Day 32: Molochky, Ukraine to Berdychiv, Ukraine

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Start: Molochky, Ukraine
End: Berdychiv, Ukraine
Distance: 49.5km
Elevation Gain: 561ft
Elevation Loss: 608ft
Time: 3h24m
Reading Material: The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek; Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Diane Rehm; WBUR’s Only a Game

A short day but I had already targeted a stop in Berdychiv. The morning was hot, hazy sun and humid. There wasn’t much shade while I filled up on Anatoyli’s fish stew breakfast and I was pretty tired from only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before.

The Ukraine road is starting to get to me. Straight and paved but with bumps, ribbons and potholes to make smooth riding nearly impossible. My hands continue to vibrate for a good five minutes after I get off the bike and some gear (camera lens filter, thermos, kickstand) is starting to get beat up from the conditions.

Stopped for a morning coffee and watched a turtle attempt the cutest escape ever from its water bowl (like watching a puppy try to climb over a small fence). Stupidly left wallet behind while watching turtle but was saved by the waitress.

Did a little exploring in Berdychiv before the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in. Berdychiv was the second-largest Jewish city in the entire Russia Empire in 1860 (~45,000) and 80% of the population was Jewish. While I’m not versed in the various Hassidic sects, it is a popular pilgrimage town for the followers of Levi Yitzchok. Berdychiv is also home to the laziest dogs I have ever seen. They lie in packs on the sidewalks and appear dead.

I was able to locate the only remaining synagogue but couldn’t figure out a way to get inside. There’s a Jewish cemetery somewhere outside of town but my energy flagged and I might try to find that tomorrow on the way out. Took a nap. At dinner, I was joined by Alexander (a criminal defense lawyer), his pregnant girlfriend (not wife, “I don’t want to locked up like that!” she said convincingly) and her friend (all age 30) since tables were tight. Super friendly and inquisitive. We finished with cognac toasts and I wandered off to get some more rest.

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