|08-28-2010, 01:49 PM||#1|
Joined: Jan 2006
Beyond Arctic Circle - Russian Adventure
To start from the very beginning, we planned to visit Russia already in 2009, but due economical situation many of us had to gave up this idea so we postponed our trip to 2010. It also gave us more time to rethink what we are really looking for and where to go. Now I can say that despite technical failures, unexpected road conditions and difficult weather we had a perfect adventure.
This was our route - with ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, then to russian border and through Karelia up to Kola peninsula, along White Sea coast to Kuzomen desert. After that through old roads to Murmansk. From Murmansk to Norway to visit northernmost point of continental Europe (not Nordkapp, which is actually an island) and back home. All in 2 weeks.
Lisas randel (2010-08-28 11:20:58)
Despite long planning and preparation we packed our stuff in very last day, and one of us finished packing 4am, and can sleep full two hours before rushing to harbour.
But everybody arrived almost on time and here we are, 7.00am, lined up for check in.
From left to right, front row - Raul on BMW F800GS, me on KTM 950SE, Päärn on KTM 950Adventure. He's actually taking this picture but after sleeping 2 hours he didn't look to good . Rear row - Erik and Anton, both on BMW F650Dakars and Juho, BMW R1200GS.
It didn't take to long when we were allowed to drive to ship. Ship was full as usually in monday morning.
Two hours later we were 80km more north in Helsinki and waiting fin long queue while finnish police was checking every driver with breathalyser. No problem with us
Despite light rain we were happy to be here and after an hour Helsinki was behind us and we were cruising east at 100km/h. 270km to russian border and we planned easy 4hours to be on russian border.
Wrong! Only an hour later Paarn was complaining his KTM loosing power and only one cylinder working now. Now that was unexpected - so early and we have already problems.
But with enough technical knowledge we avoided panic and started step-by-step technical inxpection. Electrical problems were exluded after short debate, so it must be fuel! Nobody didn't expect that Päärn had installed cleanable fuel filter, but so it was. It was really useful improvement. This is what we got from filter.
Mysterious jelly. And while we don't have best fuel in Estonia, we didn't expect to find this. We were cautious about russian fuel quality, but I can say that russian fuel we used was actually very good quality.
After 30 minutes KTM was running again and we hit the road again, And another 30 minutes later we were draining that fuel filter again! After that KTM was having some balance problems so it took a little nap. It was the first, but definately not the last one. Let's talk about top heavy bikes
No more incidents until we reached Imatra 10km from russian border. There is a really nice canyon.
After that I started too enthusiastically and had to make a panic braking to avoid hitting Erik's BMW. I managed to avoid Erik's bike but not a curbstone. I lost my balance and down I was. Speed was low and no harm was done. I was on my bike again so fast that nobody couldn't grab a camera, so no picture from this.
No more incidents and there it was, russian border.
It didn't take too long, until green light was on for us and we could drive to the border station. With excitement we seek out our passports and walk to the small window. Politely a lady behind this window refuses to check our paassports and instead gave us formulars to fill out. Of course we didn't have pens with us so it took some time to read all those papers (in russian of course) and fill all the gaps. Probably half an hour later we were all done and started thinking that we made it. Wasn't so difficult, was it? Yeah - of course, now we have to walk to another office and draw up another form to import our bikes. All in two copies and in russian. We were quite confused until one border guard came and shows us, where to put necessary marks. Like for question "do you have drugs with you?" he pointed "No". Sure we didn't have anything prohibited with us, but we didn't expect border guard to say this to us. He was very pleasant and we had a good time. Until we walked to the office with filled forms. There was a man who probably has seen a computer yesterday for a first time, or a day before that! It took hours to type all data to computer and we were sweating in our offroad boots and riding gear. Btw, he didn't lost he's good mood for a second and he was joking with us and other border guards. Which took some more time! Other borderguards were already looking at us with compassion and asking, why are we still here? Anyway, 3 hours later gate opened for us and we were allowed to Russia! Now I know why trucks are waiting on Estonian-Russian border 3-4 days!
First miles on russian roads were quite smooth until we turned to smaller one. It look like this.
An ordinary car will have serious problems on that road! Ruts were probably 20cm deep.
Russians definately like watching Satellite TV.
And while driving towards lake Ladoga we were forced to tie up Anton's jerrycan after every 10-20km
We definately had a road on our map here. Why is this road closed?
We were forced to pick another road, which was actually a good fast gravel
It was around 9pm so we visited local "supermarket" for food and drinks.
Roads were bumpy and just before sunset Raul reported that he has lost his tent! He went back to look for it.
Luckily Raul found his tent right in the middle of the road. And nobody hasn't driven over it yet.
It was quite dark already when we found a place to put up our tents. Nothing special, but small harbour with pier so we could swim. After a short talk with the owner of this place we hear that she's grandmother is from Estonia. Now quickly some meal and drinks as it has been a looong day.
Pier was a great place to be and we got asleep long after midnight. First day in Russia!
|08-28-2010, 02:32 PM||#2|
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Keep it coming...
Chicago to Vancouver and back
|08-28-2010, 06:36 PM||#4|
Demons In My Helmet
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Land of Sun, Sand and Thorns
How many miles does Anton's Dakar have on it?
The road to enlightenment is not paved.
|08-28-2010, 09:50 PM||#5|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: San Bernardino, California
Awesome report so far, can't wait to see the rest!
2006 Panterra 125 - Rode it to death.
1995 Honda XR600R - Will probably ride me to death.
|08-28-2010, 11:36 PM||#6|
Joined: Jan 2006
|08-29-2010, 02:41 AM||#7|
Joined: Jan 2006
Day 2 started quite late. Nice view to the bay of lake Ladoga.
After breakfast Päärn did some filter cleaning exercises.
Manager arrived with a good old tractor.
One week before we came there was a severe thunderstorm and forests were full of broken trees, roads were just cleaned from trees. They didn't have electricity already 10 days and had no idea when it will be switched on again.
We have strong plans for today, around 500km on small roads. We planned to avoid St.Petersburg - Murmansk highway as long as possible. If everything goes as planned, we should arrive Muezerskii today.
Nice roads and nice lineup, cruising along Ladoga coast.
Signs from thunderstorm
Asphalt turns again to nice gravel soon
It's time to put on camcorder and get some footage. Unfortunately my camcorder broke down after trip so videos from our trip will come a bit later.
All villages look the same
What does a sander on a gravel road in summer? We have no idea.
Fuel prices were pleasantly low, around 0.60 Euros for a liter.
There were also some bigger cities
We saw local funerals. A coffin in a van and people walking behind it.
Anton bought some unknown milk drink from local store. It smelled badly and tasted even worse. Only the bravest from us could drink it.
Anton's Dakar chain needed tightening. Some preparation not done properly?
Well, it didn't take long and we were ready to hit roads again. We were quite concerned while it was already afternoon and we had 300km more to go today. Meanwhile some more soviet architecture.
It was time to turn north, away from Ladoga. We need to refuel while no more fuel for next few hundred km's. Russian SUV UAZ, these are right vehicles for russian roads.
Somebody has practiced welding obviously. Doesn't look to too good, but works
Erik was complaining about his Dakar handling on gravel and let out some air from tires. Evaluating tire pressure only by his hearing. Now we have 100km stretch of gravel before arriving next village.
Road is covered with loose stones and some sharp rocks sticking out of road surface. Those rocks hit tires hard and as you can predict, soon enough Erik's front tire was flat. He's having bad luck with tires all the time so it's not sure higher pressure could have helped him.
Improvised center stand was quickly made and tire repair can start.
Competent mechanics and good tools - no problems with repair.
During wheel repair Juho discovered, that his GS mudguard was just leaving the bike. It was just beginning. Later we could rally saw how russian roads are much stronger than german engineering
Stronger bumps on the road made GS top box come off from base plate and only safety strap Juho has installed previously prevented top box to fall off.
100km further north, 170km more to go in Suojärvi. Let's get some food and drinks for evening...
Local streetfighters having a party.
I have more money than my neighbours!
You should expect some surprises on the road while driving.
As we continued, road conditions were going worse again. More and bigger rocks, tighter bends, sand. Erik was more worried about his tires. All of this slowed us down to average speed 50-60km/h. Next village was Porosozero and we hope to refuel there as no more fuel was available for god knows how many next km's.
No, we don't have fuel station here. Somebody should have a fuel in jerrycans, but what kind of fuel? How many liters? It was time to decide, what to do. Some of us were really tired already.
I need to refuel, 200km since last refuel.
And some planning - no fuel station signs on the map, villages are small, road condition are going even worse, time is ticking and we should drive another 500km next day. On those roads? Khmm....
Decision was tough, but reasonable. We should turn to Murmansk "highway" to cover more miles tomorrow and to be on schedule. We started looking for today's campsite. During this Päärn's KTM lost his balance again Worn Pirelli Scorpion front tire didn't help too.
We talked with two fisherman and they suggested us a nice place.
We have a campsite, we are almost on schedule and life is beautiful .
Now let's evening actions begin
We bought a special vodka for today. It's named "Putinka" after russian prime minister Putin. Sure we were as smart as he after drinking this
After some more vodka we looked like this
And when some of us (me...) were already sleeping we got some quests. Those two fishermans ho suggested us a place walk a mile through the night to invite us to join with them in their camp. We were quite concerned as both of them had long knifes and definately are they not sober. But hell, let's go and see what happens. And sure they showed us real russian hospitality and offered us delicious food with (of course!) vodka. They both were from Moscow on vacation to catch some fish. We talked with them 'till early morning until we walk back to our camp to get some sleep.
randel screwed with this post 08-29-2010 at 02:46 AM
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