About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Baranavicy 51k, 31m*

3 September 2003
Baranavicy, Belarus
51km, 31 miles *

(Riders Note: It’s really 200km or so from Breast to Baranavicy)

Between the cold rainy weather, headwinds, lost support (Alexandr and Yuri) which had all our clothes and my stolen cell phone, today was a bust. So this will be brief.

Last night Alexandr and Yuri showed up. Alexandr is VP of the Russian Bicycle Touring Club – a seemingly fairly professional club with 500 total and 50 active members. I arranged for Alexandr to provide support through Belarus and Russia for safety and convenience reasons, and he unexpectedly brought Yuri along. Charlie and I had dinner with them and planned a 220km/135mi day with a 6am wakeup and 6:30a departure to accommodate the distance.

(There should be a picture of Charlie, Alexandr and I here in front of the Belarus Hotel, taken by Uri, but that too didn’t work out for some reason.)

We had problems checking out (you don’t want to know) and inadequate cash for the day, so we spent 45 minutes sorting things out before we got on the road. Then it was straight east for a bit on the main road through Brest – an 8-laner. Traffic was light, but it was cold and wet out. About 10km into the day, we stopped for this picture of a flying tire at the start of the highway to Moscow (our road for the next 7 days?!!).

Except for this picture, Charlie and I rode 51km without a break to Kobryn where, with wet, numb feet and hands we stopped in a café and waited for Alexandr and Yuri. They had and we needed more clothes, food, etc. A couple hours later, literally, Charlie got a cab and went back to find them, unsuccessfully. It had gotten even colder, and without more clothes (Charlie had 5 layers, Bob had 3) I refused to ride on – it was 150km/90mi to the next known anything. So we took the cab to Baranavicy, arriving around 3pm (a $60 cab ride). We got there around 2:30p and our support showed up an hour later.

(We had ridden quickly to our first planned meeting point, which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere in the cold, wet wind, so Charlie and I moved on to the first/next logical shelter/stopping point. Alexandr and Uri went back to see where they missed us.)

So now we’re in the hotel (below) across from the square (below) in this mid-sized (maybe 100,000 people) town/city.

We went to dinner in the best restaurant in town – a concrete block in the midst of a dozens of 10 story tall apartment buildings. Like the prior two nights dinners, this was a multi-function place – a disco/restaurant. It cramped the dinner conversation, but was otherwise very entertaining. Charlie wonders why we don’t do dinner dancing things, especially for younger people, in America. (Here’s a picture of him online in my hotel room.)

That’s it. Tomorrow it’s on to Minsk and hopefully a better day.

Midnight, Sept 3

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