Day 33: Berdychiv, Ukraine to Popil’yna, Ukraine

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Start: Berdychiv, Ukraine
End: Popil’yna, Ukraine
Distance: 74.6km
Elevation Gain: 974ft
Elevation Loss: 1068ft
Time: 6h24m
Reading Material: The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek; Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Transom; Nerdist (interview w/ Jesse Thorn who is everywhere suddenly, our generation’s Terry Gross??); WTF podcast; NPR’s All Songs Considered

Ran into fellow bicycle tourers for the first time since the Czech Republic. A couple and their super cute 3 year-old daughter Marta (patiently riding in a child’s seat and rocking some awesome pink shades). Originally from Poland, they were returning from China via Kyrgyzstan. Unable to secure a Russian visa, they took a train for a bit and were now transiting Ukraine towards home.

We compared notes for about an hour while somewhat angry drivers dodged our roadside meeting. They bought bikes while in China and were pretty amazed they were still holding up. I was amazed at their ability to minimize gear: about 30kg from all three! For some reason, they hadn’t yet had my hospitality luck with Ukrainians. They surmised it might be my beard. I think maybe Ukrainians just don’t find Poles as interesting since they meet them all the time…they can even understand each other! They were looking for a nice lake for a swim/clean and I recommended my spot, hopefully they get a similar welcome. I had read many online accounts of bike touring with kids, but great to see it in action and with such a happy little girl. And, just nice to run into fellow travelers — maybe biking across Ukraine isn’t that crazy.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful. Long stretches without tree cover meant strong crosswinds which seriously slowed my pace. I had gotten a late start (~10am) and with the mini-summit, I decided to find shelter around 5pm. I’m within striking distance of Kiev (~120km) and will aim to hit the city tomorrow evening.

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