Thanks for the reminder. We’ve been home about 3 weeks, enough time to get our thoughts in order. We’ve been on seven previous (self-guided) bike trips covering 9 different European countries, so we have a feel for what are normal standards.
Yes, it was quite an adventure. It was a bit tough for us, but we were expecting that, and we coped. Younger people would have no problem. As with any difficult trip, the hardships are now almost forgotten, and the bits that will stay with us are the wonderful company, the excellent guide and driver, and some fascinating cultural sights and insights.
There were some problems you should be aware of, as the UTracks website claims that the bikes are provided with panniers, water bottle cages, and safety vest. There were no panniers or safety vests, and not all bikes had bottle cages. The lack of panniers was a problem for us as I only took a flimsy small backpack, and Chez had none. Luckily the was no hint of rain, as we couldn’t have carried wet weather gear.
- There were no dedicated bike tracks, some bitumen roads and some good dirt tracks along the river and through pretty country, but many less pleasant and bone-shaking hours spent on corrugated gravel country roads through uninspiring scrub. So overall the actual bike riding was not so pleasant.
- On one day we all took a shortcut suggested by locals, which involved walking and pushing the bikes along a very rough overgrown forest track (not even a reasonable walking track) for about 5km. Fairly certain they won’t try that again.
- Lunch breaks were very drawn out, meaning we usually arrived quite late at our destination.
- Some of the local guides were rather amateurish with poor English.
- Hotels were indeed eclectic as described, with some foibles but not unlike hotels on other bike tours we’ve done. In some places food offerings (especially breakfasts) were limited.
However having said all that, the guide Alex and driver Oleg (the husband of the company owner) were a pleasure to be with and did everything they could to make our trip exciting and interesting, which it was. Even if we had visited each of the tour destinations as day trips from Moscow, we would not have left with anything like the appreciation and understanding that we were given of life in the Russian countryside and smaller cities.
We would have trouble recommending the tour to most of our riding friends, because of the long sections of boring corrugated road. But for anyone prepared to accept that, it’s a fascinating, unique trip which we’ll never forget.
___ Our Answer ____________________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Michele and Kate, Dear Friends,
thanks to the feedbacks of some of our guests (which we have placed here), we will be able to take into account the shortcomings of our group tour, and we will be able to change some things in 2020.
So, for example:
- Already this year we have replaced the hotel in Dmitrov with a modern hotel, which serves a good breakfast - a buffet. The only thing is that this hotel is not located in the heart of the city...
- Most likely we will change the hotel in town Dubna.
GUIDES who give guided tours.
- We are working on the issue of finding more professional guides. In some small cities of Russia it is really a big problem.
ROADS / ROUTES.
- We are always, annually looking for the best tracks, interesting and more comfortable to ride.
- But, for example, some grader sections of roads (in total it is about 20 km, from the whole route, three sections), about which some customers write - can not be replaced by anything!
We just have to wait for the local authorities to lay down the asphalt. Or we need to call a helicopter! -:)
MEALS / LUNCH
- We'll reduce the lunch break time to 30 minutes! But I'm not sure everyone will like it. And it's a pity that customers have forgotten that we offer a full lunch, not a bar of chocolate.
- Already in July, our German group enjoyed fruits and vegetables.
We use MTB bikes for our Bike tour.
This is the best option for our route. To equip MTB with a bike bag is a big problem.
But, we will work on this issue as well!