Traveling Grandmothers Kick Major Ass

I once did a triathlon (read: only once and never again) that also had other running events alongside it. The usual suspects were there, dudes with enormous calves and aerodynamic bikes and helmets, thousands of dollars worth of gear and Ironman t-shirts. A big scene. Big egos. Everyone was very impressive. But only one stood out in the crowd. She was an elderly lady of perhaps 70 (I’m guessing here), way overweight and sweating profusely. She was also pushing her own oxygen tank as she ran/walked in the 10K. Nothing is more impressive than people truly pushing their limits, and on that day, no one was as much as her.

And here’s another story that’s in the making, a travel tale: A 71-year old grandmother, Yulia Mikhailyuk, is restless. She has already traversed Russia (the largest country in the world) 16 times by bike, needs a new challenge. So she’s heading to Europe, specifically Paris, from the western Russian town of Tver.

According to Russia Today, Mikhailyuk needed something to do in retirement. On her 50th birthday she pick up the bicycle and pretty much hasn’t stopped since. She rides all day, takes 30-minute breaks to scarf down food and sleeps in a tent on the side of the road. Her next trip, the one to Paris, she hilariously designed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Russian victory over France in the Napoleonic War of 1812. Mikhailyuk expects the 1,780-mile bike ride to take approximately two months (30 miles a day).

In these days when mid-20 and 30-somethings spend most of their time lounging in front of the TV after a day of computer sitting, Mikhailyuk is carrying a torch for the importance of movement. They say being restless isn’t good, but if it means you crush continents under the tires of your bike on the adventure of a lifetime, still at 71, what is there to think but, “damn the naysayers!”

Check her out:

By Bryan Schatz