May 21 2008

Separation in the Ukrainian steppe

Published by at 10:34 pm under World Tour 2008

Leaving Olivier
Leaving Olivier

Three days after we met in Odessa, Olivier and I must split because of the Russian bureaucracy: he still has 10 days to spend in Ukraine until his Russian visa becomes valid whereas mine has started running out 5 days ago and I only have 25 days left to cycle the 2000 kilometres to the Kazakh border in Astrakhan. It would have been great to cycle together all the way, maybe we’ll meet again next month in Kazakhstan where I will have more time to wait for him.

Today I also had to make a decision regarding where I will cross the border into Russia. I had initially planned to cycle in Crimea and take a ferry to cross the strait of Azov at Kerch but Olivier told me of another French cycle tourist, confusingly also called Olivier, who is a bit ahead of us and heading towards Rostov-on-the-Don (Ростов-На-Дону)in Russia. I will try to meet the new Olivier there next week and I am now following the main road to Rostov. The distance is about the same but the road may be a bit less scenic, although in Crimea I wouldn’t have had the time to visit the South coast which has the most dramatic landscape.

Ukrainian cycle lanes
Ukrainian cycle lanes

This part of Ukraine where I am now near the Black Sea (Show on Google Maps) is totally different from my first 10 days in the country further North. The road surface is better but there is much more traffic. I haven’t seen any horse drawn carriage on the road and the battered Ladas are now a minority. The green steppe starts here: the terrain is completely flat with a few trees here and there, finding a camping spot becomes difficult again! Although there are no hills and the road quality is good, I still can’t average more than 15km/h because of a headwind from the South-East. Looking at how the trees are bent this is a predominant wind which must blow year round. The temperature now reaches 37C in the afternoon.

Today I stopped in a small shop where I’ve been asked if I was French and was cycling to China. I am actually on the same route that a group of 120 French cyclists (Paris-Pekin 2008) followed a month ago. It will be hard to catch them up!

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Separation in the Ukrainian steppe”

  1. Mark Songhurston 22 May 2008 at 7:41 am

    Hi Arnaud, thanks for the update – I guess you have a long slog ahead of you now, trying to get through Russia in time.

    Have you adjusted your plans now to compensate for China?

    I’m sure I can hook you up with a place in Turkey if you fancy a month on the beach 😉

  2. Olivieron 23 May 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Salut Arnaud

    un petit message d encouragement !!
    c est super le voyage que tu fais
    et je suis content de suivre tes aventures sur ton blog

    est ce que faire du velo comme celui d Olivier, c est plus difficile ?
    je te souhaite de continuer a faire de belles rencontres avec les locaux
    et de voir des paysages magnifiques..

    porte toi bien
    a bientot
    Olivier (oolio)

  3. Arnaud Riesson 23 May 2008 at 7:09 pm

    @Mark: Thanks for the offer in Turkey, it’s very tempting! I am still not sure what I’ll do in Kazakhstan but I am not the only one in that situation so I’ll see what other people are doing in Almaty. There will probably be a lot of cyclists stuck there!

    @Olivier: Merci! Olivier’s recumbent bike was too tall for me and I couldn’t ride it. It’s very comfortable and faster in a headwind or downhill, but climbing is very slow. Maybe I’ll buy one when I come back!

  4. Sandrineon 24 May 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Bonjour,
    Je suis Sandrine, une cousine de Olivier celui qui est à Rostov.
    Je vous trouve très courageux et je vous souhaite un très beau voyage !!!!!
    A bientôt.

  5. Petit Jedion 25 May 2008 at 4:40 pm

    salut Olivier.
    C’est ici a Rostov sur le don ou je me connecte pour la premiere fois depuis plusieurs jours et grace a Nine (Sandrine ma cousine), je suis en train de faire connaissance avec toi et Des demain nous allons nous rencontrer.
    C’est COOL.
    J’ai Hate.

  6. Petit Jedion 25 May 2008 at 4:41 pm

    oups Pardon Je voulais Dire ARNO, Salut ARNO

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