After lunch, the throbbing arm was throbbing more. The elbow had swollen up like a balloon and it was hard gettng it inside the jacket. I told the guys I wont be taking the jacket off again today!.
We continued on towards Lidoga as a lesser pace, more like a sedate 80 km/h (50mph) rather than the 100 - 115 (65-75 mph) we had been doing. The bikes, and now we ourselves, were taking a pounding on the road. But the Vanino road had not finished with us yet !
As we approached the 60km asphalt section at the Lidoga end of the road, the last 20 km of dirt was the roughest of the road. We slowed right down to take this rugged potholed stretch. Terry had been concerned he needs to make his bike last all the way back to England so I let him set the pace. Every bump was now felt as pain in my arm as the inflamed flesh was jerked about. We made the end of the dirt and waited for Tony.
We waited … and waited … and waited. After 20 minutes, and with neither of us wanting to go back onto that rough stretch, Tony appeared, riding what appeared to be a BMW Dakar chopper. His back suspension had broken off 7-8 km back. The bike was sitting very low, but the spring was resting roughly on a bit of suspension linkage. The bike was rideable. It was almost 5pm and we still had 250 km to go to Komsomolsk.
All three of us had been in the wars today. It was a straight forward road but the bikes had taken a hammering. As for my fall, I can only assume that there was a bit of overconfidence there. It had been several months since I dropped the bike. And even then never at any sort of speed more than 5-10 km/hr. I had ridden about 10,000 km on the dirt roads of Siberia, aggressively, without a fall and I suspect that played a big part in the overconfidence. Now my arm was smarting. A little more measured riding was in order.
We hit the main road from Khabarovsk to Komsomolsk and I had a chat with Tony while we refuelled and cleaned our boots from mashed grasshoppers. We could turn back to Khabarovsk where we knew bikers and mechanics, but Tony refused to be beaten. He insisted we push on to Komsomolsk as planned. He would lead the way and set the pace, on his Dakar ‘chopper’.
If you think I was kidding about the squished grasshoppers all over the boots, here's a pic of the grille of a car that came to the petrol station just ahead of us. In Siberia, everything is extreme!
As we continued north on the asphalt road, we crossed the 50th parallel. The weather in Vladivostok - Khabarovsk region had been very eastern … hot and muggy, but the further north we went, the dryer the air became. Tony was powering on at 100km/h, broken suspension and all, slowing only when he saw bumps that his badly wounded suspension might not handle.
Around 8:30pm we reached the Amur bridge, just south of Komsomolsk. The river narrowed between some headlands here and was only about 2km wide. It had been up to 10km wide for much of the time we were tracking it. I stopped to take a picture while Tony and Terry continued on.
As I started to take off again, a local biker rode up beside me and flagged me down. This was perfect. We knew no-one in Komsomolsk, and no idea where to get Tony’s shock repaired or replaced.
Vadim was the biker and I very quickly ascertained from him in Russian that there were bikers and a good mechanic or two in Komsomolsk. We continued across the bridge and met up with Tony and Terry on the other side. Vadim took a look at Tony’s rear end and got straight on the phone.
Then he hung up the phone, looked at the three of us, smiled, and said in English ‘follow me - 10 kilometres to bikers’.
Fifteen minutes later we were in a garage in downtown Komsomolsk, and Tony’s bike was being stripped down by Kostya, a young mechanic. The guys insisted on getting his suspension out tonight!
By 11pm Tony’s bike had the suspension out, Terry’s and my bikes were also safely parked in Yegor’s garage (Yegor and his wife Oksana were the senior motorcycle folk in Komsomolsk) and we were all back at Yegor and Oksana’s flat with a bunch of other bikers being feed dinner!
What a remarkably hospitable end to a very tough day for the three of us.