I am at the drawing board stage for a tour across Eurasia from Amsterdam to Vladivostok. I am enchanted by the sheer size and obscurity of the country of Russia in particular. Does anyone have any information in regards to cycle touring in Russia? I'm planning this for the year of 2018 roughly and at this time don't know any of the language or any insights into the culture. Interested in visiting the small country communities.
I have seen russians driving their vehicles like mad here in Finland. So I would never want to go to Russia for cycling. I have to admit I have never seeen how they drive in their own country. Maybe they drive like gentlemans.
Haha, yes. Thank you
When you will have more or less definite plans about time of visit and route in Russia - write me, I hope my reccomendations will help you.
Thank you. I am focusing on planning the route for my bicycle tour this summer. Then, the Russia trip.
plan a journey on a summer...
I will be glad meeting and help...
Thank you. I will keep your information
In my opinion, First point it visa for travel. After receipt of the visa you will know how many time you can spend to travel. And after you can plan track include short/long part of the way by train.
For travel along North-West Russia you can ask here
I was just looking for informations about cycling in Russia, as we plan to go from west to east in the next months !
If we succeed, I'll be glad to give you all the information you need !
But first, we need to get the 3 months visa.
We'll apply from Helsinki, where it seems to be much easier, faster and cheaper than when applying from France. But I can speak only for french people, I don't want to presume how it is for citizens from other nationality.
That sounds like a wonderful trip! I would be glad to hear about your travels if you attempt such a ride. Best wishes
As you intend to travel not only in city regions, I firmly recommend you to learn at least some basic russian as in the countryside you will get lost without this. There are good booklets to learn the most important for daily use. Learn to read first kyrillic alphabet to find out where you will be on the road.
And for the drivers: it sometimes really is horrible if you are not steadily aware what might come. One of the most useful outfits on the bike therefor is a good rear mirror to see what is coming from behind. An for what is coming from the front: never trust incoming cars - they might overtake each other without caring about any 2-wheeler!
Main roads often have large side strips you can use with your bike, whereas country roads are quiet, bade mostly in bad to very bad shape.
Thanks for the advices !
As far as we are concerned :
- We have a french-russian "phrase book" with lot's of common and usefull everyday life sentences
- It includes all the informations about how to read kyrillic alphabet
- Rear mirror : already on the bikes ! It's just essential, not only in Russia.
And I would add :
- a yellow jacket and helmet, all the time !
- a local cheap sim card with a contact in Russia that speaks russian & english, in case of tricky situation and if you need an emergency translator. Thanks to Warmshowers, it's easy to find !
Hopefully, our visas will be ready the 4th of june !!!
The Karoutcho team,
Emilie & Romain
Did you guys get your Visa?
Actually it was very easy, from Finland.
Just have to send the papers, and we had our visas. According to the girl from the agency, she had never seen a visa being rejected (except if you killed someone...) :)
Then, we had to register. We had to pay 1200rub each to be registered for 3 months.
It's just money and paperwork, but nothing complicate...
I must first admit that I didn't really do long distance touring in Russia (>100km from a major city). But fwiw, yes, mirror is a must, same for a helmet and I never go without (protective) glasses even for a short tour. Having a route planned to avoid rare insane roads like this http://nnm.me/blogs/west_yura/doroga-v-ad-federalnaya-trassa-lena/ or at least know when they are more or less passable. I'd highly recommend finding successfully completed similar bike tour journals (like here for example https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/locales/?locale_id=176&doctype=journal). Do expect to find vast areas of like zero civilization and prepare accordingly. Cell phone & a Russian-speaking friend is a good idea,.. when you have the charge and cell coverage I must admit.
Hope it is scary just the right amount, looking forward to the journey draft.
I made my experiences: The drivers are extremly dangerous, often totally drunken. You had never seen such situations before in your life! It is true! If you accept for yourself, that life ends ... then you can begin to enjoy, but before learn the cyrillic letters! And try to find contacts with Couchsurfing, Warmshowers etc.
The support for cyclists doesn't exist in Russia.
At the end the most important question: visa! As a German I get only a 30-Day-visa for russia in 180 days!
All the best
I assume you hold only a US passport. In order to have enough time to cycle the length of Russia, you would need (costly) agency support to get a visa long enough to do so. Ordinarily one receives a 30-day visa, which is not enough to get anywhere in such a huge country. Even dipping into neighbouring countries to buy more time wouldn’t work necessarily, and third-country nationals often cannot receive a Russian visa in those countries without, again, expensive agency support.
I would personally not recommend cycling in Russia until you have been there before and already explored a substantial breadth of the country through other means of transportation (such as the country’s extensive train system). That would help you decide if you really want to cycle there.
For me, my own extensive experience has made me decide not to cycle there unless things greatly change someday. I have hitchhiked tens of thousands of kilometers in the country, and what I have seen of the drivers (a hitchhiker must turn down a large number of lifts because the drivers are quite drunk as one can see – and smell) discourages me from cycling. I speak excellent Russia – it’s my working language in my professional and academic life – but I have still gotten into many unpleasant situations with hostile locals – in the countryside the widespread abuse of alcohol can make people quite aggressive, and they might love the chance to vent their anger on a foreigner. If you didn’t speak the language well, you risk getting stuck in situations you can’t get out of, as well as being easily taken in by the police who would like to fine you for supposed infractions.
Also, those "small country communities" you are thinking of are not necessarily sunny, enjoyable places to visit. I have carried out fieldwork in rural Russia on a number of occasions, and besides the alcoholism, the epidemics of heroin (it’s not unusual for every adult male in a village to be an addict) and AIDS can be quite graphic.
So, again, take a trip to Russia with more conventional means of transportation, ask a few locals to show you the sort of places one would have to cycle through, and then decide if it’s for you.
We are french, so I don't know how hard it will be for you to get a 90 days visa. For us, it was easy, but not cheap (150€ each including 3 month registration while in Russia).
We started last 17th june from Imatra in Finland and are now in Irkutsk as I write this (27th july).
We have been cycling all the way from the border to Tikhvine. Sleeping 5 times with couchsurfing (no warmshowers available), and one time wild camping.
One thing we think about the road we took on this part of Russia. If you want good asphalt roads, you need to stick to the main roads, and it's a kind of boring, not interesting, you see nothing more than trees. If you want to change a little bit and take a smaller side road, then it's just... not suitable for our big heavy bikes. We did it sometimes, but they clearly won't survive to thousands of km like that. And our body neither.
Then I got seek (something I ate, or in the water, I don't know). Not possible to cycle for 10 days. We decided to take the bu to Cherepovets, then Vologda and finally to Kirov. Each time hosted by couchsurfers.
I was much better, so we went by bicycle to Perm, through the republic of Udmurtie. It was very nice. Nice people, and landscapes. We had ti take a little part of train (30km) because the road we wanted to take just doesn't exist between the Krai of Perm and Udmurtie ! One night, we tried to knock at the door to ask for camping in the garden. We ended up in the living-room's couch, and with a good dinner and breakfast !! Otherwise, we have been camping and being hosted by warmshowers and couchsurfers.
We took the train between Perm and Yekaterinbourg, stayed there few days, and then the train again to Irkutsk. We had to move fast forward a little bit, because three month is very short if we want not only to cycle, but to enjoy the places we stop as well ! Now we have 50 days left to go from Irkutsk to Sakhaline.
What we can say according to our experience from the Finland border to Yekaterinbourg :
- The few times we've been into a russian car with russian driver : they are just crazy. Completly. Not drunk however. Actually, we never saw drunk people. And according to the russian people we asked : the police is very strict : you can go to jail, loose your permit and pay a lot of money if you drink and drive. Apparently, less and less people are drunk while driving.
- When on bicycle... Drivers (cars and trucks) look like very nice and carefull. Much more than in France or Finland, for example. I don't know if it's because they see the yellow jackets, or are surprised to see a bike in a place they shouldn't be ? After 1025km cycling in European Russia, we never felt in danger. Off course, some time to time, a truck is pretty close, but in wich country it doesn't happen ?
People we met, for exemple when we stop at a bus station to have lunch, especially in Russia, are nice, and try to talk, even if they see you don't know the langage.
We may have been very lucky, but we NEVER felt in danger in anyway. Nobody tried to steal the bikes or to rob us. At the opposite : lot's of people try to help us.
Now, we are on the eastern part of Russia. It may be a lot different now. We'll tell you while we'll be in the boat from Korsakov to Wakkanai in Japan, and hopefully... still alive !
All he best,
So, finally we crossed Russia and are still alive !
Every experience is different, and every people react differently, so I don't want to say that what the others say is not true or something.
Our experience of Russia, from Svetogorsk near the finish border, to Korsakov, just near Japan, was without any kind of danger, or fear. At the opposite, we met wonderfully helping people, even in the most remote area.
That being said, I don't know if I would really recommand to cycle in this country. Not because it's dangerous : i think it's not more risky than any other country. But 3 months to cross 9000km... the roads are in poor conditions as soon as you don't want to stick to the boring highways. We were too slow, I think, to enjoy it fully. I was sick for 10 days, and Emilie has a knee probelm at the end... So we couldn't cycle as many kilometers as we wanted. Then, we had to take trains, trucks and buses, and each time it was... let's say, not easy :)