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Old 01-23-2014, 01:01 PM   #556
IVAN38
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Joined: Apr 2013
Location: Veyrins , FRANCE
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Total disorientation...
Your photos are sublime

What is your camera?

Thank you again of your sharing
Continue like that
I hope that we shall arrive has to drink a beer together one of these in the daytime...

see you soon

Safe journey
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ONE DAY IN FRANCE
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Old 01-23-2014, 02:43 PM   #557
johnnybgood8
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I just found this RR. Its awesome guys!!! Greetings from Serbia! Also, Im little sad because you split up. :(

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Old 01-23-2014, 10:32 PM   #558
mrwwwhite OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVAN38 View Post
Total disorientation...
What is your camera?
on this trip I used mostly a 5D mark II with 24 mm, rarely the 70-200 and a GoPro Hero 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnybgood8 View Post
I just found this RR. Its awesome guys!!! Greetings from Serbia! Also, Im little sad because you split up. :(
Don't worry, we did not split, we just enjoyed two separate trips. Tune in to see how that goes :)
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:26 AM   #559
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From Bad To Worst - bad luck and good people in Russia

Thursday 15th of August. In Ulaanbaatar the weather is shit for a walk around town, but as I’m leaving for Magadan, I couldn’t care less. I kiss Ana for good-bye, and in the heat of the moment we forget to capture it on a camera. If everything goes well we’ll reunite in ~ 20 days. We’re not yet sure how we’re gonna stay in touch, except for sporadic emails. Ana’s SIM is out of credit and my phone is locked on the Romanian roaming provider. I guess I’ll buy in Russia a cheap phone and local SIM. Careful not to slide too much in the mud, I drive out of Oasis, trailed by Matthew and Robert.



Matthew arrived from the UK with the plan to hit Magadan on his XR 400. Croatian Robert is working as a bartender in Munchen; he’s left on a RTW by Honda Transalp. We kicked a word while catering for our respective machines, and one wrench lead to another, until we realised it’d be a good idea to ride together the stretch of Russia we were all gong to do anyway. Matthew took care obsessively of every detail on his Honda, and so did I.





Robert took for a ride the unusual vehicle of a another overland. His own Transalp was tuned with a winch and an Africa Twin fuel tank. The croat’s chunky rig reminds me of how I left in 2011 for Africa.





Instead of playing the tourist in Ulaanbaatar, I’ve spent all of last week on mechanics. Taking the KTM apart and putting everything back together couldn’t make me a happier man. An oasis this may be, but it’s not my grandfather’s garage, where I got all the bits and bobs that I need. I checked the valve clearance, I fitted the Trailmax tires and I saved the 908s for the hardcore roads.









I like to see that the KTM people invested a lot of time and brains in this bike; their ready to race tagline is not just about how the orange machines do under racing circumstances (chassis, engine, suspension); every bolt is designed to render bike service smoother and easier. Before departure I was joking with Pinocchio (probably the best suspension guy in Romania) that this model can be serviced from A to Z with the T handle wrench alone. On the afternoon I got to checking the valves it was getting already dark, and an adventurer came to ask me if I was not taking unnecessary risks with such a delicate procedure so late in the day. I would have finished my job in under one hour had I not realised that the engine had not cooled off since the morning run. The next day after breakfast the whole thing took me less than 45 minutes.

On the other hand, 4 litres of oil costed me three trips across town to the so-called KTM dealership, where there is no 15W60 300V Offroad on stock. Quite reluctantly, I bought 15W50. I hope that this temperamental LC4 will cope.



We have decided all three of us that even if preparations will take us a long time, we should go anyway and not waste another evening in Ulaanbaatar. So as inappropriate as it is, we leave at 6 in the night. With only a few hours of light before deep steppe night settles in, we push a little. Out of Ulaabaatar and back into Mongolia’s open country, we drive past the last gers and the last roaming herds tended by fresh-faced cowboys in belted robes. The plain is alive with wildflowers and that’s where we set camp, after we did 100 of the 300km to the Russian border. It’s the first time when it becomes noticeable how different travellers behave. If Matt is easy about any camping spot, Rob tries to persuade us to stay hidden, out of the sight of an eventual passer-by. Even if we are in the range of a sheep farm and a couple of yurts, I plead that the worst that can happen is that we are invited for tea in a well-heated ger by some lovely people. We pitch our vagabond rooms. I sleep in a one-person Vaude that I have received from a German cyclist. He serendipitously arrived in UB to share our dormitory right when Ana and I were wondering how we were going to distribute the camping gear between us. We made him an offer for his Ortlieb cycling bags, and John suggested that I mend his tent, that he was going to chuck into the bin anyways. So Ana kept our double sleeping bag and the 3-people tent, and I left with the Vaude, plus a Chinese sleeping bag that I bought for 15 dollars from a shop. Going this cheap will be the first thing to regret.
Before bed Matthew has a surprise for us: 3 beers tucked in his bag, and we enjoy them cheerfully.
At dawn I’m the most handsome of the lot, with a napkin shoved into my right nostril and looking like a stand-in for a horror movie. Minutes ago I KO-ed myself with an uppercut while tightening the ROK strap. How funny would have been for Rob and Mat to find me lying with blood trickling down my face and with nobody around for miles? Luckily for me I’m strong enough to face my own fist. I’m now at peace that even if I’ll do the BAM alone, in a battle of me vs. myself, I’ll be on top of the situation. :) )









One last breakfast of fatty buzz followed by one more straight line out of Mongolia.







The border checkpoint from Mongolia into Rusia



As we enter Russian territory the landscape regains its vertical. The border is brutal, decided by the war of trees: where the steppe concedes victory, the taiga starts its reign. In Central Asia there is virtually no transition between ecosystems; forrest, barren fields and finally rock are delimitated in horizontal ribbons: the taiga, the steppe and the Himalayas. For ages the people that inhabit this massive chunk of Earth have ravelled along it, not across.

Aproximatively 70km from Ulan Ude, we stop in the town of Gusinaziorsk to refill our food supplies. As we get rolling, we notice that we are only two out of three. Matt is nowhere to be seen. We find him still in front of the shop, abusing Honda’s kickstarter. People gather like the circus is in town. Many Russian men cannot bear to stay aside and offer their suggestions. The most original are the two drunks in a rotten Lada, who explain that the problem is caused by not heaving enough fuel in the rear brake fluid reservoir!





We check the spark and the plug, but the lack of compression in the kickstarter is the big question mark. We resign to the fact that our day is spent; I leave in search of accommodation and I send in the direction of my companions the small pack of dirt bikers met on the way. Robert tows Matt to the pathetic guesthouse I’ve found for 50 bucks. At least the yard is spacious enough for us to take Honda’s engine apart for breakfast.





We find the automatic decompression pin blocked, and after restoring the puzzle the small Honda returns to life at the first kick.













Unfortunately in less than 20km Matt has to stop for a second time.



Now things look more dramatic: the kickstarter wont’t turn the engine which must’ve seized. Again, it’s enough that the Russian arrive for everything to precipitate: the first pick-up pulls over at our sign and we load the wounded and its rider back for Gusinaziorsk. Matt looks concerned but remains as calm as ever.





On the way Matthew kicks the Russian problem-solving-machine in extraordinary motion: he calls one of the bikers from yesterday, and reveals that we are in trouble. The Russian does what Russians know best: don’t worry, he says, I’m sending a man to fix everything, he’ll be waiting for you by the gas station. 15 minutes later we shake hands with John, a local entrepreneur who has a coal shipping outfit to the thermal plant on the lake. An old man – John's trusted mechanic – and a teenager get off the Range Rover. The mechanic takes a look at Matt’s bike and confirms our worst suspicions. One Honda has to tow again the other Honda to the mechanic’s compound, where we are catapulted into a set of a Nikita Mikhalkov movie set: a small yard, a garage, a typical izba with superb carving at bays, the wife preparing jars with pickles (as we are already in mid autumn here) and a nephew napping in the back of the house (we are asked to shush, which when you cannot speak Russian makes everything very difficult). A story of bikes and Russia cannot happen without stunning Russian ladies somewhere in the plot, so John’s girlfriend arrives to successfully fill up the part. She is majoring in foreign languages in China and she will be out interpreter, as John manages some English but the mechanic not at all. Once the engine guts are out, the verdict is clear: a part of the piston is missing and the crankshaft rod bearing has seized. John makes a couple of calls and within a few minutes Matt has quotes for the parts that could be delivered from Moscow. In any case, fixing the bike is going to take at least a week.





To soothe our minds John buys us lunch: katlet, kartoshki y piva in a stalov (a sort of a small blue-collar bistro). At the table we make an important decision: me and Robert will only keep Matt’s company for another night, then we take off. Even if we left Mongolia with the plan to ride together to Magadan, Matt is not going to be able to ride his bike very soon. And while he has a one year multiple entry visa, I have 25 left of my 30 days visa, with dwindling hopes that this will suffice to rejoin Ana on the Russian territory. The second decision is to camp on the Gusin lake. We stock on beer, meat and charcoal, and we pitch camp in a fine spot.



John’s lady in her denim shorts is making a solid plea for the quality of the Russian DNA.





While we organise our stuff John appears busy with some phone calls. Then he walks to Matt with the news every kids awaits for Christmas: what’d you say, he asks, if I sort you out with another XR so you can achieve your journey to Magadan? In the meantime we fix yours, and later we’ll find a way. Matt is baffled. Narmalnyi, says John, you don’t have to answer on the spot, take you time to think about this, but please know that I’d be stoked to help you with this thing. Some hours later John and his girl go home, but John is back only a short while later with the aforementioned XR! Just in case anyone would suspected that a Russian’s promise is not based on 400% solid facts. Well, 250% in this situation, as the XR is not exactly 400cc as Matthew’s, but a 250cc.





We stay up late with John and many beers, debating routes ahead and kicking ideas, while our steaks sizzle on the fire. Robert is obviously responsible with the entertainment.





————————————————————————————-
In the morning I email Ana. So far she has not returned any of the SMS I sent to the Frenchman’s mobile, and her mobile is still dead.

Date: Sunday, August 18, 2013 7:42:11 AM
Subject: Raliul UB – Magadan – Updates II

M.’s engine is done; we opened it yesterday and he must get a new piston and a crankshaft. In the meantime John found a XR250 for him to ride to
magadan and back while he has parts delivered from the UK. Matt considers shipping parts to oasis and wonders if you can bring the parcel over.
Me and Robert are leaving now to Yakutsk, to meet with Noah.
————————————————————————————-


Nine-ish in the morning John returns by Landie to pick up Matt and see us out of town. But as we say our goodbyes Robert remembers that he needs some chain lube to resuscitate his old chain until Vladivostok. John needs no more: he grabs his phone again, then makes a u-turn and leads us to the door of a buddy of his, who comes to say hi with a tube in his hand! Of course it’s a gift of lube for Robert. I did not manage to overhear it, but I can imagine what the friends’ dialogue could have sounded like: Maslo na tsepi iesti? Iesti. Davai!

With Matt soldiering behind, we’re finally off. We roll by Ulan Ude without deviating to downtown and we make a turn on the Moscow-Vladivostok highway, in the direction of Chita. At bivouac we dine each in their own tent, as the dreaded Siberian mosquitoes are hunting us without mercy.



In Desyatinkovo, a small town of bee farmers, the honey sellers wave us to slow down as we roll into a pack of policemen hidden in the bush and waiting for the unsuspecting drivers to make a mistake. When we pick up some speed, Robert’s engine stops. His fuel tank is dry, which leads us to believe that the frisky pacing made his Honda suck more fuel that it normally does.







With the half of a litter of gas from my burner’s tank we make it back to town and to the station. While refuelling we grab some food, but at the sight of the next character, we almost choke with zakuski.





The identical twin of the bearded stocky man from Buggs Bunny pulls into the parking lot on a IJ Planeta. The kiwi’s coming on this thing from Magadan and he says that the OSR is flooded and that he has taken the Winter Road.





If rain comes, beard-man says, it may take 4 to 5 days before anyone can reach you or the road teams manage to fix the road. Other than that the tracks are easy, with a more challenging stretch after Yakutsk; but with a bit of experience you’ll pass without a problem. The kiwi’s just confirming what’s been circulating since July: 2013 has been a particularly tough year to ride this ride. Catastrophic flooding closed the route to Magadan for days or weeks and made sections the BAM impassable at times. I don’t know if anybody managed to do the Old Summer Road. And the cold season is advancing relentlessly: frost will fall during the following nights, and in a couple of weeks the endless swathes of taiga will be silenced under early winter sky. But following in the example of Gramsci: “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

I am pleased that we pushed on the flat stretch up to here, as the road to Chita starts to become more interesting. The taiga, this boreal jungle, rises into the sun a sculptural filter. The light has a unique consistency, like a magic paint that makes everything appear precious, from the humblest boulder to the most majestic tree; it’s a stunning decor worthy of a tzar. After refuelling and resting overnight in the woods, the next day we go shopping in Chita.









Before lunch picnic we have to make a loop of a few dozen kilometres as a bridge connecting two highways is under construction. The 20-40 km of fast gravel leading back to Moscow-Vlad tar is the best part of the day, and it ends in a bivouac that reminds me of Mongolia. It’s already the second time to wake up in tents drenched in condensation. The day is short in the taiga and the sun starts melting the morning mist only after 8, so by the time we manage to dry a little bit our stuff it’s already after 10.









To make up for the late start, we kick it all day long, only stopping for gas, tea or to pee. Even if the road is boringly impeccable, the taiga is riddled with proof that we’ll soon be not so bored anymore. The flooding is no rumour. In many places the road is the only dry stretch across a forested waterland. As the sun sets around 6.30 p.m., at 5 we have to start searching for a campsite, and it happens more than once to wander in dwindling light deeper into mosquito-infested swamps. Luckily there’s always the odd abandoned quarry, dry enough to ignore how uncomfortable is to pitch on rocks.







Meanwhile I learn that after me and the guys left the oasis, Ana and Baptiste, the French rider who decided to accompany her while I’m in Russia, have also switched plans. Baptiste experienced troubles with his Russian visa, and he got so pissed that he realised he had had enough with the Mongolian washboard of the south; so he persuaded Ana to forfait the idea of going to the Gobi, and pursued a route to the north-east, inside the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. They were both happy to leave the capital, its depressing streets, the illusion of abundance from the sterile supermarkets, the oily mutton dumplings and the fried foods behind.

The following pics were taken by the Frenchie or by Ana with Baptiste’s camera and belong to him.







Shortly they were regaining Mongolia: they manifested their joy by pitching camp on the most immediate spot. For the first time in days, Ana was able to sleep all night. Strong downpours were expected region-wide, and indeed during the night the water level kept rising. At dawn Ana wakes up a prisoner on a temporary islet.





A place that water has just made inaccessible to weekenders, what could be more tempting to get lost into, both Ana and her friend realised. They crossed the stream not to safe land, but deeper inside. Not that deep though, as they pitched again only 500m from their first campsite. Their tents are visible in the second pic, next to the cluster of trees in the middle.





The second night Ana and Baptiste agree that they are both far more tired than they were aware of. Exhaustion has been accumulating since their respective trips began, and this park is the perfect place to take a holiday within the holiday. They will not budge for 4 days. A sole yurt gleams in their vicinity, and to put the owner's worries at ease and to borrow a spoon of salt, Ana pays a visit. The mongol returns the gesture the next day, with an assortment of steaming offal. It's finally Ana's chance to sample the dreaded Mongolian fare: sheep guts boiled along with whatever the victim's stomach and colon contained at the time of death. It was not just the taste, Ana told me later, it was the smell as well that was forbidding. During her second visit to the neighbours, Ana does her usual tour of the household, asking tons of questions and the host can't be happier to explain how he fabricates almost everything under his roof, and all his horse-riding gear.



DRZ and TTR parked safely, Ana and Baptiste spent their time hiking up the mountain, experimenting with different ways of grilling meats when you’ve got no tools around, and fetching firewood.









The park is teeming with wildlife: squirrels, marmots, birds, even snakes.



It doesn’t mean that nature has not been generously embellished by people.



The next 48 hours are invested in exploring the trails farther to the eastern part of the park, which looks like a giants’ playground.



The mongol cattle is not dissimilar to the yaks – undeterred in their search for better, greener pastures.





After a night in a yurt (and a visit to the forest loo), Ana and Baptiste visit the buddhist monastery nestled in a mountain crease. Dozen buddhist verses make the climb feel longer and steeper than it actually is.



Seen from uphill, the valley is flooded with light; the small settlement at the bottom reminds of a village from a boreal country.





The warnings on the sacred frescoes are grim: look what awaits those who don’t follow the right path! To ensure that her preference for dirt trails will not lead her directly into the arms of the blue demons, Ana spins the prayer wheels one by one, and overnight pays great attention to the shamanist ritual that happens to take place yards from her tent.





Sadly the magic fails, as Ana and Baptiste have to return in the oasis, where the trucks do not appear to have moved an inch.



The return to Ulaanbaatar is not joyless: more people came for a second stint, the lovely corsicans among them. The (almost) complete team decides to celebrate the reunion with an Indian dinner. But as Ulaanbaatar is Ulaanbaatar, access to a fancy and quite expensive restaurant requires taking substantial risk.



————————————————
Ana emails:
we’ve decided w. baptiste to leave here on the 27
don’t forget that the russian visa expires on the 14th, so we must exit
before that date
————————————————


In Never, where the road forks to Yakutsk and Vladivostok, we meet Kim and Noah, who have done the BAM and are planning to team up with Matthew and myself for the ride to Magadan. Matt was supposed to bring along a bit that Noah received in UB (the weight of the automatic decompression system for his 690). As Matt is stuck behind, I’m the courier. But since our last text messages everybody’s plans have changed. The third guy riding with the other two, someone named Kurt, decided to return to Mongolia; Matthew’s engine broke down; Noah fell for a Russian biker who may join him on the way to Vladivostok and the rains brought more flooding of serious proportion. So it goes that after a group pic we do indeed switch teams, only differently than initially planned. The American, Kim and the Croat head to Vlad: Kim and Robert are chasing a ferry, and Noah a girl.



I stay on my track to Yakutsk, but I’m already questioning my itinerary. Is Magadan worth the 3000 km return trip, plus another 3000 km from Never to Irkutsk (85% of which I’ve already done)? If half of the staff they say about Kolyma Highway is true, there’s indeed a chance I get stuck between two teams of road workers, and waiting for them to mend the road is not an awesome outlook for me.



The guys don’t leave me empty-handed. Discussing the route to Tynda – roughly the halfway between West and East BAM, Kim and Noah give me a lot of information about the railways red lights, the river crossings and the spots where I’ll have to take it over the rail bridge. The next 180 km to Tynda are being repaired, with a couple of rough patches.

Every soul you meet in Russia makes a lasting impression. If the Siberian bear remains timidly reclusive, the Russian is on a mission to engage. 50 km into the road I encounter Alexey from Celiabinsk, who will prove instrumental to my future salvation. Alexey has arrived from Yakutsk on a CB400 (yes, my brothers, a street fighter indeed); after he has traveled from home to Magadan on an Africa Twin, in Yakutsk he decided to sell his bike and buy the CB400 for the ride back.





We don’t part without Alexey providing me with two phone numbers: for a certain Sasha from Tynda and for Alex, the president of Yakutsk bikers’ club. Any problem you have, you call these guys, he says. Finally I am able to enjoy my 690, with a long stretch of wilderness and fine gravel ahead. Just like all Central Asia, Siberia is a place for soul-searching. Indigenous to an intense geography packed into a relatively small space, the European spirit looks up to the truths of scientific discoveries or to esoteric revelations. The spirit of Central Asia finds itself in the nature that offers a mirror for self contemplation. Us travellers cannot achieve the clarity of mind demonstrated by Herzog‘s trappers, or the wisdom of the Buryat people described by Jeremiah Curtin. Nevertheless, no day passes out here without a small change to take place within. These are my first days alone with the the bike, and I welcome the sweet solitude, as it is the messenger of freedom.







A few km before Tynda I hit tarmac. As soon as I’m rolling on smooth surface the bike doesn’t feel right. On the bridge that takes me into Tynda I am swallowed by traffic, but something is definitely wrong with the front end.



The handling feels weird and sloppy at slow speed, so I start suspecting a front flat, then, like any man arriving in a new place after an adrenaline-packed ride I start going more and more paranoid. Perhaps it’s the head bearings? Or something with the suspension? I pull over and I check. By compressing the fork a few times I feel there’s a free play coming from somewhere, most likely from the head bearings. It’s too late to do anything about it, so I head to the only hotel in Tynda. The prohibitive rates send me back to the street, from where I spot a group of riders, gathered in a small park. I park in clear sight and I start fiddling with the GPS. Moments later a girl comes to ask if I’m all right. There couldn’t be a more suitable person to play my saviour angel: after almost being killed by alcohol, Gulya discovered motorcycling and did on her rookie year a 15000 km ride around Russia on a chopper. A journey that took her from the suicidal struggle of her past to her present swagger of a fighter and a survivor. I tell Gulya that I’m on my way to Magadan and the BAM, that something’s wrong with my bike and that I need a place to sleep tonight. A certain Max is phoned to smoothen the dialogue, and he translates my story to the audience.

We ask around for accommodation, but have no luck. The two gastelnitza in town are filled to capacity. Don’t worry, I tell Gulya, I’m used to camping, I’ll drive 30km and pitch there, and I’ll be back in the morning to look for a mechanic. I have already tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with the man recommended by Alexey, but Sasha did not pick up my calls. As a last resort, I ask anyway: Gulya, do you know a biker named Sasha? The girl calls him immediately. Da, da, says Sasha, bring him over. Sasha who has a Harley to himself, is a train mechanic on the BAM. He is waiting for me in front of his house and is holding his 7 year old son, Kostea. Worry not, everything will work out just fine, he says, while giving me the house tour. Tomorrow we go see Max, at the Kamaz centre. As Sasha’s wife Natasha shows up, she takes over the operation of sorting out the clueless westerner (well, easterner…) who got stranded in their little corner of Siberia. Kostea is relocated to his parents’ bedroom, because I’ll be sleeping in his room for a couple of days. He measures me with suspicion, but he moves his affairs of books and pencils that he was readying for his first day of school. Finally Natasha puts out a gargantuan spread of foods capable to feed an entire caravan of travellers who did not eat for a week.

By the end of the meal, our table looks like props for a horror movie. We have massacred the chicken, the Russian salad and the mountains of cabbage, and Natasha is delighted. There is a sense that the bond we’ve made while sharing borsch is a bond that will last.

————————————————————————————-
In the evening I email to Matt

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 9:07:04 PM
Re: Spot tracker

Hey man, my sucky roaming phone won t let me sms. I m in Tynda at the
moment and the bike feels weird after the pounding of the road to here. If
all’s fine (will check it tomorrow) I’ll head for the BAM. The winter
road is closed due to massive floods in the area and the OSR is impassable. Care to join me?
————————————————————————————-


The next morning at the Kamaz centre I stumble into a familiar scene: even if the outfit is run by a private company, to the model of all soviet workplaces (in Russia and Romania alike) the working hours are purposely wasted or invested into small individual business ventures. Max turns out to be the manager of the place and a passionate motorcyclist. Every year he takes his DRZ 400 for solitary 10-day runs up into the wilderness, to get away from it all and recharge his batteries. That’s a damn fine machine, he says upon seeing my KTM, I’m planning to get a 990 myself. Let’s see what’s wrong with it!




We put the 690 on a piece of wood and start pulling the front fork. The free play is consistent. Max starts cursing. Dam these KTMs, he shouts, this fork’s done with, we gotta strip this thing and see what’s in there.

We push the bike into another section of the warehouse and put it up on a stand. In this place the lighting is more uniform, and we are no longer distracted by the mosaic of lights and shadows coming from the skylight. So when we pull the fork again, we recognise that the free play is not coming from there. This is when we see the first fracture in the frame.



I’m paper white and my pulse has instantly risen to the rate of a bungee jumper. For a moment all sounds die out, then someone breaks the silence in Russian.

mrwwwhite screwed with this post 01-24-2014 at 06:05 AM
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:54 AM   #560
legasea
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....Worry not, everything will work out just fine....
In russian. More or less like this: Не беспокойтесь, все будет работать только штрафом...
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legasea screwed with this post 01-24-2014 at 09:34 AM
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:04 AM   #561
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Oh man! Another cliff hanger.
Did you plate that frame from behind? What about the right side?

Very good update.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:01 PM   #562
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Now that looks interesting
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:41 PM   #563
AteamNM
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Oh boy here we go. These people riding motorcycles all over and end up anywhere near the BAM, Road of Bones, The Summer Road or Mongolia, well seems like there is a broken frame involved. Usually the rear sub frame, this looks like an easy fix. But you made it 38 pages into the ADV RR.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:01 AM   #564
mrwwwhite OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPete View Post
Oh man! Another cliff hanger.
Did you plate that frame from behind? What about the right side?

Very good update.
Cheers, you can see in the photo below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AteamNM View Post
Oh boy here we go. These people riding motorcycles all over and end up anywhere near the BAM, Road of Bones, The Summer Road or Mongolia, well seems like there is a broken frame involved. Usually the rear sub frame, this looks like an easy fix. But you made it 38 pages into the ADV RR.
You're right, a subframe is an easy fix; but the 690 doesn't have one. So my situation is a bit more hairy.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:02 AM   #565
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To BAM, or not to BAM

Davai, says Max, it’s not the first time I see a broken frame. In the space of a second, the banality of his comment disappointments me. We check on the other side. Symmetric to the first, a second fracture. Max’s blabber continues. A while back I had two Australians with broken frames. My welder fixed their bikes and they made it to their destination. But official confirmation of the disaster makes me nauseous. Once the front end is completely stripped and the frame is exposed to unobstructed inspection, we count not two, but five fractures. The famous Trellis frame! It’s supossed to be unbreakable!







We work in silence – nobody is in the mood to speculate – and in the meantime the welder shows up. The stocky 60 year old gives us an annoyed look; he is clearly not pleased that his boss wants to give him a job when he was planning to enjoy his own extra-curriculum. In the afternoon the bike is prepped for welding and the bored welder is called back. It’s too late my friend, he says, we’ll do it tomorrow morning. I pack my stuff but I bump into Max. He snaps at me: what do you mean we don’t weld, where’s Vasea? So about 5 p.m. me and the welder start fixing the state-of-the-art chrome-molibden frame. I’m not at all happy to attempt such a delicate job so late in the day, but I have little choice.



Max insists we strip the triple clamp and the legs, but once we do, we realise it was a bad idea, as we have nothing to push the frame back into shape. Finally we manage to align the fractures, and the welder starts mending my frame. The result looks a butchered job, but Max and the welder vouch it’s bulletproof. I look at the weldings and I decide that WR to Magadan is now out of the question, and I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t cancel the BAM as well. I pay 3000 rubbles and I get on Max’s car. The bike stays.



Sasha is waiting with another delicious feast, beer and family vibe that successfully lifts my spirit. After dinner I sit at my host’s computer to research about the latest weather news and updates on the calamities devastating the region. I seek Sasha and Natasha’s advice, I think things through and I try to separate fact from fiction. But I have already made peace with the fact that the OSR is not in the cards and I’ve decided that it’s stupid to attempt crawling to Magadan and back on a mended frame just to say that I’d done it. My dilemma is: should I ride back the 3500km of useless asphalt or should I venture on the more interesting route I came all this way for? In other words, to BAM, or not to BAM?


Matthew writes back:
—————————-
Date: Thursday, August 22, 2013 5:45:09 AM / Subject: Re: Spot tracker Hey Dude, Very tempting, cheers for the offer but I don’t really fancy riding this 250 off road. It’s ok to potter along but it’s not that well maintained so dont want to risk it. I’m going to head to Vladi then take the train back to Ulan Ude. When do you plan on being in Irkutsk? Hopefully my bike will be repaired so I can meet you there. All the best Matty
—————————-

In the morning I let Ana know what’s going on:
—————————-
Date: Friday, August 23, 2013 7:37:59 AM / Subject: Raliul UB Magadan – Update III
160km offroad (gravel but bumpy) to tynda and the frame cracked… incredible.
—————————



Back to Kamaz, we notice a small crack that escaped us yesterday. The welder fixes it on the spot, and I put everything back on the frame. At a push of a button Frankenstein returns to life. The few kilometres from the Kamaz centre to Sasha’s feed my confidence; I can feel that my 690 has recovered its rigidity.


[COLOR="rgb(112, 128, 144)"]I have a new message in my inbox
—————————-
Date: Friday, August 23, 2013 12:14:08 PM / Subject: Re: Raliul UB Magadan – Update III
your email worries me u think the bike will stand Mag, BAM? what about later on…. americas etc? chris, the guy who took phil’s Xchallenge is here he says magadan is a waste of time, but people debate so what broke he asks? ‘main chassis or rear subframe’? i noticed you’ve talked with colebatch and that there’s someone else on the route take care and good luck ana
—————————[/COLOR]



Looks like before direct news could arrive, the oasis was already teeming with rumours. The world of travellers is small. While Ana was in Terelj NP, Chris occupied a bed in her dorm. He is the one who after our buddy Phil fell in love (and subsequently married a Russian beauty) borrowed the Xchallenge to Magadan. In a curious turn of events, I am doing the road Phil was supposed to do. Meanwhile, unfazed but what I don’t know – I mean what’s being speculated in Ulaanbaatar – I have indeed contacted Colebatch, who is manning the red line between riders on the move in and towards eastern Russia. Vlad, a Romanian expat in Moscow who rode over the summer from Magadan and to the capital is also providing me essential information (he and his buddy were stuck for 2 days, waiting for the road to be fixed). I receive news from Walter about a Canadian on an XChallenge, 900km away from me, in Yakutsk. I need a few more days to service the bike, replies the Canadian, but if you are waiting for me in Tynda we can do the BAM together, he says. Even if it’s evident that the winter is approaching fast, I figure it’s a good idea to wait for this guy. Meanwhile I decide to test how strong is the welding with a short ride. I pick the East BAM, which looks a bit like that.



Email to Ana:
————
Date: Monday, August 26, 2013 7:52:23 AM / Subject: news

leaving now on a short test on east bam, up to lake zeya maybe. i believe i’ll meet ed on wednesday in tynda; sasha will ship my backpack and trailmax by train. i ll try to email again on wednesday when i come back here to say hi to sasha & co. i love you,
————


Most people considering crossing Siberia by train take the famous Trans-Siberian. Built in a time when tzars saw no reason to deviate infrastructure to unnamed villages of mujics lost in the taiga, the railway darts indifferently across a vast expanse of Russia, stretching from Moscow to the Pacific Ocean. But while the Trans-Siberian was finished in 1916, there’s a northern alternative to it, started under Stalin and sort of completed under Brezhnev in 1991. This is the 4324km Baikal-Amur Mainline railroad, what the Russians call BAM. It was destined to be an artery, instead it sprouts two-thirds of the way through the country, only to dwindle towards nowhere, across a sparsely inhabited region where few towns scatter and where paved roads are poorly maintained. The Trans-Siberian was born out of ambition and it continues to impart an undeniable romance to travellers; the BAM grew on an utopia and the track along it features today on the bucket list of adventure travellers. I don’t know which of the two destinies is more intriguing.



1 or 2 days on the East BAM should suffice. I leave in high spirits and the next 80 km cement my conviction that the repair is solid.

















At the first major river crossing I stumble on a classic. His cistern stuck in waist-deep water, the driver, another Sasha, blue eyes, Adidas coat zipped up the nose, brews his hundredth tea. No need to say that Sasha has no mobile coverage and that all he can do is wait for someone to show up and help him out of the river. We chat, cloud gather for rain. Instead of continuing further across rivers that will only become an inconvenient repeat as I’ll come back, I return towards Tynda and in the first village I send people out to pull Sasha from his river.





48 hours later I find in my inbox and older message.
————
Date: Monday, August 26, 2013 7:52:23 AM / Subject: news
kurt, the man who traveled w noah is here and he is insisting that you engine blew up… there’s a bit of panic at oasis they say you should not be alone especially this year with all the flooding since morning rene is pushing me to sell him the DRZ i know you’re in the wilderness, but try to answer
ana
————


So I learn that in Oasis people are debating the news from WR, OSR and BAM. Ana is caught in the middle of the testosterone beehive, a place too narrow for so many experts. As soon as they meet, Kurt advices Ana to do the 3×3 mod to the DRZ air box, because this way “you’ll instantly pop a wheelie”. His speech is interrupted by one of the corsicans with the info that Ana is the girlfriend of that John who has met Noah and who is going to the BAM track. Oh, I heard about that John, the guy’s done, his engine just blew off! Panic. I think you must be mistaking John for someone else, Ana says; I believe that the broken engine is from a Honda that belongs to a certain Matthew. Later, Chris asks Ana if I broke the main chassis or the rear subframe. What? he wants to go alone on the BAM, he says. I’m afraid my dear, he tells Ana, that this John of yours is an utter fool. As everybody knows only bits of the truth, the controversy continues and Ana cannot wait to leave the place. The fact is – and I hope I’m not the only one to say it – when in deep shit, you either let it suck you in, or you suck it up and do whatever you can to get out. Digression closed.

The Canadian from Yakutsk keeps on stalling and changing his estimates. This allows me some days to fix a pore in the radiator, re-stock on duct tape and repair the Garmin power supply. The weather forecast says that the next 4 may be some of the last remaining fair days of the year. At night temperatures have dropped to zero and days are getting colder as well. I’m quite aware that the welding looks strong albeit it’s a butchered job; on the other hand I don’t want to miss the BAM. I don’t want to try later, in the sorry years, to re-enter this moment, to turn the key and reignite events, to swallow my fear and my pride and have to reverse my decision. I figure it’s easier to avoid regrets, and make the best decision right now. I go alone.

After we lunch together, Sasha, Natea and Kostea give me a hug and see me out. I cringe in anticipation. In the world of superhero comics, the origin is usually as grim as they come: the legend starts in a narrow alley, in the dark, under a pointing gun. A sad or terrifying event shifts a humble character on an unexpected track. At the end of the story we are used to expect a happy resolution. I’m on my way to find out mine.









The first 200 km are supposed to be quite decent, so I start slow; my main target is to make it to the end. No village interrupts the wilderness where two parallel rails are pointing to opposite horizons. Instead of giving me the creeps, the place gives me energy. Steeper climbs, narrow passages, stretches with boulders and deep summer ravines start showing up. They are timid manifestations of what’s to come.











I generally follow the side track and the river, with the odd rail brige across; eventually every day ends with dozens of bridges passed. I don’t know who counted them, but the official numbers are mind boggling: 4200 bridges on the BAM alone!

















In the nights spent at Sasha’s, I have analysed the Sibirky Extreme track and I POI-ed all major river crossings. When night closes in, I’m approaching the first. The tormented water of the river Chilchi forbids an attempt. I return to the junction and I tackle the rail bridge.





The spikes force the cars to take it to the water.



After I cross, my adrenaline levels spike up. The sun has already set; all that’s left to do is pitch my tent, look for one more time at the bridge and enjoy my diner. Like a proper Russian mother, Natasha prepared for me a jar of baked cabbage and pork, a couple of tomatoes and half a loaf.

Day 1: Tynda 12:00PM – BC1 17:15 275km


mrwwwhite screwed with this post 01-27-2014 at 06:14 AM
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:05 AM   #566
OldPete
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CroMoly needs to be TIG welded as it has to be shielded by inert gas... argon or helium?
You offer no close-up pics but if you trust it, that's what matters.

I gulped when you left Ana with that guy and now he wants to buy her DRZ.

The plot thickens! Great up-date!
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:14 AM   #567
mrwwwhite OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPete View Post
CroMoly needs to be TIG welded as it has to be shielded by inert gas... argon or helium?
You offer no close-up pics but if you trust it, that's what matters.

The guy MIG-welded it (u can see the machine in the warehouse pic) but he was not a true artist as this frame or a MIG TIG rig both deserve. He had the tool, but did not own his trade.

I gulped when you left Ana with that guy and now he wants to buy her DRZ.

The plot thickens! Great up-date!

The dude I left Ana with is named Baptiste and he s harmless and would not want Ana's bike. The guy who wanted to snatch the DRZ for a very low price was actually the owner of oasis (he is Rene).
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:20 AM   #568
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Thanks for clearing that up for me.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:47 AM   #569
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I can't wait to check daily for an update, thanks for sharing this is Epic
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:38 PM   #570
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" Some of us are simply harbouring something as frail as a longing, a dry hunger for a version of ourselves that was supposed to be, and yet never happened."

One of many of my favorite passages.
Whom do you read (if you do) who steers your thoughts & insights?
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