Riding Day: Vyshny Volochek – Moscow (300km).
Feature Image: Phil in front of the St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. We did get a special tour the cathedral, nothing really special, but this image is the face of Moscow. Red Square is equally unimpressive, not at all the same as China’s Tiananmen Square which is very impressive.
Leaving the small lakeside town of Vyshny Volochek, we rode through our first effort in riding through a country road which was a bit muddy with small puddles — no more than a mile long. I really wanted to focus on riding through the crap so I was not going to be the first to drop on this slippery ride, but it really was a fraction of the trouble I saw in South America, but for sure, it was not going to be me to drop first — crossing fingers and a tight grip on my handle bars might help.
As with everything we’ve seen so far, it’s all the same, a hard life for Russians who live on the fringe of the big cities. Peoples dress are simple and functional. Buildings are in a state of decay with no seemingly way of turning back. Regarding factories, its very interesting that I have not seen more than a few new factories in my travels — and the new ones that I have seen are square boxes made of steel skin, like the lowest cost structure you can build. No, what I have seen is old factories either abandoned or with tons and tons of broken glass and rust fringes abound. This is the real Russia. The citizens are walking, taking busses but the main roads are relatively empty, really owned by old trucks and transports moving goods — but as for cars, they are limited and what exist are generally old and beaten down.
Ok, but lets get back to the ride… It’s fine. The major two lane highway into Moscow was getting better as we got closer. The rusted light poles were fading a bit, not western, but getting better. Life and habitation as I said remains the same. Along our tour, we were supposed to stop at Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s house, but unfortunately, like life there, something is off the rails and its closed. Tchaikovsky was a prominent composer of the famous Symphony No 6 — I don’t know, its classical music and he was important, but I won’t learn much more.
The terrain is certainly flat and pretty uninteresting along the route — same old — broken down houses which should be condemned, lots and lots of very large and modern gas stations, void of cars by the pumps with brands like BP, Shell and some Russian brands, and of course some local retail establishments. We stopped for lunch into a town of I guess 100,000 people. It was like riding into many towns in small America however the scenery was clearly more simple and buildings more uniform and square – not that rural Americans have it so great either. Anyway, we had some lunch, I had some Russian form of soup which was not great and we moved on after the hour stop.
The next leg meant that we were about 100km, from Moscow. Mark, our lead guide had routed us away from the 2 lane highway and through the landscape of small towns and “B” roads to shake things up. It was fun, but lots of stop and go, red lights and more erratic riding — but a welcome change to the pace. In this way, we did get a taste of even more commerce and businesses, life along the way was better, but not much — at least it was something new.
So the worst part is that the repetitive stopping, starting bleak views were wearing my all of our days and I started getting real tired on George — to the point where I was fighting off sleep — worse, I even dozed a few times and it was a bit scary. At some points I was preying to have a stop or break just to buy a Red Bull or equivalent.