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In Napoleon’s Tracks: A New Bicycle Travel Experience from Lithuania to Russia

  • Peter King
  • 15 June 2012

Bikes don’t have to be slow, but there is no better form of slow travel than by bike. There are also few means of journeying that let you experience a place more fully – every bump in the road, drop of rain and heartfelt small-town reception. So if you’ve got time during the last two weeks in August 2012, registration is now open for Recycle History, an exciting new bike ride from Lithuania to Russia.

Recycle History's route will sometimes include small trails

On the bicycle route from Kaunas, Lithuania, to Borodino, Russia, the Recycle History route will sometimes include small trail. Photo courtesy of Peter King

For cyclists in Europe and worldwide, Recycle History is leading a ride from Kaunas in Lithuania to Borodino in Russia to commemorate everyone who died during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia.

The ride has a suggested charity organisation and has been designed so that anyone 18 or older of average fitness (with some preparatory training) will feel comfortable joining in. Cyclists living in communities along the route are welcome to add their wheels for a day as the ride passes by (if they can’t take part in the whole ride).

A New History Mission

The purpose of Recycle History is to trace by bike – the most sustainable form of travel – the same route used by Napoleon. In doing so, we’ll ‘recycle’ history, but this time we’ll make new friendships and enjoy each other’s company along the way.

Recycle History - painted house in Belarus

The backroads of Belarus show their true colours on the Recycle History bicycle ride. Photo courtesy of Peter King

Recycle History is not a race, so there will be no need to hurry. Instead, we’ll stop and meet people. We are even organising cultural events, from music and singing (cyclists can bring musical instruments and their singing voices) to lectures or meetings with local historians. The intention is to share friendship with those we meet in Lithuania, Belarus and Russia.

The Details

The ride begins in Kaunas on 19 August 2012 and finishes on 2 September 2012. The two weeks of riding will include four rest days to allow for recovery and recreation. The total distant covered is expected to be approximately 1,000 kilometres, with varying daily distances.

The Recycle History website describes the route, detailing each day’s overnight destination. You can download an itinerary for each day, including the rest days, from the site’s downloads section. Each day, a support vehicle will do a sweep to ensure pickups in case of fatigue or mechanical failure. The support vehicle will always set out after the last rider has departed and will follow a route clearly indicated to the cyclists.

Recycle History - day 7 map

Visit the Recycle History website for each day’s route, including this hand-drawn map of the day 7 route.

Hotels and other places to stay will be booked in advance and, so that you can see where you will be staying, accommodation updates (including costs) will be made clear. Links will also be added to the travel companies making the arrangements.

Recycle History is a not-for-profit organisation. Its founders – Tom, Adam and myself – will participate in the ride and pay their way just as you are.

Bicycle Ethos

What a great feeling it is to be out on the road or small lane cycling through a new place. On a bike you can’t help but be aware of the rhythm of the turning pedals, the hum of your tyres and the pull of your breath as you tune into the exertions of your body and take in the unfolding landscape.

Recycle History - monasteries of Russia

The iconic monasteries of Russia await toward the end of the two-week Recycle History bicycle ride. Photo courtesy of Peter King

On a bike there is a continuing excitement and sense of arrival. By bicycle, you catch your destinations off guard, surprising them with your quiet arrival and letting them surprise you with their natural charm. True nature is revealed, whether a horse in a meadow, a startled bird, a hedgerow spangled with wild flowers or the glow of a summer’s afternoon ruffled by a cooling breeze. You are relaxed and intimate with the world and it reveals a richness unseen when using any other mode of transport.

To join the Recycle History ride, contact Tom, Adam and myself through the Recycle History website. We’re looking forward to a very memorable ride with a great group of people.

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Peter King

Peter is an architect, writer, traveller and co-founder of Recycle History, where "we recyle history to give it new meaning," seek to share a positive and tolerant future with all peoples in our increasingly connected world... and have some fun doing it! You can reach him by email at recyclehistory(at)gmail(dot)com.
Peter King
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adventure travel, Belarus, Eastern Europe, ecotours, Europe, festivals & events, Lithuania, outdoors, responsible transport, Russia, sports,

2 Responses to “In Napoleon’s Tracks: A New Bicycle Travel Experience from Lithuania to Russia”

  1. Jane Lodge says:

    Are you planning any other trips like this? I’ve only just discovered this site…a bit late I know!

  2. A bitter history can be revenged, in sweet ways like this!

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