Today we stopped in the city of Tylyn one of the larger cities on the way to Irkutsk. We’ve ridden a week from Krasnoyarsk and are now in the Irkutsk oblast. Some general themes from this past week of cycling:
1. We’ve now reached an area with occasional “gravel patches” in the road. They might be 100 meters or might be longer. For example, this morning we had 36km of gravel road to cycle through. It is occasionally bumpy, occasionally soft and always a bit different. In general it is slower cycling but we are still able to make our way through.
2. “Baikal?” is something people will quickly ask us or shout out the window. Foreign tourists here on bicycles must be going to Lake Baikal. We’re still 400km from Irkutsk and another 100km from the lake, but this clearly is a destination for many tourists in the area.
3. We’re seeing many new left-hand drive cars that are being imported from Japan and then being resold into other parts of Russia. For example, I did a count this morning of 100 cars that were headed the other direction on our gravel road (the time span was about 90 minutes). Of those 100: 50 were “in transit” from the oblast that contains Vladivostok, 43 were from this oblast and 7 were from other oblasts. Particularly in the more remote areas it does seem like half the traffic is these imported cars. In addition to their transit license, they are frequently taped up to avoid gravel chips and marks.
4. We found a hotel in town. At the same hotel is a group from www.blueplanetrun.org. They are coordinating a relay run around the world and will be running through this town this evening. We’ve seen some motorcyclists and also some Russian hitchhikers. There aren’t many global travelers but with this one road we seem to be coming across those that are out here.
5. Biting insects are still here, but we’ve had somewhat fewer than before Krasnoyarsk.