A month of forests, cities and trains was followed by a month of mountains and rivers as we travelled from Sochi to Moscow, Moscow to Perm and Novosibirsk to the Mongolian border. While we’ve pedalled more kilometres through Russia than any other country so far, we’ve barely scraped the surface and this has given us a real sense of the vastness of the world’s largest country. The roads were harsh on our bicycles with more time spent in repair shops than ever before but our newfound love of Russian food, excitement of being in bear country and ease of finding places to free camp made these difficulties just minor blips in an amazing two month journey. We’d like to think we’d come back one day, albeit with a better grasp of Russian.
Here are some facts and figures from our time cycle touring in Russia:
- 2835 km cycled (longest day 133 km and our new personal best, shortest day 6 km)
- 2000 + kilometres travelled by train
- 26 nights free-camping, 29 nights in real beds (including 10 nights staying with friends), 2 nights on trains, 1 night in a campsite
- 100+ Birds of Prey spotted but 0 successfully photographed or identified
- 20 small mammals we think are marmots spotted
- 10 washes and swims in freezing cold rivers (All in the Altay region)
- 9 feeds of Russian dumplings. 8 boiled and 1 fried.
- 7 Russian cycle tourists spotted
- 5 Mongol Challenge cars examined
- 4 days where the mosquitoes won and we retreated to our tent without dinner
- 3 vodka drinking sessions with good company and food – not that we drank with no food and bad company ever though
- 3 time zones crossed
- 2 times our bikes were dismantled and boxed for train journeys
- 2 wheel hubs re-greased (Emma’s front and Justin’s rear)
- 2 banya sessions enjoyed (Thanks Dmitriy and Sputnik Hotel)
- 2 camp fires responsibly lit
- 1 wheel hub replaced (Emma’s front a week after the re-grease)
- 1 wheel rim cracked (Emma’s rear – she is not having much good luck)
- 1 lunch bought for us by slightly drunk but very friendly Russian guy
- 1 time our bikes were transported on top of a van to cross the border to Mongolia
- 0 punctured tyres (but one blowout after checking rims for cracks – Justin’s)
Justin’s best childhood dream fulfilled: seeing replicas of all things Russian space programme related at Moscow’s Cosmonaut museum.
Emma’s best riverside swim: cooling down after cooking on our private beach just South of Gorno Altaysk – the river was so cold it made us get ice-cream headaches!