Two Cities, 200 Participants, One Ride: Bike Ride with Rector 9.0

Yesterday marked the ninth time when ITMO’s students, teachers, staff and friends met with Rector Vladimir Vasilyev for a picturesque bike ride in St. Petersburg’s seaside district. This time, they were accompanied by the participants of the METANANO 2018 International Conference that is taking place in Sochi. This year’s ride brought together more than 200 people, including the University’s research associates, exchange students from different countries, and even 2010 Nobel Prize winner in physics Prof. Andre Geim.

Bike Ride with the Rector 9.0. Credit: Emil Gareev

Just like last year, the route started at the entrance to Maritime Victory Park, went through the park past the St. Petersburg Arena Stadium and Yakhtenny Bridge, and ended at the 300th Anniversary Park. In Sochi, the ride took place at the Sochi Olympic Park. More than 100 Russian and international researchers from Europe, the USA and China participated in the event in Sochi. Among the participants was Prof. Andre Geim from the University of Manchester, a 2010 Nobel Prize winner in physics, who has recently presented his latest research in the field of 2D heterostructures and gave an interview to ITMO.NEWS. In this article, the participants share their impressions of the ride and talk about how they use bicycles in their everyday life.

St. Petersburg

Dmitry Klipikov, designer at ITMO’s Strategic Communications Department

Dmitry Klipikov
Dmitry Klipikov

I use a bicycle as my main means of transport and ride approximately 20-30 kilometers daily. I ride through the whole city, but there are some places I don’t like and try to avoid, for example, the Betancourt bridge which is extremely hard to ride on because of its tricky bend. As for the state of the city bicycle infrastructure in general, I’d call it satisfactory. There are quite a lot of bikeways emerging in St. Petersburg, but unfortunately, it’s not rare that cars are parked on them, especially in the city center, which makes them useless. That’s why I usually ride on highways. I decided to join this event because I work at home and don’t often get a chance to see my colleagues. Besides, I really like this route, even though it’s a bit short for me. I live on Vasilievsky Island near Primorskaya metro station and usually ride along the Gulf of Finland.

Alexander Sobolev, fourth-year Bachelor’s student, ITMO University

Alexander Sobolev
Alexander Sobolev

This is my second ride with the rector, and I really enjoyed it. I’m from Perm, and I only started riding a bike in St. Petersburg. I like riding long distances, for example, from the city center to Lakhta Center. I live on Petrogradskaya Side, and when I had classes on Lomonosova St., I used to go there by bike.

Olga Ogarkova, PR specialist at ITMO University

Olga Ogarkova
Olga Ogarkova

I’ve been riding a bike since I was a child. Back then, I had a bicycle with a huge frame, and I couldn’t even mount it on my own. So I used to ride down the street and then walk back with my bike near me. I learned to ride a bicycle when I was five, but I only started riding it regularly a few years ago. First I had an ordinary bike, but then my colleague told me about Strida, and I fell in love with it. It’s a perfect city bicycle. My favorite route goes from Vasilievsky Island to Petrogradskaya Side, and then to Yelagin Island. But I like this route, too. It’s not as easy as it seems because of the bridge. The format is just amazing, as it combines a good workout with lots of fun.

Ekaterina Vissarionova, first-year Bachelor’s student, ITMO University

Ekaterina Vissarionova
Ekaterina Vissarionova

This is my first ride with the rector. I ride a bike all the time; it’s my hobby. I live in the Kirovskiy district of St. Petersburg, and that’s where all my favorite routes are. But I also like riding to Yelagin Island with my parents. I had long been curious about this event, so I decided to give it a try.

Valeria Borisova, third-years Bachelor’s student, ITMO University

Valeria Borisova
Valeria Borisova

I have never taken part in this bike ride before. It’s only recently that I bought a bicycle, and I’m so excited about checking out all the routes in the city. I always envied people with bikes, and now I’m one of them. I live in Primorsky District and often ride near Lakhta Lake.

Annika Schmid, Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main

I’m an exchange student from Germany. I often ride a bicycle at home, but never with a university rector. I really like the idea of this event, as it allows you to feel team spirit and see other students and university staff members in an informal setting. The view was so beautiful that I even stopped to take a picture. I really like St. Petersburg, its atmosphere and architecture. I study a whole range of subjects here at ITMO, from soft skills to the Russian language.

Annika Schmid and Alexandre Béchir
Annika Schmid and Alexandre Béchir

Alexandre Béchir, Engineering school ESIEE, Paris

It was so great to see all these students riding their bikes together in the late afternoon sunlight. I’m an exchange student from France majoring in robotics. I was very surprised to find out that at ITMO robotics is taught in Russian, not in English, which is quite challenging for me. However, I like Russia; it’s a very interesting country, and St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.


Teresa Pellegrino, Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa

This is my first ride with the rector, but in my opinion, it’s a very good tradition. I was so excited when they told us at the METANANO Conference about this event. I like trying something new and see this event as a great opportunity to get familiar with the city, find some interesting places, and of course visit the Olympic Park.

Giuseppe Della Valle, Polytechnic Institute of Milan

It was a wonderful pastime. I think that this bike ride makes the conference even more enjoyable. I had already been to Russia before, but it’s my first time in Sochi, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to visit the Olympic Park. The weather is fine, and we even tried to swim in the sea. Many scientists are active sports enthusiasts, and I’m no exception. My favorite sports are swimming and skiing.

Dragomir Neshev, Australian National University

It’s a very interesting initiative indeed. I have never seen anything like this in other universities. The format is very good, it’s much more interesting that a simple walk or a city tour. I also plan to visit the Sochi SkyPark while I’m here. I live in Canberra, and the bicycle infrastructure is very developed there, so I go to work by bike. Sometimes it’s even faster than going by car or by bus.

Costantino De Angelis, University of Brescia, Italy

The bike ride is a good opportunity to have a great time and get familiar with the city. In my free time, I run long distances about two or three times a week. Sport is a very important part of my life, as it gives me a chance to relax and take a break from work.

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