Cycling Russia

Cycling from Moskou to St. Petersburg

on a 3rd hand bike

In russia there are no roads, only directions” – Russian proverb.

In June 2017 I got a message from Gernot, head of the International Cycling Film Festival. A festival I co-host in the RKZBios in Groningen. The message was short but strong: “Erwin, we are organizing an edition of the ICFF in Russia, you have to come!”

Obviously my first thought was: Yeah!! My second thought was: I need to arrange some free days for this, because a weekend in Russia is too short. So I arranged some free days, got myself a visum, some plane tickets and a little idea for an adventure. Cycle from Moscow to St. Petersburg. This will be around 700 kilometers, and I will make up the route as I go (because there are no good maps of this area).

During the journey I encountered mosquito’s, dried fish and heat. It was hard to find my way from village to village. The small roads are sometimes so bad I just had to walk. The bigger roads are filled with bike-crushing traffic. In between were villages with barking streetdogs, and the most beautiful encounters. I sat in a privately owned helicopter, ate cake with an old man and smoked a pipe with a friendly stranger. In russia there is always a surprise around the next corner.

This journey I worked together with artist Pieter Hoekstra, who made awesome illustrations from the journey.

Interpretation from the journey by Pieter Hoekstra