The Renegade: Chapter 16

Titan is a clockwork, it’s how Yuri Elizarov wants it. You land in Kiev and the team bus is waiting for you. They bought the bus with two drivers soon after I came back from the world’s and I liked to think it was a bonus for two gold medals we earned in France. I … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 15

We clocked nine thousand kilometers in eight weeks in Tajikistan. Terskol’s fat had melted away, the legs returned. Gusyatnikov, CSKA’s head coach, has been patting me on the back after rides every couple of days. “Good season ahead,” he kept saying. In February, I went with the Ukrainian state team to Crimea for a climbing … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 14

Zyama pulled out his military ID, stuck it in the guard’s face and ordered to open the door. We stepped into a sun-lit square surrounded by two- and three-story buildings. An alley on its far-end side led deeper into the garrison. We walked to a building on our right, climbed two flights of stairs and … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 13

My plane landed in Kiev late afternoon the next day. No one heard from me for six days. If I’d gone missing for a day between training camps and races, I could get away with it. Six days, not a chance. Not when another training camp was under way at Prolisok resort near Kiev. They’d … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 12

Bag zipped and slung over the shoulder, I slammed the door, walked out of my room and headed toward Krasnoarmeyskaya street to catch a taxi to the airport. One was rattling down the cobbles coming from Lev Tolstoy Square. I ran and reached the curb in time to hail the cab. “Airport,” I said to … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 11

Not going to Coors Classic knocked the will to race out of me. This cycling thing, cut the crap and hit the slide. First, driving with Bogdan around Kiev and now this. Total lockup. Caged. You want out, keep banging on the walls. You might find a hollow to scram through. In April, after the … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 9

We drove toward Kreshchatyk, down the Vladimirsky Descent, past the Pochtovaya Square, and came to Podol’s narrow streets. Outside, pedestrians in winter jackets and coats scurried on the sidewalks. They don’t teach you in school what to do when the KGB sends an officer with an uber-Ukrainian name Bogdan, in a black Volga for goodness’ … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 8

Anton was on a commuter train to Moscow when we touched down in Sheremetyevo airport from Paris. The cloned housing estates rushed in the opposite direction outside the train window. He turned his head away from the moving buildings and gazed inside the packed car. Most people were reading. The intelligentsiya — books and literary … Read more

The Renegade: Chapter 7

By the end of the season, I settled into the team and roomed with a guy who loved AC/DC as much as I did. Titan’s boss, Yuri Elizarov, was a tall, stout man with a bulky face features and bushy eyebrows. You wouldn’t want to punk the guy. I burned myself more than once trying … Read more