The sun shone again

Aug. 8, 2011 (day 82) Ukraine

I had been planning that we would celebrate my 5000km. This happened in the village of Borinja, but due to the recent events, we were in no mood to do any celebrations at all. Still quite depressed, we continued eastwards, to merge into expressway M6 in the evening.

Cycling on that road meant having a company of speeding trucks. Generally, Ukrainians drive very well and are careful about cyclists. Bikes are very popular mean of transport in the countryside, and perhaps for that reason the drivers understand how to pass along the weaker users of the roads, without disturbing them. On the expressway, however, the speed and noise of the traffic make cycling less pleasant.

After few kilometers we spotted a sign of a campsite in the village of Ivashkivchi. Willing to spend some time in a secure area, we turned there. Soon, we arrived to a yellow house, which was designed as a shelter for mountain hikers. The owners, with their two daughters and little grandson were the only residents, occupying all the available rooms. Short negotiations led us to settling down in a wooden shelter, with the comfort of picking up only the inner tent, as a protection against mosquitoes.

The next day was awful in terms of the weather. Regular showers were coming, one after another, with only few minutes of break. Reading, eating, we spent most of the day until it was too late to leave. Our hosts brought us delicious vegetable soup and hot tea, and visited our shelter for some talk. Although we had reassured them many times that we had been used to live outside warm house, they were still worried if the conditions matched our needs.

Although we had already slowed our progress to some 30-40km per day, the awful weather forced us to have a day of break. We were absolutely tired by the regular rainfall and low temperatures. The last time I had witnessed such conditions, it had been two months before, somewhere in northern Finland. With the last sunny day about two weeks before, we could hardly believe it was the middle of the summer. The only bright spot in this depressing time, were our hosts, who showed great care and did it for free.

On the next day, however, we saw the blue sky. July turned into August, and — quite usually for this part of Europe — the sun shone again. With much better moods we cycled to Volovets, the biggest city on our way, and the only place in Ukraine where we managed to find Internet. Another campsite, settling over a small stream, was our house for the next night.

Without map, GPS, having only a list of villages copied from Google Maps, we climbed to a high mountain pass and descended into Kolochava. The landscapes, finally clean of the clouds, were stunning. Too bad, I had no way to take any picture.

To find places for the remaining nights, we used a new strategy: asking people to camp in their garden. That improved our confidence a bit, and helped to see the better side of the local people. Letting the visitors in, they showed care about us: offered mattress to sleep on, or served coffee in the morning.

What surprised us the most, was the total absence of any kind of map in Ukrainian stores. The only one we found, was a map of Europe, with only few main roads marked over the vast area of Ukraine. That kind of navigational blindness led to a mistake. From Kolochava we wanted to pass to Ruska Mokra, another village on the list. Still I have not verified if the Google maps were bad, or there was another way connecting these two places. Anyway, we picked a road which did not really exist. Using a dirt lane full of mud and holes, we climbed to a pass and descended from it, to a point where the road finished. There was only a stream flowing in a deep canyon, or a hiking route used also by local herds of cows. The cow path, actually, was a deep swamp, quickly sucking our legs up to the knees. Something absolutely impassable with a laden bike. The only choice left was the stream.

The following hours of hard labour were something worth a thousand of pictures, or an adventure movie. We had to carry the bikes in cold water, over the stony riverbed. Sometimes we were forced to dismantle the baggage and carry our equipment piece after piece over few hundred meters, using a foot-wide, muddy cow path. When it had eventually finished, we had to climb again on the dirty, steep slope, which exhausted us totally. Covered in mud, stinking of sweat and cow manure, we reached the next road in the evening. Entire day of hard work resulted in the lowest distance ever — mere 15km.

Fortunately, the following day was the last one in Ukraine. We descended down in the direction of the border crossing in Solotvino. A clean and picturesque river accompanied our way for most of the distance. In the first hours of darkness we crossed the border. Without waiting or any problems; the guards even ordered drivers to move cars and make space for our wide bikes, then they helped us carrying baggage in their own hands. We have entered Romania.

Comments:

Mariusz
Mariusz
7 years, 10 months ago
Kurde, ale szkoda tego aparatu. Śledzę twoją trasę od początku i przyzwyczaiłem się już do fajnych opisów i ciekawych fot. Może chociaż telefonem focić co ciekawsze rzeczy, albo jakąś małpkę za 200 zł skombinować? :) Trzymam kciuki za Rumunię - byłem tam 11 lat temu.
furman
furman
7 years, 10 months ago
Widzę, że wpakowałeś się na drogę Kołaczawa-Komsomolsk. Nie Ty pierwszy i pewnie nie ostatni. I tak miałeś lepiej, że w tą stronę bo podejście z Komsomolska na przełęcz z sakwami jest okropne. Cóż, na mapie wygląda to na zwykłą drogę. No ale takie są "boczne drogi" w tym kraju. Dlatego lubię go :)
Christian
Christian
7 years, 10 months ago
Nice writing, can't wait to read more of your outstanding trip! I bet the next chapter will be the Polish marriage! Glad to meet you there, and all the best for the next thousands of kilometres on the road!!!
bielówa
bielówa
7 years, 10 months ago
Emes... ale flagi "microwave", Ci chyba nie zajumali? ;)
siostra:)
siostra:)
7 years, 10 months ago
uściski zza koła podbiegunowego!!! u nas (o dziwo) zupełnie inaczej niż u Was - głównie słońce i ciepło. misie polarne prawdopodobnie nie są zadowolone, w przeciwieństwie do nas;)

załoga zachwycona Risvaer, teraz lecimy na południe Lofotów. pozdrowienia od reszty ekipy:)
pigiel
pigiel
7 years, 9 months ago
o ja jego, ale przygoda... kiedyś też poniosła mnie fantazja i przeprowadzałem rower przez strumień, ale trwało to raptem kilka chwil. no cóż, będziecie mieli co wspominać ;)