FROM THE BALTIC TO THE BLACK SEA
the international bicycle ride dedicated to
15th Anniversary of Independence Restoration in Lithuania and
Victory of Orange Revolution in Ukraine
HOT NEWS: John Dennis Clark III reports published under section "Press".
Riga 2005.06.15 Klaipėda 2005.06.24 Lvov 2005.07.21 Odessa 2005.08.18
(alternative route Gdansk 2005.07.04 Lvov 2005.07.21)
The route will take us through the lands which were for a thousand years the object of wars between East and West. Here the territorial borders used to be redrawn very often, the new created states to be destroyed, robbed, divided again and again. The different cultures were mixing forcibly and naturally. Many nations disappeared; to survive in these lands people had to endure all possible torments loosing their lives, faith, hope, nationality. In 13th-16th centuries most of these lands belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth when at the end of 18th century it was divided among Russia, Prusia and Austria. The last partition made Stalin with Hitler. The historical turns at the end of 20th century in Eastern Europe set a hope that our world is positively changing, and the long era of lie, hatred and violence finishing. The Baltic States celebrate the peaceful victory of liberty already 15 years while orange flags in Ukraine just started flying and other nations still have to put efforts to escape nightmares of the past.
Wheels of our bicycles will spin two months on the roads of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova connecting the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea. On the route we will visit wonderful nature sanctuaries and numerous historical sites which remind the glory and fall of Great Empires; but the most important we will meet and discover life and spirit of local people who survived ages in their common villages. The main group will start on June 24 in Klaipėda. The Latvian group will start 10 days earlier in Riga and join in Klaipėda. The Polish group will start in Gdansk and cycle through Poland directly to Lvov. On July 24 both Latvian-Lithuanian and Polish groups will start from Lvov and go together until Odessa.
Starting from Klaipeda we will cycle along the south shore of Curonian Gulf and take a boat to Nida from Ventės Horn, famous as a watch point of migrating birds. We will spend the shortest night with a folk festival and meet the rising sun in Neringa Dunes, the UNESCO world heritage. From Baltic Sea we will choose the Nemunas Bicycle Route to the second Lithuanian city of Kaunas, then to Kernavė, the ancient capital of Lithuania with five mounds, nowadays the archaeological reserve. The picturesque paths of Neris Regional Park will bring us to Vilnius, the capital city with its multicultural heritage and noble architecture of old town. In Belarus we will visit still Lithuanian villages and the biggest lake Naroch, the capital city Minsk as well as glorious historical sites of Nesvyzh, Mir and Naugardukas /Novohrudok/. Then Slonim, famous city of its Jewish heritage, and Belovezh National Park, the biggest forest reserve in Europe. After visiting Brest Fortress we will leave Belarus and enter Ukraine. We will cycle through the lands of ancient Volynia and reach Lvov with its charming old town. Leaving Lvov the road starts to go up getting closer to Carpathian Mountains. We will arrive via Uzh pass to the city of Uzhgorod, the religious and cultural centre of Ukraine Carpathians. After we will enjoy a wild nature in mountains and climb the highest peak Goverla (2061 m). Then the route will bring us to a very beautiful city of Chernovtsy, we will visit the famous Khotyn Castle-Fortress and magnificent town of Kamenc Podolskij. Crossing Dniestr River we will enter Moldova and find ourselves in the country of whitewashed villages and green fields of endless vineyards. Cycling Moldova from North to South we will arrive to Ukraine again and will direct to the Danube delta, the place called Ukrainian Venice. From here we will go along the Black Sea shore and arrive to Odessa, a Pearl of the Black Sea, on August 18.
The ride is organised on the basis of the BaltiCCycle principles. It is possible to join the ride in any part of the route. Tour leader: Sigitas Kučas, organizer of The Great Millennium Peace Ride around the world from Seattle (USA) to Hiroshima (JPN) 1998-2000 (www.peaceride.org, www.gmpr.lt), Olympic Peace Ride Nordkapp-Olympia through 11 countries in 111 days; the Latvian route by Olegs Stoliarovs, organizer of the BaltiCCycle 2001 and 2002, the Club Velogrupa (www.velokurjers.lv); the Polish part by the Club of Travellers Crotos (www.bicycle.pl).
The recommended readings:
Anne Applebaum. Between East and West. New York: Pantheon Books, 1994 (http://www.anneapplebaum.com/eastwest/eastwest.html)
Historical facts - http://www.answers.com/topic/grand-duchy-of-lithuania; http://www.lietuvos.net/istorija/east_balts/balts.htm