It is kind of stupid, but two of our bicycles got stolen in Sevastopol , Crimea. It is sad mainly because we will have to slightly modify our plans but it is stupid and we are ashamed, because partly it is also our own fault.
We had planned to continue our trip on 6th November by taking the route from Sevastopol to Feodosiya. The initial plan was that I will take the road on the southern side of Crimean peninsula and cycle to Feodosiya where I will meet up with Laura and Ivars who planned to travel either from Sevastopol via Dzhankoi using the Crimean train network or to try their luck by hitchhiking on the roads of the southern coast. We had planned to separate for this particular stage of our journey because Ivars and Laura had some slight problems with their knees and it would not be a very good idea to ignore these pains as that could possibly lead to serious injuries (after consulting with Dr google.com, we decided that it would be too dangerous to ignore these pains). The idea to go on a separate routes may sound unreasonable, but the temptation to see the southern coast of the peninsula was too big and thus we decided to proceed like this.
The time set for the departure finally came and as usually we had overslept since we woke up at 9.30 (I had planned to wake up somewhere around 7.30). While Laura and Ivars were enjoying the last few minutes of sleep, I staggered up and started to prepare for my departure (the plan was that I will depart on 6th November and they will follow me few days later). The first indication that something was wrong was the expression on Koricas (Andrey and Korica are our hosts in Sevastopol) face when she first saw me that morning. She was very surprised to see me and she became even more surprised when she found out that Ivars and Laura are still sleeping in our room. The reason for this was, as I soon found out, that she was fairly convinced – at least two of us have gone out to have an early bicycle ride. Usually getting up in the morning is not an easy task for me and because I was in this morning delirium phase I did not understand, why two of us should be out riding our bicycles.
But what gave Korica the idea that we are out cycling? The answer’s plain and simple. When Andrey went to work at 8.00 o’clock in the morning instead of seeing three of our bicycles locked to the handrail in the staircase of our building, he only saw one bicycle, not locked at all. This unusual view made him to conclude that two of these weird Latvians have taken their bikes for a spin early in the morning. But as I was fairly confident that Laura and Ivars are still sleeping and thus, most probably, they are not cycling anywhere, the presentiment that something “interesting” has happened soon transformed to conviction. Of course, at first I could not apprehend that our bikes could have been stolen because such things always happen to other people, you usually only read about them or somebody tells you about it. Our bicycles were precious for us and, as we all know, nothing bad can happen to such things. Can it?
I mumbled to Ivars and Laura something about our bicycles possibly not being where they should and together with Korica went to see, what is really happening with our bicycles. So there I was, standing at the place where a few days ago we had locked our bikes. Back then, we thought that this is such a nice neighbourhood/district (Gagarinskij district) – probably one of the most peaceful in Sevastopol. We had locked the bicycles to the handrail in the staircase which was only accessible if you had a special chip. Needless to say we were not the ones who proposed this as a good place to leave our bikes. But this was all history now because instead of three locked bikes we found only one. The only bike which was left was probably the best of all three – a custom made bicycle, the same bike Juris Kroičs (our chief consultant and mechanic) build specially for this trip. The unknown criminals took the bikes which had shiny brand names (SCOTT and DIAMONDBACK) but left for us the bike which was the best of all three.
At first Ivars and Laura could not believe that our precious bikes are gone and they had to see it for themselves. In our book, the Gagarinskij district in just a few minutes transformed from the one of the most peaceful districts in Sevastopol to a criminal ghetto. What now? It seemed that the right thing to do would be to call the police (and by the way police in Russia is no longer called milicia) as we did. After a few minutes long conversation with the police central they promised to send somebody over. As we were waiting for the police to arrive, we found out that Laura’s insurance policy covers only theft of baggage and bicycles cannot be considered as baggage. All in all, we were a bit depressed.
As with everything in life, there is always a bright side, for example we had a really interesting conversation with an old lady which lives on the 5th floor. While we were waiting for the police to arrive or for our bicycles to magically appear back in their proper place, this lady was actively feeding the neighbourhood pigeons. For no particular reason our presence was a huge obstacle for this activity and thus she decided that from now on she will call me “urod” (it roughly translates as “freak”) or “bandera” (in this word pro-Russians usually call supporters of united Ukraine). We were waiting for 3 hours for the police to arrive only to find out later – the distance they had to cover was somewhere around 500 meters. They wrote something down, I signed the papers (forgot to read them) and they explained that the decision – whether formal investigation will be opened will be made in 10 days’ time. And they were gone.
Of course we did not expect that we will find the missing bikes or that the all-seeing aye of Sevastopol police will be swift to deliver justice still, we had to do something. This something was a poster asking the criminals to return our bikes. After few days it was also gone. The only thing that was left was this weird feeling which struck me every time when I went by the place where we had left our bikes, it was this some kind of unfounded hope that the bikes will be standing there and everything will be as it was before.
But here we are – we have only one bike but there are still three of us. What should we do now? It would be pretty naïve to think that we won’t have to deal with similar adventures on our road and that we would get to the Pitt Island without any unexpected difficulties. It would also be incorrect to say that this particular incident has completely destroyed our plan – to get to the furthest inhabited place from our homes. Indeed, there is also the bright side – Ivars and Laura will now have a better possibility to see to southern cost of Crimea which in my book is one of the most beautiful places on the coast of Black Sea.
The bottom line is that it is a little bit sad and we have been a bit depressed sometimes, because the journey has not become in any way easier (But who said that it will be easy? And who wants for it to be easy?), our money supply has not increased and we will never see our beloved bicycles again (it could only be possible if Mr.Putin himself would investigate this matter). With all this in mind we had to do something to pay the final tribute to our bicycles.
With the last and final tribute paid we have to move on because we have to leave The Russian Federation (to be honest I still don’t know if I am in Russia right now) till 1st December because it is the time when our visas run out (and you really don’t want to overstay Russian visa). So we only have 20 days to travel more than 1200 kilometers and to get from Sevastopol to the border of Georgia. We now plan to do this in the following way: Ivars and Laura will pack all of their stuff in huge backpacks and travel the route with public transportation and hitchhiking but I will stick with the bicycle at least until I get to Feodosiya. Nothing much has changed – the adventure goes on!
P.S. As the story about our adventures in Ukraine, Moldova and Transnestria has not been told after this entry we will return to these past events.