In the last 20 years, Vladislav Ketov has pedalled through 93 countries, eight deserts and as many war zones.
He’s gone through five bicycles and more than 100 visas.
Since 1991, the 62-year-old Russian artist and traveller has been tracing a route with his bicycle along the coast line of five continents.
His Ethical Ecological Movement Project is an attempt to prove the value of an ecological and international perspective.
“They may be the most important for humanity,” he said.
According to his website, Ketov has been honoured by both the United Nations Environmental Program and the Russian government for his efforts.
His philosophy is a sort of apolitical environmentalism.
He lumps together politicians and criminals as people who create problems for “normal people.”
His coastal route is a product of that philosophy.
“This line is on all maps, drawn not by people, but by God,” he said.
Travelling through so many countries, and meeting people from a myriad of different cultures makes political borders seem all the more absurd and arbitrary.
“Artificial borders are political; they’re crazy,” said Ketov.
Muslim, Christian, African, European peoples have more similarities than differences, he said.
The other reason he chose to bike around the coasts is that it had never been done before.
In 1988, he even patented the idea.
“It’s not breaking a record, it’s an absolute first,” he said.
While he has the support of his wife back in St. Petersburg, he has no continuous sponsorship.
His trip is mostly self-funded.
A trained visual artist, Ketov sometimes paints portraits as he travels, to augment his income.
“I only have paper problems,” he said. “Money and visas.”
Those “paper problems,” have caused years of delay, and forced him back to Russia at least five times.
He takes all the adversity in stride.
“Step by step, day by day,” said Ketov.
While he’s travelled all around the world, the Northwest coast of North America is one of his favourite places.
“It’s the landscape and the people,” he said.
This last leg of his journey started on the East Coast of Canada in May.
He biked across the country, arriving in Whitehorse on Monday.
His next stop is Dawson City, and then it’s off to Anchorage to close the loop that he started more than two decades ago.
After that, he has to find a way back east to catch a return flight from Montreal.
He’s not sure how he’s going to get there, but doesn’t seem that worried.
After travelling more than 160,000 kilometres, the equivalent of more than four trips around the world, Ketov is ready for a rest.
Once he gets back home to St. Petersburg he plans to put pen to paper, and write a book about his journey, an outline of which he’s already posted on his website.
But with the coasts of Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Iceland and more yet to be circled, a few chapters remain to be finished.
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