Bicycling in Russia/Езда на велосипеде в России
Yes, road biking around Russia is possible. My father and I managed to complete a 450-kilometer loop through 5 of Russia’s golden ring towns (Sergeev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov, Suzdal, Vladimir). It was great to get out of Moscow and see some of the Russian countryside. We rode past many former collective farms signs peeling away in sun and passed through many picturesque fields. The poverty in the towns was a bit startling but not shocking, and I was reminded of many other places in the developing world. Also of interest, were the carcasses of all the churches that the communists had let fall to pieces. Approaching them made a haunting impression.
For the most part we were able to stay on small secondary roads and avoid too much traffic. The trucks on the main roads spew terrible fumes and the cars zoom by at scary speeds. Staying on small roads in Russia, though, is not without its risks. Firstly, no map accurately depicts whether or not a road is paved, so on several occasions we had to a ride a much longer route in order to stay on pavement. After some problems, we developed the technique of flagging down cars to ask them which way was paved. Secondly, there are not signs when there is road construction ahead. We proceeded down one small road which suddenly became a huge mud-pit of a construction site, and we were forced to walk with our bikes for 5 kilometers.
Biking in Russia is also somewhat of a novelty, and you will be definitely be met with some strange looks. I was asked on several occasions "za chem (for what) are you riding a bike? You can drive!" We even had our picture taken by the local newspaper in Rostov, so perhaps we are in a local newspaper.
For those of you who are interested in bike tourism in Russia and can read Russian you can check out the following sites:
Posted by Aaron at July 21, 2004 03:06 PM
It's funny, during my trips in Romania, it was amazing how much church construction was going on. Everybody was unanimous that rehabbing the local church was the first thing that every village did after Ceausescu was gone. I guess that's the difference between 40 years of brutal communism and 70.
I should be a bit more turthful about the churches. Some of the towns have indeed made some moves toward rebuilding their churches and many were under restoration. Interestingly, many of the chuches are in an utter state of disrepair except for the onion dome, which the towns had found the money to put back on so that they glinted in the sun. You are right, though. I think 70 years rather than 40 years made a big difference.