Russia, we are told, is cold and freezing. Coming from Canada however, where it is also suppose to be cold and permanently blanketed in snow, I liked to think I had some inkling as to what I would be in for. As cold as winter is, summer tends to match it. Minus 30 something in winter? Embrace plus 30 in the summer. Volgograd and the surrounding region still managed to knock my feet out from under me. Plus 42 and in full bikers gear. You could feel the sweat running down your legs into your boots.
The boys wanted to swim in the Volga, the North American in me screamed NO at the thought of what is actually dumped in the river. (We have since been told it is safe, yet, I do not regret my decision in the least)
Riding into a giant city in this heat is anything but an ideal biking paradise. Yet I was shocked. Yes, the heat was insane, almost unbearable at times. And the movement of traffic appeared to follow the unspoken rules of children playing dinkies rather than following any type of logic. However (and up until this point no other city in Russia has followed this), the cars would break to let me follow the boys as they zipped and zigged through the city.
Some even hung out the window to scream “otkooda??” (My horrible phonetic rendition of the Russian question “where are you from”), and it was here that I learned a loud honk of the horn is not cause to crash your bike, but rather someone wants to give you the thumbs up sign as they cruise by you.
We did not stop in the city, but wild camped shortly afterwards. We then rode out to the truck stop cafe on the side of the road, where we ordered breakfast and spent about an hour talking with the owners there. Once again when we tried to pay and they refused, saying that we had entertained them, and pushing the matter seemed to only result in anger on their part. I really love this country, the people are wonderful, and the landscape amazing!