Friday 13 July 2018
After a record breaking sleep for me of just under 7 hours in the comfortable room I made my way over to the cafe for breakfast, the heavy rain stopping just in time – so far we are amazing lucky with the weather. In the cafe it was disappointing to find the table as we left it last night! Apparently all the staff depart and arrive on the one bus so we at to wait for them to reappear today. Once the bus arrived breakfast of eggs, porridge, pancakes etc soon appeared.
Today was going to be a long ride in tour terms of 90km so we made a prompt start at just after 9am, after discovering one bike had a puncture. Today Svetlana was riding using Her husbands, Dmitry, locally made all titanium bike, very strong even the luggage rack is welded on and the bike can be split in two for transport.
We made good progress over the undulating countryside helped by long sections of the road being in OK condition. For the first time I saw a tractor ploughing a field it’s been really strange to see vast amounts of agricultural land laying fallow even reverting to scrub and getting covered in large knotweed.
We had our morning break then headed towards The Volga and Tutaev down an amazingly broken road, just so pleased I left my new bike at home 🙂 Tutaev has definitely seen much better days although a local who has made good in Moscow is renovating with volunteers an old warehouse into a cultural centre so there is hope. I must say Vladimir is much to be admired in promoting grassroots tourism everywhere we go on this tour. On the outskirts we visited another huge renovation project of a 17th century church, once again volunteer led.
After much of-roading alongside the river & through housing complexes (interesting to see home built garages made from welded steel plate with industrial locks) we finally made it to Yaroslavl a quite beautiful city on the high banks of The Volga where we are staying in the very modern Ibis hotel.
Evening dinner was a true Vladimir special in an home brew underground bar/restaurant very eclectic with two guys playing (although as in the UK why so Loud) really excellent place & food.
Afterwards we had a stroll through the streets with a local guide pointing out the UNESCO heritage centre. A bit tiring for me.
The Strava says we did 54 miles at 12.7mph so pretty good given the road conditions.
Thursday 12 July 2018
I didn’t sleep to well in the chalet maybe because of the huge thick pillow or because I was sharing a room with 3 other guys although it was interesting to use Sergey’s wrist blood pressure monitor 146/76 🙁
Once again Svetlana had prepared breakfast this time a wheat porridge with fruit & hard boiled eggs which I enjoyed.
We departed just after 9 on reasonably decent roads with some traffic before a few km on sandy tracks and then hitting the bed of an old railway line which was pretty awful cycling on the large ballast for 15km but at least traffic & pothole free! After being shaken apart we had our roadside buffet snack.
We then returned to the road to navigate our way through Rybinsk, pretty hard leading 22 cyclists through a city centre. We eventually found the Mologa Museum which I must confess I didn’t enjoy having 24 folks crammed into a tiny house, although interesting that the dam was built at roughly the sane time as Ladybower and the church and houses suffered a similar fate although Stalin just did it forcibly removing everyone with no warning etc.
The next museum was the one dedicated to Nobel of prize fame plus early film history in Rybinsk once again I didn’t stay to the end. It had me thinking what is the best approach with these tours as all the museum owners are enthusiasts and all keen to encourage tourism. Whereas in my home city of Cambridge we are seeking to reduce tourism.
We left Rybinsk over the Volga and a short ride to the Sport Hotel in Demino luckily we arrived just as the heavens opened. The hotel is a favourite with cross country skiers and all manner of sports. Once again the evening meal was excellent but sans beer, interesting how Russian attitudes to alcohol seem to be changing or perhaps it’s all an urban myth for us Westerners.
For once I managed an early night!
The bed in the chalet proved comfortable after I corrected the first collapse 🙂 Svetlana & helpers prepared a good breakfast
We set of a good pace for the first 20km on the usual variety of road surfaces from smooth tarmac to completey rutted & potholes plus it was reasonably busy with trucks until the turn off.
In Myshkin we went on a conducted tour around the old mill apparently the symbol of the town is a mouse so the tour became a bit like Disneyland. After the mill it was the church busily being reconstructed after its communist owners forced it into disrepair. Then onto the towns speciality -.a felt museum with details of how to make felt shoes etc must confess I fell asleep once we moved downstairs to the flax museum 🙁
Afterwards I climbed the bell tower for incredible views of The Volga and great to see a gigantic bell at close quarters.
After a drink we took the ferry across the Volga and then a quick 10km ride to our chalets ride on the edge of the river, so after a swim in the river & sauna it was time for our pickled tomatoes, gherkins smoked monkfish and vodka shots before dinner, very pleasurable indeed 🙂
The weather in the evening was quite stunning with the sunset over The Volga! Now of cause everyone is watching England in the worldcup semi finals…
The Strava shows
A good weather day with only a brief shower around midday and warm temperature we were on the road to Uglich for 10 hours or so but only riding for 4.5 hours to cycle the 53miles. Sergey’s rear axle snapped in two on his Russian bike and Alexander had a mishap which meant a short visit to Uglich hospital.
I slept OK on the very soft bed after my two White Russian beers. Breakfast was two fried eggs 4 small pancakes & bread and we left Borisoglebsky just before 9am. The road was tarmacced in a fashion some stretches of a decent surface but many patches of huge potholes 🙁 I found the huge variation interesting to ponder over their causes.
Our first pop up break was next to the van parked in a bus shelter layby after some food we then rode on too just outside Ulrika for another break and for a few of us a very enjoyable swim in a small lake interesting all the different water temperatures in the lake but overall only a two white finger experience so about <20C
Then we dashed up the hill to the very dilapidated monastery to escape the shower before cycling onto Uglich to meet The Volga, staggering to see so many tourists in such a small place all due to the huge river tourist boats bringing in the hordes puts our little group of 24 into perspective. We heard another recital with one of the group playing a massive balalaika, great singing but not in the sane league as yesterday’s soprano performance. This was followed by a visit to the totally rammed church overloaded with tour parties. Great to finally see The Volga which is pretty big here even though it has another 2000km to go!
The highlight of the day was a visit to the museum of unusual bikes where you can actually attempt to ride them very interactive and really makes you appreciate how straightforward modern bikes are with the invention of the freewheel & brakes!
A quick visit to the well stocked supermarket with its dinky trolleys and we were off again riding again across the massive dam where you could appreciate the large flow rate of the river and onto our overnight stay in two large wooden cabins.
The Strata is below pictures to follow eventually