Olympic tracks – changing skis to wheels

June 19, 2014

It seems that just recently sports battles for the Winter Olympics medals in Sochi have been on – at that time the biathlon stadium and the ski track constructed by Gazprom approved themselves to be superior. Our biathletes and skiers won nine sets of Olympic medals, thus making a great contribution into the medal collection of the Russian Olympic team, which in the end won the first place in the medal standings.

What is the state of the track now, during its first summer after the Olympics? It turned out that in addition to sports competitions and summer training camps of biathletes and skiers, the track has found another excellent use: the routes plotted by the Olympians are now popular with cyclists. This is not a mere coincidence at all – it’s no secret that cycling wins more and more fans across Russia, that’s why Sochi resorts promptly started improving the cycling tracks, anticipating a large influx of holiday-makers.

And here again Gazprom took the lead, meeting the summer season head-on: by now, there is only one cycling park ready to accept the adventure travelers in Sochi. Besides, a bicycle may be rented right on the spot, and you’d better take the camera with you, as you won’t see such views of Krasnaya Polyana anywhere else.

To get to the cycling park, you need to take the cableway up. And once you get inside a cable car you understand that the trip has started! During the steep and fast ascent your ears pop, but you don’t notice it, as the view is changing every minute… There are quickly approaching mountain tops above, a valley rapidly vanishing in the clouds below and the most picturesque woods around you.

Right at the beginning of the ascent the low station of the aerial cableway and the Galaktika community center are clearly visible, but just in a couple of minutes they will disappear in the haze.

It will only take you 15 minutes to reach the height of 1,400 meters. The grass on the pistes is already green, and the cableway against the background of mountain landscapes looks quite natural.

Before the start you should study the options for cycling routes and map your own one, the more so as the information boards are displayed throughout the park in the most convenient places. The routes are divided into three difficulty levels: Green – straightforward, flat terrain (1.5 kilometers); Blue – challenging (the longest route of 2 kilometers); and Red – difficult, steep ascents and slopes (1.5 kilometers). The next year new routes will complement the existing ones.

You may start on the route you choose right from the cableway (we are on our cycle trip with Evgeny Neshchadimov and Galina Vachagaeva). The first thing you can’t but notice is the quality of the road surface. You won’t come across any motor vehicles on the route; this wide road is only for cyclists! Accessible navigation will not let you lose your way, and the road sections with the steepest slopes are cautiously fenced.

The views are magnificent along the whole cycling route and you just want to shoot them nonstop. A moment later, and you’re just enjoying the captivating scenery.

But don’t think that only one ride along the route will give you all the visual pleasure. Every season is charming in its own way, that’s why it’s impossible to get used to miraculous views.

Clean asphalt roads are perfect for long bicycle rides. There are direction signs along the routes; someone may considerably speed on the descent, that’s why such provisions are obligatory.

You should be ready to exercise when you choose the difficult route. But the more pleasant you feel about winning over yourself when you cross the finish line!

The end point of the route is the biathlon stadium constructed by Gazprom. The most beautiful views open from here, and the stadium itself is worth visiting, it is here where our Olympians conquered their victories. The life of the stadium doesn’t stop – soon it will house the summer camps of Russian biathlon teams.

There is a viewpoint just below the biathlon stadium – from here you can take wonderful pictures, if, of course, the valley is not blanketed with clouds.

After the bike ride you may visit the rental center to try out a whole range of sports equipment, including the most exotic wheeled gadgets meant for active leisure. Most of them appeared just recently, thanks to the world’s passion for summer mountain holidays. And Russia is not an exception!

Sledding is a Russian national entertainment, but you don’t often come across summer sleds. It’s not so easy to slide these sleds, as you have to spin the pedals and steer with your feet at the same time!

Here’s a ride on a special mountain scooter with a self-explanatory name ‘Monster’. Such wide tyres provide for a better balance, but the speed is also considerably higher, that’s why you should be less adventurous in choosing a hill for your first ride…

And you should better not to skate on a mountain board – the summer counterpart of a snowboard – without protective gear.

The best way of quickly mastering all these amazing wheeled devices is to seek help from experienced instructors who work here in the cycling park. Training will substantially boost your skills and new thrills will only bring you joy.

The trip around the new cycling park in Krasnaya Polyana, which Gazprom got ready for the summer season, is over. An outdoor sunny day has gone too quickly… Unique photos and pleasant muscle aches caused by physical exercise will serve as mementos of the day. This place leaves you with a desire to come back to breathe in a lungful of fresh mountain air, get the bird’s eye view of the vicinities and, of course, try out new cycling routes.

Denis Merkushev, Gazprom website Editorial Board

P. S. We’d like to thank the SVOD International managing company for assistance in preparing this photo essay.

You can find large size images in Photos.