Russia by bicycle
I am inviting everyone to visit the homepage of Herman Veldhuizen, intrepid Norwegian bicyclist. Herman has made and chronicled two bicycle trips in Russia. His first trip was a 20-day trip in 2004 from Helsinki to Kazan. Having said that he would definitely do such a trip in Russia again, he put his money where his mouth is and made a second 30-day trip in 2005 from Perm to Ukhta (via Syktyvkar).
His homepage contains a diary and pictures of his travel, including his route maps and recommendations for others who might try the same. Herman apparently camped out for much of the trip and attempted to stay away from larger cities and high-traffic roads. Despite warnings he received from friends, he found everyone quite friendly, generous, and receptive to him along his travels (this includes invites to banya and drinking along the trip). I have to say I have found the same - much more simple human kindness within Russia - than coldness.
Herman made the trip via his fully-loaded Avaghon bicycle with steel frame. He apparently chose steel to facilitate any necessary repairs along the trip (welding steel is much easier than other materials - perhaps this goes without saying). Herman provides a good list of equipment, links, and recommendations for others, including the following:
* It is safer than you think in Russia! But like anywhere else in the world you want to be carefull in the big cities, especially St Petersburg and Moscow. Some area's in the south (Caucasus e.g.) are also to be avoided. Travel with an open mind, and you will be pleasantly surprised.There are many more photos from his trips, I've included just a few below to give you a taste.
* During the summer you need a net over your head and preferably two layers of clothing to protect yourself against insects when putting up your tent.
* I found some reports on tick born diseases in Russia, but I didn't see any ticks myself. See e.g. http://www.veloplus.ru/eco/kle1.htm. Ticks prefer places with shadow, so these places are to be avoided. When camping I always try to find the spot which gets the most sunshine.
* There are russian web sites with usefull information also. Searching on "велосипед" will give you a lot of hits. I am using a free online translater web site to pick up the main points of russian text fragments. E.g. http://world.altavista.com/tr
* If you don't want to cycle alone, then why not sign up for an organized tour organized by Russian Cycle Touring Club.
* Electricity : 220V. Europe style sockets.
* It is difficult to find a hotel everynight, unless you want to stay in the populated areas and cycle from city to city. I would not leave my tent and sleeping bag at home.