The "Pilgrims" are back home.

The pilgrim cycling tour of children and youth
over the Barents Region is over.

A way
On the 17th of August 12 boys and 4 adults of the Pilgrims cycling club came back to their homes in Severomorsk. They had left behind 3600 kilometres, out of which 3200 were covered on bicycles. From Pechenga in the Murmansk Region through Karelia, Finland to Sør-Varanger Kommune in Norway. 33 days of exhausting cycling and unforgettable impressions.

The idea of a cycling tour came into being together with the club as far back as 1990. According to club's leader Anatoly Lipin there was a need of a common significant event, which would stimulate the kids to go in for cycling. In 1996 the club initiated and carried out a cycling tour Murmansk-Zaandam (Netherlands) during which money were collected for children's hospitals in Severomorsk.
Leader of Piligrim cycling club
Anatoliy Lipin and his wife Olga

During next years Anatoly and the kids had toured around the entire Murmansk Region. At the same time the idea of a circle-tour round the Barents Region developed and became real. A new impulse came with Olga, Anatoly's wife, who speaks Finnish and English. Via Internet and participating in international youth conferences she managed to establish contacts with cycling clubs in Finland.Many contributed to the tour organization: Nordic Council of Ministers office gave a grant for the cultural programme. Murmansk Barents Information Centre helped to make an application for financing from the Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes, which allocated NOK14.500. Considerable organizational and financial assistance was rendered by the Murmansk Regional administration, the Severomorsk municipality and their twin-community of Sør-Varanger.

At the press conference at the Pilgrims cycling club both kids and adults shared their impressions of the tour. They remembered staying overnight at the monasteries and the way they cooked dinner themselves. They remembered the way the youngest of them 13 year-old Andrey Dobrovolsky went all the way as well as older boys and never asked for a lift in the accompanying bus. Anatoly says that the difficulties of the travel immediately showed up all the good that the boys had, and the things that should be improved. It would be difficult sometimes to make oneself to keep to the established routine and discipline. But otherwise they couldn't make as much as they did: to cover 100-200 km a day and after that to go and see all the interesting sites that were along the route: Trifon's Pechenga monastery and plateu Rosvumchor, Kizhi and Valaam, New-Valaam monastery and orthodox church museum in Finland, Oulu university and Santa Clause village, Grenseland museum and Svanhovd environmental centre and much more.

In Rovaniemi the "pilgrims" arranged the cycle races with the local cycling club and showed excellent results. Vladimir Khudyakov won the first prize in the group of 16-year-olds. He achieved the speed of 40 km/hour! Unfortunetly the finns didn't join the "pilgrims" in the tour. They'd rather take part in a cycle race! Anatoly said he would think of it.

"Bye Finland, Hello Norway!"
On the way they made new friends and met the old ones. Anne Jorgensen, an advisor in the cultural department of the Sør-Varanger Kommune accompanied the kids along all their programme in Norway. And a fellow-cyclist, a policeman Ragnvald Ness from Kirkenes, even accompanied them to Nikel.

The club's leader would like to make the tour traditional. Next year the route could pass through four Barents region countries.

The "pilgrims" could possibly take part in the cycle-marathon Kilpisjarvi-Tornio, which is annually held along Norwegian-Swedish border.

Anatoly says that he would like most of all that children from different countries will go cycling together. Together they will overcome the difficulties, together discover new places and learn to live a happy life together.

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Created by Murmansk Barents Information Centre 2000
Original page
Modified by Vlad Vasiliev
Last modified on 22 Mar 2002