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The Roads and Drivers

CHAOS RULES!

So you are probably wondering what the roads are like and are the drivers as bad as they appear to be based on reality TV series such as the World's Worst Drivers and the multitude of videos on YouTube etc.

With around 5,000kms under our belts we feel we can tentatively offer a meaningful opinion - In short, not bad and yes they are but .... So firstly the roads

The Roads

Road conditions vary greatly with those in the towns and cities generally very rough with large undulations, pot holes, broken seal etc. etc. On the open road they are a bit of a mixed bag - significant portions are in such a condition that you could safely cruise at 160 kph plus but for the fact that you are likely to run into one of the many areas of road repairs (many without warning signage), undulations, pot holes, patched seal or hazards such as broken down vehicles, slow moving road construction equipment, dodgy oncoming passing maneuvers and the like.

By far the two most significant are the unexpected obstacles e.g. a road repair truck stopped in your lane with no warning at all and the undulations which can really unsettle you and/or your bike - think airborne.

So overall the roads have not been an issue and we have adapted reasonably easily to the vagaries of Russian roads. In summary a variety of challenges mean you need to concentrate 110% of the time, allowing the mind to wander while on two wheels is never a good thing, in Russia the odds of it being a happy memory are much reduced.

Drivers

Yes they do drive like you may have seen. Passing is something you do when you catch a slower vehicle regardless as to whether you're about to go around a corner or over a brow of a hill. Indicators are an indication that you are a foreigner as locals don't need them. Traffic lights are relatively uncommon and as for give way and stop signs they are effectively nonexistent. All this means heavy traffic and largely uncontrolled intersections and multi-lane roundabouts. This all appears to be somewhat chaotic when looked at through our regulated European eyes. HOWEVER it actually works, and while we have seen a few accidents in general Russian drivers appear to have an uncommon amount of luck. While they are impatient and a microsecond delay leads to toots of the horn they are also incredibly tolerant - you basically stick your nose out into the traffic stream and they let you in - the catch is that they expect us to know and respond the same therefore you have to be aware of this at all times. Expect the unexpected.

Speed Limits

Speed limits vary from 30-110 kph with the majority of the open road we have encountered in our around 5,000kms to date being 90. However we have it on good advice that everyone travels at 20 kph over the limit and that there are no fines for this. We were also told that as we were foreigners chances are we'd be ignored if we were speeding. Most traffic does appear to be moving at around 20kph over the limit however it is by no means unusual to be passed by vehicles travelling 50+kph faster, these ones need to be watched for as they may have started their pass 5 vehicles or more back and can catch you off guard.

In Summary

Driving in Russia was my biggest concern. It has turned out to be much less daunting than I anticipated but you definitely need to be on you A game to survive.

Final point is don't expect to be able to average anywhere near the speeds you do at home. Looking at a say 600km leg you'd be mistaken to think around 7.5 hours plus stops if I average 80kph but I can probably do it in less than that including stops given how fast I can travel - it will take you MUCH longer than you think in part due to the items above and also because the major roads pass through the towns and cities enroute so you end up having to negotiate your way through the associated local traffic.

Watch the Video

Posted by Zamiam 17:44

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