Monday afternoon the pass finally arrives and I immediately set off for the border 40km away. It must have been a long time since a cyclist passed through here. The soldiers are super nice, want to take a selfie and now follow me on Instagram. The invitation letter from the Olympic Committee makes an impression, but they still phone around for 2 hours to check whether it’s true.
I am passed from one post to the next. At the last post, one metre from Russian soil, they tell me that there is a list from the Ministry of the Interior with all the names that have a special permit. My name is not on it. I have to turn back.
I drive 2 kilometres back into Ukraine and pitch my tent in a field. And then I start making phone calls. In the morning I get the message that I am on the list.
On the Russian side of the border I am led into a room where I have to wait again. After 3 hours everything is cleared and the border official bids me farewell with the words “Good luck crazy boy”. That clears the way to the Pacific.
The temperature is below zero and it is snowing. I avoid the big roads, which hardly have any hard shoulders and when they do, there is snow or slush. The road is life-threatening. That’s why I take a 300-kilometre diversions and stay on side roads, which are usually in very bad condition. There are many potholes and many are not asphalted and are mud tracks at this time of year.