Tag Archives: Russia


Day 60: Viny, Russia to Veliky Novgorod, Russia

View Larger Map

Start: Viny, Russia
End: Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Distance: 56.6km
Elevation Gain: 314ft
Elevation Loss: 467ft
Time: 2h55m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: This American Life; Nerdist (Jeff Bridges interview)

Erg, today should have been an exciting day. The last major stop before St Petersburg but I finished feeling irritated. I think it was mostly related to riding the motorway the entire day and an especially brutal stretch which had been torn up in preparation for paving but without shoulders. So, I had to ride the main lane getting buzzed by trucks. The riding wasn’t difficult (nearly all downhill) but it was hard to relax. Anyhow….

Got a close up view of the famous marsh and swamplands which surround Veliky Novgorod and kept the Mongols from invading the several times they razed Kievian Rus. While Veliky Novgorod (“Novgorod the Great”) stayed out of foreign hands (most famously thanks to the efforts of Alexander Nevsky who fought off both the Swedes and the Germans) it was routinely captured by other Russian principalities eventually becoming subjugated to Moscow and losing influence during the rise of St Petersburg. Novgorod was occupied by the Nazis during WW2 losing many historic buildings and artifacts. I’ll spend a few days here and then only two more biking days until St Petersburg.


Day 59: Okulovka, Russia to Viny, Russia

View Larger Map

Start: Okulovka, Russia
End: Viny, Russia
Distance: 84.2km
Elevation Gain: 1440ft
Elevation Loss: 1882ft
Time: 5h12m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: Marketplace; Stuff You Should Know (autobahn eps); 99% Invisible; Bullseye (someone has a crush on Fran Lebowitz, who was born in Morristown, NJ before fleeing to NYC)

Super Surprise: An unexpected resupply party waiting for me on the side of the road!

Two days back while passing through Pestovo, I met a friendly couple who provided some directions during the town fair. They passed along our meeting to some friends (perhaps their parents, I believe) and today while climbing a short hill I was waved over by a couple in front of an SUV.

Alexander and Elena were waiting for me with hot tea, vegetables and fruit. They even left me with a care package of meat patties and more veggies! I’m not sure if they were laying in-wait or simply spied me as they drove past, and I hope I didn’t end up with their lunch. Alexander and Elena also live in Pestovo, have traveled around the US (NYC, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Luxor hotel) and have a son who lives in Rochester, NY. I got a picture before we both had to continue on our ways.

Some nice rolling hills for the first part of today before meeting up with the M10 motorway which I follow into Novgorod (and continues all the way to Saint Petersburg, though I’ll find a less busy way for myself into the big city). M10 has some big trucks but a nice shoulder and is mostly downhill. While I probably could have made it all the way to Novgorod in one (long) push, decided to rest for the night and tackle the final ~60km to Kievian Rus’ Second City tomorrow.


Day 58: Borovichi, Russia to Okulovka, Russia

View Larger Map

Start: Borovichi, Russia
End: Okulovka, Russia
Distance: 39.7km
Elevation Gain: 947ft
Elevation Loss: 650ft
Time: 2h52m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: Nerdist (GRRM interview); Bullseye

Making excellent time, so another short day. Left Borovichi in the shadow of Russia’s first arch bridge (1905; currently under repair) and off of the P8 road onto a regional one heading west. Decent surface and some of the first climbing in quite a while. Nothing big, but some sustained grade for more than several kms.

My destination of Okulovka is a small-ish town (~12,000 pop) but with a station on the original Moscow-Saint Petersburg rail line (completed 1851). It was never occupied by German troops in WW2 but situated very close to the front lines. Not sure if it was actually bombed, but the train station was considered a strategic structure and I found this German aerial reconnaissance photo from the war with detailed diagram of the rail-yard.

Dinner was some tasty shashlik in a small roadside stop. In honor of my English, they switched the TV to the BBC World broadcast. There was a story about the Peking-to-Paris classic car rally. I got a chuckle from a participant describing the the “grueling” nature of the race and how they had to spend their “rest” day in Russia doing car repairs. I’m sure the race element adds an extra challenge but try powering the vehicle with your body….


Day 57: Shchukina Gora, Russia to Borovichi, Russia

View Larger Map

Start: Shchukina Gora, Russia
End: Borovichi, Russia
Distance: 98.1km
Elevation Gain: 1266ft
Elevation Loss: 1459ft
Time: 7h01m
Reading Material:A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II – Gerhard L. Weinberg
Audio Material: WBUR’s Only a Game; EconTalk; Nerdist podcast; Low Times (The Most 90s song of the 90s — too bad these guys don’t have NPR affiliation, they can talk about music but can’t legally play any)

If we’re being honest, today was kinda boring biking. It was nice being on a low traffic road but scenery was consistent forest and nearly no habitation I could see for 80km. Skies were cloudy all night but no rain until a slight mist while packing up camp.

Passed a big garbage dump ~20km from Borovichi (roadside garbage has been pretty common but this was the first landfill I found). While taking some pics, was waved over by the proprietor. Some hand signal communication and he ushered me into the trailer “office” where he hung out with a woman (Leana?) and a younger man. I don’t think they were family but not sure. Super friendly, I was plied with coffee, soup, a sausage sandwich and a Kit Kat! The office featured some excellent Mad Max style-furnishings: couches, a cock-pit area with laptop, phone holster, two video screens (one playing violent Russian movies) and several jerry-rigged rear-view mirrors which allowed one to survey the entire landfill from the couch. I was offered a ride into town and a place to stay for the night (I think, we had very minimal language overlap) but I declined. Felt sorry but I already had a place lined up tonight in Borovichi and could use some rest after a few long days. Said goodbye and biked off into the Russian landscape.