One beautiful day, sadly, I realized that I can’t stay any longer in Novorossiysk. Either I will be crushed by some truck or I'll stay here to live. I wasn’t ready to any of these layouts. So, full tank, full throttle, lock and load, onward to Ukraine.
There are only 150 km between Novorossiysk and “Caucasus”, port where is the ferry to Kerch.
On the way I stumbled across the Azov sea
Here I am – driving these 150 km and trying to understand: what exactly I’m trying to find there? Moreover, absolutely no one expected me, and what I was going to do there – I didn’t even imagine. Unable to find any reasonable argument, already arriving at the port (which is a dead end), I decided “To hell with Ukraine, I'm going back to Novorossiysk!”. Looking for gas, I asked where’s the nearest gas station. It’s 50 kilometers back. I’m already on the reserve - enough only for 30 km. While I was driving up to the port, I went around about 30 cars (Bikers in fact do not stand in queues). So I knew that returning to the queue and asking those people for gasoline wasn’t a bright idea. But it turned out there’s a gasoline on the other side - just 7 kilometers from the port.
Ticket costs 460 rubles (bike and myself), I had only 200. , Who cares? There is an ATM. I shove a card in it - “there is no connection with the bank”. Will it restore or not - unknown, but the day before there was no connection with the bank all day. I ask - where the nearest ATM – near the gas station at 50 miles behind. C'est La Vie.
No gas, no money. Phone’s battery is almost dead (before the start I equipped my bike with a lighter and bought a special phone’s charger. The lighter came off at Sochie’s serpentines and the charger was lost). There was nothing to do – I went to ask for money. Couple refusals in the cash desk, the same on the street. And then I stumbled on a beautiful girl with wonderful gray eyes and explained to her that I’m from Novosibirsk and I’m heading nowhere, but even this nowhere I just can’t reach because I’m out of cash. As a result, Tanya (it’s her name) lent me 300 rubles and said her phone number to put the debt there later. Tanya, you're a lifesaver!
And then, after an hour, here we are – me and Magna are sailing on a ferry to unfamiliar Ukraine that is drawing to a close , with 20 kilometers worth of fuel in the tank, and only 45 rubles (1,5$) in pockets.
It was admirably. I have long learned to separate my mind in such situations. One puzzled part is trying to find a way out of the problem, and the second part, sitting comfortably, watching and eagerly waiting for the scene: what will happen next. I am an observer of my own life.
In the end, I arrived in the Ukraine, and left the border zone without examination of baggage. I was surprised that I even was let out of Russia, because of my several unpaid fines. And I know people who were not passed for that reason, but I was lucky. All docks, of course, must be in order. As a result, the whole border crossing (excluding time spent in search of money) - a couple of hours. However, if you drive a car and get into the wrong time – you can spend more than a day standing in queue. The sail on the ferry takes only half of a hour.
After 7 miles I was refueled, and after another 10 draw out money from the card. Life is definitely was getting better. What am I going to do next? Ah, nothing to do? It’s cool. Problems should be solved gradually. Oh, no problem? 5 minutes, Turkish! It’s all still ahead.
In Kerch, I decided: "Forward!". Feodosiya was only 100 km away, I rode it easily. Roads of this region disappointed me - they are worse than Russian! When the sunset painted the sky, I realized that it’s time to think about where to spend a night. To go into the woods and sleep in a sleeping bag wasn’t what I really wanted, so I left it as a worst scenario. In the meantime, I just decided to stay in a cafe, and let it all come together by itself. It was very strange. 10 percents of my mind was intense, thinking about what I should to do with myself, and another 90 percents calmly drank green tea, watched and waited - what will happen next. Guess what? It actually all came together by itself!
While I was eating in a cafe in a village, one guy came to me (his name was Misha) and when I told him that I'm really from Novosibirsk, he invited me to visit his three stories high house on “that hill” where he lives with his family, where I’ll be able to drink a glass of wine, chat and sleep. He is not a biker, but he has a lot of two-wheel friends. We exchanged our phone numbers and he went to a shore. Problem solved! Moreover, 15 minutes later, I got on the phone the president of local MC (his name was Yura) and he offered me to stay in one of his hotels. I hadn’t washed for a long time and all of my clothes weren’t exactly clear, so I decided to accept his proposal (It was the first and the last time I stayed in a hotel for a night). Yura met me at the entrance of the city on his (with roaring music) Honda GoldWing and accompanied me to the hotel. I open the door in my room – I can't believe my eyes. And ALL this is for 50 grivnas (6 dollars)?
In that moment my life was seen as a fun quest-game, where you get task one by one, and all you need – just move your arm with computer mouse, take a look around and you’ll see a hint, that leads you to the next checkpoint. So far that's how things rolled for me. Comfortable room, shower with hot water, delicious beer (3 times cheaper than us), secured garage for a Magna. Nice.
The next morning, after I drank a cup of coffee with girls from neighbor room (They invited me! And rejecting a morning coffee is a crime!!), I moved to a central city beach. It is an amusing place. Directly across the beach area are railway tracks. The smell was appropriate - as a train station. And the people in swimsuits steps over the rails. Beautiful.
I decided that couldn't do much there, so I caught some hitch hikers. They advised me to go to the Cape of Ordzhonikidze. So I drove.
30 km of a really good asphalt and I’m there. It turns out that this cape ends with a closed area of the plant, which had produced torpedoes for Navy.
I quickly thought up of a legend that I come from Novosibirsk only for visiting this plant, where my grandpa had been working for 20 years and blah-blah-blah, and went to the side entrance. But the formidable security officer didn’t agree to let me pass on the territory. Even after the pretty story of Novosibirsk and a grandfather. Even in exchange for a cold brew and warm vodka. But! When I was about to leave - he winked at me and pointed at the toes - where i can leave the bike and sneak into the territory. So I did! Before the storm fence with barbed wire, I put a helmet and a bag under a bush, camouflaged the whole thing and climbed in.
But I walked there not for long. “Stop! Who’re you? Where’re you from?” I turned my head and saw another soldier with a gun (I was hoping that in the sunday there would not be anybody...) That’s all, folks - I thought. This is the end. That’s a real pinch. It is really frustrating when you’re poked by a gun ... I had to portray the confusion and complete submission and retell the story about Novosibirsk, about my grandfather, and the fence, I just had climbed all accidental, like it wasn’t even a fence, was that a fence? I didn't even notice! Kind of lame for a fence, barbed wire wasn't all that barbed either, you should visit Siberia if you want to see a REAL fence. Yep.
As a result - i hadn’t been shot. Hadn’t been taken to the police station too. I honestly apologize, then once again apologized and, to my relief, I went back and again climbed over the fence, with the tacit approval of the soldier. It was funny, when i landed on the other side. A couple went by, about 45. And here I am - jumping from the fence - with gloves and motorcycle armor. "And you're probably an American spy-diver" - they ask. "Yes" - I answer, come to the bushes that grow in a pair of feet, push the grass, pull the helmet with a bag, turn to them and blurt out - "Do NOT tell the soldiers." And under the gaze of two pairs of staring eyes I deployed and descended toward the motorcycle.
The road to the plant
Deciding not to take such risks anymore, I started returning back on the track, but then caught a glimpse of a beautiful hill, which offers a good view of the sea. To climb there - not a problem. But I decided that I have to show Magna all beauty of the view. One minute of thought - and here we are with the bike trying to get on the grass on the hill. In principle, we would have to climb up. But the returning would be a suicide. The grass was slippery - just pinch the front brake to hard - and you are somersaulting with the bike down. So I had to leave Magna on the slope and climb up alone. The view was rather very nice. Half of a hour I was sitting on the ledge of rock and dangling my feet over a rather deep precipice.
I know that in such moments people often meditate about very deep and clever things, they begin to engage in soul-searching and thinking about the meaning of life. To be honest – my thoughts weren't exactly that deep. In my head I were getting questions like, “Why i didn’t know, that the new album of Sonic Syndicate was so gorgeous?” and the main one “Why? Why 42??”
But as I was going down, I had a pinch moment. Somehow i dragged and veered my bike, but after I managed to crash down. And it was rather unfortunate, because I fell in the direction of the slope. As the result - i was lying upside down, pressed by my bike. It was so heavy, that i almost heard the crunch of my leg. I wasn’t able not to lift it, not to get out under 250 kg hulk. Well at least my leg hasn’t got under the collector – that would be really sad... I had to yell a little. Some people heard me and helped to get out. The leg was almost intact, I just limped for about a week.
By the way, from that day on, whenever I see a mountain, my head goes like “Uh-huh, No way I'm going up there, nooo, sir!”. But hands still turns the wheel, despite brain's panic attacks.
After the Cape of Ordzhonikidze I drove in the Sudak’s direction, so I got on the road that runs along the southern coast of the Crimea.
For 2 days I got to the point, I remember back in the days when riding along the coast for a tour bus, I saw the inscription "Caution Landslide" and pressed my nose to the window glass, trying to see this very landslides, which still have not been killed or catched by anyone for the zoo. This place - Foros, the southernmost point of the Crimea. I have driven along the entire coast of the Black Sea from Abkhazia to the Crimea and I’ve never seen such a remarkable sea.
AI Petri still not conquered by me
In the end the luck smiled at me - I found a place on the shore (20 miles west of Foros), where there were no people at all. I had to sweat a lot getting down to a very tricky paths, but It was worth it. Clean water, a lot of flora and fauna on the bottom, dolphins in the distance. The sun and fresh air. Real nice.
As for the roads - it’s very, VERY bad in Ukraine. Worse than ours! This is especially noticeable in the serpentine. You drive there - amazing views of nature surrounded the road, but its bed doesn’t allow to relax absolutely. The waves of asphalt sometimes just teared away the wheels of my bike from the road. laying the bike on turns was impossible! I found out those very different things, like tachometer, rear wheel and the heart - there's one thing in common between them. They jump up at the same time.
In the next turn I slipped again. Laying the bike down was useless. I level it, click two gears down and clamp both of brakes. That’s not enough and i fall in a ditch. I hadn’t fall myself and I hadn’t crash the bike - still i can’t understand - how? I succeeded to stop in a couple of meters from the concrete slabs which were bump stops. In the end, I decided that I'm going 30 miles per hour, but stay alive. But even that was rather difficult. It began to rain and the bike became uncontrollable. Too many pressure on the brakes handle - and here you are - trying to catch a 250kg piglet going sideways. A full bowl of adrenaline. And all this despite a fresh Dunlop. In short, those are bad roads. Baaaad.
One of my places of sleep
Returning from Foros, I drove off a bit north and drove through Simferopol. This road is a little bit longer, but there is no serpentine! So if time is short - I advise to go there. The road returns to Feodosia, where is only 100 kilometers to the ferry.
Ukraine is a country of climatic contrasts (climatic zones there are changing every hundred kilometers. Land Kerch-Feodosia - is no different from the Omsk region, in Alushta it's warmer, but at Yalta already pure tropics).
When i had come to the station, i toured the line of 100 cars (For understanding - the ferry can contain about 25 cars and it leaves station every 3 hours) and buried in the disaffected border guard - he was very displeased by my impudence. I, by-turn, without passing positions, tried to explain to him that there’s no sense to stand in a queue of cars on the bike, because there’s always space for a motorcycle, even on the busiest ferry. Especially for little and light one, like mine. The argument that the guard grumbled in response, puzzled me a bit - “There’s no space. FOR YOU there’s no space on that ferry” I started to quarrel, but another guards told me I will butt in - and this shift wouldn't let me pass on the ferry and then I'll have to wait for the morning, when the shift change. In general, there is very corrupt system. There's always number of places for ordinary mortals, but also a places for those "who has given more." And all this were happening almost open in front of me, just before my eyes. I could get on the ferry too, if I gave some money. Fat chance! I moved the bike for a couple of meters away and lay down on it. I had to wait for 4 hours.
After a couple of hours, when all my body had gone numb, I went to buy a ticket. Lacked 20 hryvnia (How could it be?? I had counted all my money before and was sure that it will be enough! I should not have bought that snickers...). But! It does not matter - there is an ATM near! And it’s working! I insert the card, check the balance and ask him to give me 100 hryvna. "3 minutes, Turkish" - report automatic and ... becomes silent. The first minute I tried not to worry at all. Second, third, sixth.. - my temper started to fail me. I had 150 grivnas (20 dollars). All i had - cellular with 10 grivnas (2 calls). And everything else were on my card - firmly buried inside the perfidious machine! I tried to find out - who is responsible for the ATM, but it did not work! “Well, stands and stands. Well, doesn’t work? That’s ok, that happens. Oh, didn’t return the card… Yes, that’s a trouble. Big trouble.. Well, good luck to you.”
Ukraine didn't let me home. But in the end, after 10 minutes of waiting, the flow of curses and a couple of kicks, with crunch and rattle ATM spat up the card back with remark like “Couldn't do it, sonny”. I grab the card, kick the monster for the third time, and retire.
Another Help came from a guy - Sasha from Nizhniy Novgorod. We met at the customs, talking about motorcycles. After hearing my sad story about the Novosibirsk and ATM - he gave me some money, and after stood a treat by the dinner in the cafe. Well, I did not have any opportunities to refuse. The snickers was the only meal of the day. Alex came with his family. His wife and ankle biter had 90 days rest in the Crimea - so that night it was necessary to leave the country and cross the border again for further relax. Sasha wasn’t allowed to leave Russia on the ferry (because of some fines), so he rounded the Azov-sea, and crossed the Ukraine border in a minivan lying under an inflatable mattress. Hardcore tourist, that guy!
So, ferry eventually was delayed, again, someone did not have enough space ... The scandal, cries, threats. As a result, I sailed to Russia only in the second hour of the night.
At 3:00 am fully clothed I headed to Novorossiysk. Some terrible contrast. This morning I swam in the sea and sunbathed under the sun. And now, after some 15 hours and 300 miles, I’m faced by 10 degree, pulling on all the clothes i prepared for overcoming the Ural-Siberian region. The road went through some valleys, where there was a lot of water, plus, probably, most recently, a shower of rain. In short, it was cold, wet and nasty. And the fish stink. Russia, I missed.
Once again i stopped for pulling on another lay of clothing, I shut down the engine. Tried to start, Magna - zero reaction. Had no choice - in the middle of a swamp (I even hadn’t see anything around because of heavy fog), at 4 o'clock in the morning I turned on a flashlight, took off the stuff, took out a field set of tools and started looking for the problem. All this time something wandered in the bush around me, sighed and snorted. Well, at least the problem was trivial (disconnected "ground"), but in a nontrivial place (the result of tuning my electrical system). After a nervous half of an hour Magna encouraging growled again.
Approximately half of the fifth I was in the Novorossiysk. Bored in the familiar forest, dived in a sleeping bag and a minute later a subscriber was not in service for the outside world The next day in this city were the best for the too long time.