As this year all my chances for long journey was missed, idea of joining UN DP bike marathon Hrodna-Minsk sounds very nice for me. Official goal of marathon was sustainable development ideas and especially mental health, as you can get, very actual thing about cyclists 😉 Anyway, there was not so much such dumb guys, who were ready to skip work and home routine for uncertain journey and before start except of UN guys there was only one participant from our bike community, Max. Journey description was a bit mutable so I’ve decided to take care about tent, sleeping bag and all other camping equipment to avoid of any strong dependency if something goes totally wrong.
Transfer to Hrodna was fine because of prequel event, smaller one-day marathon on Augustov channel for wider audience was strongly powered by our Minsk Bike Community volunteers and they were transferred by UN-paid bus.
First day was quite funny but my own impression was a bit cursed with uncertain future days. All I can recall without photos is nice fresh-soup on finish place.
After we came from finish to Hrodna and accommodate at Old Bridge hostel, I’ve got a news from guys from Munchen I’ve invited to Belarus and assisted with visa. In fact they wrote me one day before with a news they came to Lithuania and planning to get to Belarus soon. I’ve invited them to join out marathon from Hrodna and so they came to us in the very center of old town 😉 After quick beer we’ve agreed to meet at the morning on the main square on marathon official opening.
Sunday morning became a UN DP meet for me. Before start I’ve got only two mobo numbers in my phonebook and nothing more but since the first day it started to amass with impressions. It was a very central square as starting point and first thing you see was the support police Interceptor vehicle, which was in President’s guard originally.
Start was quite mass, but most of the cyclists was disappeared after we’ve get out of Hrodna, as it was awaited. After constant raining begun and then become very strong rain. Smart Sanaka (chairmen of UN in Belarus) find a cover inside new-built church and the rest of participants still out there 😉
After a while rain ceased and we start moving again. Soon we’ve got one more unexpected surprise from UN – dinner 😉 While reading some preparation things before start I was ready for own food consuming but full-served dinner was real surprise.
After one more conception review there was two guys appeared and became our dinner cookers for every day. Their names is Vasil and Siarhei. Usually they are supporting commercial kayak tours in Belarus so they have a rich experience with all this camping life. Anyway, everyday near 4 PM we’ve got a served dinned in some nice wood place with food, coffee, massage-girl and so on 😉 Honestly, it was so big and nice surprise.
First overnight stay was near Oziory. Most chairmen stayed in kind of sanatorium with same name but the rest of common folk took a place called “House of hunter and fisherman” near place Novaya Ruda. There was also a night feast 😉
In the morning I’ve started to feel rhythm and idea of marathon, which is connected lots of points, created or reconstructed with a help of UN DP in some way. In Novaya Ruda it was a visit house for Oziory nature reservation and also very interesting drained swamp regeneration project. I was very curios about process, described for us by one of the concept’s author.
Dinner point for the day was a homestead in Halavaczy, excepts of other it was a cricket game lesson there 😉
In the evening we’ve finished close to Skidzel, stayed for a night at nice homestead called “S lehkim param”. As there was more people then bed we’ve got to stay at tent that night.
Anyway I was too mindless and tried to sleep at night in sleeping bag only. Honestly, it was a bit too cold with +6 outside 😉 So at 5:30 I’ve finally woke up and go drinking coffee. And morning fog was quite nice.
Soon John and Tanya joined us. Lack of time caused us to visit “Osniki” homestead with a bus, not the bikes but it was worth to. Owners of place are not only farmers producing organic food but also a kind of hipotherapists, helping people curing some diseases by riding horses. Even I’ve treated a bit 😉
Next route brings us to Melkouszczyna – village famous poetess Eliza Orzeszkowa was born. Now it have a nice orthodox church made from bricks of same factory as a Minsk Red Church.
Local guide organized a warm reception with girls, salt and bread for dear guests.
In Kamenka village we’ve visited nice church of Anthony from Padua and got a big company of local authorities from Szczuczyn. Things discussed I’ve missed because of checking church and speaking with locals about closest places of interest.
Late dinner took place on the nice forest’s edge. Guys was a bit pity about late dinner’s time because of sun goes down and make place really hot.
In Szczuczyn some of us visited special movie show, some were accommodated to a hotel but me and Max deceided to find a proper place for a tent camping. Thanks God, there was a abandoned military airbase close to the center, empty and nice with a lots of trees. After we took some foods (and beers) from UN holdings, we’ve stood there.
People are ought to learn from own mistakes so this time I’ve wearied some more clothes and sleep warm and well 😉 Also, location was very nice, lots of wood for fire, no people. I can recommend the place for a camping easily.
In the morning people woke and prepared quite long so I’ve visited church, locals recommended to visit day before. Very nice one.
Official start was even more loudly then last ones but its all because of official status.
Almost after start we’ve visited a crashed plane memorial. Sometime around 1992 there was a issue while military planes re-base, guys had fallen down on last turn.
I was impressed by sundial near Iszczalna church. It shows central european time, no crappy russian UTC+3 like we have now.
One of the man points of interest on the way for me was a church-fortress in Muravanka. Honestly, comparing to mine youngest memories it was not so impressive 😉 An also, Orthodox Church as organization seems to do nothing about keeping historical sites in proper state.
After we’ve visited a vodka factory in Mazejkava (and took some taxfree). After we’ve gor a lng trip to Belahruda with a long-awaited dinner. And a nice church. All in one, as usual.
Arriving to Lida was awesome. We’ve blocked M6 highway and it was coll enough but after there was a police convoy via all Lida’s center (with all sirens, lights and so on) just to got we’ve came to wrong place and return back in same manner 😉 I can highly recommend to participate in such actions!
After we’ve take a night at Sasha Avdevich’s apartments. He’s also warmshowers.org host. Pity but it was not much time for a talks, I’ve even got no photos. But the morning begun with a Lidskae piva brewery tour 😉
Shortly – it was very interesting. After we had to participate in Lida inclusive beach opening but Sanaka skip it because of time lack and only action took place was mine bath. I wonder why nobody joined me 😉
After usual official boring part was begun and our German friends decided to leave and to taste own way to Belarus.
Road to Iue was simple and almost without any events except of dinner and Lipnishki. In Lipnishki while searching for some old ruins Sanaka meets one more babushka so we’ve finished in darkness after all 😉
As I’ve got a feeling of this trip and its organization, since that moment I’ve started to bend some rules to the way I prefer. First of all, I’ve never left my bicycle somewhere far away of me like other guys. In Iue’s hotel there was nice bike parking in lobby 😉 I cannot feel comfortable without my bike, what can I do?
Next morning there was 1 of September. Except of WWII beginning anniversary its nowadays also beginning of school season. So, as a high guests, we’ve participated in some ceremonies. As I’ve told, its a official status specific and nothing to deal with it.
On the other hand, there was a time for common photo with girls, who met us at last evening and participate a bit at morning.
Of course, new visits took a place. We’ve visited local inventor, competitor of Minsk guy called Forest 😉
Day was much more busy for Sanaka, he had to move much more and took a car for visiting couple of families far away from main route. And our smaller group was much quicker after all.
In the evening there was official birdwatching point opening close to the homestead “Za mastochkam”. Of course, because of too much people all birds scattered but I hope to to one more visist in couple of week and check what’s changed.
Вечарам мы сталі ў гатэлі Валожыну (з некаторымі прыгодамі) і нават Санака зазірнуў да нас на куфаль піва
In the evening we’ve accommodated in Valozhyn’s hotel (with some more adventures) and Sanaka even drank a mug of beer with us.
One more morning, one more central square. There was Saturday so lots of Minsk guys joined us
Because of sandy roads together with meeting people, we’ve got to Zaslau’e at darkness. My old plan to go home for a night by own wheels to release all luggage and take a night at home was ruined but we’ve got even better opportunity, our medical escort bus was based close to my apartment so I’ve used all possible social capital and was transferred home by emergency bus 😉 Finally, I’ve got home after week of travel.
Sunday’s morning, weather is a bit more cloudy. 7 AM we are at railway station, with a group of Minsk Bicycle Community volunteers, taking train to Zaslau’e.
This time I’ve got a preferment and became a flag-bearer (8
Last kilometers of our trip was wet and funny. There was a lots of photos, showing participants from UN and friend organizations, joined for a last day. Finish took place in Loshytski park and we’ve missed proper time for only 40 minutes maybe, I think, it’s a kind of perfect timing 😉
We did it at last!