When someone tells you he cycled around Slovenia in 54 hours, or cycled from Europe to Asia at a pace of 200 kilometers a day, you might ask yourself if he’s a monster. In this case, that incredible cycling monster is Dami Zupi, who’s not a pro cyclist, but lives a life like one. He’s a big cycling promoter, especially in Slovenia and Croatia, where he also helps others to discover the wonders of cycling. In this interview we’ll find out more about Dami, his mission and his favorite races and destinations for cycling.
Last year you cycled 4100 km on your “To Asia – To Istanbul” project. That’s quite a feat! What inspired the idea of going on such an adventure?
Just that. Adventure. In combination with ultracycling. And it is a nice experience to go from Zagreb to Istanbul. Those 4100 km are about 200 km every day. But I have adapted my lifestyle and my body to such rides, so it is not difficult for me to do 200 km every day. And honestly, as with all things in life, if you love something and do it from the heart, then it’s not difficult. The route to Istanbul is really beautiful. Croatia is generally beautiful in itself. Romania and Bulgaria are also full of beautiful landscapes. They leave a completely different impression to what people usually have. Let alone Turkey. It’s a great feeling to cycle the last stage to Istanbul, a city with more than 16 million inhabitants. You don’t go from Europe to Asia by bike every day! 🙂
In 2022, you participated in numerous races and events. What are your favorite races?
I love driving brevets (200, 300, 400, 600, 1450 km). In Croatia, these rides are at a very high level. There are also many individuals who invest their energy and time in all of this, so that would be at such a level. Ares Buršić, Siniša Babić, Silvijo Pale-Halić, Renato Majić and others.
And as for the classic races themselves, I really like “my” GranFondo Falkensteiner Zadar, which is held every year in October, where I also have the honorary title of the first winner of that race. Granfondo is at a high level of organization with a lot of local and foreign cyclists.
As the organizer of DOS (Dobrodelno Okrog Slovenije), one of the largest humanitarian cycling events in Slovenia, how would you describe that event and its purpose to people who are not from Slovenia?
The project came from the idea of giving as many people as possible the opportunity to get to know Slovenia by bike. It is about 1225 km, which cyclists ride for 5 days in a row around Slovenia. I drove the first DOS by myself, in one piece, in 54 hours. But it turned out that a large number of people do not really prefer driving at night and that it is physically too demanding. That’s why we simply divided it into 5 stages, 250-280 km each day.
At the same time as riding, the idea was to collect funds for the purchase of bicycles for children who cannot afford them. Everything turned out to be a very spontaneous action, so last year, for example, we made 52 children happy – we managed to buy so many bicycles! It should also be noted that the project is very recognizable. On the entire route more than 1500 cyclists joined me on the ride, and through TV streaming we had more than 150000 followers. All this is our motivation to be even better this year! Follow us from May 2-6 on our website here.
You are very connected to the bicycle. Which destinations would you recommend to recreational cyclists and tourists?
Uh, that’s a really tough question. In the last year alone, I cycled over 27500 kilometers and visited 17 different countries. To me, all destinations are great, if you experience them with your heart. And in Croatia, I definitely have to highlight Slavonia and Zadar.
One of the projects you are preparing this year is CroUltra. Can you tell us more about it?
I have wonderful friends from Slavonia. I met them when we cycled a couple of times from Vukovar to Dubrovnik. Last year, I came up with the idea of giving something back to those wonderful people and to that region, which was a big part of my story at the very moment when I started cycling more seriously. And what’s better to give back, than your experience and knowledge from different cycling projects. We decided to organize the CroUltra event, something Croatia has never had before, so that’s why the motivation is so much greater. CroUltra is the first 24-hour road cycling marathon in Croatia. At the same time, the 6th and 12th hour marathons will be held. You can find more about the event on our website ww.croultra.com where you can register.
What can we expect from you in the remaining 9 months of this year?
Everyone who knows me knows I’ll enjoy beautiful roads and wonderful people. Life is really beautiful!