No internet for a few days now so have not been able to make any updates.
I have been having a few problems with the transfer of fuel from the X-Tank into my main fuel tank. It has been a bit hit and miss for some reason. Been very lucky though, as when the fuel light has come on unexpectedly early, I have been coming top or just gone past a fuel station. Having to monitor it closely now.
Lunch stop an the way to Ayagoz
Self portrait....the scenery is like this (or flatter) mile after mile. Its interesting to experience and Iīm not going to be fully in the steppe for a few days yet, but I sort of understand why this country is more of a pass through place rather than a destination. There simply isnīt that much to see and once you have seen 1 desert cemetary, the hundreds more like it cease to be of interest.
There were a lot of roadworks around Ayagoz and all traffic had to go off-road just to get into the town. Managed to find a place to stay right by the very large railway station. Later discovered that this is the main line down from Russia.
It looks (and is) a bit run down, but the room was good, and there was a cafe inside that sold everything I needed so it was a good find. btw, Iīm waypointing all these places and will add them all into OSM at the end of my trip.
Outside the hotel was this old soviet steam train. Any enthusiasts able to identify it? By the looks of the sign it was either build or decommissioned in 1930.
After leaving in the morning, I bumped into a Yorkshireman on a GSA. He was/is riding UK to Magadan with the Australian tour company Compass Expeditions. The group had bypassed the town but he came through to buy some provisions. I later met up with the rest of the group and stayed for lunch.
The group was heading for Semmipalatinsk, ready to cross the border the following day. I wasnīt going to use that crossing point, but one near Ust-Kamenogorsk as Walter advised due to it being quieter, and I wanted to cross today.
Approaching the Town, I was stopped at a checkpoint and had to produce papers. This wasnīt police on the take, it was a genuine, check area. No problems and was on my way in 5 mins.
Once through Ust-Kamenogorsk, the road deteriorated until it became difficult to ride at any sort of speed. There is about a 40km section of road that is under repair (I hope). For anyone traveling to the border crossing near Shamanaikha, I suggest you try the road that runs through Pervomayskiy.
I was getting a little worried in case the border post closed. Got there about 6pm and was pleased to find that it was both open and there was only about 6 other vehicles waiting. To cut a long story short, crossing through the 2 borders took about 2 hrs.....the Kazakh one taking the longest.
On the Russian side, I forgot to change money or buy insurance. Perhaps there was somewhere to do that, but I didn't see anywhere....and as I said, I forgot anyway.
The road immediately after the border was a little rough for about 6kms then I hit tarmac and the road into Zmeinogorsk was not to bad......about 40kms. As it turned out, I passed the hotel I was to stay in on the approach to the town.....more later. With the help of a man who spoke some English, I found a cash-point to get some rubles and the first hotel I tried was just down the road from that. I donīt know if it was because I looked so rough or whether they genuinely were full (1 car in car park) but they said they had no rooms.
The same guy who helped my before pointed by back the way I had come to another hotel near the police post. When I got there, there was no one about. Looks like I was going to have to camp somewhere. After about 20 mins, someone showed up from the (closed) shop downstairs and called the owner out. They had a room so I was sorted for the night. What I hadn't realised that with crossing the border, I was a further 1 hour ahead so it was 10 already and no shops were open. Dried fruit and nuts for dinner then !
To find this hotel, as you approach the town, there is a gas station on the left immediately followed by a left bend in the road with a large (police) compound on the right. New looking. Just past that on the Left side is a smaller garage and the hotel is the next building to that garage. See photos below.
Looking south from the hotel, large police compound on the left.
The next day I pushed on on some very reasonable B roads to the A349 and Barnaul City. I had co-ordinates of Bikecity22 which is run by Viktor. Arrived there about 2pm and could see no sign of the workshop. There was a line of shops down an unpaved road but no bike shop. A man must have realised what I wanted and took me round the back of the shops (to the left side), along the back to an enclosed ramp up to a set of units above the line of shops. The workshop is to the left once up the ramp.
Everyone there was very helpful. There was an aluminum welder a little further along the units that fixed my break lever. One of the bikers went out and found me an H9 bulb for my headlights, and I did some much needed maintenance on the bike.
In the photos, Viktor is the one in a cast having had a bike accident. The younger biker took me to a hotel in the centre and found me a secure place (guarded) to park my bike. He then took me to the Barnaul Biker Bar, home to a largish biker group. They were all very friendly and I spent a very beery evening there, getting back to the hotel around 2am. Will be going again this evening, only not so much beer as I will be traveling back to Kazakhstan tomorrow, via a different route. I have done 1 border, now I am going to try the busy one on the A349 south of Rubtsovsk, just for comparison.
Scottoiler Russian style. This is the Africa Twin of Aliaksei, from Vladivostok. He has been traveling for a month through Mongolia.
The guy who helped me find a hotel and the Biker bar....
Before and after shots of the brake lever
Erik'shard-part.....slightly bent !
Andre and Larissa, who speaks very good English. The bar staff work 24hr shifts..... midday to midday.
Leanna (with her boyfriend Dennis) holding the Barnaul biker festival poster which I had unfortunately missed. However, it was the only 2 days rain that Barnaul has seen for a month! There is another bike festival in Novosibirsk in early August, and there is something going on in Irkutsk this coming weekend. The website for the bar is: www.motoclub.su
I will get some outside shots of the biker bar this evening as its quite interesting, and post them later of next time.