Moscow to St P at night
I'm scheduled to leave Moscow on Sunday the 15th of July to ride to St Petersburg by late Sunday. We only have one day, Monday , to spend sightseeing in St P. I learned that the Hermitage is closed on Mondays!! Bad planning!! My friend and I decided that we'll leave Moscow at around 2:00 to get into St P in time to get a few hours at the Hermitage. I understand the inherent risks of night riding..visibility, sleep, etc.... My question is what risks am I NOT aware of? I've never ridden in Russia before. We'll be riding Honda GL1800s. I've had one person from Russia tell me not to do it and one tell me it's no problem. Is there any reason I should avoid this, other than the reasons I already suggested I'm aware of??
I rode this route August 2004, the standard of the road is pretty good, there where a couple of extended sections of road works where the road was being upgraded. The normal Russian road hazards will still be there only you'll be in the dark. On my trip I came across the usual crashes (3 if I remember) plus one very nasty one which involved and lorry and pedestrian, the lorry won. I got pulled over twice by the police and had one truck shed part of his load of sawn logs in front of me. I stopped to help a biker who had broke his motorcycle frame. Usual stuff. Would I choose to ride in the dark, NO is the answer. But if I really had to I would. By the time you come to do this ride you will have had experience of the Russian roads am I am sure make the right choice for you. Anyway if you have survived the Moscow ring roads you’ll feel invincible.
We have crossed Russia twice now, first time from SPB to Vlad via CA and the second from Vlad to SPB via Mongolia the second
The hazards you have not mentioned are speed of other drivers, condition of the roads and drunk drivers.
It’s a long way between the two cities and you will have to assume that not every driver is sane/ sober and driving with lights on.
Personal we have spent a total of about 5 mths riding in Russia and love it, but would never, never ride choose to ride any conditions that do not allow full visibility. Having said that we meet a few Russian riders near Omsk who started out the afternoon before at the Black Sea and planed to continue riding through the night to get to Tomsk, so it can be done, just I would not do it.
If you are in that much of a hurry, put the bike on a train and take the O/N sleeper.
Enjoy Russia, one of the best places on Earth (just the drivers suck)
I've done that journey before at night but only by sleeper-train! Comfortable, romantic, but only for foot passengers, no facilities for bikes! Left 11.30pm, arrived 8.30am.
I am going to Moscow (and far beyond) by bike in early june. Possibly via StP, but it will certainly be by day. I'll post a current update of road conditions from StP to Moscow for you if I do go that way.
I have not ridden bikes in Russia before but have driven cars quite a lot. Moscow is chaos. Fast chaos, if not gridlocked. Everyone drives like they are bike couriers in London.
At night, roads outside cities are extremely hazardous. Apart from unexpected potholes, unlit vehicles in both directions, debris falling from other vehicles, another regular real danger is very drunk people wandering across or along roads, even deep in the country - probably the cause of the lorry incident Steve saw.
Often lanes reduce without markings or warning - difficult by day, but at night....?
At the time of your visit the nights are very short. In StP the sky remains quite light all night.
The Hermitage, like most museums in Russia, is indeed closed on Mondays. The gardens and fountains of the Peterhof Palace will be open and well worth a visit. I am not sure if the Amber Room is closed on Mondays. The Peterhof is about 10 miles west along the coast.
Don't be put off by people from Russia saying you are mad and not to do it. They all say this as a first reaction. Having explained to Russian friends my plans, preparations, riding tactics, security precautions etc they are becoming more relaxed about the idea and don't keep on at me quite so much.
BUT there are risks in remote regions where things can be quite lawless.
I really would not advise riding at Night, I got caught out and ended up riding about 80 miles after dark, it was terrible, the roads can become very poor in sections, punctures, potholes even missing manhole covers and the like are minor problems, compared to lorries overtaking Lorries forcing you in to the gravel road sides and drunken car drivers are a very,very big problem and risk. Riding was really a problem more so when you get near big cities and St petersburg is big try finding your way in at night where might you end up!, The police will - given the chance stop you and prosecute you as foreign registered vehicles cannot drive after dark ! (not sure if that ones true) but thats what they will try on you. Also the Bridges that surround st petersburg are up overnight so if you arrive very early you wont get near the hermitage area or the centre till they drop down - about 5am I think.
Being Honest your trying to do to much in the time you have got take a slow drive back to the border stop off in some other places and enjoy your trip St- petersburg will be there the next time you go and then you can spend several days looking cos that what it takes and deserves.
Moscow - StPeterberg Update
Insureguy. As promised, an update.
I rode from StP to Moscow last week - in daytime. It took about 8 hours including fuel, sandwich and pee stops.
The road is surfaced all the way (my way that is - I cannot vouch for the other carrigeway where I could not see it). It is fully sealed and without potholes.
However at times there are 'soft' spots where HGVs have created wheel ruts and humps that tend to unexpectedly throw a bike sideways a foot (or more. Rail track crossings are variable too.
There is a section of 30 - 40 miles to the east of Novgorod that is bad. Real bad! This appears to have been a new dual carriageway that got cancelled (often happens here due to the money running out) because one can see the foundation and occasional groundwork of the planned second carriageway. However the completed (?) carriageway is single, VERY rutted, and without any markings as to a centre or edge.
Strangely, this section is not on my 2005 BMW/Garmin NavSat which kept telling me I was in fields, yet the road appears on my Russian maps - even older ones. (Who says this is a secretive society!).
Again I would strongly advise against riding at night. The nights are at present almost fully light in StP all night but Moscow region is dark for about 4-5 hours. The darkness gets longer in 4 days time as the Equinox passes.
RUSSIAN ROADS ARE DANGEROUS.
Today I delayed riding to Moscow from 100 miles west on the Minsk road having seen early TV reports of an horrific accident where a car weaving through fast moving traffic (a national sport) collided with a Hummer which itself then rolling several times taking out 3 or 4 other cars. 6 DEAD.
I did the journey in the afternoon and came across yet another incident where a pedal cyclist (by now completely covered by a blanket/shroud) had been hit by a car. ANOTHER DEAD.
But enjoy Russia - it is a fantastic country and peoples, once they get away from the main roads and their feeling of selfstatus behind a wheel.
They regard every last inch of road space as theirs to be taken even if it causes gridlock and mayhem. To not gain it a loosing face. And as in many places, but more so here, the bigger and blacker the vehicle the more the driver has to show his feeling of self-importance. Death of others rarely deters him in his quest to demonstrate this.
Your plan is not good and not bad - it is normally.
The first 180 km from Moscow the road is covered also darkness will not be an obstacle.
In 4 o'clock in the morning (I think, you will be in area of Tver) already there will be a sun
About Novgorod there is a part of very bad road. There it is better to go through Novgorod (look at indexes) - you save forces, time and nerves.
Good, detailed replies above - very thorough, very informative/useful.
Can anyone confirm with a quick Yes/No if the visa system for Russia is
Invitation from Hotel etc, THEN apply for Visa with invitation?
If you use someone like VisaLink.ru, you usually get your invitation same day or next day.
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