Aleksei Pavlov, Software Engineer on Moto Gymkhana, Music & Sports

There are lots of different activities that I do outside of work. In summer, I do Moto Gymkhana and Rock Climbing. In winter, I ride a snowboard and do some bouldering. Since last summer, I started to play electric guitar (so I’ve spent a lot of time torturing a guitar). One of my big issues in life is that I am a perfectionist. It means that whatever I do, I want to do it perfectly. Knowing that, I try not to start doing something which I do not like or which does not inspire me. What is the point of spending a lot of time or something if you cannot reach some outstanding results with it?

My name is Aleksei Pavlov. I am from Russia, but I am now living in Poland. I am a .Net Lead Software Engineer. I became interested in pursuing a career in tech when I was 14 years old and attended some programming courses for teenagers – I still remember that it was Delphi (however, those days, we played Quake 3 more than we did coding). After that, I realized that programming inspires me, so I became a software engineer. Having a diploma in my hands, I decided to start as a Junior Web Developer in Saint-Petersburg.

When time passed, I realized that I was ready for a new experience. One day, a recruiter approached me and suggested a job in Poland – I could choose between Krakow, Wroclaw, or Gdansk. I wanted to learn a new culture and language. In addition, Russia and Poland have lots in common in history. Another reason is that Moto Gymkhana is at a good level in Poland, so I hoped to improve my riding skills. Therefore, I asked my girlfriend (now wife) and she answered: Krakow. In a month, we were packed and riding our motorcycle from Saint-Petersburg to Krakow with just two backpacks.

I have a lot of passions outside of work, and some outstanding results with these hobbies. In Moto Gymkhana, I became a Russian Champion in 2015, a Polish Vice-Champion in 2018, and I got the 13th position among 44 riders in the European Championship in 2018. With Rock Climbing, I did some 6c (French matrix) and still continue to train. With snowboarding, it is more about not getting myself killed with my jumps and tricks on black slopes. With guitar, I am in a band playing music with vocalists from singing school.

The biggest success I have reached is in Moto Gymkhana. I became interested in this motorsport accidentally. When I was changing my job in 2013, due to some financial issues, I decided to change my life as well. I decided to fulfill my dream from childhood – to ride a motorcycle. I attended a driving school and bought all the equipment I need to ride my future bike. After that, I bought my first and the only motorcycle – a Honda CBR600F4i. Next year, in spring, I started to ride it to work. I recalled that my instructor in a driving school mentioned something about free practices called Moto Gymkhana in Saint-Petersburg. I wanted to come and try it.

I learned that this practice was organized by Motorcycle Driving School Moto-A in Saint-Petersburg, run by a person who brought Moto Gymkhana to Russia – Sergei Pekutko. I still cannot express all my gratitude to this person. He gave me a goal and the instruments to do something meaningful. In fact, this allowed me to meet my lovely wife Zarina, with whom I travelled from Saint-Petersburg to Krakow by motorcycle in April 2016 (it was 5 degrees outside when we started).

When I started to train in Moto Gymkhana, thanks to my lowered risk barrier, I instantly got high results. In my first year, I got my Silver medal in Saint-Petersburg. Moreover, as I am a perfectionist, I started to help to improve their processes: I helped to assemble a team of referees and compile the first written rules for competitions, and I developed the first website for managing competitions in Russia: We were constantly working on increasing the number of riders and spectators. Of course, Sergei was doing the most important things, such as looking for sponsors, getting places, and connecting people; I was more about generating ideas on how to make the competition more like a show. I can proudly say that Moto Gymkhana in Russia gets the biggest number of spectators not involved in the competition (not riders or their friends) amongst the entire of Europe. Moreover, just a single event at Saint-Petersburg Moto Gymkhana Championship gathers more riders than the biggest European Moto Gymkhana Championship. And it is just 4 months of riding a motorcycle in Saint-Petersburg before winter comes!

Unfortunately, my move to Poland did not bring me a lot of satisfaction regarding Moto Gymkhana. There are lots of strong riders here, but there are no places for training. In Saint-Petersburg, I was able to use parking in front of a supermarket every evening after work; in Krakow, to have good training, I have to ride 50 kilometres by highway and do it illegally on the small parking at the exit from the highway. There is almost nothing in the city which can be used for training. Shops are not allowing us to use parking, as they are afraid of the legal consequences of a possible accident. Because of that, I became a bit discouraged with Moto Gymkhana and switched to Rock Climbing and Guitar Playing, which I can do all year long at any time.

What I love the most about these hobbies is the chance to get more adrenaline – with Moto Gymkhana and Guitar, it is also a chance to get some additional attention for my awesomeness! Moreover, snowboarding and rock climbing allow me to keep my form in better shape, which usually helps with motorsports.

My most exciting experiences with these pastimes have been:

  1. Helping to organise Moto Gymkhana competitions and Expos in Saint-Petersburg
  2. Riding a sport motorcycle from Saint-Petersburg to Krakow with my wife at the back and 5 degrees outside
  3. Rock climbing camps in Spain and Croatia
  4. Organizing and motivating a music band
  5. Playing some covers at a concert with my band

There are a lot of similarities between my hobbies and my work. I usually choose hobbies where I can apply some leading skills that allow me to organize and motivate people. Still, as with any developer, I am a lazy guy – I choose something where I can improve processes to do less and be more efficient.

The biggest surprise for me was realizing that I am more of an introvert than an extrovert. With the current Covid-19 situation, it has shown me that I feel much more comfortable being self-isolated than being around a crowd. Therefore, it explains why I decided to become a Software Engineer, Lineage 2 Clan Leader, snowboard rider, Moto Gymkhana rider, rock climber, and guitar player. I have a chance to improve a team and processes, and enjoy all these activities, with limited communication with people.

All these hobbies are beneficial to my tech career, but there are two sides. The dark one is that because of lots of hobbies, I cannot focus enough on improving my technical skills in Software Engineering. Still, I believe that there is no point in learning everything which comes out – I must know what is actually out there to be able to use the best solutions when creating design and architecture.

However, having hobbies allows me to release pressure and helps me to stay friendly and nice at work. Moreover, those hobbies help me to work with my perfectionism and eagerness to be the best. A few years ago, I would fight so aggressively for the best solution in my eyes that I would be blind to even better options suggested by colleagues. Right now, thank to Moto Gymkhana and Rock Climbing, I breathe and relax, feel the flow, and listen to my surroundings. Only that way can you reach any result in these activities.

My advice to anyone interested in taking up a new hobby is to first listen to your heart: “is this your mission in life?” If so, do it with passion and fun – try to relax and feel the flow. Look around. Use a minute to take a look at the mountains when you are riding a snowboard. Use a minute to thank people for supporting you when you do Moto Gymkhana. Use a minute to breathe and relax when you hang upside down on a rock at 15 meters above the ground. Use a minute to send all your positive thoughts to people watching you and all your gratitude to people you are playing guitar with.

I believe that software engineering is a kind of art – from nothing, you create a masterpiece for other people. Therefore, it is not a surprise to me that all the people I worked with have some hobbies which help them to focus on themselves and meditate. All my colleagues are riding snowboard or skiing and/or doing some art (painting, music). Therefore, I sincerely believe that it is not just tech. Tech is just one way to express our uniqueness – there is always something more.

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