One of the most interesting personalities related to the development of Croatian sports, Ferdinand Budicki, who brought the first car and the first motorcycle to Zagreb in 1901, is remembered as one of the most interesting Croatian and Zagreb athletes, entrepreneurs and adventurers.

There is an interesting story about a cycling adventure of this tireless athlete. After working for the prestigious Siemens company in Berlin, homesickness pulled him back to Zagreb, where he arrived by bicycle. But for Budicki, even then, the thousand-kilometer bike tours were easy as beans. His restless spirit was looking for greater challenges.

In 1897, eager for a more significant adventure, he embarked on an extremely demanding and long journey on a bicycle, fully self-financed. The journey began on 9 May in Berlin, and with adventurous perseverance he traveled throughout Europe and North Africa, covering 17,323 kilometers in eight months. He traveled with two friends, Almrod and Mechler from Sweden. He agreed to ride tandem with one of them through Germany, Russia and Finland to Stockholm, where he would continue with the other one. But plans are one thing and reality is another. When they reached Dresden, Almrod was too exhausted to continue the journey.

Photo credit: Hrvatski športski muzej

Budicki was undeterred by this misfortune and he immediately telegraphed to the factory in Brandenburg to send him an Alexander bicycle to Wroclaw, from where he would continue on his own. And indeed, he first rode via Warsaw to Moscow, and from there to St. Petersburg. A bicycle race was being organized there in Peterhof, so Budicki registered as a participant. Despite the fatigue and the fact that his bike was not a racing bicycle, he won first place and a lovely prize. Since the Zagreb press was already following Budicki's adventure, it informed the citizens that their fellow citizen “was extremely well received throughout Russia, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as a Slav who undertook such an endeavor.”

But Budicki did not stop there. He went to Helsinki via Viborg, Denmark, where the 10th anniversary of the Finnish cycling club was just being celebrated. There, he was reportedly “welcomed very warmly and received a standing ovation at the congress.” From Helsinki he crossed to Stockholm by steamer, then to Copenhagen, and he then descended to Hamburg and Bremen. Continuing the journey, he drove through Osnabrück to the Netherlands and passed through Amsterdam and Rotterdam. After that, he proceeded to Belgium, that is, Antwerp and Brussels.

Photo credit: Hrvatski športski muzej

Budicki's incredible tour brought him to Italy via Aachen, Cologne, Basel, Bern and Lucerne. He passed through Milan and Turin, then crossed into France, where he proceeded to Lyon, Dijon, Paris, and then via Calais and Dover to London. After traveling all over England, he returned to France, to Cherbourg, and descended to Bordeaux, from where he proceeded to Spain. After passing Madrid, Granada and several other cities on his way, he crossed to Africa by steamer. He traveled through Algeria and Tunisia in great heat, and then returned by steamer back to Italy, at which point he traveled from the south all the way to Trieste. From there he, of course, set out for Zagreb.

Needless to say, he was greeted with a roaring welcome in Zagreb. Though amazing as it was, Budicki thought of it as just another of the many adventures in his life.