The Longest day
I decided the night before that I would get up at the same time as Pavel in morning and wasn’t at all deterred when he said he usually wakes up at 5 a.m. I find it’s always good to get out on the bike as early as possible especially when you’re in a city as you don’t have to then contend with the early morning traffic.
I’m looking to make the distance of some roughly 480km to Kiev by Sunday. Some people might think that’s a little far to cover in three days but with some early starts I think it’s easily achievable. I’m going to be staying with my old motorbike friend Derek from Uralsk. He has a company in Kiev and divides his time between there and London. He has arranged for me to stay with his work and business partner Natalie and once again I’m blessed with the fact that I don’t have to worry about arranging accommodation before I set out. By leaving today I should be able to arrive there on Sunday evening thus making it much easier for me to meet up with them both as they won’t be working.
I wrote a goodbye note for Vika as she was still asleep when I left but Pavel insisted on waking her up to say goodbye in person which made me feel a little bad. Pavel is a man who displays very little emotion and our goodbye was a simple firm handshake outside the front of their building followed by a meaty slap on the back. I forgot to mention that as well as being a skilled artist Pavel also used to train young amateur boxers! Once again I have nothing but thanks for them in hosting me for three nights and giving me my first insight into ‘real’ Ukrainian life.
The streets were pretty deserted by the time I got out on them at around six and I was determined to make the most of this by getting out of the city ASAP. I’ve calculated that it’s about 480km to Kiev but I know it will be a little more, it always is. With this in mind I need to cover about 160km per day or 100 miles. It’s a lot of distance but I set out early in the morning feeling good and looking to make a big dent in the total by the end of the day.
It’s been a while since I reported on the quality of the roads and I don’t want to get ahead of myself with the Ukraine but the short section I rode from the border to Kharkiv and today’s surface were pretty decent and far better than anything I’ve experienced for a long while.
My early start combined with nice flat road meant that I was able to cover about 100km even before lunch.
The scenery is very much the same as that of Russia, short ups and downs with wide open fields of sun flowers on both sides. The heat is showing no signs of abating and continues to be way up in the thirties.
More material for my book
By mid-afternoon the combination of my previous two days of sightseeing, my early start today and the intense heat from the sun meant that I was flagging and in desperate need of a rest. I found a small field and decided to rest my head in the shade of the trees. A short thirty minute power nap later and Coca-Cola injection meant that I was back out on the road in rejuvenated spirits. One really has to wonder what they put in Coke! By now the magical 200km was in sight and despite it being a long day in the saddle I still felt pretty good by the time I called it a day at around eight o’clock.
The evenings seem to be drawing in much quicker these days and I was almost caught out by this today as I searched for a place to camp. I settled on a nice little grassy hill nearby the road but hidden by a row of trees. I would be free from human or animal interference for sure tonight.
Big distance achieved I hope to push on again tomorrow towards Kiev.