View Full Version : Elena's Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl
04-08-2004, 05:32 PM
I found this site and since it was "on two wheels", albeit on a rice-burner, I thought I'd pass it along to the group here. Though the photos do look authentic and the story quite amazing, I'm not sure if it is for real or another urban myth. It's well done if it's the latter. Sorry, but in an election year my BS sensor is set on high.
Also, I suppose it was my cynical nature that spotted the utility of having a geiger counter as the ultimate riding accessory. There's space right next to the RID display.
Food for thought, at the very least.
04-08-2004, 06:11 PM
This has been posted on other sites I've read. It turns out that while it's an interesting read, apparently (I believe) "Elena" took some liberties in her account. It appears that she didn't really ride her motorcycle through the area (you don't see any pics of her bike in the shot, just her holding a helmet bag), and that many of the photos were staged. I believe she used a guide who takes others through the area as well. But, in any case, interesting read as the described area around Chernobyl is certainly (and unfortunately) real.
SportTouring.net info on Elena's "story" (http://www.sport-touring.net/cgi-bin/msgboard/ikonboard.cgi?;act=ST;f=1;t=18409;hl=elena)
04-08-2004, 08:39 PM
Thanks DougM for your reply. Hopefully, someone with further details of the Elena story will chime in here as well.
My initial reaction to the story was that it rang true, but there was an undercurrent, call it the "Michael Moore spin", that made me wonder if this wasn't a contrivance of an anti-nuclear power group that was at work here. Ultimately, it would be good to know the real truth.
As with all good urban myths, there has to be an element of truth for people, like yours truly, to pay any attention to them.
04-08-2004, 10:00 PM
This has been hashed over hundreds of times on other boards. Suffice it to say that Elena has come forth personally and has admitted to taking quite a bit of "Journalistic Liberties" with this. Her cover got blown by several people, including one licensed Russian Journalist. In fact, once her cover got blown, she pulled her own website down to try and hide it - however by that point, her site had been coppied to other servers and there was no hiding it.
Many of the pictures used were "borrowed" from Chernobyl stock photo's from magazines and coffee table books.
No, she did not ride through Chernobyl.
Yes, she actually DOES ride (Kawasaki ZX11)
In any case, it is a good read. Just know that much of the storyline is false.
04-08-2004, 10:41 PM
My apologies, I should have done a little more homework before putting it on this board. Thanks to "BMW-K" for pointing this out. I did find this account about the story that debunks it.
e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:
I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.
I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.
She did, however, bring a motorcycle helmet. They organized their trip through a Kyiv travel agency and the administration of the Chornobyl zone (and not her father). They were given the same standard excursion that most Chernobyl tourists receive. When the Web site appeared, Zone Administration personnel were in an uproar over who approved a motorcycle trip in the zone. When it turned out that the motorcycle story was an invention, they were even less pleased about this fantasy Web site.
Because of those problems, Elena and her husband have changed the Web site and the story considerably in the last few days. Earlier versions of the narrative lied more blatantly about Elena taking lone motorcycle trips in the zone. That has been changed to merely suggest that she does so, which is still misleading.
I would not normally bother to correct someone's silly Chornobyl fantasy. Indeed, correcting all the factual errors and falsehoods in "Ghost Town" would consume as much space as the Web site itself. But the motorcycle story was such an outrageous fiction that I thought the readers of e-Poshta should know.
Mary Mycio, J.D.
Legal Program Director
04-08-2004, 10:58 PM
Hmm . . I don't see what this has to do with motorcycling in any way what so ever. A lot of the detail would appear to be contrived - and using a motorcycle ride gives it that human interest touch. The fact that the bike does not appear in any of the photos gives a clue. And there's one of the author, clad in leather jacket with geiger counter and the Chernobyl 'Sarcophagus' in the background that is obviously the product of some clever touch-up work in Photoshop. Their technical writeup isn't even accurate - there is no mention that the catastrophy was caused by a hydrogen explosion as a result of carrying out reactor tests requested by the Russian military at the time the power plant was off line and effectively in shut-down mode.
There is no denying that what happened at Chernobyl is criminal negligence of epic proportions by the old Communist regime in Russia, and needs to be remembered unless the same mistakes are made again, God forbid!! But the level of incompetence and possible future disasters has not gone away. There are still somewhere around 30 of this type of reactor (pressurised water - graphite moderated) in operation in various Eastern Block countries, most of them in an advanced state of decay, but they can't afford to shut them down. There is a pitifully small amount of international funds available to do essential work on these power plants - woefully inadequate. :dunno:
Anyway, Chernobyl isn't very high on my list of motorcycling venues. I'll stick to the Welsh Mountains thanks!
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