Egor Kovalchuk's round-the-world cycling trip: 53,772 km on two wheels
Кругосветная экспедиция на велосипеде
"around the world on a bike, and around"
June 15, 2014- August 02, 2016,
53,772 km (fifty-three thousand seven hundred and seventy-two kilometers)
Start and end of the route - the city of Tomsk
Countries: 39 countries (+ partially recognized countries)
Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, Abkhazia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece , Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia, Moldova, Transnistria, Belarus, USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, China, Mongolia.
«По Миру на Велосипеде, и Вокруг»
The name has a great meaning in “in the World”, the whole idea of Journey as a Wandering, Search, Communication is invested. Here the main thing is the People, the main thing is the Man. In "..and Around" - this is the basis of just the sports and geographical concept.
For more than two years, I have not visited Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica, but in this concept I did not set such tasks.
In the International Attestation, about a round-the-world bicycle trip, various rules are introduced: visiting all continents, the presence of antipodes, the length of the route must be longer than the equator (40.000 km), the route must be in all hemispheres. These rules contradict the routes of the first round-the-world bikers 100 years ago. For me, in this journey, from a sports point of view, it was important to observe the length of the route and make a “circle” along the geographical horizontal latitude.
They say that first a “circle” is made, and after that it can be supplemented for a lifetime. This is a word about the formality of visiting all continents. I did not want to claim originality, I just followed my own route, which is also expressed in its individuality and style. Visits to other continents will be made in the future, if it pleases.
Of course, I have had the idea of doing a global route since the first bike route. But questions about the US and European visas slowed me down until the last moment, and only when I received these visas, already on the way, it became a little easier and clearer for me that the “circle” was being implemented.
During the trip, the author's project "Rainbow for a Friend - postcards of Peace and Kindness" was implemented between countries, between peoples, Friendship, "Peace and Goodness"), with wishes and greetings for children and adults of other countries and cities.
The basis of the project was that, acting as a postman on a bicycle, I delivered wish cards from children and adults to completely unfamiliar people from other cities and countries, the cards served as a link between people and showed that we are not divided, it would seem , external conventions - national traits, linguistic qualities, skin color or religion, but on the contrary, we are all united - One Kindness, Love in the Hearts, and Peace! The project took place as a chain sequence - postcards were transmitted in cities and countries, in schools, etc.tskih houses, boarding schools. In response, children and adults created their own wishes for Peace and Kindness.
In terms of relief, the route included 118 passes: 105 passes up to 3000 m; 9 pieces from 3000 m to 4000 m; 5 pcs above 4000 m.
Desert crossing: Meikum (Kazakhstan), Kyzyl-Kum (Uzbekitan), Ust-Yurt (Kazakhstan), Gobi (Mongolia)
I managed to run two running marathons of 42.195 km each. I completed these marathons while waiting for visas and departure dates. In February 2015, a marathon was held in Moscow, and in January 2016 in San Francisco.
Performed high-speed ascents to the volcanoes of Indonesia: Agung (3150 m), Kawa Ijen (2380 m), Merapi (2900), Merbabu (3150 m), Kerinchi (3800 m).
Participated experimentally in the practice of "Starvation": 7 days of complete dry non-contact fasting (no food, no water, no contact with water).
The maximum cycling kilometers per day was 280 km, this happened about ten times
The longest "week" in kilometers was 1900 km in 8 days. This segment fell on the April Arctic in the countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden.
The wind country itself turned out to be the USA, 5600 km, and about two months of travel, 85% of the days, were with a large squall wind in the face. As sources later confirmed, East winds prevail in Mir.
Once I was hit by a car, it happened in the first months of the journey, in Kazakhstan, in the city of Kokshetau, at a traffic light. Then I escaped with a severe bruise of the left hand, and for the next days I could not lean on the steering wheel with this hand. A bike for walking in the city was given to me by a friend and after the accident, the bike was more injured.
Once a friend and I were robbed in Romania. But the psychological way managed to prevent the situation. The rest of the people were always cordiality and kindness.
The maximum temperature was in the Kyzyl-Kum desert, we had to go at a temperature of +55 C; The minimum temperatures fell on Russia, the Scandinavian Arctic and America and averaged 20 C.
The most important thing is People. The most valuable thing is communication with people.
Those people who met me for more than two years had better qualities than me, from the fact that I could learn something from everyone: to be kinder, more smiling, more disinterested. All of them became teachers for me, but without any teachers.
In my memory and in my heart, all the people with whom this road connected us remained completely. Probably, this is one of the main gifts, to feel and make sure that we are all people - one family. Of course, we all have our own strife, but as in every family, not without it.
Somehow I was asked "Have you fallen in love?" Of course this happened. Twice.
People in Indonesia, Dagestan, and Tajikistan turned out to be more hospitable and cordial to me.
Some of the happiest in my understanding were people with preserved traditional age-old culture and identity.
Some of the smiling people turned out to be the inhabitants of Indonesia and are childishly kind and open.
Several meetings with children turned my worldview upside down.
Upon my return, I try to keep in touch and keep in touch with those whom I met on the way: through e-mail.
The people who most influenced my life were the most fallen in the eyes of this world. About each of them I wrote a text portrait-essay or essay. There are no bad people, I knew it live, there is only one's own barrier that prevents you from seeing, seeing the Good Heart, sometimes hidden due to the surrounding cruelty, and sometimes from great fear.
Being a traveler is a huge responsibility, being in another country, although indirectly, I represented my country, realizing that it was by me that they would judge our country and nationality. This made it possible to be more conscious and demanding of oneself and not give concessions to one's "I".
When it was possible, I showed printed photographs of our country and my family, if they were hot countries, talked about snow and our way of life. I tried to give at least something: coins, souvenirs, postcards. When I had nothing to give, then I bought flour and cooked plain bread. I wanted to share at least something with all these hospitable people for whom I was sometimes a son, sometimes a brother, once an uncle. I was often seen off with tears and I perceived them as my relatives according to the very real structure of life.
Having adopted Christianity, I began to monitor my actions even more, being in countries with a different religious culture, because I knew that Christians would be judged in my image. This is a huge lesson, to be responsible for your deeds, image, words, deeds. It is difficult to be a Man, in his most moral creation, but this is important, because we were originally created in the image of God and it is sometimes scary to realize that I am staining this image.
Once in Poland, on the road, I found a student ID in the name of a girl, 7 euros, cosmetics and some things were scattered nearby. I did not have enough money to buy tires for the wheel. Arriving in the nearest town, I bought a tire. I was very worried about this girl, and only a year later I managed to find her, and she was all right.
Книга и Книги
Travel is a way of storytelling. This is a form of communication.
Traveling has become a great experience for me, specifically writing. This is a huge opportunity to describe what is happening to you, what people say. There are always a lot of stories. Living history, in the midst of real Geography.
The diary that I kept constantly became the way of my thinking since childhood, with the help of the diary I analyzed situations, documented events, and had a dialogue with myself and friends. He constantly learned to express his thoughts and kept sketches for various situations. The diary has become the basis of the book, and serves as self-discipline for me. The best option when traveling, when I recorded twice or thrice a day. And it was a great way to share with people what is happening to me in the present tense, until it went completely into handwritten vavariant.
Reading has been a passion for me since childhood. Once I wanted to read books about elemental wanderers. Maybe fortunately, but then I did not come across the books of A. Marshal, D. London and Flint. Therefore, the realization quickly came that I needed to write a book about the journey myself, of course, only on the basis of my own experience.
During his travels, he accumulated material for several books of various genres and narratives.
Listen or speak?! Of course "Listen"!
The fairy tale genre has always served as a standard for me, because this is the language of children, and in order to write in this spirit, you yourself need to remember that you are an open child. And sometimes you need to find in yourself that child left in the past.
Once in my backpack fit a mini-library of paper books. These were 5-7 books, after reading, which were given to people.
I always have a creative writer's kit with me, which includes: a special notebook for diary entries (one main and a couple of small ones), a huge number of pens, paints, pencils, and sometimes knitting threads.
In my class, I have to write a lot, so I have a very demanding attitude towards writing pens and paper. At the same time, pens, at least a couple of pieces, should be in each pocket of the backpack and in any place that is visible to me. There is a pencil case on the handlebar of the bike, where there are also several handles. I could write a whole article about this =)
The longest number of months I didn't see my family was 14 months.
When a “corridor” arose 2 weeks before flying to the USA, the choice became: live in a monastery or see relatives. It was not without difficulty that the decision was made, but the choice was in favor of relatives. Almost non-stop, he flew to Siberia for 2 weeks, and then back to the USA.
My relatives were always with me, and I did not allow myself to miss them, but sometimes waves of thoughts came that were difficult to get rid of. And these thoughts weighed heavily and withered. They usually began with: “How long have you not seen your family. Are you afraid that you will never see them again? It really was one of the most serious tests for me.
He maintained contact with his relatives through letters, the Internet and Skype, and rarely recorded audio letters. The phone was not used for these purposes. We were able to get in touch once a week. In more autonomous segments, there was an agreement that I could be without communication for up to 14 days.
At home, Mom has a geographical atlas, according to which she always traces my path, wherever I am.
I don’t know why, but over the years of wandering, I managed to understand my relatives more deeply. Until now, I am afraid to realize what experiences my Mom is experiencing.
We became closer, dearer, easier to understand each other. My family is my biggest support.
“Mother's prayer wrests from death” - I know this firsthand.
I have small items from my relatives with me. I call them "Blessing". This is a knitted hat and scarf from Mom. The prayers that she copied on paper during her sister's university years are for us. Knitted toys from my sister, who sometimes were navigators on the steering wheel (Cat and Beaver).
On the third day from the start in the city of Novosibirsk, I dropped my hat from Mom and when I went to look for her around the city, I promised that if I did not find her, I would return home and forget about everything. The hat was found.
Once in the mountains of the Caucasus, from overwork on mountain serpentines, when I was dragging a bicycle up the snowy roads, the names of my relatives and friends seemed to fly out of my memory. This happens from huge loads and overwork. Forgetting the names of your loved ones and relatives is one of the most disturbing moments for me. Later, when I crossed the peak and rested, the pressure had already returned to normal, my memory and consciousness were in order.
Periodically, I felt guilty because I chose the path of wandering, and not life next to relatives and family.
I returned home without injury. This is a great gift. And I believe that my body has become more stable, hardened and adapted to various environmental factors.
In the deserts, I have had stages of dehydration. But long before the journey, I had great experiences of fasting and crossing deserts without water. Traveling has given me the opportunity to get to know my body better. I stopped being afraid of such imposed opinions that you can die if you do not drink for 3 days. But it's one thing to know that you won't die, it's another thing to experience it for yourself. Only after the experience of verification, I was no longer bothered by deserts and heat. I always smiled at the Sun and rode without body protection, and vice versa I rode boldly, in shorts and without a T-shirt in +55C. Lastgradually adapting to the sun, the skin did not burn.
Sometimes I drove through deserts with minimal water. I was no longer so worried that I had 0.5-1 liter of water with me. Towards the Europeans were driving with containers of more than 10 liters. I could afford it, not because of impudence, but because of the great experience of training in waterless mode with a lot of body activity in the heat. Finding out how your own body works by experience is the task of everyone and this has huge advantages.
In one of the intense sections in the Arctic, in the morning from pain, I did not have the strength and stability to ride a bike. My tendons were injured, I could hardly walk. Slowly, step by step, he walked until the body was slightly warmed up. After slowly I drove off.
Earlier, I made sure that we are all divided into those who will have an injury and they will stop and complain about failure due to injury, and that will be the end of it. The second will accept the injury as an additional lesson and will still move, no matter what. I belonged to the second group. And it follows a lot of thought in order to clearly answer many questions about the body and what you will do if a situation of injury, impotence happens, and there is no help around. My optima was a tough attitude towards my body: only Move inbefore, and of course, do not feel sorry for yourself, in any situation, no matter how painful it is, no matter what weather conditions occur.
Intentionally, I should have gotten used to eating cold food earlier in order to be more prepared for cold weather conditions. I learn to drink frozen water. I deliberately did not take a thermos for hot food and liquids to the Arctic in order to be more mobile and not be attached to such conditional comforts.
I was asked on the road “are you tired?”, And I pounded on my muscles and said that I was always tired and for several months there was no way to slow down and recover.
One day, from exhaustion and dehydration, I began to lose consciousness. It happened two weeks before the finish at the Mongolia-Russia border. Earlier a few years ago, on an experimental journey, I studied the stages of dehydration and semi-syncope in great detail. So this time, I wasn't afraid. In America, I also once began to lose consciousness on the go for an unknown reason, it happened in the state of Texas.
I rarely got sick or almost never got sick. The body did not allow itself to get sick. Only for 1 day could he abruptly start the process associated with adaptation and this process could be accompanied by: temperature, vomiting, nausea, and indigestion. This happened in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia. It happened very rarely. During such a period, I seemed to be undermined, and within an hour I turned into an object unable to get up. Then I thought that our life is “today you are on your feet and alive”, but tomorrow you cannot get up.
Several times he was poisoned with unripe watermelons with saltpeter.
In the US I was bitten by a tick. We did not go to the clinic, but the arm hurt for about two months. It cost me a lot of willpower to start the process of restoring the body. I don't know if it was a dangerous bite or not. But my hand hurt for a month and a half.
Every day I tried to carry out restorative and adaptive procedures for the body: stretching, exercising, massage, tapping, rubbing with essential oils, drinking infusion of cloves, using a needle rug. Cold water.
With me, I always had an optimized first aid kit with a set suitable for my body.
And although quite often I worked at the limit and was tired. Joy and Rest, I was given the factors of the process - not only the distance traveled, but conversations with people, a diary, pencil sketches, studying culture and life, the experience of living in another family. I was constantly immersed in the educational process, and as much as possible included in the environment where I was: in a temple or school, in a family or city, village or farm, in the desert or mountains.
A couple of times I had to take a risk and skip the “Point of no return”, when climbing Mount Merapi in Indonesia, for example.
One of my fundamental goals was the intention to reach the monastery of St. Demetrius in Georgia, where Father Raphael served, where I wanted to receive the sacrament of Baptism. We met a year earlier with Father Raphael. It was a long Spiritual Road, now, fully conscious, I wanted to set foot on the path for Christ.
Only a few of the closest people knew about the intention to be baptized. All of them reacted: "Don't expect ease, it is not beneficial for other forces that you become a Christian." Against all odds and persuasion to go to the monastery by train, I chose one of the most difficult geographical routes to the monastery. In Kazakhstan, on my way to church, I was hit by a car, I was worried that my injured arm would heal before the mountains began. After, in Kyrgyzstan, unsuccessfully jumping from the shore into the lake, I cracked a bone in my foot, I was worried that before big Gothe bone is slightly tightened. This only added to the stubbornness not to retreat. “Yes, if I have to crawl, I will get to Georgia, no matter what it costs me,” I said to myself
On the world expedition, Christianity became my religious priority. I wanted to see, to experience all its diversity. From this, if possible, I set my route through monasteries, temples.
Twice I managed to live in Orthodox monasteries for more than one week: Georgia (Ruisi), Russia (Loustari).
A route was built around Serbia, so as to visit places associated with Faddey Vitovnitsky.
The spiritual homeland for me was: Russia, Georgia, Serbia.
Willingly, for development and education, I got acquainted with other religious movements, official and not quite.
I'm very sorry that I didn't manage to get to JaRastafiri Church in New York by Haley Sulasie
In Kazakhstan, the cat became my companion, or rather the passenger. He rode with me from the suburbs of the town of Abay to the next village, while we were driving, he refreshed himself, and then jumped off at his village.
In Azerbaijan, a dog was dying on the side of the road. Then for the first time I thought about how important it is to have at least someone nearby.
In Thailand, we drove for several days with a little Bird, I picked her up by a car on the side of the road. She lived with me for several days, and then died.
In the Caucasus, more than anywhere else, I was attacked by huge packs of dogs. Sometimes more than twenty times a day.
Most of all, I became friends with the Birds, sometimes they accompanied me, sometimes they met me. I myself empathized with them when huge storm winds knocked them into a tailspin, then I myself could hardly stand on my feet, resting on a bicycle. Sometimes I could drive for long hours and not leave for food or even for the toilet in a small way. But as soon as I saw the soaring birds, I immediately stopped and looked with a sinking breath.
Once in Mongolia, a pack of horses mistook me for one of their own.
In Scandinavia and America I often saw deer. There are large marmots in the Pamirs. In Mongolia, every morning, hundreds of little gophers scurried out from under the road in lumps. In Thailand, monitor lizards and small crocodiles, elephants.
The greatest magic I have ever seen was the Fireflies that filled the forest in Eastern Europe. The forest came alive and glowed all night.
The most mysterious and unpredictable Nature has become the nature of the equatorial belt: unknown sounds in the jungle, other forests, climate and rainfall cycles.
Countries of my Heart: Indonesia, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Serbia, Georgia.
Natural expanses that should not be forgotten are the Scandinavian Arctic, the Pamir Plateau, the Ust-Yurt plateau, the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Hungry Mountains in Azerbaijan, volcanoes in Indonesia, nature in Mongolia.
Most of the cyclists I met in Central Asia. Got in season. But it happened that for half a year I did not meet a single one.
Two of the cyclists I met became my close friends: Laszlo, a Hungarian from Slovakia who knows Russian, whom we met in Azerbaijan, and after about a year I was visiting his house. Now he is on the road again. The second was Lander from the Basque Country in Spain. We became friends in Laos, and after in China we traveled together for more than a week from Chengdu to Xi'an. Now he has completed his route. An entire book could be written about each of them.
The best clothes I bought on the way are the Indonesian sorong. I took two sets.
In every religious tradition my interest has been Monasticism.
In America, a huge squirrel was shot down in front of my eyes. She died in my arms.
The journey taught me not to be superstitious, and not to believe in omens, dreams, myself and the weather.
Indonesia has become the country where I was able to communicate with children and photograph them the most. And even in a good way, adults in this country are like children!
The main interest in the expedition: People and Nature. In the broadest and deepest sense
Several times I got to the funeral processions: in Kazakhstan, Indonesia, the USA.
Several times I managed to visit three different countries in one day (Finland, Sweden, Norway)
When it was very difficult and cold and unbearable, I thought about my friends, who, like me, were at that moment on a journey. Sometimes I looked at the leaves of trees, at insects and said: “If they are here and everything is fine with them, then I can handle it, since such fragile creatures are able to endure these natural conditions”
Велосипед и техника и быт
I really enjoy cycling.
From the bike on which I rode, such components as the steering wheel and steering horns, the fork, the trunk remained native, everything else usually wore out due to the large number of kilometers and different road and climate conditions.
It still worries me that I do not have the skill to spoke wheels.
My concept does not include the use of front bags for things on the bike
Quite often, I could ride the bike for more than five hours without breaking off or stopping.
I didn't get tired of cycling. There are so many interesting and lively things happening every second.
I do not use a helmet when moving, only because I am sure that with a helmet I lose my attentiveness and it hinders my movements. I tried to ride with a helmet.
I sincerely love Pik-99 products, I constantly use their backpacks and tent.
If there was a choice what to take a camera or a voice recorder, my choice is the second one. In two years, I wore out three cameras of the “soap box” type, 3 voice recorders (1 was lost in Chechnya, the second was broken in Norway, the third was little used), several phones that served as an alarm clock, the last phone began to accommodate the Wi-Fi Internet option.
Before leaving home, I packed a box of equipment, equipment, which was sent to me when the contents were needed. It happened after half a year in the Caucasus.
I managed to record about 500 audios, these were interviews, and just conversations, and the sounds of nature and animals. But most of all I recorded the Voices of the people. The voice recorder is one of my favorite electronic devices.
For the first year and a half, I carried a netbook computer with me, printed reports in it daily. This experience was enough to realize that I will no longer take a computer with me.
Most of the route, I used paper maps, sometimes checking them on the Internet. Later, I got a phone with cards that work without the Internet. But I deleted this app so that I can ask locals for directions more often and communicate with them.
For the first half of the year, I deliberately traveled without a tent. In order to lose individuality and vulnerability. I often spent the night with local residents, I was invited or I myself knocked on the door or looked for a place with shelter from the rain, where I settled down for the night.
When it happens that a section of the road is “high-speed” or difficult, I try to spend the night apart on my own and not at a party.
The maximum number of times where I had to put up a tent is America.
The maximum number of times where food had to be cooked is Europe.
There were periods when I allowed myself to eat the same type of food: crackers, water, sugar.
In some countries it is more convenient to buy food, and somewhere to cook it yourself. For each country, I optimized.
Planned for the experience, I worked in America, and part time in Europe and China.
During the journey, I did not have sponsors. A huge amount of support came from the cycling communities, from my friends, from the people I met, from the followers of the blog on the social network. This help is difficult to evaluate, and I bow my head to these people. Before everyone.
For more than 5 years I have been eating wooden Chinese chopsticks or a wooden spoon. I have a huge set of spare sticks with me.
Going on a long journey, I set for myself three basic principles:
1) DO NOT STAY ANYWHERE, no matter how tempting circumstances, living conditions. 2) DO NOT LOOK FOR OUTSIDE HAPPINESS, which would depend on the climate, job offer, or favorable conditions of stay, but direct all impulses to the search for Happiness in the Heart.
3) RETURN TO WHERE MY RELATIVES WHERE.
I sincerely fell in love with my country with the name Russia, as the Motherland, through the awareness of history, political upheavals and, of course, through the people. I literally grew roots in this country. I fell in love with her not for all the pluses and external superiority, but rather for her scars and flaws.
When I returned, it was difficult for me to explain to friends and relatives that the completed round-the-world expedition was not the end. Many expected my degree and measured life.
I always made fun of myself: “I left as a beggar and arrived as a beggar,” in general, this is correct. But I have gained a lot, which cannot be estimated by material things.
The main achievement is the realization that one must constantly do a lot of Good disinterestedly, without hesitation, without choosing who exactly. Constantly learn to be kind. Try to soften your heart.
I would like to start with gratitude to God, and to all His Natural Creations. These few years on the road were filled with edification and teaching, while I was kept from all misfortunes. It is a great joy to return Alive, namely Alive and in Health, and not to be sad for the World, but to be grateful to Him. Every good deed from all people, I perceived as God's providence.
To my Family, the Closest, Blood, who understands, accepts without words.
To my Close Friends, with whom we can talk not only about travel. We are glad that we are connected, something else. Despite the fact that our interests are different.
To my cycling mentors and hardened travelers with open hearts, with whom I managed to get acquainted and apply their experience: S. Polovinkin, P. Konyukhov, Y. Mikhailyuk, V. Ketov, E. Rybin, S. Lukyanov.
Like-minded people, accomplices, those who followed my path on the Internet. It's great that I managed to see many people live, thanks for the friendship and support. Many have become family to me, even though we only saw each other once. But I sincerely consider you family.
Brothers in Spirit, with whom we managed to drive some sections of the road or just meet at intersections, with someone we drove for a couple of days, with someone we just met and became related, with Temka and Lander we drove the most kilometers, with someone - then for a couple of days: Kolenka (Krasnoyarsk), Andrey (Stavropol), Misha (Peter) Laszlo (Slovakia, Hungary), Temka (Ukraine, Russia) Lander (Basque country, Spain)
To cyclists and cycling communities for equipping, supporting the bike and like-mindedness, in the cities: Omsk, Astana, Tashkent, Samarkand, Astrakhan, Pyatigorsk,
Stavropol, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, Flagstaff(USA), PekanBaru (Indonesia), Kunming(China), Baotou(China). Special thanks to Dima (Murmansk) and Sasha (China).
Pik-99 companies and Sergey Lashchevsky
Volunteers, organizers and participants of the action "Rainbow for a Friend - Postcards of Peace and Kindness", thanks to you, managed to hold events in more than 50 schools, orphanages, boarding schools.
Thank you all, without you none of this would have been possible!
Kovalchuk Egor Valerievich
634026 Tomsk Bolshaya Podgornaya 145-5