In the very far North of Siberia there is a peninsula called Taymyr (Таймырский полуостров). The northernmost point of this peninsula is called Cape Chelyuskin (Russian: мыс Челюскина) and it is the northernmost point of the Eurasian continent (and indeed of any continental mainland), and the northernmost point of mainland Russia.
Cape Chelyuskin is so far North that is is located only 1370 km from the North Pole. And Leonid Mikula, an adventurer from the Ukraine, decided to ride there in a Velocatamaran !
USSR South to North in a Velocatamaran
There are no roads leading to Cape Chelyuskin and due to its inaccessibility it was discovered by ship (icebreaker).
In 1986 Ukrainian adventurer Leonid Mikula (Леонид Микула) wanted to cross his country – then the USSR – from its southernmost to its northernmost point. This meant traveling from Kushka in present-day Turkmenistan to Cape Chelyuskin.
He planned riding a bicycle but due to the lack of roads on the Taymyr peninsula Mikula quickly realised he would need some sort of amphibious vehicle to float along the imposing Yenisei river (which originates in the infamous city of KYZYL, the epicenter of Tannu Tuva) in order to complete the trip to Cape Chelyuskin. With a complete lack of vehicles like that, egineering savvy Mikula started to develop his own so called ‘velocatamaran’ (велокатамаране) or ‘veloamphibia’ (Велоамфибия) long before anyone had ever thought of creating such a radical device:
“The idea of creating a velo-amphibious contraption came to me over 15 years ago, when I decided to cross our country (then the USSR/Soviet Union) between its southern- and northern most points without using motorized transport.
Gradually, the details of construction of the future amphibian vehicle were drawn in my mind, I carefully pondered methods for converting a bicycle from a purely land vehicle in waterfowl and vice versa. It was clear that all the elements necessary to move through the water shall be stowed as a compact luggage pack as it has to be transported on the bike – on the rear trunk or backpack – on the land portion of the route”
“Of all the options, the most convenient transportation and operation on the water seemed a velokatamaran with inflatable floats and pedal power to the propeller. In this embodiment, the bicycle frame is used without significant alterations, and the nodes of its attachment to the floats can be made simple enough.”
Leonid Mikula was a talented inventor and developer who came up with many funky contraptions one of them being the “Velokovchega Penguin-MS” (велоковчег “Пингвин-МС”) a velo/cycle-ark that combines the functions of both velomobile, yachts, boats, motor sledges and gliders. It was supposed to take him and fellow exporer Jumber Lezhava across the Antarctic continent (the trip never happened due to a lack in funding)!
For Mikula it was therefore relatively easy to build his self-invented velocatamaran to his own specifications complete with technical drawings to such a level of detail that you could easily build your own one now.
|Basic data velokatamaran:|
|Draft [hull / column], meter||0,14/0,35|
|The number of revolutions of the screw, rev / min||1200—1500|
|Speed, km / h||7—9|
|Gear ratio (pedal-screw)||1:15|
|Dimensions floats assembled without bicycle (mm)||2700x1300x650|
|Gross weight||25 kg|
After building his contraption – that looks a lot like the recently invented Shuttle Bike – Mikula embarked on his dream trip with this velo catamaran indeed.
He rode his bicycle 5000 km from the South of Turkmenistan until he got to Siberia where he whipped out his velocatamaran’s floating parts from the luggage he was carrying, assembled it together, put his bike on it, and pedal floated 2000 km, on the river Yenisei and along the Kara sea to reach Cape Chelyuskin and complete his adventure.