My first experience as involuntary, partial, Cyclonudista

The day that the world sow I got balls, but literally!

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People always love to look at me, even when I am brushing my teeth!

Many people asked me how I did became a CycloNudista; well, the first sign about this virtuous vocation appeared when I was just a little more than a child…

It happened in a small, countryside, village of southern Italy with roughly 5.000 inhabitants. The main disputes in this village are about how you are a better person if you come from one or another side of the village, there is a river that divides the two sides and many people feel proud to be from the “right side”.
This location in southern Italy is extremely conservative, old-fashion, and fascist: the best place to be a CycloNudista!

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Combining camping with cycling naked is delightful.

My home was two kilometers from the village, I had a bicycle and I was using it regularly to go to cafe´s or do groceries.
In this small village, when you are on a bicycle, people always look at you with superiority,—actually they do it also if you walk or are in a car that is worth less than 20.000euro—making you feel miserable, even if you are just a child. Just for that reason, I always loved to cycle: each move of my pedaling was for me a march against that sick society.

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Getting older I start to became an acro-CycloNudista…

Another rebellious behavior I had, was to be a punk. I had eight piercings, a crest in my hair, broken pants, and colored nails; this made me look ´somewhat´ little different than anyone else around there.
It was for me quite usual to get attention from people, because of my bike and because of my look; actually maybe also because of many other things, but here let´s limit my unique weirdness to the bicycle and my appearance.

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I really don´t understand why people is always so interested in my tooth brush.

One day I went to a shop in the center, I was hurrying up so I didn´t even bother to put my underwear–I was a punk after all!–.

Strangely enough, I could immediately notice something different in the look of the locals, their look was full of superiority, as always, but this time there was also some kind of intense interest mixed with astonishment in their gaze.

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My first official Cyclonudista event, I had even an underwear.

As usual, I don´t take the trouble to care about them or react, I just do my stuff and get back home. While I was climbing the stairs, I was still thinking about these faces I crossed the look with: how could it be that every single person was having exactly the same expression?

When inside the house, I go straight to the kitchen, there is a large mirror at the entrance where I catch a glimpse of something pink above my legs. I walk rapidly back to the mirror and I finally understand the reason why I had so much attention today by the village people: my broken punk pants exposed my lovely precious parts!

 

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Nowadays I am not the only cyclonudista anymore…
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Cycling from Ukraine to Georgia. Shocked by the Cultural difference

 

Mud, wind, sun, rain, the black sea, Russian Army with helicopters, lack of food, lack of water, my back hernias, my painful knee, lack of money, drunken Georgians driving like there is no tomorrow, holes in the street, toxic substances, any kind of animal in the middle of the street, Georgian excessive hospitality, mountains, hunters shooting even at night, the fact that I a have a city bike, and even farmers with axes pointed at me: none of these stopped me from getting from Kiev to Tbilisi.

Wanna know what happened on the way?
Simply read below.

CYCLING VS MOTORIZED VEHICLES

You can call a cyclist irrational, or even masochist, you may think it’s meaningless to cycle when you can take the car or an airplane, and be much faster.
Nevertheless, a cyclist believes in what he does. He believes that using the legs instead of polluting vehicles, makes you feel proud of yourself, proud of your body and of your respect to nature.

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Hence, why do painters still exist when you can take a picture and get everything much faster?
This was the sentence my father used to pronounce when someone would argue that his paintings are not exactly as reality.

The same difference between a painting and a picture we can transpose to bicycles and cars.

That’s the reason why a while ago I jumped on an abandoned bicycle and decided to go to the other side of the world with it.

 

INSPIRATION TO CYCLE

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The books that inspired me the most:
– Odyssey
– Gulliver
– The tour of the world in 80 days

 

Inspiring Cartoons:
– Future Boy Conan
– Don Chuck Monogatari
– Hokuto no Ken


I Share my Bicyle Diary with you

KIEV – ODESSA

 

 

Kiev – Bila Tserkva, First 50 km’s

FOOD
I can’t easily find vegetarian food, the most people eat meat and milk products.

ANIMALS
On the right side of the road, there is a small fence with a crowd of cows constricted inside. They have extremely little space, being forced to squeeze and can barely move.

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PEOPLE
The people I meet along the way are not too interested in interacting, some of them don’t even look in my direction. I guess this is not due to anything negative in their character, they are probably introverted and reserved. That’s actually a polite way of behaving; I appreciate much more who gives me my personal space and privacy, instead of those who go behind my boundaries. Nevertheless, while bicycle touring, one is more open and can get benefit from getting to know locals.

ASBESTOS
The 80% of the houses in the rural areas, have the roof made of this toxic material. Asbestos is everywhere. Fences, walls, water pipes, and aqueducts are in asbestos too.
I initially felt preoccupied and sad about the people’s health here, but after seeing how old peoples get, I feel released: even though they grow up around toxic’s substances and not far from Chernobyl, many manage to get quite old and still in reasonable shape.
My curiosity made me wish to know the real age of those old men and woman, still, I didn’t dare to ask.

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DOGS
The worst thing a cyclist can encounter are definitely dogs, that’s a constant in all countries. Northern countries are much more safe in this aspect, dogs are friendly there,  they don’t bother you.
The more you go south, the more dogs become aggressive, without being racist, we can make an analogy about people.
From the moment it’s proven that dogs behave in a parallel way to humans around them, these in Ukraine start to become a problem, luckily, they get scared of me once I look at them in the eyes and they run away.

SLEEPING
Installing the tent on the side of the road, behind few trees, where the level of the ground is about two meters below the street; I have little space cause the road is right on my left, on my right I have a grain field.
The ground is not smooth, the noise of vehicles, many of which are tractors, is annoying my sleep. Furthermore, dogs from a nearby farm, bark all night and I get really cold.

 

Bila Tserkva 50km – Rokytne 110km

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A BABUSHKA KICKS ME OFF
In the deep countryside, I see some nut trees along the road, so I decide to harvest this healthy dry fruit. While I pick some nuts, a babushka, from a house at the other side of the street, shouts at me and points her right hand to the street, showing me the way to go away from her surroundings.

ASBESTOS, AGAIN
Everything is made of asbestos here, people do not seem to care.

DOGS
The night passes with a continuous barking of dogs, they seem to be near the tent, I shrink into a ball in order to avoid any of them to reach me at the edges of the tent.

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The sunflowers bend their head down, to the opposite side of the sun, it seems almost like a sign of rebellion to nature or maybe it could represent the nature itself, surrendering to humans, which burn and pollute the fields without respect.
It’s hard to count all the camps of sunflower, now dead, that I find on my way. I have the impression sunflower is in absolute the main crop of Ukraine, following, in smaller number, I see grain and corn fields too.

ROKYTNE, MY FAVORITE TOWN
A different town is in front of me, it’s called Rokytne. I notice immediately the many cyclists, friendly people, and finer shops.
I have a break here, it’s the only place that stands out from the standard Ukrainian post-soviet, outdated style. Also, the mentality of the people seems to be more forward. I get to this conclusion judging by how the cars drive and the fact that many locals ride bicycles for choice, not because of poverty.

 

Rokytne 110km – Skibin 150km

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DRUNKEN MAN, WANTING TO PAY AND KISS ME
In order to get water and some food, I stop in a “Magazin”, an omnipresent small shop that sells a bit of everything. NB: the everyting that you can find in a country where import is quite limited due struggling economy and an active war.
I see a table outside, where a drunken man is napping, in a deep sleep, which is for me surprising because it’s about 10:00 in the morning; I seat at the opposite side of him, there are two bottles of beer on the table, one is right where I am sitting. From the moment nobody is there, I move the drink away from me.
After few minutes, a man comes straight to me and shouts something. I understand that I took his place, I try to explain but from the moment he realizes that I cycling a long way, he smiles, holds my hands, and introduces himself; proposing me some food. Once I tell him that I am coming from Finland with the bicycle, he becomes euphoric, offering me money as help; at a certain point, he even tries to kiss me while we take a picture.

Highlights of the rest of the day:

Too much wind, I can’t cycle.
Stop for a long reparation. My hands get black and I don’t find a place to wash them.
A scooter stops next to me, the driver has a technical problem.

 

Skibin 150km – Uman 220km

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All the way with no restaurants or snacks.
A man is on the ground, lying on a bicycle.
Many cows and goats attached at few meters of chain.
I talk to a woman milking a cow.

 

Uman 220km – Kryve Ozero 310km

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Lost in the woods full of trash.
In a snack, the shop owner tries to cheat with the price. It’s the first time I notice someone tryes to cheat about prices in Ukraine.
Many dead foxes on the highway.
I meet Alexander, a young boy walking on the highway attempting to reach Odessa by foot. He has not even a bag or backpack, wears dirty clothes and broken sandals. I think about the difference between him and me.

A golden toothed man gives me fruits.
Many horses on the chain.
Without knowing, I slept at the entrance of a school.

 

Cryve Ozero 310km – Zhovten 400km

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EXTREMELY HOT AND SUNNY, I GOT A SUNBURN
A man hosts me, he is caring and helpful, drinks vodka, but misses two front teeth. He heals my burning arms by applying milk cream on my skin.
When I am about to sleep, he comes to the room without knocking, looks at me smiling, makes a circle with his right hand, putting the index and the thumb together, then releases the index finger to his neck making a sound.
I am not sure about what this may mean, but I go to another room with him.
He shows me a bottle of Ukrainian vodka, I get a full glass of it. Explaining that it’s too much, I take another glass and pour one finger of vodka in it, he takes the rest and drinks it all in one shoot.
Not even five minutes are passed, he wants to show me how strong he his, so he starts to do push-ups and similar exercises.

 

Zhovten 400 – Odessa 500

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Main issues: disastrous road, dogs, wind, sun.

 

ODESSA – BOAT
Going fast under the rain: slaloming around huge ponds, crossing with red traffic lights to get to my ship, which is departing soon.
Before boarding, in the check-in room that looked more like a refugee camp for mentally disturbed and alcoholic, I already get to know that Georgians are heavy drinkers. They drink and drive, and as it turns out, they also drink and sail: a drunken officer coming from the ship confirms this.
Waiting for hours in the corridor of the custom control area, I discover that inside this small space a full ecosystem is around me. There is a mini bank office, which is actually a two square meters hole with a think glass; a miniature restaurant and even toilets, the latter smelling like an open latrine.

THE GEORGIAN NEANDERTHAL MAN

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A drunken tall man, featuring a Neanderthal walking style, argues with me about his ‘priority’ in getting through the entrance.
For unknown reasons, he was carrying an old washing machine from Ukraine to Georgia. He was there with his mother, which was constantely embarassed by his behavior.
There is not much I can tell him because he is totally drunk and doesn’t appear to understand any language that I know, anyhow I explain him the situation in English, he does not get any happier.
This individual continues, during the long hours of the custom control, to harass people and disturb. He reaches the point of repeatedly attempting to kiss a well-shaped female bank employee, a security woman—old and of the dubious attractiveness—, and other women.
During these absurd actions, he was leaning so close to the victims that his lips almost reached them. He was explicitly asking to have sex, verbally and physically.
Constant shouts, aggressive approaches, pushing and pulling, verbal assaults, were all perpetrated by this monkey-man. He was talking no-sense even with whom didn’t speak his language.
We were maybe fifty passengers, there was at least a dozen of people working in the station, nevertheless, nobody stopped him, not even the border control police, customs, and military personnel.

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Walking with feet at two shoulder distance, bended knees, and open arms, he looked like a zoo escape.
After the initial feeling of indignation, I could not stop to laugh, I thought to be in a dream, real life can’t be so funny.

There were continuous grotesque scenes, going from unreal hilarious to unbearable, these could all have been used in a low-quality comedy, which could have been really funny somehow.

He ended up falling asleep on the benches of the waiting room.
RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS

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Two Russian helicopters visit us, they roam around the boat for about half hour. Coming approximately ten meters close to the vessel.
It is a quite intimidating experience, also because I am on a regular, innocent, ferry boat. The only issue with it is that it’s a Ukrainian ship, that’s why the Russian harassment.

DANCING ON THE DECK, DRUNKEN
Passengers offer me drinks, I drink more vodka than what I am supposed to drink, this caused:
Peeing overboard.
Discussions with officers.
All night vomiting.
Sleeping for two days.
Back highly painful.
Sickness.

 

GEORGIA

BATUMI – TBILISI

 

Batumi 0 – Kobuleti 35

HILLS ON MY WAY
My first kilometers in Georgia are a new experience for me.
All is really different than in Ukraine. The traffic, the roads, the altitude and the people.
A kind-hearted man helps me uphill and gives me food. There is no mutual language we both speak properly, so we communicate by hands. He tells me that with his car he just needs two hours to get to the capital. Pointing at the Coca-Cola he is drinking, and at his chubby belly, I tell him: “this drink, together with a car, are the worst for health”.

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The way was becoming really steep, it seemed that the mountains I was cycling on would never end. My back it’s painful since four days already, today more than ever, I can barely walk. My bicycle has just three gears so I have to push it, operation almost impossible due the condition of my spine.

Next the first high hill, three young girls give me some water, cause my bottle was empty

 

Kobuleti 35 – Lanchkhuti 100

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A minibus stops, there are two men in it, one of them tells me to get inside, he helps me to load the bicycle. He does not speak any English, it’s hard to communicate, nevertheless, I do understand that he is offering to bring me to Tbilisi.
I speak also with his wife on the phone, she could speak English and was really kind too.
My point is to cycle to Tbilisi, I explain this and I tell him that I just needed a bit of help for these hills and because my back hurts.
His sense of hospitality it’s really disarming, he definitely wants to do more for me, so he offers me a coffee, food, and asks if I need anything else.
Before leaving he gives me a bag full of food. There is a piece of flatbread, which is really tasty. When they are about to leave, the minibus does not start, I help to push it but it does not work. Luckily, the other person, who is his father in law, knew a trick and by maneuvering at the engine,  managed to make the vehicle start.

It starts to rain, I stop at a snack, the only of the village. There I spend half day and I get to know nearly all the students of the village.
They are friendly and many of them speak english. It seems they don’t want me to leave.
One of them tells me that he knows a place where I can put my tent, I follow him but instead he brings me his home, not sure about what to do, I cycle fast to the first possible place where I can install my tent, it’s pouring rain and I am in the mud.

 

Lanchkhuti 100 – Samtredia 150

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I get Bread and water from a sweet old lady.
I am outside the tent, shirtless, about to pack my stuff, when an older woman passes by, I regret to not have asked the people nearby if I could camp there, so I say to the woman who I am, that I have slept there and where I am going. She says something like “cleb” , I just understand that she may want to offer me some food, so I try to explain that I have already bread–offered me from another kind Georgian the day before–.
She is faster than me, I get a big fresh backed piece of bread and a bottle of water.

RAIN IN THE MORNING
I was about to depart when it started to rain, the tent and the bicycle were all wet, the sky didn’t promise any sun, I packed and I started cycling anyway, hoping to find a place where to get my stuff dry.

HORSES ON CHAINS
One of the nicest things of Georgia is the freedom of domestic animals, they are just everywhere, with no chains.
Horses don’t have the same fortune, I have seen many of them with short chains; which is horrendous for an anymal that is naturally made to roam fast in vast spaces.

 

Samtredia 150 – Meore Sviri 200

RAIN AND MUD: A CAR STOPS IN FRONT OF THE TENT

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Blocked in the rain I can’t move from the tent, I hear people passing in front of it.
An old mercedes is slaloming in the mud like a rally car. Two man with a little beard are inside. They tell me to get in the car, I do it.
I am brought some kilometers away, in a house where there are six more men, I don’t know what to expect, also cause we don’t have any language we can use to communicate.

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Sweet Georgians helping me remove mud from the bicycle.

Some tension and worrying feeling builds up, I relax and it all ends up really sweet.
They are all very welcoming and hospitable, offering me food, drinks, even drugs!–the latter I refuse–.
I am invited to stay for the night and I get even the mud from my feet and the bicycle cleaned up by them.
Watermelons are brought to me by them as present for the morning breakfast.
The only negative side is that the host is drunk since the beginning and he does not hesitate to drive the car, like there is no tomorrow.

 

Meore Sviri 200 – Kvesrevi 300

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Rain, rain rain.

 

Kvesrevi 300 – Tsromi 350

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RAIN
I have to depart with the tent being wet and the rain continues almost all day.

A young dog followed me a little. For the first time not to attack me, but in search of company, or food.
He was so sweet that I almost wished to take him with me.
One of his legs was injured, in a car accident probably. Anyhow he managed to run and jump run behind me. Happy as I have never seen a dog before.
Once I shouted at him to make him stop following me, he makes a dog cry, it’s disarming and pitiful, even for me that I don’t consider a dog better than a pig.

PERCEPTIVE ILLUSION OF THE STREET INCLINATION

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I have to do the highest climbing now, reaching almost 1.000 meters of height.

The bicycle seems not to cycle properly, I feel that something is preventing its wheels from spinning smoothly. Therefore I stop and by putting the bicycle upside down, I check what’s the problem. All seems to be normal with the bicycle. The way, a two-lane road, goes uphill but it seemed to my eyes that it was downhill, so I got confused thinking that the problem was the bicycle. Probably my perspective made me have a wrong perception of the road’s inclination.

After the long climbing, here the fun part comes: the downhill!

In the first village, a Kid asks me for money, I am really touched by that, unfortunately, I am not able to give him money, nor I manage to spend some time with him to understand his problems.

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In the fields, where pastors bring animals, I met a Man who served in the USSR army in the Baltics. We can’t understand each other much cause he speaks Georgian and Russian, I just understand few words of Russian. He seemed to be nostalgic of the USSR time.

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Few hours before the sun sets down, when you still see a strong yellow-orange light, I set my tent up, on a beautiful hill, where there are cultivated fields and no garbage, finally, except for a couple of synthetic napkins.
I hear shootings nearby, it’s gonna be another night of worrying for hunters.

 

Tsromi 350 – Gori 400

In the night before, I have a visit of several different animals around the tent.
It was deep night. A craving creature comes out from few centimeter of my tent’s back side.
After few hours, something that could have been a fox, defecated just outside the entrance of the tent.

HOUSES AND CAR – POLICE AND COMMON PEOPLE

20170929_130814My eye catches many houses with just the front façade painted: it first seemed funny to see houses where the only finished side is the one facing the street. The other three sides have just bricks. Later I understand that poverty is still rampant here, the most people don’t have enough means to finish the building works. Probably stucco and paint are also expensive because they need to be imported.

From the other hand, Police buildings are really modern and luxurious. For reasons to me unknown, they have the European flag outside their police stations.
Police cars are extravagant too. They often leave police vehicles in the street with the engine running. When they are driving they keep the emergency lights, blue and red, always on. As it’s permanent emergency. Which is true, seen how georgians drive!
It seems there is a lot of money for police, but not for the Georgians or the streets, the latter often with rainwater draining gaps unfinished, transforming them in a mortal trap.

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Georgians drive Cars, mostly vans actually, with German and Dutch text on it.
In first instance I was surprised, I thought many Germans were living here. Nevertheless, when I started to notice that these vehicles had German and Dutch minor businesses’s advertising, I realized Georgians were driving them.
They simply didn’t have means to paint the cars again, probably it looks cool for them to have a van with some European ununderstandable text such as: “schilderwerken Van Den Lieve”

TOMATO SELLERS GIVE ME FOOD

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I was going off-road, for about two hours, going at walking speed and stopping often because the way was uphill. The bicycle was heavy, the weather is hot, therefore I get quite tired.

To get out of the dirtroad, I cross tomato sellers, one of them invites me inside a van, offering me tomatos, bread and anything he had on the small table.

In a small shop, they are kind to me, offering coffee and sweets.
This time my politeness got me into troubles, because I am not supposed to drink coffee, still, I accepted it. The coffee made me totally nervous for all the day and I could not sleep properly at night.

I discover that Georgians shops owners, to save electricity, do not keep the freezers for food always on, they unplug it for a while. They ignore maybe that unfreezing and freezing again makes food going bad.
Now I finally understand why ice-cream’s taste like expired here.

Gori 400 – Noste 428

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THE CITY OF STALIN
I actually got to know just after have crossed Gori that it was the city where Stalin was born. Anyhow I had a feeling of strangeness while I was the city.

NIGHT VISIT OF A KIND THIEF
I have my tent in a side path of a muddy county road, between cultivated lands with low trees and green crops.
It’s really dark, late, cold, and it rains.
A kind shop owner offered me a coffie yesterday, I did the wrong act of drinking it, so I am restless all night. This makes me really sensitive to noises.
The bicycle is parked at the tent’s side, from the other side, I hear footsteps: “hallo”—I say immediately—“hallo”—the man replies, —“karasho”—I say, but there is no reply to it.
I hear footsteps going to the back side of the tent, then I don’t hear anything, I guess he went over a small path behind the tent.
Trying to sleep again, when not even ten minutes are passed, the same man is passing by, I pop out with my head from the tent and I see, in the darkness, his shape, the reddish light of a cigarette, and three animals going with him.
He does not come to talk to me and seems evasive, so I deduct he has stolen the beasties.

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It rains since yesterday, I was wet when I went to sleep and I wake up wet, in the morning the sky is totally covered with gray, intimidating clouds, so I stay in the tent.

I discover that the ‘thief’ of yesterday, was actually the pastor of the animals.

STOMACH PROBLEMS
Maybe the fact that I have eaten yesterday a tomato from the, not too clean, hands of a farmer, or maybe some other food I got in a shop which was not really hygienic or not rinsed properly; possibly a mix of these, plus a coffee that I was not supposed to accept—because caffeine act to my body like a drug—all this made my belly going crazy in the night.
I had cramps and swollen stomach, my sleep was constantly disturbed, it seemed like the digestion was having main issues.

 

SHOOTINGS IN THE NIGHT

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Hunters became a constant, they hunt everywhere and do not seem to have much legal regulation.
I am not surprised anymore to hear shootings few hundred meters from the tent.
What surprised me was the fact that yesterday night there were shootings during hours of complete darkness, it could have been after midnight.
I wonder: “How can they see where they shoot in the night?”
Hoping they will not shoot in my direction, and that there will be no bullets coming back from the sky to me, I managed to sleep a bit.

INVITED FOR LUNCH
I go in a restaurant to eat, before I am able to order any food, I get invited from a group of people eating. They are really sweet and caring, adding food to my dish every five minutes.

GEORGIANS EATING HABITS
Just one is person talking while toasting, and strangely to me, he just cheers with few persons. I get to know that some of them are deputies.
At the end, suddenly, all people stand up and leaves within one minute.

I MEET A BICYCLE TRAVELER

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From far, I see a shape of something that looks like a bicycle coming in my direction.
It’s a cyclist, traveling.
Henk, is his name, he is Dutch and we have a lot of experiences to share.
Homelessness for example, he is involved in helping people sleeping rough.
Moreover, our cycling route has similarities, he is doing the same route, but the opposite direction.

He started in America, coming from California to Asia and Middle East. Now heading to Greece, to help in refugees’ camps.

Two hunters with dogs pass by us, between the harvested corn fields. After circa five minutes we already hear shootings. For few hours they will be hunting just next to us.

 

Noste 428 – Tbilisi 460

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A COLD NIGHT
On top of the high Georgian hills, the wind blows strong, the temperature drops steep down in the night and I get quite cold.
I have an unfortunate body setting that makes me feel extremely cold at night.
My sleeping bag is too thin, I need to wear all my clothes, even the jacket, hat, and gloves. Yet, I am not warm enough, I wake up often.
This cold night, added to all other cold, uncomfortable nights I had so far, makes me thing about people sleeping rough for all their life.
I have dreams of Henk, a boat, and a girl.

ARRIVING IN TIBLISI

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The first huge advertising panels I find:
McDonald’s
Carrefour
Cigarettes
Real estate
Cars


 


GEORGIANS

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They are:

Great at hospitality.
Superb with food.

Bad with trash disposal.
Horrendous with driving.

The most recurring Georgian question: “how are Georgians” – meaning if they are welcoming enough.

Hygiene to improve.

Expensive cars, but broken teeth
Hunting everywhere.

As other post USSR counties, Tbilisi it’s full of architectural barriers. Car culture it’s spread as the plague and a pedastrian has big difficulty sometimes just to cross a road. Risking maybe his life.



 

HOSPITALITY CUSTOMS AND HOMELESSNESS

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Why hospitality rules don’t apply for an homeless?
What’s the meaning of these hospitality traditions?
Are they more a “show off” or do they have social implications?

 

THE MORE SOUTH, THE MORE CONTRASTS

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Traveling south, traveling slow, connecting with locals, this will make you truly understand a culture.

It seems that the southern one goes, the more people are different in their kindness and honesty.
In Northern Europe, you will find mostly friendly people with strong ethical values.
In Central Europe, some people may be less trustworthy.
Southern Europe is considered to be a region where you can’t really give a generic opinion, some people are extremely sweet and helpful, others quite dishonest. Asia and USA could also be placed at this level.

More South, in middle-east and North Africa, this contrast becomes more visible, many would help you no matter what, while others are just waiting to get any kind of own advantage from you.

In the Southest of the world, central-southern Africa and Latin America, you find angels, but also devils.

I still have a long way to go to prove this thesis.

Preparation for Cycling from Ukraine to Georgia – Reviewing Komoot

It’s time for me to cycle from Ukraine to Georgia.

I am on my way to Georgia, I am leaving Europe to get to Asia, on my way, for the first time I will be cycling on mountains, this will challenge my tour.
I am first heading south from Kiev, I will avoid Crimea and the war zone because I already have enough troubles on my way without armed conflicts going on.

I will reach Odessa and there take a boat to Batumi, in Georgia.

From Batumi, I will cycle to Tbilisi, the capital. Which is near Azerbaijan.

I am quite excited because I am going south where the weather should be good!
Georgia is known to be a welcoming country, I have heard great things about Georgia, especially the fact that Georgians are quite hospitable and make good food. Let’s hope they have some vegan stuff for me, let’s also hope that they will offer food to me while I cycle, as I have heard cyclists saying.

KOMOOT

This time I have also a helmet and a 280 degrees camera.

I have just discovered an app with maps for bike touring, hiking, running and outdoors. It’s called Komoot.

After long online researches, it seems that this software it’s the best for people traveling to by bicycle.

It tracks your route and you can also share it.

What makes this app more useful than others is the possibility to get cycling directions for any country in the world, you can also download the maps offline (paid).
Once you planned the tour, you can save it and see how the way will be, the elevation, which kind of street you will be on (asphalt, path, paved…).
It tells you also how many kilometers will be uphill or downhill.
You get even information about how fit you should be to do a certain route and you can set your own fitness level.

From Kiev to the black sea

From Batumi to Tbilisi

 

AFTER HAVE TESTED THE APP

I have to say that Komoot is practical, fast, intuitive, easy to use, user-friendly, effective, smart.
It really covers all the world, the instructions easy to use, allowing you to share routes, embedding, and see them online.

All important information are on the panel when you navigate: altitude, next stop, speed, average speed, time to destination, km to destination.

So, I suggest you to try Komoot!

less than 5$ Gear to set up your Bicycle for a Road Touring trip

A bicycle ready to hit the road

No, I am not going out of path, I assure you that this blog is still about minimalism.

However,
Here I list gear you may find useful to add on your bicycle if you want to cycle the world, or just have a couple of days on the saddle, even though accessories are not the most important thing in life.
You have here a list of what can be useful to take with you for a long, maybe never-ending, road bicycle trip.

It’s a short list for a minimalistic bicycle touring set up, starting with the most important items and ending with gear you don’t essentially need.

 

Part of a blue touring bicycle and legs of the cycler
I may cycle Naked but I always wear the reflective jacket.

Security – This is the most important gear you need

  • Reflectors – The more the better!
  • Reflective jacket – To wear all the time you are on the road
  • Lights – Solar powered
    2x on front with steady light, to fasten on each side of the basket eventually
    2x on the back, installed on the mudguard
    Reelight – Electromagnetic: one on front & one in the back
  • Bike locks, two – Best with code
  • Pepper Spray – You will be probably approached by dogs, so you really need it
A bicycle parked in front of a diamond shaped, colorful, building in the night
Reflectors shining in the night, while I am Parked in front of the National Library in the Belorussian soft Dictatorship

It seems strange, but lights are the most important accessory.
You need in total six lights fastened on the bike!


A bicycle hanging by it's right pedal on a wooden bench in a bus stop
If the bicycle is not too heavy, you can lift it for smaller reparation without having to take out all the bags, which is really handy. So avoid to bring too much stuff.

Tools – For repair


Bags – Not too many

  • Two rear side bags – The best ones you can order online internationally from Holland, but you need to send the shop a private email. The bigger the better.
  • Basket – A basic cheap basket, extremely practical and better than a bag or anything else you can put on the handlebar

 


The handlebar of the bicycle with phone older, compass-bell and basket
The phone older, compass-bell and basket, really useful stuff!

Accessories, not vital but useful


 

Smartphone apps for bike touring

  • Offline maps – Sygic or Google Maps are both fine, just make sure you download the maps.
  • Ulysse speedometer – to have your speed visualised and tracked.
  • AutomateIt  – you can trigger the map automatically if you start cycling
  • Overlays – You can get a floating layer with widgets, for example maps or weather widget always visible.
  • AZ screen recorder – record your screen for afterwards nice memories.
  • Audiobooks – unless you like to meditate on the bicycle

The back side of a touring bicycle
Reflectors and lights, the most important accessories

Optional, for extra comfort

 

Two men on two bicycles bike touring in the nature
The most Road Touring Cyclists I have met, travel with full loaded bicycles, which is for me not necessary, it’s more hassle than comfort.                                                                                           Here Jaque on the left and a Canadian cyclist on the right, they were both lovely and extremely knowledgeable; cycling the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Bicycle for world touring?

In this post I don’t disclose about which bicycle to use simply because it’s not important at all, any bicycle can be good to travel the world, it all depends on your budget and needs.
I can say that the best bicycle is the one you find comfortable to cycle with, possibly a strong bicycle that matches the geography and urbanistic you have to cycle in.

 

A laptop on the back rack of a bicycle, used as desk
With the use of a simple elastic, you can transform your bicycle in a handy laptop desk

 

As you may have noticed, the most of those gear I have mentioned are inexpensive and can be easily bought on eBay, keep in mind that the shipping may take about one month, so plan your trip ahead.

If you want to know what to put in your backpack, read the post I wrote about it.
I also have a dedicated page about all technical aspects of traveling the world for a long time.

Two bicycles parked in a small street with a men looking at it
My bicycle compared with the one of a traveler friend, Luca, another Luca in Riga. I have much less gear and my bike set up looks almost like a city bike. I have spent much less money than him!

 

I hope you have found the information on this post useful, feel free to share, comment and write.
I would love to know if you think maybe there are accessories that I missed!

CycloNudista 2017 Helsinki – Get rid of the accessories!

The most extravagant Many-FIEST-Action of the year! – For the fourth time in Suomi!

Do you know that oil kills more than wars, traffic accidents and murders all together?
For me this is already enough to dissent against it.

JOIN US To protest against INDECENT exposure to cars and pollution! Celebrating Cycling, Nature, Human body, simplicity and freedom of being.

The concept is simple: we do once a year a bicycle tour around the city, to get the city back from big motorized vehicles, shout against pollution, cars and hypocritical prudery.

12 June – 16.00
Varsapuistikko (next to Kaisaniemipuisto – Kaisaniemi park)

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WHY?

– To manifest against car culture & Pollution;

– Promoting Bicycle, nature & simplicity;

The reason YOU do it may be infinite:
You love bicycles,
you love your city,
you want noiseless means of transport,
you don’t want big and fast vehicles in the city,
you don’t like the oil industry,
you want to sensibilize drivers to mind the bikes

…and because you may be an exhibitionst!

 

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PRACTICAL INFO:

MEETING POINT
Varsapuistikko – next to Kaisaniemipuisto – Kaisaniemi park, close to the main train station.

16.00 – MEETING
We meet in the park.
come on time, or anyway before 18:00 (if you are working) because we can share some time together.
BODY PAINTING
We can bodypaint each other and decide which is the specific message one person wants to share.
&
PICNIC
I will bring a big amount of snacks, it will be for sure enough for the first ten persons, you are welcome to bring something if you wish.

18.00 – DEPARTURE
Tour map:
https://goo.gl/maps/MtgpA9TF7xE2

 

21.00 – SAUNA & GRILL
We celebrate the celebration in the sauna, warm & cosy!
Sompasauna (a free public sauna by the sea).
In the sauna we will have time to share our thoughts and feelings about the ride, what it meant for each of us.
There is also a grill there, if you have some vegetables you wanna grill, feel welcome to bring it.

 

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WHAT TO BRING:

Mandatory:
– Yourself,
– Bicycle, another green mean of transport or good legs to run!

Optional:
– A smile on your face,
– Any decoration that you find appropriate,
– Body painting material,
– Music instruments to play,
– A camera to record some pictures/videos,
– Drinks and food (for picnic and/or grill) to share if you wish,
– Blanket for picnic,
– Towels (for sauna).

Of course you are free to join/leave whenever you want and nudism is not mandatory.

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… WHERE IT BEGAN

On June 12th 2004 cyclists in 29 cities across the world took to the streets of the world, mostly wearing nothing more than a cheeky smile.

It was not only a huge success, but also a huge surprise, neither the media or the police actually thought that it would happen.

This was the worlds first international naked bike ride. Since then it has spread
to more than 70 cities around the world with thousands of participants.

 

HOW IS IT ORGANIZED

Well, the first thing to know is that it does not have any leaders, hierarchies or even any bureaucracy. It is an event that belongs entirely to its participants. You are not only invited to participate in this event, but also to take ownership of it.



MORE INFO



EVENT LINKS

Facebook Event
https://www.facebook.com/events/1149608161756155

CouchSurfing Event
Google+ Event

International Events
www.worldnakedbikeride.org

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Cycling naked into the world’s most radioactive area: Chernobyl

Wooden bridge with slit in the middle

Cycling through the Radioactive area of Chernobyl and ghost towns

I start cycling from Minsk and I go south to Ukraine, I pass nearby Chernobyl: Naroulia–one of the most radio-contaminated city of the world–, the Radioecological reserve Polesky and the nuclear ghost town of Poliske (Ukraine), which is between two military checkpoints.
Many dangers on the way, but the radioactivity pollution is not the biggest.
The Belarusian army, police, wild animals, falling apart bridges, injuries and even lack of drinkable water was what made the cycling challenging.

LUKASHENKO

It’s like an authoritarian father, not allowing his children to do anything he does not like them to do.
I feel it from his army and police, so close minded and standardized.

THE HIERARCHIC WRONG FAIRYTALE OF CINDERELLA

Belarus make me think of fairytales.
Children’s stories that can make kids adults heroes, or just robots, depending on the content of the narration.
Let’s take Cinderella as example, an apparent nice story.
But there is a manipulative teaching: kids learning that a prince or a king is more important than a common person.
Cinderella wants to get out of her poverty through marrying a prince. This is not just sexisst but higly hierarchic and non meritocratic.

If there would be no prince there would be no poor ladies like Cinderella.

GETTING INTO TROUBLES WITH BELARUSIAN ARMY

To take a shortcut, I go through the forest, crossing a falling apart bridge I see a strange field in front of me: it’s not forest, neither cultivated, on the map is shown just as a gray area. I go into it to cross it.
I see big holes on the ground and I have a strange feeling.

All the patterns marked on the map don’t match the real path and I am stuck in this place. I decide to camp there for the night, feeling a bit worried.

During the night I hear trucks passing, I look more carefully out of the tend and I spot a destroyed war tank far from me.
I start thinking I may be somewhere where I should not be!

In the morning I am awaken by a big military truck passing, a soldier with three stars on is jackets comes out of it, telling me, ‘almost friendly’, that I am in a military exercitation camp, where they are shooting with fantery and heavy weapons. He tells me to leave asap.
I thank him and I leave, I think that he was quite kind to have just told me to leave without even asking who I am.

After two kilometers there is a checkpoint, with soldiers and the man I spoke previously was there waiting for me, he politely tells me that I have to be interrogated.

I am ready for interrogation and I am quite happy to be alive, not aware that the interrogation will lasts seven hours and I am asked about EVERYTHING.
They check all my stuff, included my private pictures on my phone, emails, facebook and all you can find on my google account.
The find some naked pictures of me, where I promote Cyclonudista, and tell me that pornography is illegal in Belarus, I tell them that that’s just my body as I was born.

At the end I am told that a truck will come to pick me up and bring me “on the right way…”.


After another half hour a truck comes, I am helped to get inside of it with my bicycle, there are soldiers with weapons in it.
I am not able to see outside, it’s dark and I am about to vomit for the shaking and the dust.
I can now understand a little what animals in cages feel when they are transported from one place to another, I understand why many of them die on the way. I almost wished to die myself on that truck.
I am worried and paranoid, I think  that they would harm or even kill me. They seem too kind to be true.
The truck stops, the same people who inspected me open the door from outside and I am free, for real.
Never felt better in my life.

DOGS AND WILD ANIMALS ON THE WAY

In the tent I clearly hear wolves, I am ready with pepper spray and a metal stick–a detached handlebar–to fight, but luckily they don’t come too near.
Dogs are barking to the wolves all night long. What to know what I think about dogs?
Dogs are the most evident example of human insatisfaction.

I see a farm in front of me, I see people kicking and pulling cows as they are pieces of

EVEN IMPORTANT THINGS ARE EASY TO FORGET

When we change from different situations we can forget really fast, and deeply. We may easily forget all the struggle we were in before, if we are suddenly in a more comfortable situation.
The ones of us with memory for the sad past, the ones that remember also the bad times of others around, the persons that have this sensibility, those are our heroes, those are the ones to whom we have to be grateful.


YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND

When you have a home, you can’t understand homelessness.
When you have a full belly, you can’t understand the hungry one.
When you are healthy, you can understand pain.

I also don’t understand how I am able to cycle: just one week before starting, I do a wrong movement and my back gets blocked, people need to pull me up and lift me for about three days in order to let me move.
My right eye has some loss of sharpness; while cycling I fall down, I hurt my hand and I am not able to use it for all the rest of the trip… But this didn’t stop me.


USSR AND COMMUNISM – UKRAINE OPEN TO EU

Kiev is much different than Minsk or Riga, which both give me USSR, anti western, pro-Putin feeling.

I was more keen to like the Soviet Union before my trips to the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine.
After the seeing huge economic and social differences even in Belarus, which is the only country in the world that continues on the USSR regime, I am not sure I like this kind of communism. I would not even call it communism, but dictatorship.

I have noticed that freedom of speech is unknown in Belarus, the country is ruled by police with little-no personal liberty.


I would say that among ex-USSR countries, Ukraine is the most open and EU-oriented country, even if there is a long way to go.
While Latvia was the most unfriendly country for western people.

TRAVEL COMPANION

I mostly travel alone because I am often disappointed by travel companions. Some of them pretend to be lovers, but are much better than expected as traveling companionship, much worse than expected as lover.

WAR IN UKRAINE

What’s the difference between a detainee and a soldier?
The only difference is that the soldier can let out his hunger and frustration freely on other people.


EUROPEANS SHOULD LEARN FROM UKRAINIANS

In Ukraine people is not smiling all the times, sometimes they give you the impression of unhappiness. Except this, I have experienced great manners, honesty and really friendly attitude.
Things work well here, public services are smooth and internet is really fast and cheap.

The subway in Kiev works extremely efficiently, it’s clean and everyone is perfectly well educated to stand up from their seats for an older person. The same in the tram, trolley bus and minibus.

Walking at night, even in really dark areas, is totally safe. Nobody bothers you even if is clear that you are a foreigner. 

Police and army people are friendly. They are working hard and will not bother you, in south europe (especially in Italy) this is not the case.

I never felt unsafe or threatened here ,  to be sincere I felt much better that in many European capitals.

Minimalism, essentialism: this is my bag, all I have, all I need

Bag with bag's content on the floor
All the things I have

 

While playing theater I learned that less is more. One reason why I love theater is that you can apply the same principles you learn on the scene to your life.

 

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All the things I need

 

 

I am so happy to live just with the content of this bag, this represents my biggest happiness.

 

 

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Enjoying what is next to me,  enjoying what I have and what is possible to have,  this is my way of living. I mix things to get the best combination,  as I mix the cereals in my cup in the morning. 

 

You want to know the list of all the items inside my bag?

read my next post…