A day at the zoo

I spent today going to the zoo, picking up a few things, and exploring the city by bicycle.  The zoo was the highlight.  They even have a Liger, but it was napping so I didn’t get a picture of it.  Lots of other cats, too.

I thought the wolf pen was too small.  The large herbivores had much larger enclosures.  They need to let the wolves go play with the horsies ;) .

Funniest thing?  They had a few of our friends from North America: Skunks and Raccoons.   I hope they’re sterilized and their pen secure.  I wouldn’t wish a proliferation of those on anybody.

Scariest thing?  What looked like a full grown male Grizzly Bear.  Wow.  Big mean thing the size of a horse.  Absolutely stunning.  Plus a few Polar Bears, which were the star attraction.

But I love the lesser primates, such as Tamarins and Lemurs.  Way cool.

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What’s your favorite brand of KBAC?

Pronounced “kvas”.  Traditional nonalcoholic Russian drink very much like liquid bread.  They even proclaim it to be “bready”.  It’s even dispensed on street corners.  Tastes quite like Hefeweizen beer.  I’ve found Rooskie Dar to be the most to my liking.  The first time I tried it I didn’t really like it.  Must have been a crappy brand.  But now I’m hooked on it.  Probably has some good carbs to be mainlining on those hot days.

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Jesus is bowling

I’ve been getting drenched for the past few days by thunderstorms.  At least I’ve reached the Siberian Plain, Russia’s soft squishy center.  It’s flat and swampy as Florida, and apparently will remain so until the Urals.  At least the horse flies have disappeared, but the  Mosquitoes remain vicious.

With the weather I’ve been staying indoors for the past few nights.  A couple of days ago I ended up at a hotel with two other cyclists, one from Scotland who had gathered up a Russian heading the same direction.  At the same time, there were two other Scotsman who had spent the past several months tooling around in Russia and Mongolia in a Toyota 4×4.  I’ve met a lot of people on motorcycle, bicycle, and car traveling around  Russia and Asia.  Last week I shared a hotel room with a German bicycle tour guide.  He started talking to me in Russian, but after the first few questions he got over my head.  Noticing he had a non-native accent I asked him if he spoke English :) .

The roads continue to improve, but there’s still a lot of variation.

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Finally flatted

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It took almost 4,000 miles, but I finally got a flat.  Yes, the excuse I was waiting for to change the rear tire.
A traveler from England stopped by to check on me while I was wrestling with it.  He had a Land Rover Defender Classic.  Didn’t know they still made them.   Neat old truck.

Pictured is a little Lada 4×4.  They look like they’d be pretty tough.  I see a lot of Lada and Volga “Classics”.  I think my favorite is the wagon, but I don’t think they make it in 4×4.

The good news?  I’m in Omsk and the weather is going to be clear for a few days.  Plus this may be the only one I need to change to get the rest of the way.

I took another day off for a little sightseeing.  Dostoevsky was exiled here and there’s a museum.  There’s a WWII museum as well.

Behind Lenin is one of the large number of miniature cathedrals I’ve seen in a few cities.

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Grasping for Europe

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Another week behind me and another milestone reached.  Now I’m in Тюмень (Tyumen), the Dallas of Russia.  Seven thousand kilometers traveled is very close too.  Even cooler?  In a week or so, when I cross into Europe, I will be 180 degrees opposite from my home in California.  Looking at my map it is exactly meeting my expectations.  Once I add in the 10% fudge factor I expected.  But this is only approximate since my cheap speedometer is 7%-8% too high.  It is saying I’ve gone 4660 miles.
I spent the first day out of Omsk regretting heading north on P402 instead of west on M51.  Heavily trafficked by trucks and narrow in places it rattled me.
The second day I thought I saw a way around it, using Yandex maps.  I took a left at тюкалинск (Tyukalinsk) onto a beautifully empty back road.  This worked fine until the road ended at the west end of a village.  Then I had to decide which tractor path to take.  I used my Most Probable Path First algorithm to decide to take the one heading northwest.  Eventually it connected back into real roads and P402.  At least then it was more lightly trafficked and I enjoyed the paths.  One other route I was going to try turned immediately into a trail after the intersection.  These would be wonderful to explore, but I’m running short on time.
Uneventful the rest of the week.  A father and his son pulled up into my campsite area in a beautiful Land Rover Defender.  He is a civil engineer in the north working on the oil fields.  He said the truck can drive across Tundra.
Otherwise, it is another Russian city.  Nice but all business.

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So it’s been a while

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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 … Continue reading

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End is near!

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I’ve reached the western Ukraine and now I have just around 1,000 miles left.  I’m also on the edge of one last time zone change.  One thing I find really cool is that the sunrise/sunset times move later, according to … Continue reading

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New country, new time zone

Just crossed into Poland last night.  I made a mistake and assumed that any of the Ukrainian border crossings would let me across.  Unfortunately some soldiers at Краковец on the M10 pointed at the sign and told me “motor vehicles only”.  One of the border agents even tried to intervene on my behalf, but they insisted that I head down to the M11 gate to Шегинi.  A 10 mile reroute.  At least now I’m in the European Union and the Central European time zone.  Eight time zone changes since Beijing.

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Raising the flag of victory

I have finally reached the Atlantic after 152 days.  The final tally:  8035 miles, overall average of 52 miles per day.

What did I use up?

Two rear Schwalbe Marathon tires.  The front is bald, but not showing any of the blue layer.

A few cables.  Call it two complete sets.  Because of the couplers it takes four shifter cables.  I had changed the back half of the rear shifter cable but not the front half.  The front half snapped in western Germany.

One Shimano XT bottom bracket, after 7,000 miles.

Three chains and two cassettes.  One snapped a link just a couple of days from the end.

The disc brakes are fine.  Not much elevation change on this route, really.  I carried a spare disc and a set of pads but didn’t have to use them.  Better safe than sorry.

The rear hub gave out after 4,000 miles.  I was having problems with it from the beginning, so I think it had problems from the start.  Not sure if I would use a rear Shimano hub on a long tour again.  Of course, “long” means crossing Asia and Europe.  Might have been fine if it wasn’t broken in the first place.  The front wheel is completely fine.  I like the 36 hole Mavic 823 wheel set.  Heavy but stout.

Wow, I’ve switched out so many other little things and had some other stuff ripped off or just forgotten things in hotel rooms or camp sites.

I need a haircut.

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