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.

Volga Ride Nizhny Novgorod to Lyskovo

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.

A day in Nizhny Novgorod

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.

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