VLADIMIR ARBUZOV. PHOTO: Konstantin Yakubov
Even the ancient Romans understood: a good road is a construction, although expensive, but highly necessary, so they spared no effort on the construction. The roads of Russia have been built for generations - a huge scale. In the 19th century, only the Trans-Siberian forces were enough - the only artery connecting the Far East with the center. Several decades went into BAM. But these are railways, and a passing car appeared only last year. It is still a long way to the end of construction, but the road is already working - there are no alternatives, except for the hardware.
Meanwhile, even in the most modern atlas of roads, there is no complete information about the route. From Moscow to Chita there is a road trodden by the Decembrists with varying degrees of approximation on the maps, and further to the east - at best, a dashed line.
It doesn’t matter - to hit the road without a map, therefore, without waiting for the cartographers to make additions to the atlases, we offer you our legend of the route as of last summer.
Any road begins with the first step. From Moscow, the way to Vladivostok is from Volgogradsky Prospekt, passing over the ring road into the M5 federal highway Ural.
The first 58 kilometers is a great wide highway. After Bronnitsy it narrows a little and passes through small villages. The road is very busy, so the average speed is low. We go round Kolomna from the north, Ryazan - from the south-west. Gas stations, repair points and tire workshops are in every locality. You won’t disappear from hunger either - many 24-hour cafes offer quite tasty dinners for an average of 100 rubles.
From Ryazan to Shatsk, the asphalt is fairly broken and crushed by heavy trucks. Rutting requires increased attention: did not notice in time or went over with speed - that and you look will fly out of the way. Many areas under repair, which also significantly limits the pace of movement.
A good road starts from the 417th km, at the entrance to Mordovia. Umet village specializes in roadside services. On both sides of the road there are cafes, canteens, bathhouses with a dense wall. There are parking lots and beds for overnight.
458th km. Here, at the exit from the village of Kargal, you can turn left, to Torbeevo, Krasnoslobodsk, Saransk and Ulyanovsk and cross the Volga there. This is a convenient detour of the still-repaired dam of the Volga hydroelectric station.
But the road M5 "Ural" goes to Penza, Syzran and Samara. You can bypass the dam in Balakovo, turning right in front of Syzran. However, it is faster and ultimately more convenient to use the ferry. Turn to it at the 829th km to Shigony, then to Usolye and along the "sea" to Togliatti. By the way, the local time in the Samara region is one hour ahead of Moscow, then in Tatarstan it returns by the same hour, and in Bashkiria it goes ahead by two at once. After Samara, the M5 "Ural" is so battered that in some places the speed drops to the pedestrian. Here, as it seemed to us, the largest number of traffic police ambushes per kilometer of road. Cars get stuck in long columns and crawl slowly, warning light oncoming from "rash" overtaking …
From Samara to Oktyabrsky - 284 km and only three gas stations. Roadside service is scarce - you should not plan overnight or lunch on this site.
Having hooked the edge of Tatarstan, we drive into Bashkiria. Immediately, excellent asphalt appears, cafes, car repair shops and other roadside services are more common.
Further - to Omsk, but if you follow the M51 Baikal road (M5 ends in Chelyabinsk), you will have to cross the border with Kazakhstan twice. This is a troublesome business - queues, filling in a lot of papers, money for travel. To avoid red tape, it is better to think about a detour in advance. There are several options: the first - through Krasnoufimsk, Achit, Pervouralsk, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen. Passing Sim, after 16 km we turn left, to Krasnoufimsk. A scenic road runs along the Ural Range. Rises and descents are smooth, the load is minimal. Complex area between Achit and Pervouralsk. The roadbed is smashed to smithereens. Speed not higher than 30 km / h. But cafes, parking lots, tire fitting and car repair shops are quite common.
The second route - through Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg - is replete with prolonged ascents and descents, so it is difficult to ice and snow here. Heavy trucks stall on the hills, and the slopes are rolled to shine, so there are congestion in winter. From Chelyabinsk to Yekaterinburg 234 km of excellent highway with decent infrastructure.
The third option - passing Chelyabinsk, go to the Kurgan and further to Tyumen. And here a good and not too busy road allows you to keep a fairly high speed. At the entrance to the Omsk region, near the village of Zimino, set the clock another hour ahead.
From Omsk to Novosibirsk, 650 kilometers of straight as an arrow road. Settlements are a little aloof, and there are not many. The traffic intensity is low, there are almost no speed limit signs. Scanty and roadside trade. Nevertheless, you will not remain hungry and without gasoline - in an hour and a half, you will surely find both a cafe and a gas station. After Novosibirsk, the Baikal road changes its designation to M53. The next 300 km from Novosibirsk to Kemerovo are quite difficult. The road is narrow, traffic is very intense, many signs of speed limit and prohibition of overtaking. Time in the Kemerovo region - plus four hours to Moscow.
East of Kemerovo, the road is empty, the landscape is gradually smoothed out, and after Achinsk it becomes completely flat. And the road itself is wider and better. Transiters should bypass Krasnoyarsk from the north without entering the city.
Further, to Kansk, the speed drops somewhat - a lot of trucks, ascents, descents. Beyond Kansky it is more free, but the road winds through settlements. Cows graze on the side of the road - creatures that are completely devoid of fear of the car, so you won’t be especially speedy here.
After Taishet, the asphalt road alternates with the gravel road, and in front of Nizhneudinsk, the latter is in poor condition. Further to Tulun it will be better, here and there lies fresh asphalt. Tulun is a nodal station. From here there is a road to Bratsk and along the BAM to Tynda, from where you can get to Skovorodino. At least the Yakut driver of the Gazelle claimed that he had driven this route.
Irkutsk region - plus five hours to Moscow time. Closer to Irkutsk, traffic intensity increases again. There is no bypass road around the city, so we pass it by the sign to Kultuk. Then M53 goes to M55 and goes to Baikal through mountain passes. The road is tight, the traffic is busy, sharp turns, descents, climbs. Gasoline, food, overnight and other domestic issues are completely resolved.
M55 goes around Baikal from the south and for some time goes along the beautiful mountainous coast. An excellent two-lane highway is underloaded and the average speed, despite the difficult terrain, is high.
For Ulan-Ude and completely deserted. “Baikal” rises a thousand meters above sea level and goes at this altitude almost to Chita (Chita and Amur regions are six hours ahead of Moscow). Despite the relative desert, gas stations and eateries are quite common. At the ChitaServiceLada branded station, you can still repair a domestic car, but the farther east, the more noticeable is the service's orientation towards Japanese women and Korean women.
Asphalt ends 138 km after Chita. Here begins the most difficult section of the Moscow-Vladivostok route - the Amur highway, Chita-Khabarovsk. The roadbed is sprinkled with rubble, sometimes rolled “to concrete”, in some places - stones the size of a fist just leveled by a grader. In dry, calm weather, a car pulls a dusty cloud, and the distance has to be increased to a kilometer. The optimal weather for traveling on the Amur is cloudy with light rain. There is no other escape from dust. The main highway, although it is being built quite quickly, is still replete with detours on local roads. There is practically no infrastructure, gas stations, tire shops and car services are extremely rare, so a couple of supplies and a gas canister are required. Overnight stay - in a car or tent.
GAI, first-aid posts, phone can be found only in settlements. Cell phones on most of the Amur are useless. CBC radio helps out. The Ministry of Emergencies and rescue services work on it in all cities. Range with good tuning - up to 40 km. The common channel for drivers in Russia is AM No. 15 (27, 130 MHz).
The last time we translate the clock (plus seven hours Moscow time) at the entrance to the Jewish Autonomous Region. At the same time, Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories live. Finally, asphalt appears only in front of Birobidzhan and is no longer interrupted until Vladivostok. Exceptions are small lengths that are repaired. The last section of the difficulties is not - a busy road is full of necessary infrastructure. However, if possible, it is better not to drive in the dark: most of the cars here are Japanese, with "left-side" headlights - mercilessly blind oncoming ones.