On the road

Motorcycle rider in search of unique record
Thursday, October 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:11 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vladimir Yarets Alexeevich’s red motorcycle has seen the world and it shows.

The cycle, which Alexeevich calls his “little donkey,” is plastered with stickers from the states and countries of its travels. The Jawa350, manufactured in the Czech Republic, has taken Yarets through 29 countries including the Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, Morocco, Jamaica, Venezuela, Cuba and the United States.

On Tuesday night, Alexeevich pulled into the Arrowhead Motel on Business Loop 70 to rest up before he headed north to Milwaukee.

A goal and a dream

A neatly typed statement that Alexeevich carries with him wherever he goes communicates his goal: “I want to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the only deaf and mute individual who has traveled all of the former Soviet Union, Europe, Africa and the Americas on a motorcycle.”

It won’t be the first time he’s attempted such a feat. In 1969, he drove a motorcycle through every country in Eastern Europe. Alexeevich claims he was the first deaf and mute person to finish the trip.

Through gestures, nods and a few notes on paper, Alexeevich explains that he lost his hearing when he was a year old and that he has wanted to travel since he was 12. Sweeping over a world map with his hands, he indicates that he wants to see the whole planet.

Passing through Columbia

After leaving the motel Wednesday morning, Alexeevich stopped by the Mid-America Harley Davidson shop in Columbia.

“It was pretty interesting,” said Laura Tuchschmidt, an owner of the store.

“Most people have never seen a Jawa350,” said Bob Ryan, manager of the motor-clothing department at the shop. “They haven’t imported them here for decades.”

Alexeevich, who communicates by writing, said he’s traveled 51,000 kilometers — or 31,700 miles — in North America and been through all 50 U.S. states. After stops in Milwaukee, Texas, New Orleans and California, Alexeevich will head to Mexico and then to South America. Around 2006, Alexeevich wrote, he might go home, but only after seeing all the countries on the South American continent, Australia and possibly some of Asia.

Experiencing the United States

Out of all the stickers on his motorcycle, Alexeevich points most enthusiastically at the American flag. He communicates that it’s been smooth sailing since he arrived in Key West, Fla. — his entry point into the United States. He has especially appreciated the sign system in the states, indicating that it was more challenging to find his way in Europe.

Alexeevich gets by on the donations of people he meets along the way. People have been good to him: very generous and kind he motions by extending his arms from his chest.

The hundreds of pictures he carries in plastic display cases reflect the fun he’s having. A dip in Prudhoe Bay, off the coast of northern Alaska, visits to motorcycle rallies across the country and a snowstorm in Nevada have all been memorable, he indicates, by pointing excitedly at the photos.

John Kennedy, a resident of Kansas City who allowed Alexeevich to stay with him for several days, said it’s possible that traveling around the world is a way for Alexeevich to prove himself. “Maybe it’s a way for him to compete, succeed and excel,” he said.

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