Liudas Alseika, Tragic Tourer on Two Wheels

 Alseika-tour-map

Liudas Alseika, 73, organizer of the first Trans-Siberian bike ride, th elongest in the world, to date

Liudas Alseika, 73, organizer of the first Trans-Siberian bike ride, the longest in the world, to date

In late 1950s he was preparing the first trans-Siberian bicycle ride. The world already knew a bunch of cycle-tourers, but this endeavor was quite special. Liudas Alseika, an aggro-engineer, traveler, teacher and a veteran of sustainable tourism had already organized his crowning activity, a bike ride from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Alseika was going to cycle from Lithuania’s port city of Klaipeda (Memel) to Vladivostok in the far Russian East.

 

Vladivostok was to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1960, and this was the spark that led to the Eurasian bicycle ride. Alseika was just a little younger than the Russian city, before the ride, in 1960, he turned 73. The senior was to revolutionize bike touring by leading a cycling group over two continents.

 

The route almost concurred with the Great Siberian Way, through the Urals and Sayan Mountains, Western Siberial Lowlands, the taiga by the Baykal Lake, Chabarovsk and Primorsky Kray. On Mayday 1960 the cyclists started their half-year long ride. The senior was to pay dearly his two wheeled adventure across the USSR. In the 20th day of their travel, near Gorochovets in the Vladimir oblast, on the highway between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, Alseika was fatally hit by a truck.

Liudas Alseika

Liudas Alseika

 

The Baltic group of riders overcame their grief and decided to pursue eastwards without a leader. They reached Vladivostok on the 9th of October 1960. The ride took the 162 days and the surmounted distance was 11,800 km.

 

The tragic ride encouraged bike traveling and arose a keen interest in the Baltic peoples and their past all over the Soviet Union. Despite the terrible tragedy, many youngsters embraced cycling and started wondering long distances across the USSR and all over.

 

Siauliai Bicycle Museum in Lithuania has a wing dedicated to Alseika’s exploit. 2C hereby expresses our gratitude for allowing us to use the photos. Regardless of their size, the Baltic States have a long tradition of bicycle riding. Lithuania has one of the largest plants in Europe: a huge plant, Baltik Vairas is the Siauliai based factory – former pride of the Soviet Union, currently controlled by the German giant Panther International GmbH. Recently Baltic Vairas celebrated the production of its fifth million bicycle since its privatization in 1993. Panther Werke took the opportunity of this “golden” anniversary to present a special bike with a historical Baltic Vairas design. The company started producing original design bicycles in 1951.

UAB Baltic Vairas is the largest manufacturing company of Panther International GmbH, with nearly 600 employees and approximately 40,000 square meters of production and warehouse space. Currently it produces high quality urban and trekking bikes.

 

Soviet bicycle "passport"; a registration document for the bike

Soviet bicycle “passport”; a registration document for the bike

Alseika's group in Klaipeda, Lithuania

Alseika’s group in Klaipeda, Lithuania

Alseika's bike on May 1, 1960

Alseika’s bike on May 1, 1960

Alseika's touring bike at the Siauliai Bicycle Museum, Lithuania

Alseika’s touring bike at the Siauliai Bicycle Museum, Lithuania

Bike number 5 million produced in Siaulai under German investment

Bike number 5 million produced in Siaulai under German investment

Siauliai Bicycle Museum, Lithuania

Siauliai Bicycle Museum, Lithuania

 

 

 

Posted in Bicycle Story, History by / March 6th, 2013 / 1 Comment »

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