Tourist Gleb Travin crossed Taimyr by bicycle in 1930

Tourist Gleb Travin crossed Taimyr by bicycle in 1930

September 10, 2023

The now undeservedly forgotten journey of Gleb Travin was indeed unique. From 1928 to 1931 he cycled along the borders of the entire Soviet Union.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The entire Arctic part of the border along the Arctic ocean from the Kola peninsula to Chukotka – 13 thousand kilometers – Travin overcame by a bicycle, dog sled, on hunting skis or on foot.

He also crossed Taimyr, where he experienced the most difficult ups and downs on the route. For example, he fell under the ice of the Pyasina river, almost died, could hardly get out and crawled to the Nenets’s chums. He lived with them for some time until he recovered.

Gleb Travin

From Dikson, he followed the Nenets’ nomadic path: through Avam to Hatanga, and then to Yakutia. Travin ate raw meat and fish. In the north, the locals called him ‘the man with the iron deer’. The total route of Travin is estimated at 30 000 kilometers.

Here is how Vokrug Sveta magazine wrote about that journey in 1984:

“In 1928, he rode a bicycle from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where he worked as an electrician, crossed Siberia, rode along the southern borders of Central Asia and the Caucasus, headed north from the south and, having reached Murmansk, headed… to the Arctic. He overcame it – along the ocean ice, along the coast, along the Northern Sea Route, he reached cape Dezhnev and reappeared in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The circle was closed. The entire journey took three years”.

Travin’s absolute and unshakable faith in the success of his idea was remembered by many who met him on his journey. Even when the leader of the Kara expedition, the famous polar explorer Yevgenov, warned Travin:

“Look, there are no people ahead! There is no food! The Dikson radio station is the last one. We still don’t know how to get through in one navigation on an icebreaker, and you are thinking of travelling alone. You will die! Stay with us”, Travin refused the offered comfort and left the ship. It was near the coast of Taimyr, in the Kara sea area. Later, Evgenov would say: “You can, of course, tell this man off for his intractability, call the idea of ​​a bicycle trip through the Arctic crazy, but in your heart you could not help admiring such determination and courage”.

The head of one of the trading posts on the east coast of Taimyr told the writer Vivian Itin about what Taimyr cost Travin:

“With hair below his shoulders, bearded, with scars of chills on his face, with stiff arms, barely stepping over his feet, on which he himself cut off frostbitten fingers, Travin appeared in my imagination as a living Amundsen. At that time, Roald Amundsen, who went on a small plane in search of Nobile’s expedition, went missing. Many winterers in our sector of the Arctic believed that Amundsen was alive and could appear at their place at any moment. Travin was sometimes mistaken for Amundsen”.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told that the narrow-gauge version of the Norilsk-Dudinka railway didn’t led to Dudinka.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

September 10, 2023

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