Riding north from Sortavala to Murmansk has been easy, enjoyable and really reply as we made our way passed many lakes and through the dense forests of western Russia. The road has been in surprisingly good condition as it has been completely rebuilt from St Petersburg all the way to Murmansk.
A night overlooking the Onega Lake (second largest lake in Europe) in Petrozavordsk with a great dinner and a wonderful walk along the banks of the lake was the perfect way to end a short but good days riding.
Tonight we are in Murmansk getting repacked and ready to board the ’50 Years of Victory’ which will take us to the North Pole. 12 days without internet or phone service – probably the longest time for us all for many years.
A great day for riding in Russia’s Republic of Karelia – blue skies, wispy clouds, moderate temperatures and sweeping turns – couldn’t be better. We left Lake Lodega for Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe.
The group split today, with two riders opting for the pavement gravel mix, and our group of three bikes opting for pavement and the shorter route. Even so, we wound up on road construction detours. But on the whole, it was easy and fun riding.
We took a short detour into a small village to find something to drink. I think we were the hit of the day. No one had a common language – although they asked if we spoke German. Alas, Claus wasn’t with us. Still everyone had a good time selecting snacks by points and gestures. Smiles all around, especially from the children who seemed to enjoy the novelty of foreigners in the village.
Traffic jam at the service station
Wonderful day of riding.
Almost every town has some sort of memorial.
We thought we chose the road with no gravel. Luckily, well packed and not too long.
Homes in the village
Wednesday we traveled to a resort on the White Sea near the little village of Kem. The morning ride was under partly cloudy skies on mostly good roads.
We took a side trip to a small park which had a small waterfall due to tectonic plate action. After a quick coffee break, we headed back to the main road. David Roberts, Marilyn and Geoffrey decided to follow Claus on a more scenic route (read – a lot more potholes) while David and Doron decided to stay on the main road and head directly to the next hotel, due to impending cold rain.
Good decision on Dave’s part, as the afternoon turned stormy.
We reached Kem in the early afternoon. This resort town is the gateway to a UNESCO monastery site. Many visitors stay here just overnight before passage to the archipelago’s beautiful islands.
However, in the 20’s and 30’s this area had a much more sinister reputation. It was the location of the Solovetsky Special Designation Camp (gulag work camp) established by Lenin. Many died here.
We headed north under partly sunny skies.
A small park – perfect place for a coffee break.
David Fick and Doron decided to keep to the main road and head directly for the hotel. The others opted for the more adventurous scenic route.
Clouds are building.
Weather is threatening.
Yep – caught in a downpour of rain and hail.
The town of Kem
New apartment buildings.
Our lodgings for the evening. John Jesson , the support van driver for the day, managed to beat everyone in and was there to greet us.
The resort in a scenic little fishing village.
A small abandoned church was on one side of the harbor. A newer one on the other.
The rest of our group arrived about an hour and a half later – all smiles.
After dinner, a small group of us walked through the mosquito infested harbor to the abandoned church to try out John’s drone.
While John set up his drone, Claus, Geoffrey and David decided to imitate some ladies they saw waving branches of weeds over their heads to ward off the blood sucking pests.