Tag Archives: Lviv


Day 28: Lviv, Ukraine to Ternopil, Ukraine

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Start: Lviv, Ukraine
End: Ternopil, Ukraine
Distance: 128.0km
Elevation Gain: 3248ft
Elevation Loss: 3079ft
Time: 7h58m
Reading Material: The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek; Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Diane Rehm Friday News Roundups; Bullseye with Jesse Thorn; Planet Money; Unpacking my Library – Currituck County

New trip max distance day: 128km!

Got a nice early Sunday morning start from Lviv. This is the first city which insists on cobbling all major streets out of the metro area for a radius of nearly 5km. And, the farther you get the worse shape. Once I escaped, it was a straight-shot on the H-02 road all the way to Ternopil.

Everyone brings up the poor conditions of Ukrainian roads. But, for biking, the secondary roads really aren’t that bad. Yes, large potholes. But, on a bike, I can dodge these much easier than cars which you often see weaving at slow pace. And, today’s road featured what I can best describe as a kind of frost heave which runs longitudinally along the shoulder (as opposed to normal heaves which cross the road). Easy to avoid, but you have to choose a side and be very careful of crossing the heave. Even with these features, I averaged 17km/hr (with stops) which I consider a pretty good road.

First Sunday where I saw a large number of brides out — in churches, in motorcades and (rare) making a pitstop at a desolate petrol station where I stopped to top-up on juice (grapefruit). Lots of church services. Lots of blocky concrete Soviet monuments. Also, lots of sad cows chained up along the road. And, one sad dog who was free to roam but just wanted to lie down in the grass.

A Pancho & Lefty cop team with radar gun flagged me down. I wasn’t speeding, they just wanted to say “hi” and check out where I was headed. Good English and very friendly as they wished me well on my way.

Arrived at Ternopil tired but grabbed a shower and went in search of food. Ternopil is the second largest city in Galicia (to Lviv, pop. ~200,000) and young for the region (founded 1500s). It features a large, man-made “pond” created by a big Soviet damming project. Quite pretty, actually. Ate in front of the well-known, baroque Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary until it was time to pass out.


Day 27: Przemyśl, Poland to Lviv, Ukraine

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Start: Przemyśl, Poland
End: Lviv, Ukraine
Distance: 103.0km
Elevation Gain: 2286ft
Elevation Loss: 2067ft
Time: 9h04m
Reading Material: Red Cavalry and Other Stories – Isaac Babel
Audio Material: This American Life (topical, road stories); Nerdist podcast

Epic Day! Crossed a border, slalomed cows, navigated a mud pit, road the highway, met a bike buddy and arrived in Lviv.

I started the day about 12km from the Ukraine border but was warned that crossing could take multiple hours. There was a long line of stopped cars as I approached with drivers and passengers milling around. I bicycled past the cars and was directed by a friendly Polish border control officer to a side building with a separate pedestrian crossing. Passed through both the Polish and Ukraine customs buildings with no wait and only a few bemused looks as my passport was stamped. The Ukrainian officials conducted extensive searches on the babushkas returning home with giant bags but all I got was a flip of the handlebar bag lid and was sent on my way. Guess I’ve discovered a pretty good way to smuggle cigarettes across the border in the future.

I planned to avoid the direct M11 motorway to Lviv and take smaller secondary roads. I made my turn after the border and while the road was unpaved it started in decent shape. Soon, however, I was navigating giant potholes and increasing mud. About 5km in, a driver stopped, got out of his car and using the hand signal for potholes & bumps (big round arms, and that thing kids love to do with their hands when they stick them out of moving car windows), indicating I should turn around. The gps indicated I could cut back to the motorway 10km ahead, so I decided to press on and see what I could discover.

First, I discovered beautiful landscapes. For the first time on the trip, the land opened up and I was riding under a big sky on a wide-open expanse of nature. Technically, the Ukrainian steppe doesn’t begin until farther east, but this was my first taste. Reminded me of the big landscape feeling from places like Alberta Province in Canada or Southeast Alaska. This Polish-Ukrainian border is the first one I’ve crossed where you can tell geography as much as politics created a natural divide.

Next, I got to practice my cow dodging techniques. Two large herds were being driven down the road. While non-confrontational, cows can get moving pretty fast so I had to stay on my toes. Many more cats warily watching me pass and free ranging dogs who were generally ambivalent about the bike. And, then the real mud started. Now I know why the driver tried to dissuade me from this route. Giant puddles and deep mud made it nearly impossible to move even by pushing. I struggled and it took about 2 hours to go 10km.

I cut back to the M11 motorway which really wasn’t that bad for cycling — two lanes and only light-to-medium traffic. Congestion got worse as I approached Lviv. About 10km from the city center, cobblestone began and I was overtaken by a road biker. We biked together and started chatting while avoiding cars and navigating cobbles. Eventually, we stopped to chat and take some pictures. Daniil lives in Lviv and is a bit of cycle gear-head. I showed him some of the more “advanced” features on my bike and he shamed me by asking lots of technical questions about US bike gear that were a bit beyond my skill-level. A few of his friends walked by and I got my first taste of Lviv hospitality. Daniil even escorted me all the way to the apartment I’m renting and watched my bike while I carried up all my gear. Thanks cycle buddy (and thanks Lviv for the friendly welcome to the Ukraine)!