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23 January 2015

Bike ride Sibirtsevo-Ussuriysk, 80 kilometers. This was the longest trip, but I figured that if I would leave a little earlier I could make it. However, it turned out to be cold, really cold. This was the coldest day so far, below -30º Celcius. Because of cold feet I had to walk a lot, and it took me three hours to cover the first ten kilometers. This was not going well. My brother in The Netherlands was following my GPS tracker via the internet and he sent me an SMS message, asking if I planned to keep walking all day. My fingers were so cold I couldn’t type an answer.


Later that morning the temperature went up to -29º Celcius, but if you go downhill that is still anything but comfortable. During one particular downhill run I braked all the time because if I did anywhere above twenty kilometers per hour I would just freeze to my bike and my brain would loose contact with my feet. Halfway the downhill run my cheeks hurt a little, but after a minute it got better.

Worker fixing my bike. We’re inside his shop, but better stay fully dressed

Or that’s what I thought. At the bottom of the hill was a small shop (супермаркет or supermarket) and I went in to warm up a little. From the back came an old babushka. She slowly walked up to me, looked at me for a second, said something in Russian, then lifted her arm and tapped my cheek. And I felt nothing. “Pok pok” I heard, not good. I tried with my own hands and damn, my cheeks were frozen, completely stiff. She said something like опасно which translates to dangerous and sounds like “oppassen” which is Dutch and means “be careful”. See how easy these languages are? But my cheeks were frozen.

This was a clear warning. You feel really nothing when you freeze. I added another balaclava after that.

Policemen that took me to the tire repair shop, and even paid the bill

Just before the finish in the village of Mikhaylovka I got a flat tire. On the other side of the road were two police officers with a laser gun. Their speed trap immediately closed, laser gun disappeared in the trunk, and instead they came over to me. One of them spoke a little English. Flat tire, ok, follow us. They took me to a tire shop some 500 meters away, and told the tire guy what to do. They put me in a chair, gave me coffee, paid the repair bill, and disappeared. How is that for police service? These were the policemen from Zavodskaya ul., 1 Mikhaylovka, Primorskiy kray, Russia 692651. If you’re in the area, say thank you from me.

шиномонтаж means something like tire montage

In the restaurant in the evening several people introduced themselves asking if it was my bike parked outside. The last one that came to sit next to me said she was a journalist, and was it ok if she sent a camera crew next morning to my hotel room? Sure it is… Imma gonna be famous on Russian TV!

In the everybody restaurant wanted to take a photo with me. This guest here is two meters high, two meters wide, he’s from the same village as Jaws