Architectural Tour.

Today we were able to experience the joy and challenge of riding bicycles in Moscow.  Twenty-four intrepid cyclists signed up for a tour with a local guide who started a company 4 years ago giving cycle tours in Moscow. We arrived early and just as the sun was coming up we explored the park around the Krymsky bridge. Cathy couldn’t resist a picture of a sculpture that had a remarkable resemblance to our friend Janet Joy.

The entrance to Gorky Park was an impressive piece of work that presents an opening we hope to explore another day.

We gathered at a rental shop, picked out a bicycle, and everyone donned headphones to hear our guide as he spoke about the sights. 

Airat, our guide, is particularly interested in the avant-garde style of architecture  from the 1920’s. The center point of our tour was a radio tower that was destined for destruction by a developer who promised to reconstruct the tower somewhere else.  Airat and some of his friends started a group to protest the destruction of the tower. He explained that in Russia people might promise to rebuild such a landmark but never get around to it. Not unlike the rest of the world I suspect. His group petitioned local authorities and with a lot of hard work eventually succeeded in preventing the destruction of the tower. The battle was in honor of preserving the beauty and historical significance of this piece of architecture. Here is a description I found from Dr. Google. “It was designed by Vladimir Shukhov. The 160-metre-high free-standing steel diagrid structure was built in the period 1920–1922, during the Russian Civil War.” Apparently Mr. Shukov was the first engineer to design structures with triangular features that are light weight and strong.

Once wired for sound and seated on our two wheeled steeds we headed out into Moscow streets. Safety in numbers and clearing of most of the recent snow allowed us to proceed without attracting any encounters with cars.

Airat led the way to the area around the radio tower and showed us some buildings from this avant-garde era. The first was a housing project that seems to have a rather draconian intent and function when viewed from today’s standards. The rooms in this block were 6 square meters and called sleeping quarters as they had two beds and nothing else. The toilets, showers and change rooms were in another part of the building. Students were expected to exercise on the roof top, eat in the cafeteria, study in the library and socialize in the “Club” area. As our tour guide explained the idea was almost an industrial model where 17 year old students were converted into adult soviets that would be cogs in the wheel of progress. For some strange reason it was a failure and after a number of years was converted into other uses. 

Our next stop was an interesting area where the buildings were set on an angle and colored to reflect the work of a major painter of the time.  These housed families who shared day care, schools, cafeteria and the “club” areas. It is still used as housing and it was interesting to experience the beneficial effect of placing buildings on angles rather than set in rectangular blocks.

We finished the tour and headed out on Moscow streets and sidewalks back to the bike rental spot.  There were some harrowing moments as we ended up on a fairly major 8 lane street with cars going at quite a speed. Fortunately there was a curb lane for buses that allowed us to move along safely. We then walked back to the subway and returned to the Congress Center.

 A tradition has developed at these conferences to have an evening where presenters can use a Pecha Kucha format to give lively presentations on some cycling theme. They are timed so each presenter has 6 min. to get their message across. Drinks and food round out the evening to make a very happy time for everyone. This event was held in a unique building located under the Krymsky bridge, a monster structure over the Moscow River. The venue was appropriately decorated with old bicycles.


Our Friend Janet Joy was slated to give one of the talks. When her turn approached she magically transformed into the professional actor she had been at one point in her life and wowed the crowd with an animated, exuberant, superb presentation of her passion the “Reading Line.”  Back home in Toronto she sets up bike rides and stops at prearranged stations to be engaged by writers reading passages from their books. This creates opportunities for purchasing  from the author and having the book signed.

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One Comment

  1. Sally February 12, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    What an exceptional trip for you both, Trent! I so enjoy reading your descriptions, accompanied by great photos. Almost as good as being there with you both … though not quite! Many thanks! xoxo

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