I’ve passed 5755 miles and reached Moscow on August 16th! So much has happened since I last posted from Тюмень. I had to buy a new wheel in Екатеринбург. I spent a few days sick here and there too. I think it must have been the exhaust from all of the trucks, but it could just as well have been a bug. At least I’m better now. But some of the old heavy diesel trucks here look like pig pen going down the road. Plus they don’t have stacks. The exhaust goes out at knee level. Yeah, it’s pretty nasty.
The roads have been improving continuously, for the most part. I’m seeing more and more separated four lanes. Getting in and out of Yekaterinburg was especially busy. So was getting into Moscow. In the dark during a thunderstorm. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I found a decent way through the Urals. I went north to near Орда, took some quiet back roads through Чернушка and Чайковский to Ижевск. Where I spent a day walking around the city, trying to get some good shots of the Ижмаш plant and seeing the Kalashnikov museum. Then through the ancient Tatar capital of Казань, with it’s UNESCO World Heritage Kremlin. Between Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod the M7 got stressful. My atlas said there was a decent highway on the north bank of the Volga. It’s just that I had to find a ferry at Фокино to Микайловское to take me across it. At least I got to take a dip in the Volga while waiting for the boat to come back. After that it’s a mostly quiet ride all the way to Бор, almost 100 miles. Through many old Russian villages. It was most tranquil. A local cyclist there fed me and told me to take a ferry across the Volga again, as crossing the bridge by bicycle is supposedly discouraged. Where I stayed at a hotel near the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin. He also suggested skipping the M7, by passing through Дзержинск (Dzerzhinsk). This also routed me past the GAZ automobile plant. By the time I got back on the M7 again, it was pretty wide four lane all the way to Moscow. But I stayed in Vladimir to see a few more World Heritage sites. I’m getting better now. It took me two days of riding to get to Vladimir. The first day out of Nizhny Novgorod was short after spending much of my daylight walking around. Then a killer 115 mile hammerfest to Vladimir. I was going to take two days to Moscow, but the going was so good and the city kept getting closer. So, I ended up with another 115 mile day, arriving a day early at my hotel. Riding into Moscow on a fast multilane highway in the dark in a thunderstorm. Are you scared yet? I was. Moscow drivers are notorious. Plus I’m always afraid of riding through a puddle hiding an uncovered drain. But I’ve ridden through Beijing, remember? There’s nothing scarier than riding through Beijing.
I’ve splurged to stay at the Savoy in Moscow. I guess movie stars stay here and it’s very nice. Also it’s within walking distance of The Kremlin. They wouldn’t even let me in the door when I rode up on my bicycle without showing them my reservation confirmation on my phone. Being soaking wet probably didn’t help. But it’s been quite a visit. I’ve seen the National State History Museum. The building itself is an interesting bit of 19th century architecture. I’ve also walked around the Kremlin, inside and out. Inside there are several fascinating temples as well as an incredible display of the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury.
My map says I have about 2,000 miles to Paris. Here’s a tip: Use locally produced maps, or at least maps in the native language. Especially in China. That way locals can help you and you can at least pattern match place names even if you can’t read the signs. I’ve seen a number of maps for foreigners and they were completely worthless to me. Anyway, If you’ve been keeping track at all you’ll also be wondering how close I am to overstaying my visa in Russia. Very, actually. My 90 day period is up on the 25th of August. Starting off on Sunday should give me five days, 300 miles to the Ukrainian border. Yes, I’m planning on doing some more 100+ mile days.