Monthly Archives: July 2013


Day 54: Poshekhonye, Russia to Cherepovets, Russia

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Start: Poshekhonye, Russia
End: Cherepovets, Russia
Distance: 115.0km
Elevation Gain: 1461ft
Elevation Loss: 1466ft
Time: 8h26m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: Stuff You Should Know podcast; Transom (Diary of a War Correspondent); EconTalk; Diane Rehm (Freelance Economy); Bullseye (Kasper Hauser interview)

Day two along the eastern shore of the Rybinsk Reservoir. Unfortunately, a triple whammy: still no real views of the water, slab road surface and a very strong headwind that I’m guessing was caused by the unseen water which caused a 2km/hr average speed loss over the course of the day.

Bike tourers in these parts are definitely rare, so have been getting some good looks. A few astonished folks at lunch and some friendly thumbs up and honks along the way.

Arrived in Cherepovets tired but decent spirits. Passed a huge railyard. Cherepovets is one of the major industrial cities in Russia. Home to the second largest steel plant and base for industrial metal giant Severstal which owns its own ice hockey, basketball and, yes, chess teams all based in Cherepovets. Fun facts: Cherepovets is the designated location to reform the Russian government in case nuclear strike threatens Moscow. Also, Cherepovets is sister city to Montclair, NJ — a town that has neither a steel plant nor a chance to host the US federal government (though, would probably feel some major carryover effects from any nuclear strike on New York City).


Day 53: Rybinsk, Russia to Poshekhonye, Russia

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Start: Rybinsk, Russia
End: Poshekhonye, Russia
Distance: 72.2km
Elevation Gain: 992ft
Elevation Loss: 936ft
Time: 5h16m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: Marketplace (Kai was pretty giddy about driving an RV); WTF podcast (Douglas Rushkoff interview, I haven’t read any of his books, but in the interview he comes off as a futurist of the worst kind: made up buzzwords with no elements of history or substance); World in Words; This American Life (summer camp episode; Adam Davidson’s English Israeli accent from 1998 is amazing); Acid Rap mix tape – Chance the Rapper

It’s nice to escape the tourist-land of the Golden Ring. Yes, this means dilapidated roads and rough evening accommodations. But, also the freedom to spend your time finding things which aren’t important historical sights in a guidebook, markets where they keep all the merchandise behind the counter (ok, not so good for non-native speakers) and tally your total with a wooden abacus, and people who are friendly and curious about your travels (I think in the tourist zone, once the locals see thousands of foreigners disembark huge buses every day and follow a woman around with a flag everywhere they kinda lose interest in the whole species).

While I’ve been following the shore of the Rybinsk Reservoir all day, I actually got minimal views of the water. Lots of log cabin homes (some in excellent shape and some missing most of their structure) and several whimsical yard displays.

Found a real abandoned brick church and cemetery. The steeple was at 45 degrees to the ground and several trees were growing in the anteroom. Outlines of frescoes were visible along with graffiti stuck in a rut of 90s bands (was hoping the setting would have inspired something more original).

Acquired shelter for the night in the tiny village of Poshekhonye for ~$10. Town center has mostly empty trading stalls watched over by Lenin and a nice little church. Need to get some good rest as tomorrow is a lengthy day to Cherepovets.


Day 52: Yaroslavl, Russia to Rybinsk, Russia

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Start: Yaroslavl, Russia
End: Rybinsk, Russia
Distance: 90.5km
Elevation Gain: 1699ft
Elevation Loss: 1489ft
Time: 6h04m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: Marketplace; Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me; Stuff You Should Know

Today begins the final ~900km push on to St. Petersburg.

A straight ride up P151 to Rybinsk. Decent pavement except for a 2km stretch on the outskirts of Yaroslavl which was recently stripped in preparation for road work. Grooved pavement is probably one of the least bike friendly surfaces I’ve encountered.

Stopped in the town of Tutayev and visited the exquisitely beautiful Church of the Resurrection. Tutayev is a single town located on both sides of the Volga but without a bridge. To get to the other side of the town, you either need a boat or travel 40km to Yaroslavl or Rybinsk. There were several interesting cathedrals and towers on the opposite bank from me but figuring out how to flag a private ferry with the bicycle seemed too complicated. I admired them from across the river and spent my time in the church I could reach.

Simple ride into Rybinsk — a town probably most famous for being at the confluence of the Volga at ancient times and, thanks to Stalin, on the shores of the Rybinsk “Sea”. The Sea was formed in 1941 by the creation of a huge hydroelectric dam. At the time, it was the largest man-made body of water in the world. Today, the power output of the dam is minimal and the ecological damage debated, not to mention the 150,000 displaced people and nearly 633 villages which lie under the water. I’ll be getting an up close view as I travel up the eastern shoreline the next two days to Cherepovets.


Donations for the maintenance of bear Masha

Bears abound in Yaroslavl. I suppose the apocryphal story of Yaroslavl the Wise killing a bear with his hands might have something to do with several of these examples (the somewhat unhappy Masha who lives in a cage by herself with a rubber tire on the grounds of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and the full, legit bear skin hanging above the bed in my hotel here).