On the Russian trains

Friday 27th July 2018

My first time on a train in Russia was last nights overnight sleeper to Moscow from Cheboksary. I chose the most expensive option, a First class cabin to myself which came with an evening meal & private shower/toilet.

It took nearly 13 hours todo the 474 miles including some extended stops, it has to said that this particular track is in a similar condition to the roads as it lurched along 🙁 eventually I fell asleep only to wake up as it was parked in a sidings somewhere where it then sounded as if they were dismantling the undercarriage with a hammer 🙁 Fitbit however thought I slept fine for nearly 7 hours including over 1 hour of REM sleep so maybe it was just a dream 🙂

The station I arrived at in Moscow was only across the street from Lenin Station and with the bike already in a bag I thought I would get the St Petersburg express train to Bologoye ready for a local train to Ostashkov first thing tomorrow all went smoothly in the ticket office if somewhat expensively 🙁 In Lenin Station while waiting I had an excellent breakfast at the bakery.

The expensive ticket was somewhat ameliorated by a 2000 Ruble credit in the buffet car 🙂 The track is a lot smoother than the overnight train but still not up to Japanese rides so just as well the train only gets up to 138mph

In Bologoye one of the station workers took me under her wing helping me to get tomorrow’s ticket including the supplementary charge for baggage! She then showed me the station hotel 3 floors above the ticket office a good buy at 1,000 roubles per night and right where the one train a day leaves at 6am tomorrow.

Hopefully the freight trains etc won’t keep me awake tonight although the first 17 years of my life my bedroom overlooked a freight line & occasionally express passenger trains.

Relaxing in Cheboksary

Thursday 26 July 2018

I’ve spent the last three days relaxing in The Garden Hotel in Cheboksary I’ve not even looked at the bike instead I’ve spent time in the lovely empty pool and reading the first novel written by Martina Cole after listening to her & her fascinating rags to riches story on Desert Island Discs whilst biking. I found Dangerous Lady an excellent read & have now downloaded her second novel Ladykill.

Yesterday I made the decision to get tonight’s overnight train to Moscow, since apparently, to go anywhere in Russia you have to start in Moscow! I’m still debating whether to go to the source of The Volga but it’s looking quite complicated with one train every few days type services 🙁

If all else fails I will just hang out in Moscow and do some mini tours around there & try to make contact with Vladimir and The Russian Cyclists Touring Club as I would still like one of their cycling jerseys 🙂

I’ve enjoyed my stay in The Garden Hotel although I wonder if it’s becoming accepted now everywhere to listen to videos etc on your smartphone s speaker 🙁

Volga ride Nikol’skoye to Cheboksary

Monday 23rd July 2018

After a night in a truckers stop I now know there are trucks on the road all night, maybe a lot fewer but they roll through the night!

I had a PYO breakfast and then tried sorting the gears out, the rear derailleur was easy just needed the wire tensioning the front was at the limit so I tried twisting the cage as I couldn’t get it to rotate on the tube.

After the first few hills I stopped at a cafe and slackened the bolt then gave it a bash with a handy brick – success it now drops down to the granny cog but it isn’t to happy with finding the middle cog, which is only really used on the flattish roads otherwise it’s climbing or bombing down at full speed.

The road was once again busy and a real mixture of excellent dual carriageways to narrow lanes one particular truck got to close with its draught pushing me away at speed, fortuitously I’ve learnt not to use clip in pedals on these trips so I could readily get my foot on the floor and save myself.

At a cafe a couple of police came over very friendly and were staggered when I showed them my map of the over 1,000km I’ve biked so far especially looking at my decrepit bike but I must say I’m really pleased not to have bought my new one!

The last 3 or so miles was along a real cycleway connecting the new town to central Chebsokary which seems a great place with its beach along The Volga and small harbour, I checked the cruise boat out but it was a firm Nyet to me hitching a ride to Kazan 🙁

It was then a 4km ride through town to the very grand rail station (header picture) but the queues were so big I couldn’t find anyone to ask although the boards, totally in Russian, only showed the overnight sleeper to Moscow and local trains to Kanash, so more investigation is required especially if bikes are allowed.

I used booking.com to book into the Garden Hotel as it seemed to have a pool not realising it was all the way back to the cycleway 🙁 which the navigation sent me the most bizarre way through allotments and derelict land with an off-road hill I could barely push the bike up. The hotel itself was worth it, 5* luxury for £30 a night.

Volga ride Lyskovo to Talgar Motel

Sunday 22nd July 2018

I’ve no idea what time the wedding party finished as I zonked out! Breakfast was not that good with not many liquids or fried eggs why are hard boiled eggs so messy to peel?

I eventually got away and was amused by the kids playpark having a galaxy of army weaponry for the kids to play on. I then stopped at the brewery shop alas only for water although the multitude of beers on tap did look tempting!

Way to soon I was back on the dreaded E22/M7 and it’s convoys of articulated trucks speeding along so close you could easily touch them inordinately stressful wondering when they will score an hit 🙁 as others have said Russian roads are not for the feint hearted. I stopped at a couple of very miserable cafes not adding to my enthusiasm for the day with an headwind, especially after the rear luggage rack broke on its connection to the seat tube 🙁 I fixed it with a bungy strap, the gears are also playing up adding to my woe.

Eventually the road turned into a proper Western dual carriageway with a wide hard shoulder but seeing a modern building I pulled into the Talgar Motel/cafe/parts & tool store & checked in for the night much to the amusement of the staff 🙁

I managed to buy a 9mm ring spanner in the Aladdin’s cave below to attempt to sort the gears out in the morning. Next town is Cheboksary 76km away where I shall decide whether to start using the Russian rail service to get about and thus avoid the trucks.