Image of a bicycle wheel and gears. Credit: Creative Commons.
A Ukrainian cyclist cycled 70 km to escape the Russian bombardment of his house.
Arif Bagirov is a 45-year-old Ukrainian cyclist who managed to escape Russian bombardment by fleeing on a bicycle. He rode from his beleaguered hometown of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region for about 70 km to Bakhmut, a distance he managed to cover unscathed.
According weekly cyclingOnce he reached the safety of Bakhmut, a city under Ukrainian control, Bagirov boarded a bus for the capital, kyiv. As he explained, with the road from Severodonestk to Bakhmut bombed, the tactics he followed to save his life.
“There were holes in the road, everything was rutted, including the cars, and there was a lot of debris everywhere. After all, it is a frontline road. Thank goodness there were no bodies, but you could tell there were dead people there,” he revealed.
He continued: “I learned from my experience in Severodonetsk that shelling does not hit the same target twice. He knew that if they bombed a factory, they wouldn’t bomb it again”. He looked where the shells landed and went there, emphasizing, “It was the safest route.”
Bagirov also had to deal with Russian warplanes on his journey, although he managed to avoid them simply by hiding out of sight. “I had to stop the motorbike and hide when enemy planes flew over me. I found a ditch to lie down in and that’s where I hid until they passed,” he noted.
Initially, Bagirov decided to stay in Severodonestk when Russian forces first invaded Ukraine and helped deliver medicine to the elderly, while ensuring that the museum’s precious exhibits remained safe.
He decided it was time to leave when a Russian shell hit the apartment below his. Although it fortunately did not explode, it had to spend three days in the basement with limited electricity and water. With his ability to help others drastically reduced, Bagirov chose to ride his bicycle.
“When I was cycling, I didn’t feel so much fear, it was more a feeling of anger: ‘This is my land, this is my country! And I will complete this journey no matter what.” It was my craziest bike trip. I have walked long distances many times before, but not under such circumstances,” he concluded.
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