Thanks, Strommer, it was you and ByleNaKaukaz that inspired me to write this report. BTW Strommer I think you ran into the first Oil Odyssey in 2000 and mine was the second, in 2001.
And GadetBoy, thank you for reading.
I realized as soon as I starting writing this report that I couldn't really do justice to all who came along -- there were a dozen riders plus a retinue that included a film crew, dancers, musicians, and others -- maybe 40 people -- and I can't introduce all of those people much less tell their stories. This is just my own perspective.
Lest I give the impression that the operation ran like clockwork, here is what one of the riders, Ian from the U.K., later wrote to some friends:
"Thomas (the self-styled TripZip) is a freelance journalist by profession, and very much concepts man. He is an incredibly intellectual and gifted
individual and is clearly the driving force behind Oil Odyssey. However,all that being said if you are the type of person that likes a well organised event, to know what is going to happen next or focusses on personal safety above all then in its present form this may not be the event for you"
Ian went on to say:
"Departing Baku for the South-West we were soon travelling across the hot, hot Mugam salt-flats. After an initial stop at the previous years first night stop a mere 20 kilometres outside of the city (at the “Blue Wave Hotel”) a combination of a post-Soviet Caspian Sea holiday resort crossed with a brothel ! We soon settled into our frustrating routine. The bikes would travel all of 30 minutes before someone would break-down, need petrol or simply get tired. The result was that combined with a maximum effective speed of 80 kph due to our police escort we made progress at the speed of a drunken snail. The further we went, the more behind schedule we became. No lunch and intense heat did little to make people any more
As Ian said, we were moving at a sail's pace -- including a stop at a Caspian Sea beach where Zhalika and Aynura were moved to splash around in the water:
Some enterprising farmer was selling melons from the back of a tractor in the Mugam flats, and we stopped to partake:
Another pit stop on day one:
This was typical of the delays -- the Azeri flag flown from Sasha's bike got caught in the chain or real wheel and ripped and shredded -- our police escort was scandalized and borrowed thread and needle from the dancing girls to sew it up.
On the outskirts of Baku was we passed a lone Western biker on a Ural side car rig heading into Baku. We stopped and he did a U turn and caught up with us. Turns out his name is Fabrice, from France, and was in the early stages of planned round-the-world on his customized, WWII-era Ural. Maybe he will recognize himself on this forum? He decided to ride with us back the way he came, two days to Tbilsisi -- just for the company and camaraderie.
Fabrice and his bike: