Tag Archives: Oryol


Day 41: Oryol, Russia to Belyov, Russia

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Start: Oryol, Russia
End: Belyov, Russia
Distance: 114.0km
Elevation Gain: 3160ft
Elevation Loss: 3127ft
Time: 8h51m
Reading Material:Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Marketplace; World in Words; WTF podcast

Awesome day. My personal Oryol Bike Gang showed up promptly at 9am. Evidently, they saw a photo on twitter of a touring bike with a Brooks saddle in town and decided they needed to turn out (Oryol has a pretty strong bike community, they held a Critical Mass-like event earlier in the month and had several thousand bicyclists show up). We took some pics, compared some gear and headed out towards P92 and parts north.

It was nice to ride in a pack (and have a chance to draft) for once. As we got further from town, riders had to drop to return to their daily lives. But, Andrew and I rode together for 60km all the way to Bolkhov. I did most of the leading, but the combination of fresh legs and a riding companion helped and we made excellent pace, reaching Bolkhov in time for lunch. We said our goodbyes and Andrew headed back to Oryol (where it appears he or someone on his staff had a chance to file a story on our adventure) while I kept going north. Looks like we both had 120km days! And, thanks Andrew and Oryol bikers for the warm welcome and friendly assistance.

I’m quite happy with my route choice. Avoiding the motorway, I’ve opted to follow the P92 secondary road for several days towards Moscow and today conditions were excellent. First extended, smooth pavement in quite a while and minimal vehicle traffic. A good amount of up and downs but in this heat nothing too horrible (95F today).

Hopefully should be to Moscow after three more days on the road.


Mikhail Bakhtin

Mikhail Bakhtin’s house and lovingly curated museum in Oryol. Bakhtin is a favorite of literary and film theorists and is famous for his books on Dostoevsky and Rabelais. Unfortunately, his ideas on freedom of the individual did not make him a favorite of the Soviets and he faced several exiles and difficulty in publishing (and even getting his dissertation accepted). I received a private tour from a woman who spoke lovingly of her friend Misha.



Bike tour of Oryol

Got a local tour of Oryol by bike today. The “Eagle” city is located at the confluence of the Oka and Orlik Rivers. The Soviets built a promontory park where the river converge, reminded me some of the point in Pittsburgh where the Three Rivers come together. Lots of churches, many under active reconstruction. Visited my first Eastern Orthodox Church with a floor covered in straw, evidently for a recent harvest festival — also made for a very pleasant smell and feel. And, multiple monuments to local writers: Turgenev grew up on an estate about 15km north of the city; Mikhail Bakhtin (favorite of literature and film theorists) was born in Oryol). Found a classic Soviet cinema palace (no sign of the Iron Man, but Gob sighting). And, met a hairy bear who migrates with his family throughout the city.


Day 40: Zheleznogorsk, Russia to Oryol, Russia

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Start: Zheleznogorsk, Russia
End: Oryol, Russia
Distance: 101.0km
Elevation Gain: 2568km
Elevation Loss: 2774ft
Time: 8h14m
Reading Material:Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: This American Life; Fresh Air; EconTalk

Hit the wall for real today for the first time. I’ve had this happen to me before on long day rides at home but not yet on this tour. By noon, temperatures were hitting 101 degrees F. I’m still traveling along a major motorway which isn’t the best for morale. There were several work crews paving sections of the road (got some fresh asphalt riding) and multiple times I had cars who were traveling slowly around the crews talk to me through open windows and offer some words on encouragement. About 40km into the ride, I had to battle a long climb. A few kms up the road, I found a cafe to rest, ordered some food and then just crashed. Wasn’t really able to think straight and just sat for a long while slowly eating my soup and fried rice concoction trying to get my body temp to go down. Eventually the food (and 1.5L of apple juice) kicked in and I started feeling better.

Ideally, I wanted to reach Oryol but that was another 60km and if I had to battle the oppressive heat for 5 more hours, I didn’t think I would make it. Started back on my way and, within an hour, the wind picked up and the skies started darkening. Rolling thunder over the horizon. Usually these are ominous signs but I was excited: thunderstorms mean cold fronts!

Big bolts of lightning as I passed through the tiny town of Kromy. And, then the rain. “Oh, the water!” I immediately cooled down and even though I probably could have found shelter, just decided to ride on to Oryol. The city is pretty big (~300,000 pop) and the sprawled metro area took about 10km to reach the city center along with the rest of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Passed several shacks which looked flooded from the rain and the shoulders were covered with 3-4 inches in several places that I got to wade through.

Brought my bedraggled self to a hotel. Met a man outside who showed me his bicycle glove hand tan lines as a sign of solidarity. Turns out his name is Andrei (Andrew) and he is a journalist with a local city newspaper/web portal. After a shower and some food, I was interviewed by Andrei, his friend and a translator about my trip for their paper. I think I caused a stir in the local bike community and plans were made for an official group escort when I leave. With multiple long days in a row, I’m well ahead of schedule, so decided to spend an extra day to rest here. Will meet up with my new friends tomorrow for a local tour of the city by bike and then will ride off in my parade on Friday morning.