The four of us left the Gutov beer house at 6:30pm. It was about 30 degrees and really humid. The priority was getting airflow thru the clothes and I led the way out of town at a brisk pace. We zoomed in and out of the traffic, slowing down only for the traffic police posts. Joon was at least a seasoned urban rider and kept up!
About 200 km out of town and we hit the first bit of gravel road - a stretch of roadworks about 800 yards long. A couple of kilometres down the road and Terry and I stopped to wait for Tony and Joon, who had disappeared after we had blasted thru the roadworks. After 2 minutes, we turned round and returned.
Joon was down!. Off the road. The bike was off the embankment and down a metre or two at the side of the road. Joon seemed ok, but the bike was in bad shape. One of his plastic panniers had broken open completely and his stuff was scattered throughout the dust. It was his first few hundred yards off asphalt. I have never been to South Korea but from what I have heard, the roads are immaculate asphalt, similar to Japan. I am not surprised Korean riders have never seen dirt roads before arriving in Russia.
Terry set about sorting out a temporary fix for Joon’s pannier, while I tackled his badly bent gear lever. Tony was helping sort out Joon psychologically - telling him that these things happen and everything is fixable, and giving him tips on dirt riding.
One thing that didnt seem fixable was the clutch lever. It had snapped near the base. Joon came up with the answer himself after Terry had been unable to splint it. He had a pair of multigrips and clamped them round the base of the clutch lever. His clutch now was a pair of multigrips.
Terry, using his years of wild-man enduro riding experience, took Joon’s bike back up the embankment and onto the dirt road. We all chipped in to put the luggage safely back on, held together with string and duct tape, and rode on to the next town where we found a hotel and settled down for the night.
It was an unusual, surprising 40th birthday for me … We celebrated by going to the local store (all restaurants were closed by now in the village of Sibirtsovo) and loading me up with my favorite beer, Sibirsky Korona with Lime. It was a birthday in which Tony and I got our bikes back and on the road, Terry finally got going in Russia and Joon was struggling with the idea of continuing his ride.
We beered the night away in our dingy hotel room.