I've heard many people state that they sleep better in a tent than in a bed in a hotel. This statement obviously needs to take into account just exactly what kind of hotel one is staying in but for the most part it's a sentiment that I've come to concur with.
I was really very comfortable in my tent this morning and enjoyed an extended lie in. This I suppose was also partly due to the fact that once I get up and out of the tent the body then becomes somewhat robotic in the process of packing up.
Step one – Deflate and roll up the sleep mat.
Step two – Put it into the bag which goes on the back of my bike.
Step three – Stuff the sleeping bag in with the mat
Step four – Attach bag to the top of rack
Step five – Fold up tent and pack away
Step six – Attach handlebar bag to the front
Step seven – Unlock the bike
Step eight – ……..and we're off again
This is carried out with almost military precision now and is often done so whilst still half asleep.
Today was the wedding anniversary of both my parents, sister and brother-in-law. Part of me is still convinced that they actually got married on the same day to benefit me in that it's easier for me to remember such is my incredibly bad memory when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries and the like. I decided to pay tribute to them by riding with 'ink' on my arm today to celebrate this joyous occasion. I'm not sure what people outside the café thought of me as I scribbled blank ink on my arm but I've come to expect strange looks from passers by on this trip.
I finally caught up with my Tour de France podcasts. It has been strange following the tour via this medium and it's a pity I've not been able to witness the amazing feet of Wiggins. His success and listening to the pods have really inspired me over the past few weeks of riding. I'm obviously not in anyway reaching speeds or the physical effort these guys put in but I can share with them the fact that we all spend extended hours in the saddle. There though the similarities end.
The more I ride in Russia the more I've come to the conclusion that the countryside is very similar to that of back home in England; lots of rolling hills, wide open fields and what appear to be oak trees. The presence of trees off to the side of the roads now makes wild camping much easier but one still needs to spend time scouting out the perfect spot to hide and this can be a time consuming process. This was very much the case tonight as just when I thought I'd found a nice secluded area for myself someone else would either appear on the scene and I'd have to up and find a new place.
I rode through the town of Marks today and tomorrow will head through Engels all very highbrow intellectual stuff.
With day 143 on the road behind me I look forward to arriving in Saratov tomorrow. I've been out in the open for the past three nights now and it will be nice to have a couch to sleep on. Saratov is just 60 kilometres away so until then.......