Saturday 21st July 2018
Today was a nightmare of biking alongside endless convoys of articulated trucks etc, so much for my theory the main E22/M7 road would be quieter at the weekend 🙁
The first 8km or so was interesting to see all the new detached housing developments & the huge builders merchants, the economy sure seems to be booming here. Even the fields have sweet corn etc growing in them.
Ridewithgps got me into a sticky situation at the E2 motorway but finally I found a gap in the barriers near a bus stop 🙂 must say the drivers can be really considerate.
I went past a piston heads meet-up not sure where they drive their lowered cars with only one inch of ground clearance! Although the main roads today were pretty good. I spent time admiring the guys building wooden log cabins using a chain saw to notch the log joints – a real no nails construction.
The awful traffic started as the E22 joined the road I was on, a total logjam of huge trucks the noise & fumes non stop for the rest of the ride 🙁 it wasn’t so bad where the hard shoulder was good but where it detoriated to gravel or worse still sand and even worse where it disappeared. I stuck in my Airpods at full volume and ground on.
I spotted a stationary police car parked with the two guys waiting for me to turn up – I discreetly removed the Airpods – I was totally amazed when they asked me what the bikes frame number was! So I quickly inverted the bike and let him clean my bottom bracket 🙂 radioing in the number and the bikes make & model. All was well so they said I could go I gave them a couple of my sweets and they went away smiling wishing me the best of luck – which I certainly need.
I eventually made it up and down the many hills & in fact the countryside is really beautiful, if the trucks would go away and arrived in Lyskovo to find my booking.com hotel had made an error so they showed me the way to The Parus hotel on the Volga bank near where the ferry goes to Makar’yevo 5 times a day. Unfortunately a wedding party is in full swing so no sleep tonight with the noisy DJ, the music is ok.
Friday 20th July 2018
A rest from cycling although not from the bike.
The Ibis hotel breakfast was rubbish compared to my last one in the Ibis Yaroslavl 🙁
First job of the day was to get some new pedals & toeclips as well as sort out the front derailleur. Titan Cycles sorted out all 3 things although the derailleur was at the second attempt when we found the problem was the cage bashing into the mudguard doh! So a quick hack soon sorted that out!
The guy missed a trick because as their name indicates they make titanium frames and I spent some time ogling a full front suspension disc brakes titanium bike for £800!
I then did a tour of The Kremlin with its imposing position overlooking the junction of the Oka and Volga rivers easily the most impressive one to date,.
I eventually found a piece of heaven for me in a basement tool/hardware shop with a very friendly English speaking assistant who sold me insulating tape to fix the handlebar tape and also some tyraps. Plus he gave me the great idea of eating in the neighbouring huge SPAR shop, huge choice & you get to select the portion size as its all sold by weight, my 916gm cost £7.47 Inc drink.
So the bike will be zooming along tomorrow on a fresh bag of sweets and all 21gears working. I’ve now decided to take the right bank again as there seems to be more towns & hopefully over the weekend fewer trucks on the main road.
Thursday 19th July 2018
I slept like a log after yesterday’s marathon effort, I visited the SPAR for my breakfast sitting at their mini bar not quite up-to Japanese 7eleven standards but definitely well on the way!
The weather has improved and so has the main road now almost as bad as the UK, in fact I saw a team filling in the potholes using a truck mounted Hydrog PA-5000 Patcher (Cambridgeshire CC please note).
Riding along the dam into Zavolzhe was tough with a huge headwind and seemingly never ending. It was interesting to see the huge derelict power station at Balakhna with all the decaying district heating pipes the whole vast place now just used to house cell phone masts a real sign of the times.
I stuck to the very busy main road as much as possible although given the narrow width of the lanes & the size of the trucks it is a tad scary at times.
Nizhny Novgorod Is a huge city and really tough negotiating all the tram lines curving across the busy road. I finally made it to the river bridge to be confronted with a 200foot climb into the city with the heavens opening up as I crawled up the hill. I made it to the Ibis Hotel suitably soaked 🙁 I thought I would award myself a rest day here unfortunately you have to stay 3 days to get any laundry done! (most countries it’s overnight or even a couple of hours).
I now have less than 2000km to go to the Caspian Sea!
Wednesday 18 July 2018
I awoke to a dismal looking sky and a breakfast that appeared in fit & starts but which turned out OK in the end which is more than can be said for the weather. The rain started shortly after leaving and with the head wind made me leave the plotted route, even though it looked downhill, and go too Yuryevets. A poor choice as the Volga has a meander for a reason – a hill it wisely chooses to go around! As soon as I dropped down into Yuryevets I regretted it, a dismal forgotten poor town reminding me of Creswell in the 50’s with its hotel in much the same condition.
It was still early the weather was improving and so I quickly left to go to Puchezh which appeared to have an hotel. I found the first floor hotel but I declined both 6 bedded dorm type rooms and the one toilet as I thought I could still make it too Chkalovsk in the light and it was turning into a fine evening with much less traffic.
All went well until I took the ‘short’cut on the last 8km to the village which quickly turned into a rutted puddle laden track and then across a field, a loud bang and the front tyre squirted slime everywhere and deflated as much as me 🙁 first puncture in several thousand miles of touring 🙁 as I hit a buried metal flange.
The dog yapping away bought it’s owner out who then kindly proceeded to try and fix the puncture with his wife & kids looking on trying to communicate with me. In the end I had to resort to using my spare tube. The young lad was then sent to guide me to the bridge & hotel. I ended up losing him in the village. But great to meet such warm friendly folks 🙂
I eventually found the hotel after 9pm in the dark, close to a bright new SPAR where I could change my big note and buy some sustenance.
The lady finally let me have the room for 800 Rubles (£9.68) with en-suite bathroom 🙂
A very long day of over 100 miles ridden on a big breakfast & a bag of sweets.