|12-22-2005, 03:28 PM||#1|
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Mongolia '05, or 10 000 miles in 22 days on a thumper.
Plan: To ride across Russia to lake Baikal, from there south to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Follow the Gobi desert west and come back home.
When: July 2005
Who: Vesa and a friend of mine, Visa (yeah, it ended up in a few funny situations when trying to explain our names. Found out the easiest way was to say he’s like the credit card and I’m not).
Bikes: Me on a modified Suzuki DR800 Big '98, Visa on a '98 1100GS. A thread of my DR800 can be found here
For how long: A month? Two? Depending whether all goes well and how much we feel like riding.
Neither one of us speaks any Russian, or read cyrillic alphabet, so there was enough of a challenge just reading the map and ordering food. We didn't know too much about Russia or Mongolia for that matter, but did spoke to people who had ridden in Russia before and to few guys on HUBB who knew much more about riding in Mongolia. All in all, gathering all the necessary info took some months. Main idea was to ride at a good pace till Mongolia and then take the time needed to get back. See a lot of places we’re not familiar with and to experience what Adventure riding is about - but still get back home in reasonable time. Duties and stuff, well you all know…
This map might be handy if you’d like to know better where everything is on the map.
July 3rd – 410 miles
First day, road between St. Petersburg and Moscow is in bad condition due to heavy truck traffic. Hard to imagine it to be the main road between the two biggest cities in Russia.
Secure parking. The steering head bearing on my DR800 had become loose on continuos small and a bit bigger hits from the really bumpy Moscow road. Unfortunately I didn't have a 30mm wrench to open the upper clamp nut, so had to leave it till tomorrow.
July 4th – 420 miles
Tightening the bearing when we found a shop where we could buy a wrench. I used the wrench as a hammer pretty much ruining the handle, still they would have been happy to take it back...Bough it, price ~3 dollars. A Tver Viking’s biker stopped by to help. Gave Visa a really cool Bikefest T-shirt. Had Harley-Davidson stickers on his truck and all…
Later that day we were stopped for speeding. The language barrier meant the milis (police) officers looked at the papers for a few minutes and seeing it didn’t go anywhere, gave them back and waved goodbye. Today we had past Moscow. The ring road around Moscow was quite jammed but the traffic was still suprisingly rideable.
July 5th – 560 miles
Stopping to buy some apples from an old lady.
East from Moscow the roads started to be real straight and faaast.
Near Kazan cows were in no hurry to get away from the highway ramp.
Later that evening, my bike had suspicious symptoms. At low rev’s the blinkers would blink normally. At high, they’d start to blink fast. Was afraid that the rectifier had burnt. Late that night we found a hotel, and at the hotel yard when starting to move it behind the place, the starter said simply ‘klick’. Luckily, after some work found out a relay had broken and caused symptoms to the blinkers. Also, a cable to the battery had shaken itself loose so the starter didn’t get enough power. Relief can be seen on the picture.
Made a new friend when a slightly drunken guy wanted to sit on our bikes and test my helmet. Later that night, he brought us grilled chicken wings… Amazing.
July 6th – 590 miles
Fields are massive this part of the world. We were now closing to the Ural mountains.
Passing from the right was tempting at times.
The evening sun in Asia.
We found a cheap hotel but the parking was a bit suspicious so we decided to take advantage of a cover Visa had taken along.
July 7th – 550 miles
A café outside our motel.
The old Soviet main road heading east from Chelyabinsk to Omsk goes trough Kazakhstan. Not having Visas for Kazakhstan, we had to take another route. Main roads make a long loop so we took a shortcut.
The Russian Road Atlas we had turned out to be spectacularly correct and many small road crossings were marked.
Arriving in Omsk.
July 8-9th - 1000 miles
A minor repair to a Kamaz truck at a gas stop. You really have to know your machine well I suspect…
The main roads are fast, there’s no doubt about that. With minimal traffic and very few speed traps riding is quite relaxed. Everyone warns about a speed trap, excellent. What makes it a good idea to be awake are potholes. Sometimes on a road that is otherwise in good condition, a 10 inch deep 20*20 inch hole might suprise.
We really couldn’t find a proper place to stay or put our tents, so ended up driving till dark. And then with the light summer nights here up north, somehow just ended riding through the night.
Few hours sleep in the morning after 1000 miles under 24 hours. No other option to rest but with all the stuff on because of an unimaginable amount of mosquitoes. I still managed to wake up with some burning sensation on my face – somehow a handful of mosquitoes had gotten under my goggles… Whee
The temps got up to over 40 degrees Celsius. Even the cows needed a bit cooling off. I was getting worried about my DR’s cooling.
In the late afternoon, we tried to find a motel to stay. We wondered in some neighborhood and came to a dead end. U-turn and after half a mile saw some guy on his underwear wawing at us. He, Sasha, insisted that we rode our bikes to his yard, then with his wife showed around his house and their family portraits. We didn’t understand a word he said, neither did he what we. He left us in his house, returning after half an hour with his mother-in-law who had been an English teacher in Novosibirsk. We were welcomed with the most genuine ‘Russian hospitality’. A meal, banja (a Russian sauna) and a place to stay. Even their political views became clear during the evening, when asked about Putin the response was ‘we dislike him’. In the morning the whole family was againg gathered to wish us a good trip. After a breakfast they showed us the right route out of the town to Irkutsk.
Everywhere you go, always incredible people
Police Academy movie dubbed in Russian was on that night.
A really, really happy face in the sauna after a very long day. The hat is not a joke, but cool nonetheless.
After a week of riding we were starting to get near lake Baikal.
|12-22-2005, 03:51 PM||#3|
Joined: Sep 2004
Location: Exiled to Frozen Winter Hell, AK
I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took a Hyundai to the knee...
|12-22-2005, 04:39 PM||#6|
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: Helsinki, Finland
July 10th – 515 miles
The main road to Baikal was sometimes a bit smaller than what we hade been used to….
…and sometimes not.
Sidecar Ural in proper use.
We finally got to Baikal.
A Bug’s Life
July 11th – 150 miles
For our surprise, we met the first foreign bikers in Russia. Joe and Stan from Maui, of all places! They had shipped their DR-Z’s to Japan, rode through and shipped them to Vladivostok. They were also heading to Ulaanbaatar in a few days. We decided to camp with them at the lake. That evening a group of locals, two girls and a guy were drinking heavily and came to talk to us. Getting rid of them was hard enough and the situation wasn’t exactly relaxed as the guy leaked blood from his head and had a hatchet on his hand.
The Trans-Siberian railway behind.
I left my bike on the side of the road when we stopped to say hello to the ‘mericans. I didn’t watch very closely where I left the DR, so naturally a breath of wind ended up knocking it off the sidestand into a 2m deep ditch, rolling over on the side bags one and a half times… No injuries, just took 20 minutes to get it up from the ditch even for the four of us.
July 12th – 280 miles
As we were now heading south to the Mongolian border, we were stopped at a police checkpoint. There after some bad english someone asked how many of us were there. Two, we said. Then a milis man points back and for our surprise, a biker on a 640 Adventure rides to the same check point. Found out that he, Kris, was a Polish Canadian coming from London, Ontario. Rode to Alaska where from he shipped his bike to Magadan. With his Russian he explained to us that the police said they’d shoot us unless we had some Finnish money to give him. We didn’t, and in the end they gave us some rubles and wished us good luck on our journey.
Heading to Mongolia with Kris. We stopped later and had a good long chat even though we were in a bit of a hurry to the border, as I broke my key while trying to open the tank cap. Had to part half of the bike to get to my spare key – note to self: do not attach your spare key to the frame if you can’t get to it without keys…
Nice people at the border, when we asked a border official wether he knew a place to eat and change money, he said his shift was about to end and told us to follow him. An hour and 50 miles later we were at his ranch. Told us we could stay there for the night.
We ate well…
…And played pool with him and his family. At night when heavy thunderstorms were closing we were asked to come sleep inside. Incredible hospitality once again.
July 13th – 510 miles.
In the morning we met more of the kids over there.
The girl on the far left spoke fluent english. Note the cell phone with a camera, there are no ‘nowhere’ these days.
Every bike had to be tested.
How ever peaceful the place was, we decided we had used enough of their hospitality and headed to Ulaanbaatar. The border official’s father drove in front of us to the nearest city so we could change some money.
Where are the teletubbies?
More bikers, a German couple on a 2-year RTW on two 650GS’s.
We changed our tires to Karoos at a workshop. Here we also bent my sidestand back after it had suffered in a fall and welded my crash bar that had broken day 1 from vibration.
When we were leaving from UB a guy ran after me, tapped on my shoulder and gave a big can of fruit juice he had brought from the near by market. What can one do but smile?
More tomorrow, it's half past two 'round here,
|12-22-2005, 05:35 PM||#9|
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Thanks for taking us along on this incredible trip Safe travels!
Smugmug coupon code: CKZQ0vLPlmLFw
|12-22-2005, 06:07 PM||#11|
Joined: May 2005
Location: NOT Brooklyn
|12-22-2005, 07:09 PM||#15|
Joined: Nov 2003
Location: Kalispell, Montana
This is an epic ride report!
Thanks for sharing and keep it coming.
2013 Husky TE511
2012 KTM 350 XC-F
2001 KTM 640 LC4 Sold
2009 KTM 300 XCW Sold
I only like two kinds of women, foreign and domestic
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