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Turkish Round-the-World Cyclist Visits St. Petersburg

Published: January 30, 2013 (Issue # 1744)



  • Turkish cyclist Gurkan Genc, 34, speaks in St. Petersburg last week. He is nearly 5,000 miles into his round-the-world trip.
    Photo: ALEXANDER BELENKY / SPT

Turkish traveler Gürkan Genç, who is currently traveling around the world by bike, arrived in St. Petersburg on Jan. 20, having covered nearly 5,000 kilometers of his epic journey.

Genç embarked on his trip, titled Pedaling for the Future, on Sept. 9, 2012 from Ankara, and plans to complete it in seven years time, after visiting 84 countries and pedaling about 110,000 kilometers, he told a news conference in St. Petersburg organized by Turkeys consulate general on Jan. 23.

Gençs ride will take him through five deserts and five of the planets tallest peaks, covering the longest and most dangerous paths. While these routes have been completed by cyclists before, no one has yet made it through all of them, so Genç hopes that after completing the journey, he will be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, he said.

Traveling on a Turkish-made Kron bicycle, equipped with Shimano parts and Schwalbe tyres, Genç entered St. Petersburg on Jan. 20, shortly after celebrating his 34th birthday in a tent pitched somewhere north of Moscow in temperatures of minus 34 degrees Celsius. The reading of minus 36 degrees registered by his thermometer 220 kilometers south of St. Petersburg was the coldest he has cycled in, beating even the Mongolian steppe, Genç said. Of the major cities visited on this journey, St. Petersburg, which he proceeded to explore by bike, was the most beautiful, he said.

He presents the name of Turkey to the entire world, and does it gracefully, said Can Esenergul, a leasing specialist with Gençs St. Petersburg sponsor Renaissance Development, explaining the companys motivation for supporting the traveler. Turkeys Foreign Ministry arranged for free visas to all 47 countries on Gençs route that require a visa for Turkish nationals.

Genç crossed Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine before arriving in Russia. In the town of Torzhok near Moscow where no one spoke any English, Genç was taken to a local school and shown a PE lesson. The locals understood that he was a tourist, while Genç could understand that he was being offered vodka to drink, which he accepted. We didnt speak, only smiled, he recounted.

Cycling experiences in Russia can, unfortunately, be far less lucky. Japanese traveler Haruhisa Watanabe, who was on the final leg of an eight-month cycle ride from China, was killed in a traffic accident on Dec. 26, 2012 while cycling on a motorway near the Ruchi-Karelskiye railway station, some 220 kilometers south of his destination, Murmansk, where he wanted to see the Northern lights. The early-morning accident is thought to have been caused by poor visibility, Flashnord.com website reported. In 2004, when he was 22, Watanabe became the youngest Japanese climber to scale the tallest peaks on seven continents, The Japan Times reported on its website.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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