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Day 43: Kaluga, Russia to Obninsk, Russia

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Start: Kaluga, Russia
End: Obninsk, Russia
Distance: 78.6km
Elevation Gain: 1574ft
Elevation Loss: 1631ft
Time: 5h26m
Reading Material:Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition – Orest Subtelny
Audio Material: Diane Rehm Friday News Roundups; Marketplace; Game Theory podcast (hiatus episode)

Remember about two weeks ago when I sang the praise of my Schwalbe tires? Yeah, as expected, the rear one blew out today.

The beginning of the ride was wonderful. Overcast skies kept temps comfortable; Sunday traffic out of Kaluga was light and the first 40km was on smooth, almost track like surfaces. Then, a loud “pop!” Rear tire suffered a full blow out. On inspection, the treads had starting pulling away from the wire bead. I replaced the tube hoping the tire would hold even though there was a definite bulge. Unfortunately, another 20km up the road (this time on the busy motorway) the tube exploded. Gear guru Sheldon Brown explains that this type of problem can be temporarily fixed by covering the rip but since I’m carrying a folding spare, I just swapped that out (very carefully watching out for large trucks on the small shoulder). Will need to go rubber shopping in Moscow.

Lucky timing as the threatening skies opened up with a big thunderstorm about 10 minutes later. By the time I reached Obninsk there were small rivers running down the motorway and traffic had stopped as the cars slowly navigated the water. I hid under a gas station awning with a large convoy of motorcyclists (evidently, there’s a big bike rally this weekend somewhere near here) trying to get my bearings. Found a place to stay the night where I’ll keep dry until making my final assault to Moscow tomorrow — along the same road which Napoleon made his hasty exit from Moscow if Wikipedia can be believed.

While I probably won’t venture out, Obninsk is famous as the home of the world’s first production-scale nuclear plant, opened in 1954. The city was built to house technical workers for the plant and has evolved into one of the premier Russian science cities.