Cyclists' Touring Club ORION


Restored  in 2005 from a printed copy

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NEWSLETTER of  the Volgograd Cyclists' Touring Club "ORION"

$1.25 No. 3 Dec.1990 - Mar. 1991

   English edition of the Newsletter is issued quarterly for distribution among foreign members and bicycle related organizations


The Director's Report

I am glad to greet all those who read our cycling newsletter as well as those who are concerned in our common undertaking. Our acquaintance by correspondence is being developed, and it gives hope that progress in international relations is really irreversible. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these first steps that open new perspectives for touring and cycle touring in particular. But the first steps are always difficult all the more under the circumstances of aggravated economic situation. I am not going to dwell on our inner problems (the disappearance of bicycles from sale, food shortages, galloping inflation, etc.). There is unfailing remedy against this - enthusiasm of our brotherhood fed by breathtaking traveling over our country. The situation in the sense of international contacts is more complicated, this new trend in our activities. I will leave aside problems of our going abroad. This is a separate subject. Let us look more closely at the problem of receiving foreign guests. We welcome heartily your desire to visit our country. We have really many places of wonder here to say nothing of the fact they will strike with the charm of novelty. However we learned through your magazines and by correspondence that you, Western cycle tourists, make demands to the standards of service which can not be easily reached in our currant life. There are lots of interesting and beautiful places where there are no restaurants and hotels and where we travel by ourselves. Even in civilized places certain problems arise with booking rooms and then the Dame Nature is our hostess and we spend nights in tents. Nevertheless our close contacts are inevitable in the framework of our joint efforts. And we should seek real ways of our getting together. It is desirable to have more close interaction of our clubs looking for new forms of collaboration. We would like to develop routes according to your wishes and demands bearing in mind that the more exciting the trip is the less adequate good things of civilization can be. We have something very important and this is an experience of well-trained professionals that are perfectly acquainted with the main routes of our country and orient themselves excellently in any situation. And such quality is indispensable in this country full of surprises.

Valery Komotchkov

Volgograd Cyclists' Touring Club

The first independent public-supported bicycling organization in Russia. Volgograd Cyclists Touring Club was founded in 1980 as the Volgograd Cycle Touring Commission to promote recreational and sports bicycle touring. In 1987 it acquired its present name.

The Club is affiliated with the Russian Cyclists' Touring Club, the Bikecentennial's National Bicycle Club Network, the British Cyclists' Touring Club, the French Federation of Cycle Tourism, the Rough-Stuff Fellowship.

President: :Pavel Protopopov
Director: Valery Komotchkov
Chairman of Council: Igor Rumyantsev
Membership coordinator: Galina Livshits
Editor: Vadim Gavrilov
Advertisement manager: Elena Gavrilova

Foreign membership: $12 per annum. Advertising rates: 1 sq. cm. costs $.50

Publisher SCC "Altair"


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What Are You Going to Eat When Cycling in the USSR?

"Will you learn to be happy about difficulties?" - a stone near one of Tibetan monasteries asks from a passer-by. If suddenly everybody in the Soviet Union acquired this ability there would not be the happier nation in the world. The abundance of difficulties and obstacles a Soviet man faces in everyday life would strike imagination of any citizen of any civilized country even If he possess iron nerves and wild fantasy.

Soviet cycle tourists must be also the most happy tourists in the world, as they have to overcome lots of difficulties while preparing and organizing cycling trips and heaps of obstacles grow from day to day.

I do not want to talk here about the fact that bicycles and spare parts are as rare on sale in the USSR as snow at the equator. I shall not mention the fact that If you want to be well equipped during your cycle trip you have got to be a smith, a tailor, a mechanic, etc. because carriers, cycle bags, lightweight tents, sleeping bags are to be made by tourists themselves.

I would like to draw reader's attention to the latest events in this country -rationing of food products. If a couple of years ago it was possible to take only the most necessary things when going traveling and to buy the rest In the shops on the route, now we have to take almost all food with us, because we can hardly buy anything to eat on the route. Here is the list of only main products you can buy only on ration cards or passports with the local registration: meat and meat products, butter, oil, sugar, groats   , macaroni, sweets to say nothing of tinned food specially prepared for use while traveling. And other products you can not buy just because they have disappeared from sale. Now Russian cycle tourists resemble medieval travelers heading to India.

So If you agree with the well-known aphorism "happiness is overcoming difficulties", a cycle tour in the Soviet Union may make you happy. We have everything necessary: bad roads, poor service, food shortages, economical difficulties and many other things.

You are welcome!

(Drawing by V.Lugovkin & Yu.Trelin)

Vadim Gavrilov


Director: Valery A. Komotchkov

Age: 42.

Family status: divorced, has two daughters.

In Orion: from 1985.

Profession: professor at the Volgograd Polytechnic, Ph. D., scientific worker.

Touring and cycling interests: mountain hiking.

Other interests: first of all music: from Bach to Deep Purple, a beginner in gardening.

Valery has made 10 category cycling trips by now and has come to conclusion that cycle touring makes life longer and brings an inexplicable fascination in it. Director of Orion from 1989, and as such bears the full weight of responsibility for its domestic and first of all financial problems, such problems being a question of life and death for self-supported organization. Besides his director's duties supervises international contacts with French-speaking countries. Actively works in propaganda of cycle touring especially among youth. Has a gentle and and somewhat soft character unusual for a chief of administration. Music takes a great place in his life. Our cyclists often gather in the evening to listen to his piano play. The favorite composer ia Sergei Rakhmaninov, the favorite jazz pianist is Errol Gardner. The ardent dream is to go to Paris and to drop in a music shop.



1. Join the VCTC"Orion".

Membership includes four issues of "Velotourist" as well as other benefits.

2. Subscribe to "Velotourist".
Annual subscription costs only $5.00
and you'll know about cycling life in


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Bicycle Touring in Russia

Pavel Protopopov

Chapter 3. Bicycle Touring Competitions

This is a rather unusual and I would say unique feature of bicycle touring of the Soviet kind. It seems the invention of competitions in bicycle touring has been rooted in the desire to make it attractive to youth to whom winning medals and prizes is important. Nevertheless bicycle touring competitions (BTC) are now popular among the people of all ages.

There are two very different kinds of the BTC In Russia. The first kind, the most known and popular is a subject of this Chapter. I mean competitions in bicycle touring technique, and first of all in mountain-hiking technique. This is not sirprising bearing in mind that 90 per cent of sports cycling trips are made in mountains. Such competitions are held on the club, the city and the republican level and usually include a cycletouring rally, a velotrial and a competitions in skillful driving.

The cycletouring rally is not at all like the well known in the West AIT-Rallies or similar national events. The Russian version of a rally resembles one or two-day mountain-biking trip with all its obstacles and difficulties. The distance of up to 100-120 km is divided into several sections and the time for each is definite. The route is usually unknown to participants except some map or other graphic information which is given to cyclists just before the start. Besides the "natural obstacles", such as trails, dirt roads, steep rises and slopes, thickets, participants face additional problems, for example, raising a tent, repair of the "broken" bicycle, first aid to "the victims of an accident", fast and slow cycling and so on. Teams consist usually of 4-6 persons, at least one or two of them must be women. Every team carries touring equipment necessary for autonomous traveling and camping (about 10 kg for a person).

Another part of the BTC is a velotrial (cycling trial). This is a rather short (from hundreds of meters to several kilometers) distance with an unimaginable set of obstacles, impassable at the first sight, and one must cover it without stepping on the ground. The main thing here is to make the distance without mistakes and only secondary is the time.

And at last, there are competitions in skilful driving (figure cycling). The very short distance (100-200 m) includes a set of standard figures, usually ten of them: "circle", "the eight", "rut", "zigzag", "serpent", "corridor", "swing", "gate", "skittle", "stop-line".

For example:

The "circle" figure is a ring of 3 m in diameter with a 50-cm entrance. A cyclist should enter it, make a circle inside not touching the borderline and come out. The "eight" consists of the two twinned circles. The "skittle" - a cyclist takes a skittle from the ground and puts it onto a small spot in five meters from the starting one. The "swing" - a cyclist goes up the swinging plank 3 m long and goes down with it. The figure cycling distance is very short and is covered in about a minute, but requires an excellent control of a bicycle.

At the distance of figure cycling

From what we know such competitions are not usual for other countries. May be the reason is in different approach to bicycle touring, may be in this Held at least we are ahead. But our foreign guests, who happened to attend our competitions, were impressed. They even tried to do the figure cycling distance, without much success though. In some of the latest letters there was information that some mountain-biking clubs are beginning something like our competitions. May be we shall be able to help in organization of such competitions. And would be glad to.

Well, it seems to be a cyclist after the trial distance
(Drawing by V.Kablov)


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To the Pole of Cold

After the last year trip of the well-known traveler Fyodor Konukhov who reached the North Pole traveling alone, an unusual trip has been made by his younger brother Pavel. In January, along with seven other cycle tourists, he started to the North from Tynda, the small town in Eastern Siberia at the Baikal-Amur Railway. After 50 days and 2200 km along frozen winter roads the trip ended at the Pole of Cold which is near the Yakut settlement of Oymyakon. Oymyakon is famous for Its bitterest colds in the world - up to minus 70 degrees Centigrade. Winter is good cycling season in Eastern Syberia in spite of cold. The so-called "winter roads" or "zimniki" are temporary roads which function only in winter that lasts nine months in those places. During short summer they are absolutely impassable because of mud and the only local means of transportation are boats and helicopters.

The Oldest Moscow Cycling Organization Revived

The Moscow Cyclists' Club founded in 1888 resumed its activity by the end of the last year. In autumn 1990 Moscow cyclists decided to restore this organization not functioning seventy years. The MCC has been registered as a public organization by the Moscow City Council in December. Much work should be done by the President of the Club Sergei Selivanov and members to restore that good reputation the MCC acquired both in the country and abroad by the end of the XIX century. There are rumors that the newsletter "Samokat" will be published again after a hundred-year silence, and the Editor, Victor Privedentsev has appealed to cyclists to contribute in this enterprise. "Velotourist" would be happy to greet his older (younger?) brother in cycle touring press.



Name of Event Date Organizer
Volgograd Region (1) May Yu. Kruglov
Volgograd Region (1) May P. Protopopov
Black Sea coast (family) May S. Paramonov
Poland (2) June Yu. Kashlakov
Urals (3) July V. Alentyev
Golden Ring & Cossack Don (Russian-American) (2) July I. Philippov
Caucasus (5) (Russian-British) August P. Protopopov
European Tour (Paris-Liege- Berlin- August-Warsaw-Volgograd) (3) September V.Komotchkov
France (family) September P. Protopopov
Rallies, Competitions, Meetings
Opening Season April 14 S. Dombrowsky
Meeting of Fraternised Cities (Dijon, France) May 18-20 V. Komotchkov
Vecherny Volgograd Competition May 26 I. Rumyantsev
Rally "Volga-Akhtuba" June 14-16 Yu. Kruglov
AIT Rally 91 (Poland) July 21-27 O. Petrukhin
Competitions in Figure Cycling August 10 V. Komotchkov
Competitions in Cycle Touring Technique October 6-7 I. Rumyantsev
Closing Season October 20 S. Dombrowsky



The First Russian Bike Video!

How Russian cycle tourists make their trips.

What Russian scenery is like.

New inventions for cycling with children

VHS, 90 min.

For sale or change for the other bike video.


Sports Club "Energy"

The United Turbomotor Works, Sverdlovsk 620040, USSR

Phone (3432)34-62-64, Fax (3432)34-79-65


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Editor's note. In Nos. 1 and 2 of VT we spoke of Crimea. In this issue we will deal with another popular touring area of the USSR, the Caucasus. The Caucasus has always attracted tourists of different kinds by its beautiful scenery, warm climate, high mountains and numerous beaches at the Black sea coast.

A Trip to the Caucasus

leg Petrukhin

For Volgograd cyclists the Caucasus is a very convenient region to go cycling to. It is not so far from civilized areas as say Tien-Shan or Pamirs mountains are. Besides we may choose among a vast variety of routes, from easy to the most difficult, so that beginners and experienced cyclists can find routes to their liking.

In July 1990 our group of six cycle tourists from Volgograd made this mountain hiking trip of the fourth category in the Caucasus area. Each cyclist already had mountain hiking experience.

We started from the town of Nevinnomyssk which is to the North from the Caucasus in the Stavropol Region. The first part of the trip went at a flat terrain and was necessary to prepare us^to more difficult parts.

After four days of cycling we reached mountains. The first pass on our route was the Shit-Jatmat Pass (sorry If it sounds bad, it is Turkic word) at 2000 m above the sea level with the well-known in the region resort "Narzan Valley" at the base.

The main building of the resort is made in the form of medieval temple. There are 22 sources of the famous mineral water "Narzan" here,

 but we found only one and that was enough.

God knows what quantities of cold and gas-saturated water one can swallow after such a pass!

After difficult ascend to the Bichesyn Plateau (2400 m) we were awarded by the magnificent sight of Elbrus, the highest mountain at the Caucasus, which seemed to be just at our wheels.

Then there was more easy cycling in river valleys of Karachai-Cherkes Autonomous Region.

Another interesting part began when when we climbed another plateau, Lago-Naki. It is 1800 m high and very beautiful. The Main Caucasus is lower here than in other places and having crossed several not very difficult passes we enjoyed the so-called "Vesely Spusk" (Jolly Descending). Really we did not find it very jolly at that. Plenty of spokes were broken and several bruises were acquired. At last, after fifteen days in mountains we found ourselves at the Black sea coast and spent several days swimming and sunbathing. And to end the trip we made a ride along the coast.

Elbrus from under the plateau Bichesyn


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Companions wanted

Experienced English and German-speaking cyclist seeks pen-friends for the exchange of cycling and other information, mutual visits, possible joint adventures. Can deliver information useful for cycling in the USSR. Contact Olcg Petrukhin, Lgovskaya ul., 2-5, Volgograd, 400088, USSR.

Scientific Commercial Centre "Altalr" which conducts business affairs of ORION is planning construction of a mobile hotel on a basis of a heavy truck (or could buy or rent one). This hotel will be used for the accommodation of foreign cyclists during trips In the USSR and neighboring countries. Seeking partners on the mutually beneficial conditions. Would be grateful for any assistance.
Contact: Pavel Protopopov

Private wants

Seeking old and used bike computers, interested in other electronics not obligatory connected with bikes. Can offer for exchange (for collection) mechanical speedometer of the Soviet production and other Items of Soviet exotics. Ilya Philippov, Komsomolskaya ul. 8-25, Volgograd 400066, USSR.

Information wanted

Family cycling section of "Orion" is planning a cycle trip with small children from Volgograd to France in July of 1991. Would appreciate information on cycling in France and intermediate countries and all possible help including material and financial in organization of this trip. Sergei Paramonov, VCTC "Orion", USSR



Do you want information, help or a companion when planning bicycle tour to the USSR?

Do you want to sale, change or to buy something in Russia?

You can reach Russian bicyclists, clubs and bicycle specialists through the "Classified Information" column of me Russian edition of "Velotourist". $.20 per word, free for members



The publication of "Velotourist" is possible now as the Law on the Press has been adopted in this country. But..

Acute shortage of printing facilities, which are almost exclusively in the hands of the state and party organizations, put many obstacles before us.

We need program complex for a publisher, something like Ventura Publisher and a PC with a LaserJet.

'Velotourist" is looking for sponsors in the hope that somebody "behind the curtain" will want to support the first, weak yet, communication link of Russian bicycle tourists with the outer cycling world.

International Rally

June 14 - 16, 1991

Cycle Touring Rally

Various cycling rides

10-100 km in Volgograd and around

Distance of figure cycling Evening of touring fire Interesting excursion program every day Boat excursions along Volga and the Volgograd Sea

For foreign participants extended program from 10 to 20 of July

For further information contact;

Yu. Kruglov, VCTC "ORION"



If you are going to make a trip in the Soviet Union then Youth Agency "AutoTur" is all you need.

We are ready to render all touring services in Moscow and other cities of the country.

We can help to develop the route, arrange accommodation and meals, offer a comfortable autobus Mercedes-Benz.

27/1 Dmitrovskoe Shosse, Moscow 127616, USSR, tel. (095) 210-13-01, 210-15-01, Fax (095)200-32-85


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Crimea. October 1990.

Yury Kruglov

Cycling expedition: Jankoi - Razdolnoye - Chernomorskoye - Eupatoria - Bakhchi-sarai. 15 days, 550 km.

This expedition was organized by the cycle tourists from the Volgograd Motor Works. The route is complicated enough and it is not for beginners. The main difficulties are short days and cold nights at this time of the year, hilly and mountainous terrain, particularly in the second part of the route. October expeditions to the Crimea are remarkable for the their romanticism. Sea beaches are lonely and put to rest for another season. Sometimes one can see nobody for the most part of the day (not everywhere of course).

During the first six days the route lies along the sea coast. The Bakalskaya spit, Jangool, Atlesh, Eupatoria. After a short journey in an electric train to Bakhchi-sarai the mountainous part of the route begins. Here we visited the ancient Jewish stone town Chufut-Kalais near Bakhchi-sarai, the Uspensky Monastery cut out in the rock by monks. The route lies along mountain trails, sometimes we have to push our bikes and sometimes even to carry them.

The impressions of the Crimea Grand Canyon are unforgettable. There is a little water in it in autumn and the Canyon is almost dry. It is possible to go on foot through it from the beginning to the end. The narrowest part of the Canyon is only 3 meters wide, while the almost vertical walls are about 300 meters high. Here it feels like in a well. It is a dangerous place as well for stones can fall from the walls in any moment. Numerous sightseers from nearest resorts are allowed to approach only to the beginning of the Canyon. But for Volgograd cyclists there no impassable routes.

Then the route lies past villages and famous historical places. For the nights we put up tents on the banks o forest lakes and rivers. Having gone through the Baidarskye Vorota (Baidar Gate) Pass we cross the Baidar plateau which looks like an illustration to a fairy tale and find ourselves in the hero-city of Sevastopol. The hospitable cycle tourists of Sevastopol are always ready to offer their tourist club apartments for the night but we prefer our own favorite hidden places on the seashore. The last night, the weather is fine. The expedition is over. In the end we made some sightseeing in Sevastopol, visited the sea museum - aquarium and, of course, the ancient Greek town of Hersones.


Volgograd Branch

of the International Computer Club

offers services in:

- opening dealers and distributors offices for foreign companies for selling computers, copiers, fax machines
- concluding barter contracts
- placing orders at Soviet enterprises
- organization of business exchanges and seach of partners
- selling know-how
- investitions

We are ready to join International Computer Networks (FIDO Net type) for the information exchange

Contact: Yury Skorokhodov, Director
1a, Mira ul., Volgograd 400066, USSR
Telephone: (844-2)36 47 29
Fax (844-2)367825


Changes in Higher Echelons of Soviet Tourism

As we wrote in the article "History" in "VT" No.l the head touring organization in the USSR was the Central Council for Tourism and Excursions (CCTE) which was entirely controlled by the State. Lately more and more independent touring clubs, societies, companies have been being formed, so touring authorities troubled by this uncontrolled process decided to found a new and universal touring public organization, namely the Touring Sporting Union of the USSR. Naturally the same people who were in corresponding department of the CCTE have been elected in the ruling body of the new Union. All touring clubs, including bicycle touring ones, are invited to join this creation of "nomenclature". As far as we know, Russian clubs are not in a hurry.

Ukrainian CTC Formed at the Second Attempt

The First Ukrainian Cycletouring Conference held in December failed to found the Ukrainian Cyclists" Touring Club. The matter was postponed until February when the second attemptwas more successful and the Club was founded. The Conference was held behind "closed doors" and we have the incomplete information.

Tandem Production Began

Petrovsky Bicycle Works from Kharkov, Ukraine- one of the biggest in the USSR - began the production, for the first time in the USSR, of tandems not for sporting purposes but for common use. These tandems are intended first of all for blind and other disabled people who will be able now to cycle with the help of an accompanying person. The first thousand is sold to the Ukrainian Society of Blind Men. 7


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Welcome to the first subscribers to Velotourist!

Robert Lewis USA
Robert Mason Northern Ireland
Jim Watkinson UK
James Curry USA
Soichi Takezawa Japan
Jean & Linda Junken USA
Willard Wheeler USA
Christine Clifton-Thornton USA
Tim Rodda USA
Bryan Wilson USA
Peter StJames USA
Don Hubbard USA
Val Johnson USA
Jean Cashman USA
Lyle Yager USA
Thomas Johnson Canada

Ride with ORION and you'll have a great time!

We offer help to all cyclists, cycle touring organizations, travel companies wishing to make cycling tours in the Soviet Union. We can work out routes, receive groups and lead tours with all formalities necessary. Commercial and currency-free agreements are possible.


We offer a wide choice of routes both in the Volgograd region and in the USSR as a whole. Routes vary from easy ones for leisure riding to difficult rough-stuff adventures in wild regions presenting real challenge. We can also develop a route at your request rendering all services necessary.


A scarcity of first-class hotels in the Soviet Union is a well-known fact. But we believe that small inns and private houses, meeting with friendly people, flavor or local cuisine can compensate the lack of high-standard accommodation. Camping in beautiful places is also possible.


We can offer support van, sag wagon, bicycle rental, services of an interpreter and mechanic. All tours are guided by experienced leaders. All transportation inside the USSR from airport or arrival to starting point and from the ending point are also provided.



Foreign membership of the VCTC "Orion" includes:

a free subscription to "Velotourist", access to other cycling and touring information, discounts in services while touring in the USSR

Name___________ Address________________
City____________ Country________________
Phones: home________ work______________
Membership $12

Volgograd Cyclists' Touring Club "Orion"




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