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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wrapped up an 8 day, 1300km gravel tour around Belarus. It was the second part of my quest to create a full loop of the country on gravel, dirt and forest roads. Went with a pretty minimal gear setup because accommodation is pretty cheap and I'm not a huge fan of camping. Had one bivy night by a lake.

Even though there aren't any mountains here, Belarus is chocked full of forests, lakes and large marsh areas. And endless gravel roads through small villages.

The Vassago fisticuff is perfectly suited for this stuff, but the gearing was a little too ambitious at 42-18 for the longer days. Many more pics @John__McT on insta if you're into that.

Nature Branch Tree Leaf Landscape


Nature Grass Daytime Sky Natural environment


Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Wheel Bicycle wheel rim


Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel rim Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel Bicycle part


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Hey

I'm gonna do soon 1500km, but south in Moldova.
Planning to make it in 7 days, but I'll do it 90% on tarmac.

Please just share your opinion regarding your daily distances, was it ok or you could ride more per day?
Haw many hours per day on the saddle?
I know Belarus is pretty flat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey

I'm gonna do soon 1500km, but south in Moldova.
Planning to make it in 7 days, but I'll do it 90% on tarmac.

Please just share your opinion regarding your daily distances, was it ok or you could ride more per day?
Haw many hours per day on the saddle?
I know Belarus is pretty flat.
Hey Oleg!

That's a tough question, my trip was probably around 50/50 tarmac/gravel and dirt. Even with almost all tarmac, that is still over 200km per day average. I don't know your level of experience, but that's a lot! I had three days around 200km with the longest of 250. BUT I was on a single speed with fat tires, so that limited my road speed and efficiency on tarmac.

There are a lot of variables. If you plan to camp, that takes time and the rest is not as good. If not, do you have accommodations planned in advance or will you try to find them every day, that also takes extra time and mental energy.

Blue Colorfulness Red Text Magenta


https://www.strava.com/athletes/1984607

You can check out my days there in strava. Good luck, I'd love to follow your trip if you'll be posting anywhere just send me a link!
 

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On a single speed bike?!!! you are crazy :)

I did Brevets/Audax 200, 400, 600 , and many 100-150km rides (road/offroad) that's why I have some statistics that helps me to make my plans. But this is my first time planing a multi day ride.

1500km (15000 elevation) in 7 days, averaging 200+km/day but 4 are ~240 and 3 ~ 160km.


The target is to ride through all cities here (about 43) and take photos of the monuments in front of each Town Halls (not sure if in Belarus you can still find Lenin monument, here they are still few nostalgic city mayors :) ).

Will use 35mm tires on CX bike with many speeds :) Many hills, with 5%+ average.

Plan A is to camp, I know well many places. Each night will be in or close to a city so Plan B will be to host (rain, too tired etc).

Belarus is pretty widespread, but here between small cities it's average 35km, and on the road lot of gas stations with shops/coffee etc also many fields with grapes and walnuts on the roadside this period of time :)
So it's pretty easy from this point of view. But it's more boring compared to nature wildness.


If this will goes well, next plan is to ride to Tallinn (next year), not sure if I'll go through Belarus, as I'll try to avoid Ukraine due to bad roads reputation, but will check if this is true.

Btw how are the roads in Belarus? I mean tarmac.

How was your nutrition plan? minerals, supplements?
I'm pretty good at burning fat, can ride 100km with water only, so think to eat normal foot each 100km and to avoid sweet bars etc.

Checked your ride logs, why one day 250 another one 70km etc? or you just rode and stop when you feel you need it, with no exact plans?

Average speed pretty impressive, at least for our hilly country.
Also I sow average HR was more elevated than I usually have during long rides, but also guess it's due to your single speed setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Roads in Belarus: Generally good, much better surface quality than Ukraine from what I've seen and heard. A lot of smaller dirt regional gravel roads have been paved over, giving "road" riders more fresh tarmac to explore. Shoulders on major highways are good and wide, but the mid-small highways can often be narrow with no tarmac on the shoulder. Traffic is light and mostly nice to cyclists since many villagers here ride bikes as a main form of transport.

The western areas of Belarus are very nice to ride through with large nature preserves, more hills as you get near Grodno, and more of a Polish feel to the towns and cities. We also have a small but active randonneuring club if you ever fancy traveling for an event. I'll be joining them for a 200km gravel brevet next weekend.

Nutrition Plan: I didn't have one, ate whatever looked good in the small shops. Lots of waffles, bread buns, instant coffee, and NA Beer. It was hard to find hot meals, I had two 48 hour periods without a real meal. That was annoying but I did lose a few kilos. I think I will add a light-weight stove to my kit or plan rides so I hit at least one decent-sized city with a cafe at least once a day.

Plans: Yeah the 70km day was after almost 200 that was a really rough day. I woke up later, had to fix a flat, the day was hot and my legs were dead. I found a nice lake-side hostel that was cheap and had hot food and beer around 4 pm and decided that was a good option. I knew I was going to have another big day the next day so I wanted rest.

Lenin: Yeah we still have quite a few of his statues around Belarus, even in central Minsk there is a large one.
 

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John, thanks for sharing your experience.
You made me think about traveling through Belarus :)
will follow your strava, I'm not using it, but have an account.

Will post also once I'll do the trip, still doing the plans and trying to solve previously problems, need to change the saddle, knee pain when cold, hand numbness.

From your photos looks like you are using Brooks, right?
Last audax ride used a leather San Marco saddle, had some problems riding in rain and after.

Have you tried aero bars? During last audax ride I've had very bad hand numbness for a month after. I know they are not allowed for audax but for other long rides I'm thinking about.
 

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btw
from my experience, I'm very good at planing the trips, but bad at follow it, once getting tired and riding alone, it's very difficult to follow the plan :) and worst if the plan is only in your head.
But it makes a big difference if you follow the nutrition, stops, stretching, hydration etc.
It worked well when was riding with somebody, it's easier mentally to follow it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
John, thanks for sharing your experience.
You made me think about traveling through Belarus :)
will follow your strava, I'm not using it, but have an account.

Will post also once I'll do the trip, still doing the plans and trying to solve previously problems, need to change the saddle, knee pain when cold, hand numbness.

From your photos looks like you are using Brooks, right?
Last audax ride used a leather San Marco saddle, had some problems riding in rain and after.

Have you tried aero bars? During last audax ride I've had very bad hand numbness for a month after. I know they are not allowed for audax but for other long rides I'm thinking about.
Saddle is a cheap (compared to Brooks) Charge Spoon. I've had them on various mountain and road bikes and they are perfect for me. Probably around 10k miles total on them. Finding the right saddle is a very personal thing though, good luck finding yours.

Aero bars I have not tried yet, but I'm thinking about it. Most of the guys I saw at the brevet were using them, I haven't read that they are not allowed but maybe each club has their own rules?

Regarding planning, I agree with you. On this trip I purposefully underplanned and researched the route, work and life was hectic leading up to it and I kinda just wanted to see what would happen once out on the road. The first 5 days this was fine, but then by day 6-8 I was definitely getting mental fatigue from constant decision making about the route on the fly. But I wanted to see how I could cope with that to learn for the future. So mission accomplished.

Got a mixed tarmac / gravel 200km brevet coming up on Saturday, I'm excited to ride it with less gear and see how my legs feel now that they're fully recovered from the trip.
 

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