Mila Ovchinnikova

Ukrainian rider Mila Ovchinnikova rides a TTR 250, runs an online motorcycling store, and is about to embark on a major journey which will see her crossing from Kiev to Magadan. Read on to learn more about this multi-talented woman and her life as a motorcycle rider in Ukraine. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor, Global Women Who Ride]

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Name: Lyudmila Ovchinnikova
Age: 24
Country: Kyiv, Ukraine
Languages: Russian, English, German, Polish
Years Riding: 2
Height: 1.74m
Current motorcycle(s): Yamaha TTR 250 Raid named Lutulafanio (that means Floating Cloud in Quenya)
Past motorcycle(s): Yamaha FZ6 Fazer (as passenger)
Gear: AGV helmet, IXS jacket, First Gear pants, Sidi Crossfire boots, EVS Knee braces, Scorpion gloves
Km Per Year: 3 000


Please introduce yourself. My mom is from Ukraine and my dad is Komi-Permyak. They met in Pripyat near Chernobyl and then moved to North Far East Russia searching for job and adventures. My sister and I were born and brought up in Magadan, though every summer parents took us to my grandmother in Ukrainian village near Zhytomyr. I’m multicultural, open-minded and used to long distance traveling from early childhood.

I studied forensic sciences in Moscow Law Academy for five years. After graduation I moved to Kyiv. Now I work in design studio as account manager and make projects with Russian and Ukrainian companies.

Outside of work, I work on illustration, calligraphy and design, helping Alex with our small online store for motorcycles and planning great motorcycle trip from Kyiv to Magadan this summer. My boyfriend Alex, our friend Sergey and I will go more than 13000 km through Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia to reach the most far east part of the continent and eventually visit my motherland.

What bike did you first start on and why? My present bike is my first motorcycle and I we bought it because it is perfect for beginners. Yamaha TTR 250 Raid is lightweight, easy to ride, not expensive to buy and to repair and ideal for dirt riding and Ukrainian awful roads. You’ll find lots of motorcycles like this one on Ukrainian roads.

Women Who Ride: Mila Ovchinnikova practicing for motorcycle school

Mila Ovchinnikova practicing for motorcycle school

Tell us more about your upcoming trip from Kiev to Magadan! We will go to Moscow, Kazan, Perm, Omsk, Novosibirsk, then go to Altai mountains region and Telecky lake. Then we go to Mongolia, visit Ulan-Bator and go up to lake Baikal. Then we visit Bratsk and on a ferry (or cargo boat) we’ll go to the north on Lena river. From Lensk then and Viluisk we’ll ride to Yakutsk and Magadan.

You know, this route is pretty difficult but possible. You should be prepared well, lucky enough not to meet the bear and ready to conjure warm and sunny weather. I know at least six people who reached Magadan this summer and among them there are two guys who made it on two motorcycles. including a CBR Blackbird. Machines were practically destroyed at the end but at least they did it!

How do you prepare for a journey like this? First you need to realize that you want it happen really very-very much! :-) We are sharing information about preparation in our group and dividing it to spheres that are most interesting to Alex, Sergey or me.

I’m responsible for route, sights, places to stay at night and people whom we should meet during the way. That mean that you search as much information from other motorcyclists as possible. You need to be prepared to every bit of danger that can happen and you should be ready to change the route to its alternative variant. Of course I must be sure that there will be gas stations or other ways to get fuel for our motorcycles.

Sergey prepares our motorcycles: he repairs everything that is broken now and changes everything that can break during the journey. He also gets a list of all parts that we should change (for example, in Mongolia we need to wear off-road tires and we will change them all in Novosibirsk) and the list of tools we are taking with us. Alex is the organizer, photographer, and writer, and he prepares materials for our blog and group. During the journey he will be our press-center and main contact to the outer world. Now he is sharing information about us and preparing information for sponsors and information partners.

Tell us a good story from your rides. One of my favorite is when I asked Alex to ride our Yamaha FZ-6 600 Fazer for the first time. Yamaha FZ-6 600 Fazer was our first motorcycle and we gave him a name “Hortainapilin” which means Flying Arrow in Quenya. We both had been dreaming of it and saving money for a year. That time only Alex had the driver license and I was a passenger but anyway I wanted to ride very much.

We went to our first motorcyclists meeting in Vinnitsa, 300 km from Kyev. In the evening when we both were absolutely drunk I persuaded Alex to teach me how to ride the motorcycle. We got the machine from the forest to the nearest road and Alex showed me how to start it, turn on the gear and let the clutch go. Everybody were very scared for me, new shiny motorcycle and all machines around. Nobody knew what this drunk girl would do with this bike ! In the end everything was fine: I felt how the motorcycle was moving for the first time and I was absolutely happy though I drove it approximately two or three meters!

What would your dream garage contain? Well, I would like to have really good dirt bike like Yamaha WR250 R, great adventure tourist bike like KTM Adventure 990 and street motorcycle that will be perfect for the city, like Honda Hornet 600.

Women Who Ride: Ukrainian motorcyclist Mila Ovchinnikova

Ukrainian motorcyclist Mila Ovchinnikova


What’s the best part about riding in Ukraine? I would say that Ukraine is ideal for motorcycle tourism. You will find great diversity of terrain, sights, different natural and historical interesting places there. There are astonishing Carpathian mountains in the west (one can find perfect wild mountains and forest paths for riding enduro motorcycles) and vast crop fields and mines in the East.

In the North you’ll find deep forests. In the central part of Ukraine – great Dnipro river and industrial cities. It is rather hot in summer in the South, where people grow sunflower, different vegetables and fruits. Crimea region is more like recreation and touristic zone now with sunny beaches and holiday houses. And of course Ukrainian motorcycle community is very hospitable and friendly.

Near Pochayiv Lavra, a Christian monastery in Ternopil region.

Near Pochayiv Lavra, a Christian monastery in Ternopil region.

What is the traffic like and how does it affect motorcycle riding? Traffic in Kyiv is rather calm comparing to Moscow, but anyway there are traffic jams in big cities. Most people are aware of motorcyclists, some of them usually give us extra room between cars, but anyway be ready that some drivers will hamper you on the roads.

What are the best months for riding there? Best months are from May to September. Ukrainian motorcyclists have rather short riding season, from April to October. We don’t ride in winter as usual because of cold weather and snow. But if there are no snow it is possible to ride (though rather cold).

Traditional motorcycle ride in Santa costumes on New Year's Eve

Traditional motorcycle ride in Santa costumes on New Year’s Eve

How does the topography affect the kind of motorcycling you choose to do? Our roads are of very low quality that’s why I have chosen dirt bike that is rather universal. And I’ve heard lots of advices to do so. But anyway it depends on the person and why he or she preferred to ride a motorcycle.

Is motorcycle theft a problem? Yes, it is a problem. I prefer to live my motorcycle in the guarded zone, where I can see it and use special protection devices (chains or locks). And l always lock it in the garage in the night.

Is there a motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly? We have lots of motorcyclists meetings during the season in different parts of Ukraine and some of them we attend. It is great way to meet friends, have some fun, listen to the music. Biggest are “Tarasova gora” in Cherkassky region (first week of June), meetings in Vinnitsa (end of May), Uman (middle of July usually), Odessa.

With my friend Vova at the Uman motorcyclists meeting in 2013

With my friend Vova at the Uman motorcyclists meeting in 2013

Do you have access to high quality motorcycling gear in your part of the world? We have several stores in Kyiv with motorcycle parts and gear, but prices there are too high. We prefer to shop online, it is much cheaper and post deliver different goods from all over the world. That is how our own store was initially made.

Are there any motorcycling related political issues that you feel strongly about? In summer several roads in the center of Kyiv were closed for motorcyclists and we felt rather uncomfortable, because there were no other ways to get to the place.

Later on, I’ve asked my friend Zhenya about it and found out that I was wrong. This sign has been on Kreshatyk street since 1976. At that time soviet motorcycles were very noisy and reeky. And government decided to close the street so not to pollute it for people who lived there. Nowadays everybody rides there free. Zhenya added also that laws for motorcyclists in the USA or Europe are mush more harsh in comparison with Ukraine.

Are there any motorcycle specific laws? Motorcyclists should always wear helmets. You can have motorcycles driving license since 16 years old (cars from 18, buses from 21). And there is speed limit for motorcycles – 80 km per hour out of the cities. For cars this limit can be 110 km/hour or even 130 km/hour.

Are motorcyclists discriminated against in any way? Motorcyclists experience lots of negative from cars drivers and pedestrians. It is common opinion that motorcyclists are crazy people who don’t value their life and health. It seem to be very dangerous and uncomfortable for other people and quite often they ask, why we are still riding bikes if we have enough money to buy a car? People really do not understand motorcyclists, but anyway I would not say that they are discriminated.

How do the police treat motorcyclists? It is strange but motorcyclists simply do not stop if police ask them to do it. Motorcyclists use the advantage that bikes do not have number plate in the front and it is very difficult to prove that it was definitely this or that motorcycle who broke the law. In all other cases I think that motorcyclists are in the same position as car drivers.

Interesting fact that police can’t chase motorcyclist if he does not wear the helmet, so not to make dangerous situation on the road.

How popular are motorcycle related sports and do women actively participate in them? Women – no! I don’t know whether Ukrainian women went in motorcycle sport ever. We do have motocross championship, and several stages of sport bike races but to tell the truth they are not really popular among people.

Enduro and motocross amateur competetion near Kyiv

Enduro and motocross amateur competetion near Kyiv

How are women riders treated in your part of the world? And how do men especially treat motorcycling women? In motorcycle community – with honor! Really! Riding motorcycle means that you are brave, smart and strong. Adding to that – that you are reliable friend and partner, that share common interests in couple, because bigger part of the girls start to ride because of their boyfriends.  Men are always welcoming! Always ready to help with repairing motorcycle or in any other situation. favicon