The urban bike magazine

Graz-Tokyo #3: Biketravel Diary – Pushing the limits on Russian soil

Biketravel trough the Ukraine to Russia. It’s a relatively small segment of Elias and Fabio’s itinerary, yet it may be the most critical stage of the project, at least as far as time and emotional tension are concerned. So far it’s gone off without a hitch, their Austrian passports opening doors and hearts in Romania, Moldova and the Ukraine. Approaching the Russian border, however, the two young men from Graz are visited not just by the area’s notorious bad weather, but also a healthy dose of trepidation.

My Post-2
Elias und Fabio know each other for 5 745 600 minutes. Together they weight 159 kg in total and count 39 years. 128 kilometer - this is the longest distance they've ever cycled togehter in their life. (August 2018). But these facts are about to change - just right now! In 2019 the two guys from Austria ride their bikes more than 14.ooo km from Graz (AT) to Tokyo (JPN) and make a film out of it! Bike Citizens share frequently articles about the two adventurers! #graztokyo
Photo © Graz Tokyo

With hearts, minds… and Google Translate
Understand the Cyrillic alphabet? If only! But Elias and Fabio soon grasp that, on this journey, a very different language will dominate their communication: warmth and hospitality. And vodka. In Ukraine, people drink it as if it’s water.

Never did the two boys imagine that they would receive so much solicitude and helpfulness from strangers. Sometimes it’s a real effort to leave their host families on time and continue cycling. Often, the two strangers are invited into the homes of local people, where they shower, eat, drink, sleep, gossip, and laugh. And just as often, when they leave to carry on with their journey, they take their leave as friends.

Biketravel friends

The two travellers are often invited into the homes. Photo @ Graz Tokyo

Biketravel

Strangers become friends. Photo © Graz Tokyo

Bike travel wodka

Russia and Ukraine in three words: Warmth, hospitality. And vodka! © Graz Tokyo

Planning is paramount, but so is improvisation
Fabio and Elias have worried so much about reaching the Russian border on time that it has never even occurred to them that they might arrive early. And especially not a whole week early. They spend the extra time with their personal guide, a friend of one of the host families they stayed with for a few days hundreds of kilometres earlier. In addition, the two have earned themselves a few nights in a hostel, complete with hot showers. Showering is a luxury. Feeling clean and fresh has become something that the boys no longer take for granted. The smell of cleanliness suddenly makes them aware of the minimalist lifestyle they have been living for the past few days and weeks.

When the mattress starts to feel too soft
A dry room, a warm bed and a soft mattress. What could possibly be better on this arduous adventure? To tell the truth, even a soft mattress eventually starts to feel uncomfortable when the big adventure is out there waiting for you. Fabio and Elias really appreciate the comfortable nights, but after breathing in the feeling of freedom surrounded by wild, untamed nature every day, there simply isn’t enough oxygen in apartments, hostels and hotel rooms. Two bikes, one tent, and each other’s company – that’s all they need to start the day with fresh motivation and keep going.

Precision landing: Добро пожаловать в россию
After five days of rest in the Ukraine, it’s finally time to cross the Russian border. The two arrive at the border at noon on the 27th April, bang on time. What they weren’t expecting, however, was that it will take them a good three hours to cross the myriad checkpoints with their bikes.

Biketravel

Photo © Graz Tokyo

 

Here, a point 500 kilometres distant is thought of as just a stone’s throw away.

Due to surprisingly good road conditions on the Russian side, things go well for the first few kilometres. Their first impression of Russia: distances seem further in this vast country. Here, a point 500 kilometres distant is thought of as just a stone’s throw away.

Scaling up in response, Fabio and Elias reach a new physical peak. Their daily average suddenly jumps from 75 kilometres to 102. It’s a good feeling to break the 100-kilometre barrier. Their legs and butts adjust to the new pace with no complaints.

Biketravel russia

All you need on a biketravel adventure is…

 

Bikepacking Russia

…a save tent, a beautiful view, a good friend and …

Biketravel russia

… of course: sunsets! All Photos © Graz Tokyo

In addition to their new impressions in a strange land, they find two familiar constants: hospitality and vodka! Fabio and Elias quickly make new acquaintances, find a comfortable place to sleep, get chauffeured through the city, rip up the Volga in a motorboat, and continue to enjoy life to the full.

Crazy. Just crazy. But now it’s time for the simple life again, and the minimalist lifestyle they have learnt to cherish. Two bikes. One tent. And the company of the person who is (still!) their best friend.

Biketravel

Best friends on their bikepacking trip from Graz / Austria to Tokyp / Japan. Currently they are cycling somewhere in Russia. Photo © Graz Tokyo

My Post-2
Elias und Fabio know each other for 5 745 600 minutes. Together they weight 159 kg in total and count 39 years. 128 kilometer - this is the longest distance they've ever cycled togehter in their life. (August 2018). But these facts are about to change - just right now! In 2019 the two guys from Austria ride their bikes more than 14.ooo km from Graz (AT) to Tokyo (JPN) and make a film out of it! Bike Citizens share frequently articles about the two adventurers! #graztokyo

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