Vladimir Daskalov, Software Engineer & Entrepreneur on Jogging & Motorbike Restoration

What I love the most about Jogging and the outdoors is staying close to nature. Being capable to disconnect and to self-reflect is something I’m working on, and I’m convinced nature is a part of it. It’s very hard or even impossible to do something like that while being constantly interrupted by emails and notifications.

My name is Vladimir Daskalov, and I am a software engineer & entrepreneur. I am the co-founder of the usability testing platform mupixa.com. We provide analytics for click dummies. Each interaction with a click-dummy on the platform provides valuable insights that help validate a user experience prior to implementation.

I chose my career because I was always fascinated by technology – there was never a doubt what I wanted to do for a living. It had to be something with computers and technology, so computer sciences was the obvious choice. I later developed an affinity towards good user experience in the products I was working on. So the cross-section of my two passions became Mupixa.

I was born and raised in Bulgaria, but I moved to Munich for my Master’s degree. The combination of lakes in the summer and mountains in the winter made Munich my second home.

Outside of my job, I love Jogging and Motorbike Restoration. Going out in the mountains was something I did regularly from an early age, and it’s simply a part of me. I was running up to 5 km on and off for years until I started preparing for a half-marathon at the beginning of 2019. The knowledge that I had to prepare for it (since giving up is not an option for me) was what kept me going and eventually helped me realize that the boundaries were mostly in my mind. The slow shift in perspective from ‘I have to go out jogging’ to ‘I want to go out jogging because it’s fun’ changed what I thought was possible for me.

My favourite place to go jogging is ‘Perlacher Forst’, a forest on the outskirts of the city. Being mostly dirt roads, it’s easy on one’s feet. The thing about that place is that some of the roads are very straight and very long with bushes and trees on both sides – at any point, you can look forwards and backwards and not know how far down the road you are. A real life lesson right there.

From my experiences with jogging, what I’ve learned so far is that once I get out and make the first step, the next steps come easier. Around the 5th km, I’m full of energy and the rest of the run is a very rewarding experience. So the real challenge comes down to making the first step. I’ve taken some measures to make that first step easier for myself, such as preparing my gear for jogging in advance and explicitly booking the time for it in my calendar. The usage of a smartwatch to track my activities is another small thing that significantly helped me persevere. Being able to see even small improvements is a very powerful motivator. My next goal with jogging is to get a consistent pace of 5 min/km for my 10km runs.

Perlacher Forst

Looking at my other activities, I am also interested in Motorbike Restoration. This began when I had a 50cc scooter for going around town – very soon after getting it, I realised that I wanted more power (for safety reasons, mainly). When you drive down the street and your top speed is 50km/hour, it basically means that everyone will overtake you. In my opinion, this is more dangerous than being able to keep up with the rest of the traffic. So I started looking for a naked bike of sorts until I discovered the café racer category. The concept fascinated me, and since I only wanted to be able to keep up with the traffic, the performance wasn’t a factor. The next step was to find a suitable base for my project.

Surprisingly, I found one (25 years old BMW K75) on sale right in the neighbourhood where I live, and it was a bit of a bargain on top of that. The bike started life as a police motorbike and still had the holders for the blue police lights. With two owners down the road, it had some minor technical problems, but it was well taken care of in general. The model is rather on the big and heavy side for a café racer, but its history and the fact that it’s known as the “flying brick” had me convinced.

Bike Before

So far, I’ve stripped off all unnecessary parts (wind protectors, holders for the police lights, etc.), making the bike lighter. I also serviced/improved all the safety-critical systems (breaks, lights, engine, etc.). Probably the hardest thing so far was restoring the fuel tank. Properly cleaning it from inside and sealing it with a special compound proved quite challenging, considering that the only opening is about 10 centimetres wide.

The next step was to improve the looks and get some more modern tech in the mix: full LED lights all around and fitting a modern tachometer gauge. Getting the electronics to work was no small feat by itself. Thankfully, there is a big community of tech-savvy owners out there who went through a similar process and have shared their experience.

One additional point I kept in mind from the very beginning is that all modifications had to be street legal in order for me to get the bike approved by the German TÜV, which is not as easy as it might sound. The next step with the restoration will be painting the wheels black and getting some proper café racer tires on them.

What I love the most about restoring this bike is the physical tinkering. For me, some sort of tech must be mixed up somehow in everything I do. So, having the design freedom to create my own vision of a modern café racer (combining the clean old school style with a futuristic-looking lighting system) is something I’m quite happy to have done.

Bike After

Probably the most prominent similarity between my job and my activities is that each of them is a long term commitment. For most of us, it’s simply not possible to go out and run long distances without resting. You build the skills physically and mentally. Similarly, a hobby project never has an end – there are always things to do, things to improve. Creating a company is similar in that way. You are in for the long run and you need a vision and passion to keep you going.

My experiences with Jogging & Motorbike Restoration have been a benefit to my technological career. Switching context and working on a completely different set of problems for a while has proven quite useful for me. Sometimes, even though I’m not actively thinking about a problem that I’m facing at work, I come up with innovative ideas while jogging or doing some manual work on the bike. In addition, these pastimes help me to recharge and be more focused once I get back to my daily work. Tech is also a huge enabler for passion – different people all over the world are using tech to bring their passion to a whole new level.

My advice to anyone interested in long-distance jogging is to be patient. Depending on your background, personality, and physical fitness, you will need to build a variety of knowledge, strengths, and skills, which all take time. In order to continue going, you’ll need persistence and lots of willpower, but eventually, you will make it. It’s also very important to get proper shoes – the right shoes will help you avoid injuries and make the whole experience much more pleasant. Go to an old school brick & mortar sports store and let someone knowledgeable recommend shoes that fit your stride.

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