Russian cycling through Southeast

Man trying to ride around perimeter of four major continents

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vladislav Ketov's business card identifies him as "artist, traveler, man."

The Russian cyclist, 57, pedaled the roads of Juneau on Monday on a heavily loaded Marin touring bicycle.

Next stop for the St. Petersburg resident: Petersburg.

This month and in August, Ketov is cycling through coastal Alaska and Canada to complete an "ecologically pure" solo bicycle trip around the perimeter of the world's four major continents.

His journey began in 1991 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has ranged across 93 countries, including the coastlines of Asia, Africa, South America, and all but the Arctic coasts of Europe and North America.

Along the way, Ketov pays for the assistance he receives from strangers by sketching their portraits and distributing nuggets of his nature-based philosophy.

"The only problems in this world are political. ... The world is paradise without politics," Ketov explained on Monday.

After a four-year break in his world travels, induced by a lack of funding, the Russian man restarted his journey in early July, flying from Russia to Alaska.

His bike trek began officially on July 3 in Homer.

Since then, Ketov has wended his way along the highways skirting the Alaska-Canada coast. He's on his way back to Vancouver.

"When I come to Vancouver, it will be a closed circle," Ketov said Monday.

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That is, unless Ketov finds a way to transit the Arctic coast ... or Australia, Iceland, Japan, and other possible major islands of the globe that he also would like to transit by bicycle.

On Monday, Ketov showed off the kilometer reading on his touring bike. Set in 1991, it showed 64,808 kilometers.

Though Ketov hasn't figured out all the logistics yet, he plans to leapfrog this week from Juneau to Petersburg to ... somewhere in coastal Canada.

To him, Stewart, British Columbia, sounds like a good spot.

Perhaps a pilot flying south will hitch him a ride, Ketov speculated Monday afternoon, as he prepared to cycle to Thane.

On Sunday, Ketov cycled the north end of Juneau's road system, upon disembarking a ferry in Auke Bay.

On Monday, he pointed his bike south to pedal the remainder of Juneau's abbreviated highway system.

Today, Ketov plans to board a state ferry to Petersburg. A resident of St. Petersburg, Russia, he is determined to see the Southeast Alaska fishing town with a similar name.

On Monday, one Petersburg resident was eager to let Ketov know that Petersburg was not a city founded by imperial Russia. It wouldn't be the first time a Russian got a surprise in Petersburg, Roxane Lee said. Roughly 20 years ago, for instance, a vacationing Russian couple arrived in Petersburg at Christmas by way of an airline routing mishap, said Lee, a volunteer at the Petersburg Visitors Center.

"They thought they were going to St. Petersburg, Fla. You can imagine their surprise to see snow and ice ... instead of beaches," Lee said.

"We found one person in our town who spoke Russian," Lee added. The couple was afraid to leave the airport, so Petersburg residents brought them holiday cheer in the form of Norwegian Christmas cookies. Alaska Airlines eventually rerouted the couple to Florida, she said.

Ketov didn't seem disappointed Monday to learn from a reporter that Petersburg was settled by Norwegians, rather than Russians.

He uploaded some photos for Mira, his wife in St. Petersburg, on the Internet, and hit the road on his bike.

Ketov usually travels about 100 kilometers per day, he said.

He wowed the staff at Juneau's Best Western motel Sunday night. The motel had no vacancies, but motel owner Mel Perkins was impressed by the Russian man's story.

Ketov showed up at the front desk in his tight bicycle clothes Sunday night, looking like Lance Armstrong, Perkins said.

When a room unexpectedly opened up, Perkins gave Ketov a discounted rate.

"He's got quite the legs on him," Perkins said.

• Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at

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