Category Archives: Biking

Birthday source

Saturday 28 July 2018

On my 71st birthday I was up bright and early ready to start the journey to The Volga’s source, , having slept OK despite how busy the Russian rail network was below me.

Nowhere was open for breakfast at 5.30 so I made do with a crust of bread in my bag hoping to get more breakfast in Ostashkov.

Yesterday’s guardian angel rescued me from the wrong platform and managed to get me on the packed train to Ostashkov 🙂

The train slowly rocked and rolled onwards after the first couple of stations I extricated myself to a pair of seats that had been vacated and later took the bike to near the exit and started to reassemble it, we eventually arrived In Ostashkov which I was surprised to find was the terminus so I had to patiently wait for the whole carriage to clamber off the train 🙁

It was now getting quite late for starting such a long ride but I found the local supermarket and far to hastily bought nowhere near enough food for the day, especially without my usual eggy breakfast, the first hotel I saw said they were full tonight so I rushed on carrying all my belongings with me knowing full well that I had to return in the evening 🙁

The road proved of better quality than I thought so I sped along even finding a hotel on for the night which sounded great. All was going well untill the junction at Svapushche at 31 mile’s into the ride when the road descended into a corrugated sandy track for the last 15 miles 🙁 awful riding. Eventually after 4 hours of riding I made it to the source of the Volga

The source has a small hut over it and you can look down into the spring the whole area is quite bucolic especially with the domed church overlooking the small stream well worth all the trouble and expense of getting here.

Alas there was no food only some guy selling ice cream and some home made cloudy drink which I eagerly drank as i had run out of water.

So back down the dreaded sand road I went with the 4X4’s throwing up vast clouds of dust as they charged to & fro my rear gear changer finally gave up the ghost refusing to budge in any meaningful manner, the bike is finally breaking up on me 🙁

I made it back to Ostashkov first at the supermarket and then onto the Lubov Hotel with its magnificent lake setting feeling totally wrecked. I eventually found a bar open and had some pretty disgusting fish and chips.

In the night I became very ill with food poisoning throwing up my total stomach contents, not a good ending to my 71st birthday.

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 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.