Timur Akhmetov is a perennial traveler, nature photographer, and Montague rider. He has spent the better part of his adult life exploring the wilderness of eastern Russia, by bike, by foot, and by kayak. Through his camera lens he manages to capture the ruggedness and beauty that is often unseen in nature.
He recently completed a 9 day bike-packing trip through Chukotka, the easternmost region of Russia. The sparsely populated area, slightly larger than the state of Texas, boasts an impressively diverse mix of climates and wildlife. It is home to arctic desert in the north, tundra in the center, and the boreal forest in the south.
With camping gear, food, and photography equipment loaded onto the panniers and handlebar roll of his Paratrooper Pro, Timur set out to ride from Bilibino to Pevek, a nearly 400km journey. Covering about 40-45km a day, he quickly left behind the paved roads of civilization and entered the world of rocky paths, mountain passes, and bridge-less river crossings.
Even surrounded by beautiful and inspiring landscapes, a trip like this is no stranger to hardships. Long steep inclines require dismounting and pushing a loaded bike for an hour or more. Exhilarating descents are abruptly interrupted by a flat tire and the necessary repairs. However, it is these valleys that make the mountain tops that much higher. It is the adversity that makes the success that much sweeter.
“If I do not travel for a long time , I start to feel sad, standing by the window with binoculars. I would not say that I do not like the city and people, but in nature, even alone, I am much more comfortable.
With the help of a photo, I want to convey not so much the picture of the place, as the emotions that it carries, or through which I passed.”Timur Akhmetov
Timur did encounter others along the road as it is one of the few routes to cross Chukotka. Some were other adventurers exploring the area, while others were locals out hunting or traveling to the next village. On day 5 after a particularly rainy and cold ride, a group of hunters supplied a ration of venison for a stew that evening. And Day 6 provided the only reprieve from the outdoors – a stay in a cabin near Lake Ilirney, complete with wood stove and a cot to sleep!
Timur also brought with him an Alpacka pack-raft, an inflatable but very durable raft that folds up small enough to stow away in a backpack or pannier. It’s the perfect complement to a Montague folding bike — fold up the raft when you’re riding, then fold up the bike and stow it on the raft when you’re rowing!
Timur used it to cover some ground by river but it also allowed him to explore the island in the middle of Lake Ilirney.