You may know Jascha virtually from social networks, or in person from SPEZI, or the Oliebollentocht velomobile meeting. I noticed him when he was involved in helping the invaded Ukraine and in August 2022 helped Olexii Hanshyn aka Velodreamer transport the mold for his velomobile Moby Dick from the Ukrainian village of Oleksandrivka to Ireland, where he and his wife Olga had taken refuge.

NOTE 1: It is unbelievable how long it took to complete this interview before it was published. I received the answers more than a year ago in March 2023! But to prepare it with the appropriate importance, have the drafting re-approved by Jascha, and then include the changes took an awful long time indeed. Nevertheless, from my point of view, this is one of the best interviews I have ever done.

NOTE 2: Jascha also mentions that he doesn’t feel like a hero and that he doesn’t think he deserves that label.

I had the privilege to meet Jascha during the SPEZI shows. His velomobile expeditions to Eastern Europe have opened new horizons for me in what is possible with a velomobile. His trips to Ukraine to help the invaded country and its citizens are admirable. You can just feel the desire to help from Jascha, whether you follow him on the social networks or experience him in person.

Do you have any family relationships with Ukraine? Or are you even coming from there? 
No, I am from Germany, and my family only lives in Germany.

Why do you like Eastern European countries? I see you have done some velomobile trips to Belarus and Ukraine a couple of years ago. 
I like eastern European countries because of the nature, the distances between cities, which are much longer and so gives you a much different feeling  while cycling. 

Also of course the people and the food are a big plus there. 

Belarus and Ukraine are a little bit special for Beginners, because of their completely different alphabets. But you get used to it fast.

Was it difficult to ride there with a velomobile? 
In eastern Europe I have the feeling it is easier to ride with a velomobile. You get more respected and people don’t complain about height and visibility like people do in Germany. 

When it comes to Ukraine and Belarus, there are a few problems on the borders., because not every checkpoint allows you to cross with a bicycle. 

And, of course, in some countries, you have to watch out more for potholes and other obstacles on the road.

When working as a firefighter, how it is possible you can drive so often to Ukraine and back with supplies? 
I am a volunteer firefighter. My main job is completly different. I work in the IT of a public service company. 

In Germany it is common to have 30 vacation days a year. So I used all of my vacation days to help Ukraine. 
Also I waived salary, so I was able to drive to Kherson to evacuate two friends from there, after it was liberated, and combined it with a delivery to Kyiv and Kharkiv.

What do you take most often? I see lot of food for dogs. 
On the first two deliveries it was only military aid for the organization UkraineAidOps. But I most work together with DogsUnited from Wachtberg, Germany.

You can find them under the name PostmasterBoomer And so it comes, that I often drive animal food and medicine to Ukraine.

But we also deliver humanitarian aid like food, hygiene products, generators (big and small), diesel heaters, powerbanks and more.

We also transported a dough mixer for a bakery that provides food to people in need and rescue equipment.


How did you get in touch with Oleksii?
Well honestly, I don’t really remember when I recognised him the first time. It must have been around 2019. In 2020 I learned the first time, that he organized the „Meeting of bicycle builders“ every year. I directly asked him if I could come to meet him and all the others in 2021. And in August 2021 I finally met all of them.  

Is it difficult to drive through Ukraine nowadays? How close to the front line have you been? 
Well it depends. In June 2022 the number of checkpoint were very high. Even directly behind the border you had several checkpoints. When you came closer to front lines there were of course more more thighter controls. I remember one control between Donezk and Dnipro where I and other not Ukrainian citizens were controlled heavily by the imigration service. But it is ok, they were always nice and helpful.

You always have to remember they are under attack and even you are helping, you are only the guest.

The number of the checkpoints and unmanned road blocks have changed throughout the war in some areas. Some are removed.

I was several times very close to Russian border or front lines. Sometimes close as 3km. But always with local people and they are always in connection with the local military and councils. You need to know where you can go and/or not. Only one time I was not able to get current information. This was when I evacuated my two friends from Kherson. The Russians destroyed every infrastructure before they left so there was no communication possible. On this day I was as close as 1km away from the Russians. They were just on the other side of the river.

Was it difficult to get to Oleksandrivka where Oleksii lived? 

You have transported the mold of the Mobi Dick velomobile in a trailer from Ukraine to Germany. Later you have transported it only in your car with open trunk. Why? 
Well on the first leg Ukraine-Germany I had my trailer with me, so it was easier to just put the mold in the trailer as it was.

On the second leg I had to use two ferries (Calais-Dover & Holyhead-Dublin) and also had only one weekend (Friday-Sunday) time. So I needed to be able to drive fast. 

With the trailer the tickets for the ferries would have also doubled the prices, and they were expensive anyway. 

You have asked for a place to stay in Great Britain on a Facebook. Did somebody reply to your request? 
Yes Andrew Allen answered and I want again thank him and his mother for the possibility.

Who has paid for this whole transport? 
The first leg was paid anyway, because I had to return to Germany to drive another batch of aid to Ukraine.
The second leg was paid by Jason Dubin.

What was the most difficult part of this project? Any issues on borders? 
To get the dissambled mold into my car. And then the Polish borders.

We had packed the mold very well so it wouldn’t be damaged. But there was one downside to it.

You couldn’t see inside the mold, but Polish customs officers wanted to look into it. I said “It is ok, give me something to gut the packaging and I will show you.”

They denied and said I had to drive into a separate building where they wanted to deep-check my car. After 40 minutes of waiting, they finally came to my car and looked at everything. Then they pointed to the mold and said, “We need to look inside.” They gave me something to cut the packaging, and when they saw everything was empty, they let me go. Well, we could have done this an hour earlier.

What are your future velomobile plans? 
Well I definitly want to cycle through Ukraine again. In 2022 I planned to cycle through Ukraine and Georgia, but then the war came.

But I also want to see more countries by velomobile. Georgia is still on the very top of my list.

Thank you for the interview!


 Jascha Beuttler

Year of birth: 1993
Residence: Herne
Job: SAP Integration Specialist
Bike(s): Intercitybike DF-XL, HP Velotechnik Scorpion, Bullitt, Travel Bike