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Stage 66 – Ludza to Zilupe

Four stages in Latvia feels like it was way too short. It may have only been a brief visit but every one of those four stages has packed a punch of some kind. Stage 66 has a lumpy normal distribution kind of an elevation profile that has two thirds of the climbing done by halfway, and a nasty little sting in the tale waiting in the final 200m over the border into Russia. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come.

The route tacks south east from Ludza to the Russian border about fifteen miles north of the three way border between Latvia, Russia and Belarus. There’s a large lake east of Ludza at the start, Lielais Ludzas, and a trio of others, Pildas, Videjais and Zurzu and at five miles. The other big lake on the stage is Nirzas at twelve miles. There’s more water just before the Russian border when the A12 crosses the Zilupe river at Lomosi and the road curves right after the crossing on towards the border checkpoint.

One thing this route is, is remote. On leaving Ludza, the directional profile assumes a very gentle left hander for virtually the whole stage. There’s a sharp right hander over the P49 highway after a mile, but then you settle into that leftward meander. Lake Pildas on your right is the first landmark at five miles, followed immediately by Lake Zurzu, although you won’t see it, either on RGT or real life because it sits behind a bunch of trees.

The village of Nirza is at twelve miles, half way, aptly nestled next to the lake of the same name, but with an ‘s’ on the end. By this time, you’re at the high point of the stage, although it must be said that the long descent is populated by nasty wee climbs of a hundred feet or so: the last one of those, 200m from the finish, is the steepest.

The Russian border is one mile from the finish, just before you pass under the rather aptly coloured red kite. At the border the A12 highway becomes the M-9, and that will be your companion most of the way to Moscow.

Distance: 24 miles / 38 kilometres

Ascent: 571 feet / 174 metres

RGT Magic Road: t6wia0zkIeSr

Total distance: 24.05 mi
Max elevation: 1011 ft
Min elevation: 833 ft
Total climbing: 556 ft
Total descent: -560 ft

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