Day 12 – Saturday 6th of July – Rus’ka Lozova to Luhansk (362km)
Well, another day that was supposed to be short and rather uneventful has turned out to be great. I left Rus’ka Lozova early to try and have some time to visit Luhansk, as Anna, my host, had told me that there were tours of the old industrial parks of the city and I really fancied seeing that.
I got to the city quite early and as I was riding in the outskirts, I overtook an MC convoy. They were the first proper motorbikes I had seen in the country, and I was quite surprised to see them. When I stopped at the first traffic lights before entering the city, one of them, who apparently had left the other behind to catch up with me, pulled alongside and asked me where I was coming from. I started to tell him about the trip, but the lights changed and we rode on. Shortly after the rest of them appeared and they made gestures for me to stop by the roadside. Vladimir, their president, spoke English, and they were very interested to see where I was coming from. They told me they had been to a biking event about 100km from the city and asked where I was staying. I showed them the small notebook where I had written the address and phone number of my host, and then the president took out his mobile phone, gave it to one of the club members and told him to call her. They spoke in Russian and then he introduced me to one of his guys, the “Veterinar” , and told me to follow him, because he would show me the way to the center and take me to a place where I could meet Anna.
So I rode into the city escorted by the local MC, and once in the center, most of them went their separate ways back home. My guide and another guy, with their respective old ladies, took me to the center, and in about 20 minutes Anna was there. The bikers wished me good luck with the rest of my trip and went home, and I told my host that I needed to drop all my stuff and park the bike securely before visiting the city. It turned out that she lived almost 8km from there, and if she took the bus, she would get to her place later than me on the bike, so this being Ukraine, I sat her on top of the bag and the spare tires and rode through the center like that, no helmet.
Once we had parked the bike and I had a chance to have a shower, she took me to visit an important train factory in the city. It is not normally possible to visit, but they were celebrating the city’s industrial day, and a lot of places like that were open to the public. Not an opportunity to miss. The visit was great, we were taken around an enormous soviet-style factory in the late afternoon, the red sun shinning through the warehouses tall windows and making for some very good pictures.
After that we went to eat something and then to a bar that served the local beer, which was excellent. It got late, and after such a long I was absolutely exhausted. The prospect of getting up at about 6 in the morning to ride to the border, deal with the crossing into Russia and then ride 400km more to Volgograd looked like the least appealing thing on Earth. On top of that, there was a museum that I really wanted to visit, an old military pilot school that had been turned into an air museum and had a collection of Soviet planes, so I decided to stay an extra day in the city.