My intention was to fly to Moscow with my bike, and then bring it with me on the trains across Russia to get to Irkutsk, where I would then begin biking.
Within moments of being picked up at the airport, I had a new plan. Denis, who worked at the hostel in Moscow suggested an alternative as we drove through the city in rush hour:
Put the bike on a cargo train and travel separately.
Less baggage, more freedom. Good idea. So that’s what I did.
Admittedly I was a bit dubious that the bike would actually arrive, and if it did, that it would arrive in one piece… but I have long ago stopped worrying about such things. If it didn’t make it, well, I’d just buy a cheap bike locally, or maybe change my plans altogether and buy a horse instead. I think, even, in the back of my mind, part of me was hoping the bike didn’t make it. I seemed to have so much ‘stuff’. I liked the idea that I could lose everything and travel with nothing. Just a passport, map and mind to do whatever the hell I liked.
But the bike did make it. So the original plan is back on. And it is a good thing. I know once I hit the road and start pedalling, I’ll be loving every minute.
So, for anyone else who’s considering biking in Asia and taking the Trans-Siberian train – don’t take the bike with you, put it on a train separately to wherever you want it sent. It’s cheap and reliable and gives you more freedom.
I used jde.ru – I took the bike to their warehouse by the railway in Moscow, filled in a form, paid £18 (for 28kg, bike boxed together with raft and camping gear, to be sent 5,000km across the country) and was given a tracking number to check it’s progress online. They even called the number I provided to let me know when the bike made to the final destination in Irkutsk. Then I simply collected it from their warehouse at the other end.
Admittedly, it would have been harder to do myself as my Russian is very limited. But I had help from the people at the hostels I stayed at in Moscow (Comrade) and Irkutsk (Nerpa). But really, if you’ve the determination to cycle in Asia and take the Trans-Siberian train, then getting your bike sent by cargo is easy!