Start: Popil’yna, Ukraine
End: Kiev, Ukraine
Elevation Gain: 2210ft
Elevation Loss: 2396ft
Reading Material:Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Diane Rehm Friday News Roundup; On The Media; Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
Super long day but the promise of Kiev and a warm shower lay ahead. Breakfast from my reserve stash of chocolate porridge and an early start. Roads began in good condition but then a long stretch of half-pavement. And, then out of nowhere, 5km of cobblestones in the middle of nowhere through farms fields. I felt like I was in the Paris–Roubaix race.
Cobblestone is a funny surface. In the 15th century, cobblestones were a mark of well-constructed roads as it prevented both mud and dust from forming. And, cobbles had the advantage of making a lot of noise to warn pedestrians of oncoming “fast” moving vehicles (horses, carriages, bicycles and eventually cars). Of course, this is the sound of wheels being jarred. Bicyclists actually played a large role in advocating to replace cobbles with paved surface in the late 19th and early 20th century. The money quote is “Bicycling was an extremely popular recreation among the middle and upper classes in the late 19th century and was more fun on paved roads.”
The cobbled classic bicycle races (e.g. Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix) are famous not because cobbles make for good cycling but instead add an element of danger and surprise. During today’s cobbled classic, I mostly stuck to dirt single-tracks alongside the main road which showed a good amount of bicycle wear from other weary travelers.
The approach to Kiev was on a major artery. The Kiev metro area is probably the largest I’ve seen since Berlin and it took a good 1.5hr to reach the city center. I’ll be holing up in an apartment here for the next 10 days, getting some rest and plotting my route to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Expect posting to be light for a bit.