Ukraine

(see also the expanded text, no pictures version)

Mitch
May 24
Yalta, Ukraine
Aboard circa 1955 Soviet navy submarine destroyer named Mitch. Carrying now bleach blond, overly made up, cheap jewelry, overweight Ukranain orange merchants. Alex: "maybe we should bring some calculators to sell in Yalta." Mitch's first mate, black beret fought in Angola, shot down from helicopter, asks us if his Ray Ban's are authentic. We're the first Americans to board this ship. 15 hours Iying down with eyes dosed. Rock and roll ride. Brandt pukes when he gets up. Lina, custom officer invites Alex for a swim. My custom guy counts every bill I have.


May 25
Nathan and I follow Sergei to Lavidia Palace. Sergei rides his bike with a drain pipe covering the top tube and 72 spokes in his wheel. That night presents us with $140 bill, including $20 "accompany charge." I share some vodka with a group of 4 Ukranian cycle tourists led by Anatolly, all wearing the horizontal striped mime shirts. Oleg smiles for the first time since Istanbul, Natasha is here

May 26
37 km. time 1:44
883 km to date
Alushta, Ukraine
Slava escorts us out of town, a keen cyclist with a mop of blond curly hair. Bread sells for 40,000 kupon, at 150,000 kupon/dollar. Brandt is sick again. Stay in a backyard pension. I leave my Swiss army knife on the wharf. Oleg wears a speedo
Lenin
Oleg didn't like us desecrating Lenin.

May 27
93 km. time 5:32
976 km to date
Sudak, Ukraine
Three of us ride. Oleg and Brandt taxi out of Alushta. Strong. Stop at store while good looking woman tries to talk to us. Mafia husband stares at us from tinted window Volvo. Meet in Sudak on Bladk sea coast. Oleg loses his sleeping bag. "Doug, why you make joke me?" He spends night shivering in his clothes


Plains May 28
131 km. time 6:52
1107 to date
near Kerch, Ukraine
Begin as Brandt's pacesetter at 15 km/hr. He's hurting. Leave Crimea mountains for Alberta style plains and guys collecting hay on motorcycles. Oleg: "They collect this grass because of rabbits." Leave Brandt at 20 km and break away with Alex. Strong again. Guy we meet in Sudak paces us until lunch in Fedosia. Dill pickles, ice cream and bread. Push final 25 km to small village. Woman at market houses us. Son killed at soccer match in Simeropal. She spends evening crying to us, reminding her of her son. Oleg weeps to himself at night, missing Natasha.

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