Ukrainian crisis hampers rider’s peace crusade

Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

The Ukrainian crisis may have flawed rider Viktor “Romantik” Gubriienko‘s peace crusade to prove the world has no borders or language barriers.

Viktor is in Brisbane as part of his worldwide peace crusade and hopes to head to Asia in June after lapping and criss-crossing the continent.

However, international trade sanctions against Russia mean he can’t obtain a carnet or export papers for his Russian-bought bike, possibly thwarting the very thing Viktor is trying to prove.

If anyone can help him continue his peace crusade, they can contact friend and translator Irina Aleksandrova via email.Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

Viktor began his trip in October 2012 from his home town of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula which is a city under bitter territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia.

However, the crusade was almost over before it even started.

Yamaha had promised sponsorship and a bike, but pulled out “when Ukraine became tense”. Honda also rejected his request for help and BMW rejected sponsoring his ride because “they could not be sure their bikes would withstand the hardship of my journey”, he says.

Despite the BMW rejection, Viktor decided the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure was the best bike for the job, so he sold his car and Gold Wing to buy one, but the second-hand model was burnt in a warehouse fire before he received it.

With no insurance and little money left, Viktor bought a 1995 Honda Africa Twin which he says has run faultlessly except for some “minor electrical problems”.Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

“It’s not a bad bike for a 20-year-old,” he says. One of his running repairs includes using elephant hair to protect the rear wheel bearing from dust.

Viktor left behind his wife, Irina, and 20-year-old son, Vlad, and with only $8000 and no financial or sponsorship support he set out to prove the world has no borders or language barriers.

“There are too many conflicts in the world,” he says through Irina.

“I want to prove you can talk to people with no political or language barriers. The world is really just one country.”Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

He says people have become obsessed with their phones and become “inert” to the world. “But the world is still going on.”

He doesn’t even use a GPS, preferring to use paper maps and asking locals for directions, so he interacts with people.

Viktor headed first through Europe, then Africa, South America and North America, before arriving on December 7 in Australia where his bike took two months to clear customs.Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

Through Irina, he tells me he had “lots of crashes” in Africa and South America, mainly riding off-road.

“In Argentina a truck driver knocked me off the road down a cliff with the bike hanging on one shrub and me on another,” he says. “Some other drivers helped pull me and the bike back up the cliff.”

He says he suffered only a slight concussion and has only had minor injuries from other small crashes.

However, the relentless corrugations under the fesh-fesh (bulldust) in Africa pounded his legs and feet so much he couldn’t feel his legs to continue riding, so he crawled to the nearest settlement where they enlisted a Chinese healer to treat him.

In another interesting incident in the Congo, the tribal chief liked him so much he offered him the choice of his two 12-year-old daughters as a bride.Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

Viktor says he told the chief he was already married, but the chief said it didn’t matter because his wife was so far away.

Viktor said he drunk too much of their palm brew and didn’t realise what was happening until he was being led away to the conjugal hut.

He’s now enjoying the smoother roads of Australia which he will explore until his visa expires on June 7.

However, he still has to find a way of getting his bike out of the country and is seeking assistance with the red tape and a container box to ship the motorcycle.Ukrainian rider Viktor "Romantik"

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