Russia

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
tyreon
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Russia

Postby tyreon » 15 Jan 2016, 8:46am

Has anyone any experience of cycling thru Russia?

The size and history of this place is immense.

I just wonder why there aren't more tourists over there. It 'appears' Russia makes it 'difficult' for visitors,or to get the visa. It must be incredible over there(given nice weather!) Still,I have heard some of their mossies are the size of bats in summer. Folks are tuff over there!

Sure the country folk would be interesting/amazed at foreign visitors.

pwa
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Re: Russia

Postby pwa » 15 Jan 2016, 9:53am

I don't want to lecture anyone, but I avoid visiting nations with foreign policies I have trouble with. Russia's very popular president, with the heartfelt backing of his people, has been stoking up a civil war in the Ukraine for the last few years and that would keep me from taking my holiday money there. Russia's backward stance on gays also bothers me. I think we should be ethical when we choose where to go on holiday, and I would give Russia a miss for the present.

tyreon
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Re: Russia

Postby tyreon » 15 Jan 2016, 12:53pm

I respect your views pwa. Howsoever...NATO( in particular)have been trying to surround Russia for years. I'd feel very threatened if I were Russian. Iran/Russia,have you researched what we our governments have done/still try to do out there? Criminal.

On gay rights. Can understand where you are coming from.

On our crimes and that of USA...we should be prosecuted. We should never tour here. Millions killed and tortured by our armies.

On other (trite?)matters: they had equal opportunities for woman and votes for women well before 'advanced' UK.

I just wonder if someone/anyone has toured out there,even for 2/3 weeks,chosen some part of it,say. You wonder why they(Russian government)don't welcome the dirty dollar or pound

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jamesgilbert
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Re: Russia

Postby jamesgilbert » 15 Jan 2016, 1:12pm

pwa wrote:I don't want to lecture anyone, but I avoid visiting nations with foreign policies I have trouble with. Russia's very popular president, with the heartfelt backing of his people, has been stoking up a civil war in the Ukraine for the last few years and that would keep me from taking my holiday money there. Russia's backward stance on gays also bothers me. I think we should be ethical when we choose where to go on holiday, and I would give Russia a miss for the present.


On the other hand, cycle touring is one of the best ways I know to actually visit a country and form an opinion for yourself rather than relying on secondhand reports or, worse, press coverage. I also think it's unfair on the average Russian person who might benefit from your holiday money, and has essentially no say in how their country is run.

robing
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Re: Russia

Postby robing » 15 Jan 2016, 3:23pm

I've not been there, but the impression I get from reading various journals is that the quality of roads is often poor, and the quality of drivers even poorer! Hence all the dash cams.

tyreon
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Re: Russia

Postby tyreon » 15 Jan 2016, 4:44pm

Robing: Your impression is my impression. I just look at the place(Russia)and see a very big country. On the western side,or SW, it really looks big enough to explore. I just wonder why Russia doesn't invite more tourists ove therer. Maybe they haven't got the facilities. Maybe they haven't got inviting grub. Maybe the vague impression I have is that it all of western side/SW Russia is flat,tundra type land. I just don't know what's there. You don't even see any motor cycle/car journeys going about there. Of course it could be a terrible experience. I don't even know if they have National Parks. Perhaps the whole country is a 'National Park'. I hear their population is shrinking. I guess it would be a notch on anyone's cycling seatpost if you went touring about there. It wouldn't appeal to me if I had to do 'hard touring' with 'knobblies'. I wonder they don't make more of its remoteness/mystery. Mind you,cyclists aren't usually big spenders!!

The route through the 'Stans' seem like the M1 compared to Russia ie busy. Everyone and his dog seems to be writing/cycling about Ladakh,Karakorum and so on. I'm too old and b=====red for that sort o thing now. Might consider some civilised ride thru a better paved route tho. Might! :roll:

tyreon
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Re: Russia

Postby tyreon » 15 Jan 2016, 5:06pm

I am lazy. And ignorant. I went to googlemaps and scoped over a bit of land there(Russia). Looked at some of the roads: major highways. No traffic on them! Probably next fuel stop(for bananas)200 miles! Vast areas without roads,or roads with no images. The bit I looked at...flat...for miles...and miles. Think they should introduce some cycle way betwixt x and Moscow: The Napolean Route? Hitlers retreat from Moscow? With better knees and no arthritis I'd give it a shot!

Florida boy
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Re: Russia

Postby Florida boy » 15 Jan 2016, 7:40pm

tyreon wrote:I am lazy. And ignorant. I went to googlemaps and scoped over a bit of land there(Russia). Looked at some of the roads: major highways. No traffic on them! Probably next fuel stop(for bananas)200 miles! Vast areas without roads,or roads with no images. The bit I looked at...flat...for miles...and miles. Think they should introduce some cycle way betwixt x and Moscow: The Napolean Route? Hitlers retreat from Moscow? With better knees and no arthritis I'd give it a shot!


I have been to the old Soviet Union more than 100 times, but not for many years,and so much has changed since then. It's a wonderful, varied country with lovely people, but I would not risk my life on a bike on those roads with those drivers.

dondelion
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Re: Russia

Postby dondelion » 15 Jan 2016, 8:01pm

Russia is amazing for touring. Camp where you like. Loads of crazy but kind people living tough lives who would feed and shelter you at a moment's notice. Really cheap outside the cities. Wilder wilds than you can imagine. I love it but it is very remote. I remember asking when the next shop was and being told 200km. And you're right about the bugs, but they aren't everywhere.
It helps greatly if you can speak Russian but Couchsurfing and social media are really popular and looking after guests is an implicit part of the culture. The roads are terrible everywhere and drivers can be erratic but where else can you look out over 5000km of forests from on top of a mountain, get drunk with Buddhists and Muslims together, ride 5 days with no towns then reach a city where everyone is dressed in designer clothes and eats sushi. Bonkers place.
Summer before last I rode the Sayan Loop from Abakan in Southern Siberia down through Tuva and back again. I climbed to 3000m and rode for 4 days only seeing 2 houses, on pristine tarmac mind (the Ussinsky Trakt M54), swum in rivers and basked in 30 degrees. Stunning and remote and not like anywhere else I've been except Mongolia. And the Chusky Trakt (M52) from Altai into Mongolia was fabulous. As was riding from Vladikavkaz, Ossetia to Tbilisi on the Georgian Military Highway last year.
Future plans for me include the Kolyma Highway from Magadan to Yakutsk and the Russian Far East. There are of course loads of remote, long distance roads. I met a Russian 60 year old touring cyclist who rode from Yamal on the north Arctic coast back home to southern Siberia using only hunters tracks. It took him 4 months and he carried 2 weeks of food and 10 inner tubes. He only saw 2 bears. Luckily for them as he carried a taser. Each night outside his tent he put up an infrared beam attached to an alarm.
As long as you are self sufficient and open to anything and everything going right or wrong, you should love it.

pwa
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Re: Russia

Postby pwa » 16 Jan 2016, 10:25pm

tyreon wrote:I respect your views pwa. Howsoever...NATO( in particular)have been trying to surround Russia for years. I'd feel very threatened if I were Russian. Iran/Russia,have you researched what we our governments have done/still try to do out there? Criminal.

On gay rights. Can understand where you are coming from.

On our crimes and that of USA...we should be prosecuted. We should never tour here. Millions killed and tortured by our armies.

On other (trite?)matters: they had equal opportunities for woman and votes for women well before 'advanced' UK.

I just wonder if someone/anyone has toured out there,even for 2/3 weeks,chosen some part of it,say. You wonder why they(Russian government)don't welcome the dirty dollar or pound


With regard to ones own nation, any faults we find can be, and are, disputed and discussed. We live here in the UK and it is our civic responsibility to deal with anything we think is wrong. Speak up and shout about it.

But we have fewer opportunities to express our concerns about the misdeads of other nations, and not giving them our trade is one of the few points of leverage we have. I think you will agree that Putin's Russia lacks press freedom and does not respect gay people. And the intervention / land grab in the Ukraine is something I find worrying. So I would be uneasy about going there and acting like nothing is wrong.

But no nation is perfect and it comes down to where you draw the line. How bad does a nation have to be before you decide that it does not deserve your holiday funds? That is a personal judgement we all have to make as individuals. I am sure you make your choice with integrity.

Hope you have a good trip, wherever you go.

simonhill
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Re: Russia

Postby simonhill » 16 Jan 2016, 11:50pm

Maybe the nearly £85 for 30 day visa puts a few people off!

Doesn't sound like a country that welcomes tourists to me.

iviehoff
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Re: Russia

Postby iviehoff » 18 Jan 2016, 11:09am

Banditry is a serious problem in many parts of Russia, more especially the wild east, but there are also cases of cycle tourists having problems with it in western Russia. Wild camping may be easy, but you want to get yourself thoroughly out of sight when you do it. The government is not really in control in many remoter places.

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foxyrider
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Re: Russia

Postby foxyrider » 18 Jan 2016, 11:47am

My brother goes to see friends in St Petersburg each year and apart from the city itself the countryside is great but the roads and driving terrible, potholes the size of a truck are not unknown! There are campsites and accomodation available and he's never had issues using public transport but a bike - only for the brave/foolhardy perhaps?
Convention? what's that then?
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takeonafrica
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Re: Russia

Postby takeonafrica » 27 Jan 2016, 9:52am

dondelion wrote:Russia is amazing for touring. Camp where you like. Loads of crazy but kind people living tough lives who would feed and shelter you at a moment's notice. Really cheap outside the cities. Wilder wilds than you can imagine. I love it but it is very remote. I remember asking when the next shop was and being told 200km. And you're right about the bugs, but they aren't everywhere.
It helps greatly if you can speak Russian but Couchsurfing and social media are really popular and looking after guests is an implicit part of the culture. The roads are terrible everywhere and drivers can be erratic but where else can you look out over 5000km of forests from on top of a mountain, get drunk with Buddhists and Muslims together, ride 5 days with no towns then reach a city where everyone is dressed in designer clothes and eats sushi. Bonkers place.
Summer before last I rode the Sayan Loop from Abakan in Southern Siberia down through Tuva and back again. I climbed to 3000m and rode for 4 days only seeing 2 houses, on pristine tarmac mind (the Ussinsky Trakt M54), swum in rivers and basked in 30 degrees. Stunning and remote and not like anywhere else I've been except Mongolia. And the Chusky Trakt (M52) from Altai into Mongolia was fabulous. As was riding from Vladikavkaz, Ossetia to Tbilisi on the Georgian Military Highway last year.
Future plans for me include the Kolyma Highway from Magadan to Yakutsk and the Russian Far East. There are of course loads of remote, long distance roads. I met a Russian 60 year old touring cyclist who rode from Yamal on the north Arctic coast back home to southern Siberia using only hunters tracks. It took him 4 months and he carried 2 weeks of food and 10 inner tubes. He only saw 2 bears. Luckily for them as he carried a taser. Each night outside his tent he put up an infrared beam attached to an alarm.
As long as you are self sufficient and open to anything and everything going right or wrong, you should love it.


Totally agree with you. Russia is great! Of course, there are drawbacks, but if you're after wilderness / wildness and wonderful people and a crazy time where anything can happen, then go get that visa. I took the train from Moscow to Irkutsk, and have cycled near Lake Baikal in the Altai and also along the Kolyma Highway - about 4-5 months worth in total...
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nosmarbaj
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Re: Russia

Postby nosmarbaj » 27 Jan 2016, 9:37pm

A few random points I would repeat or add to the previous useful information. (I haven't cycled there but have been to various parts visiting my Russian wife's family).

Visa has to be applied for in person, in London or Edinburgh - a pain if these places are not handy for you. You need to leave your passport. You also need evidence of where you will stay in Russia. One way of doing this is to book a hotel via booking.com or a similar site. You should be able to find a hotel which will provide you with a valid invitation for a few pounds, and which will allow you to cancel a booking. If you don't want to stay in the hotel, get and print the invitation and then cancel your booking. Cost for a single-entry 30 day visa is roughly £85, plus around £10 to return passport and visa by secure post (or you can collect it in person a few days after applying). More detail here. Google will find agencies who will do all this for you, for around £50 extra; I have no experience of these.

Major roads in the west of Russia IME are not much worse than ours in UK, but minor roads are pretty rough. Driving standards are not great, but MUCH better than 20 years ago when (in Moscow at least) drivers would deliberately aim at anyone who stepped off the kerb, and the wrong side of a dual carriageway was seen as a convenient way of bypassing congestion. Nowadays drivers are more likely to be careless than malicious. Outside cities (which tend to sprawl - there is so much land available) there is generally less traffic than here.

You see a few cyclists in urban areas, but I don't recall seeing any in really rural parts.

Outside major cities, very few people speak anything other than Russian.

It's fairly easy to change Euros and USD, but GBP are difficult outside major cities.

Putin really is popular with most Russians: the standard of living has improved greatly uder his rule, and the general view of the adventures in Georgia and Ukraine seems to be that these places should really be part of Russia anyway, so the military have every right to be there. It may irritate you, but I'd strongly advise keeping quiet about that unless you are sure your are in sympathetic company.