Tour 2012 Verbania – Moscow – Verbania
Travel “In the heart of Europe for the heart of Africa”
starting date: 23th July 2010, Trobaso – Verbania
arrival date: 25th August 2011, San Vigilio – Brescia
across:: Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria
distance covered (km): 6.250
average speed (h): 22km/h
total cycling time: 286 h
pedal strokes: 1.115.400
bycicles: Milena Merida
stops: 18 inbound (Milena, Enzo, Gigi), 17 outbound (Milena, Enzo)
flat tires: 7 Enzo, 6 Milena, 6 Gigi
broken spokes: 18 Enzo
postcards sent: 500
charity organisation: School Project – Burkina Faso
amount devolved: 3.000€
First trip ever where Tiziano isn’t joining, I will miss him but couldn’t give it up.
The team will include myself and Enzo for the most part, but for half of the journey we will have also Gigi joining from Brescia, too. We will be riding for long stretches in a very hot summer, so we are prepared to really give it all on this one.
We have been drinking tons of water and I made it back with a loss of 7kg in 35 days.
We reach Gorizia without major issues so before we know it, we enter Slovenia on a uphill road that takes us to 1487 m of altitude in Kalce.
We will be facing a good number of similar steepy roads, with significant inclination between 10 – 18%, making it through with great effort and sore legs.
Once we reach Goarmin, Hungary, we exchange 100€ for 27400 HUF (Hungarian Forint), which leaves us with a consistent stack of notes in hand.
We touch base at a camping site right by the Balaton lake when we have been travelling for 5 days and 930km, at the pretty impressive pace of 185km/day covered.
Our arrival does not get unnoticed and many people come to us with questions about our bikes, the travel and the destination. Speaking of which, the roads are pretty unwelcoming here too, left at the mercy of the elements and in great need of maintainance.
Once we hit the wonderful city of Budapest, we bump into a nice friendly local chap, who show us around and is kind enough to lead us to the Road 31, which we quickly catch to proceed in our journey.
We pass through Miskolc, Užhorod, Stryj and Ternopil’, that stand right by a small lake covered in over 50km of fog. Dozens of storks surround us on this leg of the trip before Moscow.
No trace of drinkable public water and the villages are becoming farther and farther spread across the land, so we are forced to carry liters and liters of water on our bikes that the summer heath turns into a warm, uninviting liquid to drink.
We cruise through Ukraine where we experience a certain degree of post-sovietic decay , reflected in abandoned villages, bumpy roads and corn fields.
The gap between poor and wealthy is so neat it strikes at first sight.
Once in the capital, Kiev, I need to get myself a new pair of glasses, since I lost mine in the middle of a halestorm out in the countryside, that left me with a couple of bruises.
Kiev is actually rather pretty, tall white buildings and somewhat of a overall 70’s vibe judging by the type of cars driving around and the clothes everyone is wearing.
We proceed and hit Baturyn, Kalinovka, Belye Berega.
The police stops us and invite us to wear a helmet and make sure to ride on the side of the road.
Monday the 9th of August we finally reach Moscow, absolutely stunning, large sized city where we settle in at the hotel “Salut” consisting of 1091 rooms for a total bill of 8956RUB (about 237€). Not exactly cheap, huh?
Our rooms are located on the 12th floor and we can feel a distinct smell of smoke, due to the fire emergency that has been breaking down for the last few days in the russian forests nearby.
This has caused us issues with our nose and eyes while approaching the city on our bikes.
The high light has got to be the Red Square, which also marks Gigi’s end point for this trip.
From here on it will be only Enzo and I.
After 3177km we can happily confirm that we are half way through the journey, having left 18 days before from Verbania at the pace of 177km covered per day with an average of 8h ride per day, always leaving at dawn 5-6AM after packing our tents up and having a quick breakfast.
We move from Moscow towards Zubcov, Kunia, until we enter Latvia, in Zilupe.
No camping areas, no b&b, we set our tents in a private garden, belonging to miss Irina, who is really sweet and says: “For your breakfast! Good night!” while handing us a watermelon and a bunch of cucumber.
We have thousands of kilometers under our belt and at this point we do feel exhausted after each day on our bikes, but the nature around here is a such a sight to see that we forget all about our pain and keep our eyes on the road.
We reach Lithuania, just as spectacular in terms of landscape, Vilnius, Augustów and then Poland with its beautiful capital Warsaw. It is freezing cold there and the rain is not helping us. In Częstochowa we get to visit the local Sanctuary with its famous Black Virgin Mary picture. We ride through Dubnica nad Váhom and we reach Slovakia, after being well over 5000km at an even higher pace, 186km/day.
Bratislava’s Hills with all its wineyards, Graz, Konice, Postumia, and finally the last stop of our trip: Dolo – S.Vigilio.
Milena, di mi&ti