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Final Press Release
Ptuj (Slovenia), 10. december 2002
The journey 'Around the World Circling the Sun' is over. Even the sun lost its strength, but determined Slovene Benka Pulko didn't. She returned home today after leaving 5.5 years ago, on June 19th, 1997.

At 10 a.m. local time she crossed the border from Croatia at Sredisce ob Dravi. Even the overcast wintery weather that has been hanging over this part of the country for a month now, prepared a wonderful, sunny, clear and warm welcome. 10 degrees Celsius below zero (14 degree Fahrenheit) was better than the temprature in the previous months.

After the 2000-day long journey with her motorcycle, the 35 year old native from Ptuj, Slovenia, finished her record-breaking adventure. The longest solo motorcycle journey by a woman, in both distance and duration. She is the first woman in history to ride across Saudi Arabia alone, as well as the first to travel on a motorcycle to all seven continents.

"Life has been extremely colorful and unpredictable. The sun was falling and the snow was shining. The plains were winding and the rainbows were showing in black-white nuance. Proof of how empty human expectation is and how great is our fear of the unknown."

The most significant experience was the journey itself, she said. Pressing on without a destination on the horizon, a mosaic of small casualties, conversations, invitations for a meal or a cup of tea. The almighty mechanics who were allowed to put their hands on the sacred. Her only escort for all five and a half years of the long journey; one red 1996 BMW F650. He courageously went through the test and tirelessly turned over 180,016 kilometers on his odometer. His endurance was tested in the mud and sand of Africa, triumphed as it climbed over Antarctic rocks covered with penguins, proved its worth as it crossed creeks without bridges, panted through sandstorms and stubbornly kept on the road when the north winds and tornados tried to unglue rider from steed.

"In some last weeks I have discovered that my motorcycle could skate and that he even could coast. Although a lot of people were saying, that he is (loaded as he is) looking more like a bus than a motorcycle," said Benka.

At the Croatian border the enthusiastic crowd waited for her, old, young, some on motorbikes and others on foot, all of them taking to heart their shining example. In the days leading up to Benka's return men could be heard saying: "If she could circumnavigate the planet, then we have to join her, even in frost and snow, for the last kilometers of her trip."

So, when she passed the Slovenian border, they came to welcome her and with the escort of scores of motorcyclists she drove the last kilometers to her hometown of Ptuj, where even more were awaiting her arrival. The people of Ptuj had given proof they were proud of their vagabond and fellow-townswoman.

In front of a business building in Perutnina, where everything began five and a half year earlier, the journey was formally completed. President of Perutnina, Dr. Roman Glaser, acknowledged Benka's acheivment in a speech and gave her a symbolic present and a huge bottle of champagne.

Benka measured the world on her own way and with her own regard for the truth. When she started the journey she promised she would return after two years. "Too fast I recognized that our world is far bigger than I first expected."

And what are the plans for the restless woman from Ptuj, trained biologist, nurse, massage therapist, for the future? "First I am going to rest, the same holds for my husband on two wheels. I am pleased with the idea of service for my bike instead of putting him in a museum. As well I need 'service' too. I have to visit my doctors and to pass a medical examination, have my knee operated on, write my book, organize thousands of slides and negatives and prepare presentations about this little solo journey. Without big plans, I want to give myself up to moments that are going to come my way. I recognized a long time ago that life turns alone, and not to pay too much attention to my plans."

Thank you to all who have patiently stood by my side and waited and watched as the world, countries and crossroads run short. And the greatest thanks goes to my sponsors. To the endless media at home and abroad and individual journalistic souls, who never got tired of news from "Shtayerka, who is driving alone on a motorcycle around the world." To those who have written, believed and supported, thank you.

Thank you to the Slovenes who have encouraged me, sent me warm socks and chocolate. Thanks to motorcyclists all around the world who have helped me on each step to live my dreams. Thanks to all who adopted me and because of them my family is at least ten members bigger.

Miki, Borut, Igor, Nina, Milan, Simona, Tomi, Klavdija, Marjana, Mavrica in Marija and a hundred unnamed others. Your friendship is inestimable and more precious than the time and distance that was lying between us.

The deepest thanks stays right here at home. To my mother, who helped form me as the human being that am I. For your self-sacrificing effort to understand my eccentricities and to support me, THANK YOU.

Without all of you I would never have succeeded. The moments of triumph belong to you all.

 
 
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