Tell us about you and your idea of travel
Well, I'm 32 years old bicyclist, adventurous traveler from Azerbaijan. Living very simple and nomadic life. This idea of traveling, especially on a bicycle, came to me when I was studying in Boston, USA during 2012-2014. Everybody in city was on a bike. There was a monthly magazine "Adventure cyclist". When I got it's first number, I saw that people around the world are not only traveling on 2 wheels from city to city, but from country to country, from continent to continent. Then I asked myself... Why not me?!
When and where did you start your bicycle adventure?
So far I have done several trips.
My first journey had started in Boston in May of of 2014. I rode across the USA from Boston, MA to Grand Canyon, AZ. I crossed 15 states doing 5000km within 45 days... Met amazing people, saw beautiful American nature. But later I understood that, I made a mistake doing it very fast. By doing it slow and staying at some places more than a day, I could enjoy my time a lot. You shouldn't ride for mileage... In long journeys enjoying each moment must be important.
My second and the biggest trip started last year, again in May. This time I started from Baku, Azerbaijan. Crossed Europe all the way to Spain, riding across Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France. In Spain I put my bike to a boat and crossed Gibraltar stream to Morocco. 1 month I cycled across Morocco enjoying every corner of this country, especially gorgeous Atlas mountains. I ended in Casablanca. This was the 1st chapter of my big trip. I did 9000km during 5 months. The second stage of my trip was to ride from Cairo to Capetown.The distance is going to be 12000km.
How many kilometers do you ride every day?
My average distance is between 100-150km a day. However, If I like the place, town or village, I just stop wherever and whenvere I want. So it can be even 50-80km a day. My maximum riding was 258km along the Red Sea coast in Egypt with 20m/sec tail wind...
Which was the most friendly country and the less one?
For me the most friendly countries so far were Spain, France, Morocco, Sudan, even South Sudan (although I had a serious accident there). The was amazing hospitality in these ones... The worst country for me was Egypt. I call this country a proper police state. My camera was confiscated, photos were deleted by the military. I had several problems by walking and taking photos in Cairo...
Did you have some problems to get visa o to cross some borders?
For crossing Europe 90 days Schengen visa was easy to get back in my country. I also got my Moroccan and Egyptian visas there as well. However, in Khartoum, Sudan I couldn't get Ethiopian visa. I was told I had to go back to Turkey and apply there. Of course, it was not possible. So I decided to get south sudanese visa and rode across it even I was aware that there was a potential risk of being robbed or being killed there.
The country was full of conflict and there was a civil war going on.
Is your trip sponsored or? Also are you doing it for some cause or just for pleasure?
No, I am doing it on my own. I spend usually around 2-3 $ a day. Sometime not even a penny. Mostly I camp in the nature, and sometimes I stay at people's house. That way I'm avoiding to pay for any hotel or accommodation. I cycle for democracy and freedom. We have very brutal, an oppressive and dictatorial regime in Azerbaijan. More than 90 people are in jail for expressing freedom of speech, for saying the truth, for organizing peaceful demonstrations or for trying to investigate corruption...
My trips are dedicated for these heroes, freedom fighters, prisoners of conscious. This way I try to bring some awareness to the current political situation in Azerbaijan. So far my cyclingfordemocracy trip was published in several magazines in Turkey and France.. Several interviews I have given in Spain.
Where are you now and where are you going next days?
I am currently in Nairobi, Kenya. As I was brutally attacked and beaten in south Sudan, I am still recovering here. The broken bones in my left arm did not get aligned during 6 weeks. So a couple of days ago I had a surgery. One metal plate and 6 screws were inserted to my body in order to bring these bones together. My rehabilitation period must be 6 months. Considering how good I will feel, I plan to start my trip at the end of April, beginning May. I have already got my Tanzanian visa. After Tanzania, I will ride across Mozambique, Swaziland and finish it in Capetown, South Africa.