3 - 5 jul 2004 года
Miesen Ivo. Around Ladoga
Foto Miesen Ivo
"15 Minutes" a few saturday-evening drinkers shout to us in a small while passing the village of Tuloksa. It's amazing to see and hear how the locals allready know about the Lake Ladoga 800. OK, 16 cyclists passing these remote villages is already a traffic jam...
Russia is one of the European countries with an active audax/randonneuring scene. One of the main clubs is Baltic Star St. Petersburg. Their classic ride is around Lake Ladoga, an 800k with an option to quit at 600k. Not that that would be an option for me.
Russia is one of the European countries with an active audax/randonneuring scene. One of the main clubs is Baltic Star St. Petersburg. Their classic ride is around Lake Ladoga, an 800k with an option to quit at 600k. Not that that would be an option for me. So on saturdaymorning I cycled to the Lenin monument in front of the Finland railwaystation, the place where Lenin held his first speech after arriving back from exile. A small group assembled here, some club membess would ride with us to the city limits. Only 15 wanted to do the entire ride.
In a good group we left town, everyone took his turn at front, a nice tailwind and a well maintained main road. Conversation was a bit limited for me, my Russian is rather basic, and most riders didn't speak anything but Russian. It was a bit strange to see some of the roadsigns, Murmansk 1300km is not a strange sign here. That opens compeletely other perspectives for long audax rides. Aided by the tail wind we arrived at the first control not so long after it opened. We managed to be in just before the real rain started, and luckily the rain was nearly over when we left the pub.
During the first kilometeres after the control the bunch took it easy, the slow starters had time to catch up. Again the ride was easy and well organised. The only girl in the group did some good work in organising the bunch. Lana proved to be a former national level racer. I managed to talk with her in a mixture of English and Russian.
After a while it started to rain again. I stopped to don my waterproofs, most others went on. Luckily I stopped since the rain rapidly changed into a downpour. Alone I continued for a while. In a village I stopped to buy some supplies. No muesli bars available at village shops here, but a whole array of very tasty rolls. And most of them are open on sundays too, some even for 24hours! Now that's a service for the one randonneur. While leaving the village I caught up with a rider who had bee resupplying at a fuel station. He quickly dashed away, only to be overtaken by me again some 20k further on. He understood that a steayd rhytm is better for the long distances, so he stuck with me untill we reached the second control in Lodejnoje Polje. I was surprised to see only part of the group here.
Most of the others arrived when I was sitting in the pub. The group was completely split up by the rain. We decided reformate the group. With 10 riders we set out to the control, which was located just outside of Lodejnoje Polje. A lone Lada was waiting by the roadside with two controllers in it.
Our cards were marked and off we went again, the speed being a bit slower as during the first part of the ride. It was a long haul to the next village. As soon as you leave the towns in Russia the area is realy sparsely inhabited. We're about 250km from St. Petersburg and hardly a soul is around. In the small vilage of Megrega I stop to buy an icecream. The others continue, I'll surely catch them later on. When I eat my icecream in front of the shop Michail, the organiser of the ride arrives. He stops for a moment. When I'about to leave it starts to rain again.
On goes the rainjacket again and I continue my way to the next control. But before I reach it I see the whole group assembled, shelterin in the busstation of Olonets. I rejoin the group, but leaving Olonets I puncture. Lana and Andrej, both from the town of Vladimir, stop and help me. Together we continue for the last bit to the control near Vidnitsa. This is a typical Russian audax control. A tent at the lakeside, several controllers, including some kids, anda nice campfire. Hardly have I parked my bike, a mug of tea is offered and a plate of kasha. I try to warm up by the campfire but a fierce wind from the lake is not of a great help. Some riders leave this control and go for a night ride. I decide to take it easy and have a sleep. After all I've 350 done and the control is still open untill the early morning, so time for a real nice long sleep. I manage to convince Lana that an 8-hour sleep is a bit too much for an audax ride and we decide to leave at 5, an hour before the control closes.
It's a cold night on the shores of the Ladoga lake. Either I'm constantly bitten by all sorts of insects when I'm sheltered from the wind, or I'm freezing but the insects are blown away. So I hardly sleep despite being wrapped in two spaceblankets. Luckily a space in the tent is liberated when one of the onther riders decides to continue. Now I can finally sleep. After a few hours I'm woken up. It's Lana. She asks me if I want to continue the ride. No problems, I leave the tent and scramble for the fire. Tea is still availble, and some food. We leave at 4.30, a bit earlier as planned. Dima joins us. Slowly we restart our ride. It still is a lonel road. The few villages we pass are still compeltely deserted, everyone sleeps after a saturdaynight of drinking. Lana and Dima are not riding that well, Andrej, in contrast, is still riding strongly. Whenever he puls we run the risk of loosing someone from the back. After 75km we reach the village of Pjatkjaranta. Here's a 24 hour shop. We stop to buy our breakfast. The sun is allready out, the weather is a complete contrast from yesterday. We take it easy and enjoy our breakfast. After an hour of so I ask them if we continue. But Lana tells me that she and Dima are going to quit. She is ill, Dima never has been riding well during this ride. Andrej is still undecided. I stay a bit longer. Andrej finally decides to quit also, so I wish them good luck witht he trainride back to St. Petersburg and set out, on to the next conrol. That control should only be 22k away. But after 22k I see no village of Ljaskelja. I slow down, I don't want to miss the control. After half an hour I see a sign for Impilachti. I stop and check my map. Impilachti is on the map, some 10k south of Ljaskelja. Michail must have made an calculation error. I continue on normal speed again, and indeed, not some 10k further on I see the sign for Ljaskelja. I cross the bridge and see a nice scenery. So I stop for a picture. When I restart I see two policemen further on the road. They stop me for the Karelian border control. I passed the Karelian border yesterday evening. I hand them my passport which the control very thoroughly. Each and every stamp of any border cotnrol is checked. After a while they discover that I'm not yet registered. I pull out my controlcard and show them that I left St. Petersburg on saturday, less than 3 days after arriving in town. Now they are more interested in my route. That's a way to steer away the theme of convesation, so I show them the routesheet in Russian. After they've read it I show them the list of participants. just then two other riders appear. It are Vitali and Andrej from St. Petersburg. They confirm my story. The policemen ask for a copy of the starterslist. No problem with that. After that they show us the controlplace. It's closed, but they tell us that there's a fuel station right around the corner. No hot food there, but a stamp. Vitali proposes to continue to Sortavala and eat there.
That's a good idea and we continue together. Conversation is very limited. Vitali speaks a few words of German so we have to do with my limited Russian. Still we reach Sortavala with no problems, except that I sense that I'm climbing a lot slower th an the do. The road on the northern edge of Lake Ladoga is stunning, I make lot's of photo's here. In Sortavala we easily find a cafe. We're deep into Karelia now, at least 10% of the signs are in Karelian, a parental language to Finnish.
Vitali orders the food before I can tell him that I'm a vegetarian. So they b oth get my meat. After the meal we continue to Lazdenpokhja. Again they are climbing lot's faster so after a few kilometres I tell them that they have to coninue and sto p waiting for me. They are a bit surprised to hear that I'll continue for the full ride, and won't stop after 600k. Again I'm riding alone. I take kit easy for a while. The routesheet tells me that there will be 38km of unpaved road ahead. This ordeal starts just before Kurkijoki. And this is really unpaved road: washboard, soft sand and various other sorts of nasty bits. In full descent I have to slamm the brakes when the unpaved road begins. It takes me 5km to get used to it. Uphill I ride on the edge, not too soft sand here, but an occasional wheeleating pothole. Downhill I ride on the washboard. As long as I ride faster as 40kph that's not too bumpy. The hard bits are the speeds in between. In both villages on this stretch I stop o take a rest. Somewhere halfway I hear a speeding car ahead. It appears over the top of a hill, rounding the corner in full rally still, fully sideways and with maximum countersteer. but this guy knows what he's doing so it's a welcome distraction.
I immediately see Vitali and Andrej. Vitali broke his rear mech, but a bit of metal and some rope did the trick for him. We try to c ontinue but now they are very slow on a potholed road. According to the routesheet the controltime is not yet over, but the controllers will hae left the control at Molodezjnoje lake. When I see the lake I see Michaiil and some other riders. All of them stopped at this control and wait for the last riders. Before I p ut my bike down Vitali and Andrej appear, now everyone has passed this control. Tea is ready, food will be within a few minutes. Only two riders have continued so far from this contro. So including me that will be only 3 finishers for the 800k! All others took the train from here. To my further surprise I see Lana and Andrej from Vladimir. They got a train from Pjatkjaranta to Sortavala, and then to Kuznetsznoje. That's near the control so they decided to see what's happening there. When I'm eating my dinner they leave to catch the nighttrain to St. Petersburg.
After a good meal I don my night gear, switch on my LED-lights and continue for the last 200k. My main light is not needed, even although it's nearing midnight. We're in the are of white nights here, it never gets really dark. AFter a few kilometers I reach the small town of Priozersk. Time to resupply, no services for untill I reach the shores of the Vuoksa. But again, some 24 hour shops here so I have a good choice of food and drinks. From Priozersk to the Losevo control is quite a lonely ride. Lot's of forests, straight roads and no villages And of course a stiff headwind. My pace drops, but the generous time allowance permits me to take it easy. Just before three in the morning I reach the village of Losevo. The routesheet also has a small map about how to reach the Losevo control. Again a tent by the side of a lake. I hae to go left on an unpaved path just after crossing the railway bridge, lift my bike over the railway tracks and continue. And indeed, a green tent is there outfitted with LED lights. A controller emerges from the tent. To my su rprise ther's another tent with two known bikes, the bikes from Lana and Andrej. They are asleep. I immediately go to sleep, the controller has to leave as soon as the controltime ends, he still has to work today, in St. Petersburg. So it will be a rather short night.
In the early morning it starts to rain again. I need my spaceblanket to warm up, sharing it with some other. We eat our breakfast, drink some tea and set out again. Again it's a lonely road. The shortest road is very bad, so the route takes us via a detour to the old Vyborg-St. Petersburg highway. On our way to the highway I puncture. When I'm about to change my tube I see that Andrej is very cold. He has hardly any clothes with him, and all of them are soaked. So I take a torn spaceblanket, cut a hole for his head in it and give it to him. Lana immediately understands the trick and helps him dressing in his new gear. In the meantime I change my tube. The highway we reach without other delays. But it really is the old highway. Hardly any traffic, all shops closed and a very bad surface.
Only in Peervomajskoje we manage to buy some food. The only cafe is closed so we have to sit under the cafe's awning and eat our own food. Again the spaceblanket is needed. But from now on it's easy. Soon we reach the new highway and turn right to Zelenogrosk. This is a completely different area. Loads of summerhouses, lots of tourist and lots of restaurants, bars and cafes. But quite a lot of posh ones. Zelenogrosk is easily passed and we continue on the sea-side road to St. Petersburg. Somewhere halfway, in Repino we stop for tea and some food. There are occasional rain showers now. After Repino the traffic gets quite dense. And I suffer from a sleep attack. no place here to take a short kip. Lana keeps riding close beside me to wake me up every time I nod off. Only when we're well into St. Petersburg the sleep attack is over. All the time Andrej was hammering at front. He is a tremendously strong rider.
Somewhere in the outskirts of St.Petersburg I ask him if he knows how we have to go to the finish. 'No' is the simple answer. So I tell him that we have to stop at a nearby fuelstaton and check the routesheet. That's the right time to do it, when we're stopped we see the statue where we have to turn right nearby. And it's very near now. At the end of the side road is a stadium. With in a few minutes we located the right room of the stadium and are greeted by the finish controllers. Our bikes are stored inside, and the sauna is immediately heated. Within ten minutes we're sitting in the sauna and drinking tea. That's a way to finish a cold and wet ride! Afte thoroughly warming up we reced to the other building and eat and drink tea for at least two hours. I take a short nap before we all set out to our places. But that's not the end of the day yet.
In the evening Mihail invites for a small party at his apartment. I'm even fit enough to cycle there.A nice end of a very good brevet. Ivo