't alone anymore. Most of them are humanitarian projects like us. Some of them citizens coming back, perhaps to fight for their country.

The customs officers were confused, they couldn't really understand why we were there. After a brief interrogation, we were told to open the van, I guess they wanted to check if we were smuggling something, as soon as  I opened, one of the officers saw the BMX & skate parts, turning towards me confused & said: 'What do you want this for? What's all this?'

I couldn't explain myself, I said we were in a solidarity Bmx/Skate mission, but he didn't understand me. Tim shouted from the other side of the van: 'We are bringing them for the kids, those are gifts for the locals', the officer's face suddenly changed, he smiled & leaved.

Few minutes later we had our passports stamped & we were good to go.

We drove about 5km before the reality of Ukraine hit us, Military check point, the first of many to come. All of them with dozens of Molotov bombs, all of them ready to fight.

We drove the last 80km to Lviv city. As we were getting closer, we noticed that the check points were more heavily armed.

We were afraid.

Surprisingly, the city was full of life. If it hadn't been for the troops & check points we wouldn't have even noticed they're in war. (Lviv was bombarded twice, just 8 weeks before we got there & once again as I'm writing this story).

Our host Misha waved at us across the street, we parked the car & gave him a hug, we were relieved we made it to the city. He brought us to our appartment, he found us a place besides the Ukrainian national bank. The guys thought that was good because we've military guards. However I didn't like it, if Russians were about to bombard the city again, that could be a target. I was afraid, but I kept those thoughts to myself.

Misha informed us about the curfew and other war restrictions. He gave us quick city tour & brought us to a restaurant for some traditional local food. On the way back to our appartment we have another reminder of the war.

Massive trucks unloaded tanks & other destroyed Russian military equipment. Reminiscent of the battle that took place in Kyiv. The Ukrainian government displayed them in every mayor city to boost moral around its citizens

The next day starts early, quick breakfast & we were on the streets again. We met the locals at a famous street spot to celebrate an improvised jam & give all the donations to the locals for further distribution. 

They did a really good job, the parts were distributed all around Ukraine. Some of them even reaching as far as Kharkiv in the front lines or to Zaporizhia were the Nuclear power plant battle took place.

I was really impressed to see the joy in the locals eyes, they were riding as if nothing was happening. They lifes were ripped by a war that didn't belong to them & somehow they kept finding ways to enjoy & gave their best in our small jam. I later found out, they kept on riding all day long after we left.

We gave all the skate goods to Misha & we headed to the local BMX shop 'Bike Stuff' with Tara & Dima to store all the BMX parts.

We stayed there for around 2 hours, sharing stories & laughs, we had a good time, but we needed to leave the country before the sunset. We gave them a hug & headed back to our appartment. After picking up our staff, we soon hit the road again. 

Our minds confused for the experience, but our hearts happy of helping that brave people.

The 80km drive towards the border was a copy of the way in, military check point after military check point, but this time they want to know why 4 men are trying to leave the country, lucky for us, there let us go as soon as they realise we were foreigners.

The drive was easy going until the last 5km, were we got stuck among hundreds of cars with no other option than waiting.

The sun went down. We started seeing the nervousness of everyone around us, mainly women & children, but there were also some elderly men.

We couldn't understand why they wouldn't let anyone out. The hours passed by, suddenly we started hearing some noises coming from the fields. Around 20 minutes after that we saw several military squads coming out of the fields, fully armed & carrying hunt dogs with them.

It seems like they were searching for people, perhaps men trying to escape the war. There's no way we could know what was happening & there was no time for asking as we heard the roaring noises of some cars, we rapidly jumped in our car & started driving towards the Polish border, after another hour or so, we were finally able to drive in Poland.

I believe we spent between 7 & 9 hours waiting. Personally it was awful to wait that long, specially after hearing noises coming from the fields without any information. Anything could be going on in a warzone & my imagination went wild.

We only drove 15km before stopping to sleep, we were exhausted.

The rest of the way back to Germany was exactly like the way in, highway, coffee, toilet, sleep & highway again. 

Back in Berlin we had a little celebration with local friends at Mellow park, nothing grandiose, but we had some shots of good Ukrainian liquor that Tom brought with him.

That's the story of our trip, a crazy & dangerous journey into Ukraine. Believe it or not, I have to admit that I'd do it again!

I would because the passion is stronger than the fear, that's why the Ukrainian riders keep on riding every day, that's why they keep on defending their land against all the odds.

I believe this is due to the psychological power of BMX, something that's not often talked about.

You know, we often talk about how fun & tight BMX is, but I rarely hear people talking about its psychological benefits.

I'll put it this way, we live in a society full of contradictions. We often hear that we have to live & enjoy the present moment, but that's a really bald statement. Even if you want to do so, how are you supposed to do that?

We spend a lot of time avoiding to be fully present in the moment we are living. You might be reading this while thinking about eating something, sitting on a toilet, trying to forget what your boss said, or anything else.

My point is that we are rarely focused on one thing, let alone living the present moment. Our thoughts usually run non-stop & our minds aren't free at any specific time. However, that changes as soon as you jump on your bike, while you're riding BMX there's nothing else but that moment, your mind is finally free of any intrusive thoughts, you're living & enjoying the present moment. It's like some sort of deep meditation.

That's why BMX is so freeing & that's why we love it so much.

I believe we keep riding BMX, because is fun, makes us happy, but ultimately we do it for the freedom, the stress relief, etc. Even if we aren't conscious about it, we do it for its mental health benefits. 

While you're on your bike nothing else exists, there are no problems, no jobs, no struggles, no war. Just you and your bike.

That's why you would ride even if you happen to be in a war zone, or specially if you were there, because of all the things happening, the only one you could use to really free your mind is jumping on you old BMX bike.

That's why I spend my free time collecting BMX parts to help riders in developing nations.

That's why I hope more people will soon jump into this journey.