Chapter 16. Bike tours in Altai



Even if your previous bike ride was in your childhood it is not a problem nowadays. I'll tell about pluses and minuses, new trends and give you review of bike tours.

Why bike tour?

91799888-2728-42ad-8065-b5c647353d1f.jpgTourists ride relaxed; they can stop wherever they like and take photos. The guide is closing the column


Bike tourism is underestimated. There is a popular opinion it is suitable for sportsmen only. That's not true, in fact: there are tours available for unprepared participants. Travelling by bike gives the most powerful impressions.

  • At first, it is the full contact. The wind is blowing into your face, the rain waters your body; you can feel the smells, see the sun and the rocks around you. You won't get such experience on a bus tour. Here you got all your senses involved.
  • At second, it is comfort speed for observing. The car moves you away very quickly, but here - all is available to see and admire in details, you can move closer and make a stop. I've been to same places on a car and and on a bike - it is a big difference.
  • At third, bike tour gives you not only the impressions from Altai, but from yourself as well: from your body, from your back). To fulfill the ascent to the pass is a powerful impression. And it is not about the pass. The thing is you rotate the pedals, your legs get tired, you sweat and the wind freshens your body. Ones, who tried, will confirm my words - how strong the emotions from your body.
  • At forth, the feeling of overcoming. It would mean so much to say 'I did, I've ridden, I forced that ascent'. It doesn't matter that it would be much easier for a sportsmen. The load here is given by the abilities.

Advantages and disadvantages

023b6de9-f40a-46a5-be2b-9046cd824a8f.jpgSeason of bike tours on Chuysky trakt is from April till November. It can be like that on the pass in April (exit of the tour base at the Seminsky pass)


Bike tours are balanced. They are faster than hikes (which are slow and boring), but slower and more sensitive than bus tours. Blowing of the wind makes it not so hot. Due to the speed, there is a feeling of moving (in comparison with hikes again). Riding a bike a person can choose the comfortable mode of moving.

Disadvantages come from the pluses - if the weather is bad, the car is more comfortable. And again it is a physical load.

Differences in bike tours

d597c628-3975-4161-b472-8d8e19a62075.jpgSmall breakages are usually being fixed by a guide-instructor


  1. Accommodation. Bike tours with staying in tents or at the hotels. The difference is big, because after pedaling so much you might like to have a rest.
  2. There is a car carrying the stuff. Or there is not. If not, we carry our things on our own. The escort car is especially needed on the tours with the full load and with tents.
  3. The level of physical load: how hard it is to ride the tour through. Sometimes it is hard a lot.
  4. The level of technical skills: how well you should be able to ride a bike. There can be complicated paths demanding precise riding and balancing.

The hardest bike tours are technically and physically hard, going through the mountains and paths, with staying in tents, without an escort car (we carry all the stuff on our own backs).

Review of the tours (and tour companies). In the order from harder to easier, for a beginner

1. A real cycling trip

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It gives the great views. But I had to climb that mountain on a kind of goat's path with the bike on my back to see all that beauty. My bike is relatively light (10 kg). But what about the load (25-30 kg)?


Altai paths (Алтай-Тур, 25 000 рублей).

It is a real cycling trip. Fully equipped and loaded bike. Going through the mountains and wild areas. You carry the set of necessary stuff: your things, provision, tents and equipment for overnight stay.
I've experienced this route in a lighter form, and, to be frank, I can't even imagine how hard it would be with the load: I had to carry the bike on my back through some half-vertical mountains along the Katun (here you can estimate the steepness of the ascents).

6f77f560-0ee0-42f9-ab5c-aaffda0e5b3f.jpg

I wouldn't recommend this tour for beginners; if only you dislike a true hardcore).


2. Bike tour with an escort car

1da4123a-d2be-458a-9a02-96bce9a7cf38.jpgThe stuff goes detour, and the tourists ride lightly through the mountain paths

The level of difficulty can be different - closer to middle and high. Accommodation in tents, sometimes at the hostels. Usually the route leads to the high areas and it is technically complicated. 
All the organizers of such tours use the similar scheme of the work: you join the tour with your own bike, tent and equipment, and the organizer supplies you with an escort car, a guide and a field kitchen. These are mostly budget tours: you ride lightly, with a backpack. Tents and sleeping bags are being taken by car from one overnight stay to another.

I know a little only one organizer of that kind - Ivan and his guides from altayrussia.com. That is the man of incredible energy, he makes active and funny tours; my friends participated - got excited. This tour is mostly attractive to the tourists from Siberia with their own bikes (because it's expensive to transport the bike from afar).
Here is an example of the 4-day tour, costs 6900 RUB. It is not an easy route, big height difference, it will be hard without training (we tried). But it is beautiful and legendary.

17ab7daf-94f9-4a40-9f53-65f5605b5a63.jpegTungur path - with big history

Analogues of such tours are made by AltaiRoute, YouTour (all is similar); for example, tour for 7 days will cost 11900 RUB (analogue from YouTour). There is also Reva, but they can offer only short routes for joining.

3. Bike tours with the stuff on the carrier and hostel accommodation

42d08612-5248-4646-b037-986328875e23.jpgTourists are inspecting the bikes at the day of arrival. The most of them come without skills of shifting gears and using hand brakes, because they haven't ridden a bike since childhood.

Level of skills - beginner. Tourists carry their own things in the special bike bags.

In this field I know only Veloturo. I can speak for hours about them, because initially it had been our own project for three years. The tour was elaborated specifically for beginners - for those who hadn't gone in for bike sport and just could ride a bike, but not even regularly. Anyone could join that tour - ladies, grand daddies, those who were sitting in the saddle for the first time for 10-20 year (the first day is training day.)
The tour goes through the most beautiful road in Russia - Chuysky trakt, on the asphalt. The special bikes are used - touristic, for the asphalt.

267594a9-8429-4556-a90f-78e14fcf0a1d.jpgSpecial highway wheels rolling forward, comfortable saddle (there's no need to wear special bicycle shorts), convenient seat, fenders, under saddle pintle with damper. Wide range of gears for riding on the hills.


The advantages of the tours - you can take a shower every day (which is important for a bike tour, because you get sweat easily). You don't have to bring your own equipment, you'll be given everything you need. As for minuses, geographical limitation - Chuysky trakt only. In other areas you're going to need a mountain bike and level-up in skills.

4. The easiest bike tour - on the electric bikes.

c5e8ad80-d25f-4c94-a24b-954f9b3da0ab.jpgThe front wheel is equipped with electric motor. In the back, inside the 'carrier', there is a powerful battery. And there is a power control panel on the helm.


That is another version of Veloturo. Electric bike works in the following way: while you're rotating the pedals, the electric motor is working. It feels like you're constantly moving down the hill. If it's cold, the battery is enough for 30 km. Usually it is possible to charge it in a cafe or just ride as a usual bike (an average day mileage in that tour is 50 km)



So, that is bike tourism - to any taste. Since the city bike rentals appeared, bike tourism started gaining its popularity, as more people went into riding. Soon enough, I guess, there will be a boom of bike tourism - just like in Europe. Time will show).



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Riding a bike in Altai is impressive and cool.

Though we transferred all our bike tours to a new organizer, we are not going to reject working with bikes at all. Our new project contains such component; but we have different bikes and consider their usage as one of the variants within the hybrid-tour. And that's a different story.

Three years of hard work with bike tours and independent travels through Altai on a bike gave us the experience: there are no dissatisfied people after a bike tour. Anything could happen during the tour, of course. But afterwards there were only positive emotions. No matter how hard it might be, no matter what weather it was: the tour leaves great memories.

We use the experience like that working on the tour which is aimed to getting impressions, as bike tour includes the very mechanisms, on which the best impressions are being formed.

Alexey Kiryanov,
Equesto CEO (FB)


Content


Chapter 1. Why Altai and what's its zest?

Chapter 2. Best time of the year to go to Altai

Chapter 3. Best solutions how to get to Altai

Chapter 4. Taking off our rose-colored glasses: antidote against 'all-is-good' ads

Chapter 5. Activity in Altai

Chapter 6. Touristic bases, hotels and campsites of Altai

Chapter 7. Hikes with tents

Chapter 8. The ancient Altai and history

Chapter 9. Important questions got answered

Chapter 10. Prices in Altai

Chapter 11. Altaian tour selection guide

Chapter 12. Goods of Altai

Chapter 13. What do people say after visiting Altai?

Chapter 14. The examples of independent travels in Altai

Chapter 15. Organizing a tour

Chapter 16. Bike tours in Altai

Mailing for the first time comers to Altai

9 - Edited (2).pngIf you are going to visit Altai, you probably started with searching for the information in the internet: how, what, where, how much, what are the routes, reservation, sightseeings and tours. That's a huge work and it is time consuming.

Our mailing is a set of several letters full of concentrated and structured information, links to well-tried sights and sources and answers to questions.

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