One day in June this year, a group of middle age men will simultaneously come to Kiev from different parts of Ukraine and Russia. By only looking at them, no one would ever guess they have anything in common except their age. Some of them will arrive in bulletproof Mercedes Benzes while others will ask someone else to give them a lift to where they’re going. One by one, they’ll roll in to one of Kiev’s cemeteries and gather around the grave of 1990 TTT World Champion, Oleg Galkin. Several vodka bottles will be opened at once and the standard, 200mL glasses will be filled with the Russian national beverage to the brim. “Sleep in peace, Oleg” someone will say and keeping with the cultural customs, without the traditional touching of another’s glass, they will be emptied in one go in deafening silence. Only then, greetings and conversations will begin and the second round of drinks will immediately follow.
They’ve been gathering like this for many years now. They’re not army veterans or survivors of some monumental injustice. They’re former bike racers. One thing they have in common, the thing that makes them come to this cemetery every year is that at some point in their racing careers, they’ve been part of an ambitious Titan project. The day Titan was officially launched in Kiev in 1982 is the day these guys meet together every year to commemorate that.
It may seem like a strange tradition. After all, they’re just former cycling team-mates, what’s a big deal? They haven’t looked into the face of death, they shared no affliction and common anguish wasn’t something they’ve experienced. And yet, the many hundreds of hours they spent together on the road, on the plane, in countless hotels, the team bus and in the team cars, formed a special bond, some kind of connection that withstood the harshest test of them all – time. Just like adversities of war mould certain relationships between human beings afflicted by it, so did road cycling, dressed in aspirations and an incredible drive for success of Titan’s founder, Yuri Elizarov. They have become, in some loose sense, the band of brothers. Incredibly, 30 years later, they still are the same band.
Titan’s Tales is their story.