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Going across Russia

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WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Going across Russia

Hello cyclist! I'm on my journey from Norway to Kazakhstan... Now heading up to Russia from Estonia.

 

My itinerary will be something like this:
Tallinn -> Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg -> Nogvorod

Nogvorod -> Moscow

Moscow -> Samara

Samara -> Oral (Kazakhstan)

 

I had been fighting against the comments that people gives me about cycling in Russia. Many people tries to scare me about how Russians can be: drunk, violent and racist. I know these comments are based on stereotypes and I don't want to follow them, but even some russian people adviced me about this. So it's getting hard to start without having all this on mind.

I don't speak any russian... and I'm planning to do camping, couchsurfing/warmshowers and hostels...

So, questions:
Did you ever cycled throught Russia? What suggestions will you give? Do you know if the main roads are safe for cycling? Do you know if it's easy to camp? Is there camping spots?

Whatever you want to comment will be a huge help for me, so just write down whatever you think/know... And if there's some Russians here please say hi so I can see how nice you can be :)

Thanks in advance.

 

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WS Member Imagen de WS Member
That there are many drunk

That there are many drunk drivers is not an inaccurate stereotype. I have hitchhiked tens of thousands of kilometers within Russia over the years. Very often I have had to refuse a lift from a driver because his breath smelled very strongly of alcohol. That is one reason I am a bit reluctant to travel by bike in the country.

Wild camping in the wilderness is fine (I have done it many nights myself), but it would be best not to stealth camp near populated areas. If you are near a village, it is better to ask, and someone can probably give you a safe place to stay. However, my advice in the villages is to talk to the women first, not the men. In so many villages the men are useless drunks (or heroin addicts), and their mood can change from friendly to aggressive instantly.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Re: Going across Russia

I only know some regions of Russia, and they may not be representative of the whole country. I was twice in North Caucasus (very hospitable people), and once in Irkoutsk and around lake Baikal. No problem with camping in the wild, russian cyclists or hikers are used to do it, and in many regions there is plenty of space. As mentioned in the previous answer, if you are near a village or houses, I would rather advice you ask people. In cities, you can often find reasonably cheap "hostels" (sometimes less than 10€/night).

Main transit roads are unpleasant by bike, drivers are not very careful about bikes. Off the main roads, road condition may be bad but it is quieter.

Finally, if you have some time left, I would advice you learn a few words of russian.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Re: Going across Russia

Ché David, ¡qué buen viaje te vas a hacer!  :-)

I had the same experience about security in Russia, with both foreigners or expats and local Russian people telling me how dangerous it was going to be, and all the criminals that hang around white people to drug them with a shot of vodka and then steal or kill you....my best advice is to ignore it all.  Like in any other country, be very respectful to locals and their advice, but always remember those people --usually-- have never ridden a bicycle accross their own country or taken 3rd class in the Transsiberian Train, and all their fears (and advice) come from The News...and we all know what news are like  ;-)

Of course, just like you would anywhere in the world and even in Norway, just be alert with suspicious-looking people, but absolutely nothing is "more dangerous" in Russia.  If anything, I found drunken men were easy to distract, deactivate their anger with a joke or just easily distractin them and dissappearing.  You will be fine, and Russian people are one of the most generous and honest I've ever met, in fact I advice you to drink some vodka with them and you will very quickly dissipate all your stereotypes about their alcoholism.

Now, reagarding bike travelling through this country, you probably only have a 1-month tourist visa, so always be very courteous and respectful with authorities, always tell them you are not camping but going to hostels/visiting friends/hotels (if neccessary produce some printed reservation -- easy to do on your computer putting the right dates) and for sure avoid high-traffic roads at all costs -- not because there's a lot of drunken drivers (which may be the case, I don't know) but because there's a lot of road traffic, trucks specially, and of course in such a big country with so many vehicles a lot of accidents happen, even on a motorbike or a car.

So try hitting the back country-roads, mountaind roads, visiting the small villages, etc...Russia's Nature is simply astounding.  And the best of it all are the people!

And also don't worry about Russian, you WILL learn it on the road FOR SURE, it's not that complicated and...you just don't have any other option to communicate once you're out of the big cities  ;-)  that cyrillic alphabet is soooo cool when you learn to read it changing the N for an I and the P for an R...or something like that  hehehe.

Have you looked at some WS hosts already on the map which are on your route to Kazajstan?

WS Member Imagen de Радик Гарифуллин
Do not be afraid of Russia.

Do not be afraid of Russia. But be careful, the trafic is strong.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Russia

Hi David,pl, I,m interested to hear from you  ! How was it in your bike Travel to Russia .Sarasbinjola Greetings from Frankfurt Germany

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