Hundreds brave deep freeze for Moscow bike ride

HUNDREDS of hardy cyclists on Sunday braved temperatures as low as -27°C in Moscow to complete a mass bike ride through the snow-bound Russian capital.

Participants – some dressed as Santa Claus or his Russian equivalent Ded Moroz – pedalled along the banks of the frozen Moscow river in front of the Kremlin walls.

More than 500 people took part in the 15-kilometre event, officials said, after organisers refused to call it off despite warnings over the freezing temperatures.

The event is aimed at promoting cycling in the sprawling Russian capital.

"Not one of the participants of the winter bike parade ended up going to the doctors after it finished," Moscow authorities said in a statement.

"I feel better than when I was lying on the sofa over the holidays," said Mikhail, a well wrapped-up 42-year-old engineer who took part in the Moscow ride.

"It gives you energy, it's great, just marvellous. I cycle to work every day but it's still a real pleasure," he told AFP.

Moscow is currently in the grips of a severe cold snap that has seen temperatures plunge around Europe.

At least 23 people have died across the continent as a result of the freezing conditions.

Moscow recorded its coldest Orthodox Christmas Night for 120 years at the weekend, media reports said, with temperatures pushing -30°C.

But the mercury is set to rise in the coming days and reach around minus seven degrees celsius on Tuesday. — AFP Relaxnews