Yesterdays TV interview in Anna's apartment was followed up today by the TV crew arriving promptly as promised at 9:30 in order to film me leave. It seems that my life just gets stranger by the day.
I had one final breakfast with Anna and as she prepared porridge for me I packed up sandwiches for the days ride and also made some for her, it was the least I could do after all she has done for me. It's always hard saying goodbye and despite the fact that I've only known Anna for such a short time it doesn't make it any easier. She is the living embodiment of an Angel here on earth and I'm sure like with all the other people I've met and especially those I've 'couched' with she will remain a trusted friend from now on.
After a small problem with one of the panniers and a quick repair job on it it was almost time to leave again not before the journalist had once again caught me off guard by firing some questions at me. Apparently the footage will be up on youtube and I'll obviously post a link but I'm not sure my performance was so polished. There was no giving me the questions beforehand and thus I really had to think on my feet, this fame lark is harder than it looks. I'm hoping that my bumbling attempts to answer her questions will be covered up by the Russian translation.
Questions answered, hugs exchanged and 'good road' wishes offered it was time to leave. I pulled out of the gate of Anna's apartment with the white Lada following close behind. I wasn't sure how long there were going to follow me but Anna had said they'd point me in the right direction to get on the road for Voronezh. It was quite strange having a cameraman leaning out of a car riding next to me. I tried my best to simply focus on the road, the last thing I wanted to do was crash. I allowed myself a couple of cursory looks at the camera I really had no idea what they wanted me to do. After about 10 minutes of filming me, they flagged me down, pointed me right and wished me luck on the way. I was somewhat relieved to be honest that they were no longer following me and with my showbiz commitments fulfilled I could no concentrate on the days riding ahead.
I was really happy out on the road, I'd had a great fews days in some wonderful company in Saratov and was now heading towards Voronezh where I'd also received the good news that a guy there named Sergey and his wife had agreed to host me.
In terms of todays ride not a lot happened. The countryside continues to be pleasant and the roads not bad. I stopped just outside Kalininsk for Borsch and bread which has now become a staple of my diet.
I was running a little low on cash so took a short detour into Kalininsk to pick up some more after that it was back out onto the main road to find a place to sleep for the night. A nice steep embankment camouflaged perfectly with some overhanging trees presented me with a large culvert. I waited for the traffic to pass and pushed the bike down the small hill and into the culvert, it fitted perfectly, as snug as a bug.
There was a time when the very thought of sleeping in a tunnel under a road would have seemed like utter madness to me but I'm so used to it now and I'm genuinely pleased when I find one such as this. I've never been troubled by anyone during the night and it offers the perfect shelter. Freshly washed sleeping bag out, aired tent up, it was time for some well earned kip.