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Old 01-08-2010, 10:25 PM   #706
Old Dirt Eater
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch
Hot Damn ... you guys rock !!!!
Has to be the best yet, and Tony, your a hell of a man, am 75 still ridding, but I don't believe, I could of made the first 20 miles, just Great.
would love to meet you and, have a jug or two of the spirits with you all. Keep it coming
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:45 PM   #707
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WOW

Great report!! on an awesome adventure!!



p.s. did you ever consider a set-up like the one below? ...or would you if you were to return?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyBones
Me too! But if you go to that blog and click on "походы" from the menu on the left side there are some amazing pics.

Edit: I just had to upload a couple of them....





Ok sorry. "Hijack Off"
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Old 01-09-2010, 12:40 AM   #708
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knybanjo
p.s. did you ever consider a set-up like the one below? ...or would you if you were to return?
Not really, but when I first started planning this BAM leg of the trip, I was planning it with Chris Scott. (In the end he had to pull out due to publishing deadlines). We did spend a fair bit of time discussing the idea of taking something simple, like an inner tube from a big Russian truck.

There are a couple of problems that make stuff like that a pain in the nuts. Firstly, you need to bring a hell of a lot of rope. You need at least the width of the river length of rope attached to each of both the front and back of the bike. Some of the rivers we may have used it on (like the Olyokma) were 400 yards wide. We would need over 800 yards of rope. Secondly, the only way to get a floating bike across a body of water is someone has to swim across first, carrying the rope, and then physically pull the bike over. Swimming over 400 yards of fast flowing Siberian River is still rather a large logistical problem in itself. Thirdly, the current on a typical river on the BAM would make controlling the floating bike mid stream almost impossible. Even if physically we could hold it (questionable) and stop it floating away downstream, there is a real risk of turbulence capsizing the top heavy rig. Finally its going to heavy and bulky ... even something as simple as a giant truck inner tube, and in between using it, you have to carry it and the 800 yards of rope.

The conclusion I came to when considering stuff like that is its going to be OK when (a) you are on a relatively still body of water and (b) when there absolutely is no alternative. I guess we felt we always had the alternative of the railway.

I don't feel there is any part of this trip where it would have been worthwhile to have such a rig. That doesn't mean there is no place for it anywhere, anytime, but I certainly don't regret not having any floating bike device on this trip.
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Old 01-09-2010, 12:55 AM   #709
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog99
Colebatch,

I met Eric Haws back about '92 I think, and saw his slide show on his Trans-Siberian ride. I don't recall him calling the road by any particular name. Was it the BAM road that he was on? I recall in his pictures and some video that the insects where he was were literally in clouds. He said it was enough to drive someone insane, but other than a few references, you don't mention insects to a great extent, and your pictures are nothing like Eric's in that regard. Different roads, seasons, or...?
Eric and Gail did the Western BAM Road between Tynda and Bratsk in 1991, when the country was then the Soviet Union ... They did it as passengers on the back of a couple of Russian bikes from memory, piloted by Russian friends (their bike had been confiscated). I am not sure if thats the slideshow you would have seen as they also rode the Road of Bones two years earlier in 1989.

The Road then would have been very different. Back then the BAM road was relatively new (most of it was built from the late 70s to late 80s) and regularly maintained. It was after the Soviet Union fell that the maintenance on the road basically ceased. So since Eric and Gail were on it, there has been 19 years of decay. And in a place with such extreme weather conditions (80 degrees C or 145F annual temperature range between summer and winter) and particularly permafrost and ice, 19 years equals a lot of road degradation.

As for insects, they were bad. We rarely took our helmets off until we were in a hut somewhere because of them. We abandoned camping after the very first attempt (and Terry is a total camper). But somehow we learned to deal with them. We found huts (where we could have a fire and shut the door to keep the mosquitoes at bay), we stayed in towns where we could sleep and eat indoors. Tony and I struggled with the mosquitoes more on the Road of Bones than on the BAM Road ... perhaps because that was in July, and the BAM Road was in August. There was almost no problem in the towns and cities ... I suspect they treat the surrounding areas, but away from any populated area they were a real pain.
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Colebatch screwed with this post 01-09-2010 at 06:41 AM
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:45 AM   #710
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Greetings Walt,
If you were to do this trip again, would you consider other bikes to be better suited to the task. I ask this in consideration of the seemingly similar terrain covered by Maciek during his recent travels, reported here http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=239330
His choice was a KTM 400


Thank you for your reply, and sharing your report with us.

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Old 01-09-2010, 02:59 AM   #711
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oisin


Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch



I thought for a second that it was red wine you were drinking.... known the world over as a girls drink...and carries 3 demerits on the hardcore bikers scale for every glass consumed(except when drank having stormed a French castle to rape an pillage the locals, and to annoy the locals a bit more just pop in a few ice cubes in it....that'll soften their cough)....but then I realised its probably the blood of a wild boar which you guys killed with your bare hands and then used its carcass to lure several polar bears which you then karate chopped in the neck, skinned them and used the furs as bum cushions on the road.

Please note the "real man" among us has a pint of good English bitter!


I appreciate all you kind posters offering to buy us beer.
I'm always up for a free drink ....
(and my London home is only 15 minutes from Heathrow !).
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:12 AM   #712
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktm950se
Greetings Walt,
If you were to do this trip again, would you consider other bikes to be better suited to the task. I ask this in consideration of the seemingly similar terrain covered by Maciek during his recent travels
Yes I would consider other bikes. ... BUT .... (depends what you mean by "this trip")

One of the issues I had to consider was that this BAM Road was merely one month out of a 7 month project for me to explore a whole bunch of roads in Siberia. I also had to travel across Mongolia, Central Asia as well, and ride all the to and back, racking up 30,000 miles (50,000km). So that meant I had to find a compromise bike for all of that.

Mac had the ability to tailor his bike specifically to one task, and one set of road conditions, because he flew the bikes into Magadan and out of Anadyr and had a single mission ... to get to Chukhotka.

I had a much longer lasting, broader project and therefore a much broader set of bike requirements.

Terry, who came into the project to do this BAM Road, was torn between taking his well prepped XR400, or the bike he eventually took, the larger heavier XT660R. And the main reason for that was that he had to ride it all the way back to the UK afterwards, and the thought of doing that on the off-road set up 400 was too much like hard work.

It was a similar story with luggage ... Terry was on the road for about 6 weeks all up, meaning his luggage load was only about 15 kgs, and that includes the weight of the bags. Mine was double that, but I was on the road for 7 months, and had 2 still cameras, 2 video cameras, laptop etc etc etc ... so I was limited to how much more I could have cut out of the luggage because I had a much broader project than Terry did.

If I replicated the entire 7 month Sibirsky Extreme Project again, there is no other bike I would rather take than the X-Challenge (148kgs, 650cc). If I was just doing the BAM Road, a single purpose mission, with only 4300 km (2700 miles) to cover, then a 120kg KTM 400 or 530 would definately be something to think very seriously about. But the idea of doing 7 months and 50,000 km on a KTM 400 does not appeal to me in the slightest. I would need to add 20 kgs of oil filters to the luggage for starters.

I think MetalJockey was asked his thoughts on the X-Challenge he took thru Namibia vs the 640 KTM he took through Angola, and he said something like "With the X, you go to it in the morning in the middle of nowhere, you press the button and it just fires up." There is a lot to be said for that when you are all remote.

I specifically took this bike for the overall project, because the project was so vast and diverse, with all sort of road conditions ... deserts in Kazakhstan / Uzbekistan, huge altitude in Tajikistan, challenging tracks in Extreme Siberia, and drinking 76 and 80 octane fuel along the way ... and for my money there was only one engine I wanted to do that with, the fuel injected Rotax 650 single - for me its the best all purpose adventure bike engine ever made - it truly does it all. So then it was just a question of finding the lightest, most off-road capable platform for that engine, and it was the X-Challenge.

For a straight BAM Road run, I would consider a KTM 400, a XR 400, a DRZ400 ... I would also take a look at what could be done with the G450X, or an Aprilia RXV 4.5 (450cc).
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:48 AM   #713
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Thank you kindly for your quick and thorough reply!

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Old 01-09-2010, 04:14 AM   #714
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forgive me for asking what might be a utterly silly question, but sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between internet myth and motorcycly reality.

what about taking a Ural on something like this? would you need to carry another bike each for spares?

what about taking one on the the trans-siberian or other trips through remote russia? would there be any benefit to taking a russian made machine? are they common enough that you might find parts somewhere out there or are they just as non-existent as your BMW?

just curious.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:52 AM   #715
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbySands
what about taking a Ural on something like this? would you need to carry another bike each for spares?

what about taking one on the the trans-siberian or other trips through remote russia? would there be any benefit to taking a russian made machine? are they common enough that you might find parts somewhere out there or are they just as non-existent as your BMW?
Apart from maintenance spares like filters chains etc, which we carried, the lack of OEM spares is not really a problem. If something brakes it will be fixed. The Russian people in remote areas are extremely resourceful and talented 'bush mechanics'. You still will not be able to get Ural spares from the only shop of any kind within 100 miles.

Out there they still fix things - something of a forgotten art in 'our' World.

We had a number of items fail throughout our entire trips and the only delay exceeding a few hours was in Komsomolsk while a new rear shock absorber bottom mounting lug was machined for my bike. BMW dealers will not supply that part, not in Russia, not in UK, not in USA and not even in Germany - they only sell a complete rear suspension unit.

The only real problem would be from an ECU or other 'technical' electronic failure.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:55 AM   #716
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Severobaikalsk

We filled up in Novy Uoyan and hit the asphalt road out of town. Sadly the asphalt (rumoured to go all 180km to Severobaikalsk) only lasted 30km, but the dirt road after that was at least a graded gravel road. We needed to do as much of it as possible while the daylight allowed. After 75 more kilometres of dirt we were back on asphalt.



Soon after the town of Kichera, in the twilight, we saw Baikal, one of the natural wonders of the world, illuminated by a large glowing moon. It was a beautiful sight ... Terry had been talking about ... 'getting to Baikal' since leaving Vanino.



Half an hour hour of beauful lakeside driving later and we had arrived at the big smoke, Severobaikalsk, first little city since Tynda, and found ourself a lakeside hotel with hot showers and comfy beds! The hard road was now over. The remaining 1000km of the BAM road was all prepared road, passing through the small cities of Ust Kut and Bratsk. We could now finally start to relax.

- - -

Terry had asked to take a day off to have a bit of a look around Lake Baikal and I was in no mood to disagree. We decided to take a ride down to the seal hunting village of Baikalskoye 40km to the south, sort out anything that needed sorting and generally have a relaxed day. The weather was awesome. Sure it was bloody cold prior to about 11am, but clear blue cloudless skies cheered us up. It was the first cloudless day since meeting Terry ... he must be bad luck!

My bike wouldnt start (first time on the whole trip), so Tony went into the centre of Severobaikalsk to sort out breakfast, while Terry and I began the time old process of checking if we are getting spark, if so, are we getting fuel? It turned out we were not getting fuel. A connection was loose to the fuel pump. Once diagnosed, and the connection jiggled around a bit (highly technical jiggling of course), all was well and the bike reassembled just in time to enjoy a greasy take away breakfast.

We rode about 10km out of town and found a deserted stretch of lakeshore to chill out on. There was plenty of deserted beach, but we chose a nice grassy spot. Mosquito free, midge free, ant free ... it was heavenly and the boys both soon drifted off to sleep. Must be an age thing.



In Baikalskoye, we grabbed an ice-cream each and headed down to the jetty, taking in the cloudless blue sky and crystal clear waters of Lake Baikal.








Eventually it was time to head back to Severobaikalsk before everything closed for the day. I needed to find a place to upload some long overdue pictures for the blog and Tony hadnt checked his email in weeks. Terry is a bit of a luddite, so no problem for him. He just sat out sunning himself in Severobaikalsk's central square.

When all was done, we stopped off at the market for a huge and tasty dinner of shashlik - long one of my favorites, and now one of Terry's favorites too (no surprises he went back for seconds), before grabbing a few beers and heading back to the hotel to pack.

With the hard riding all behind us now, we re-arranged the loads. We would soon be parting ways and now was as good a time as any to make sure the right stuff was on the right bike.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:16 AM   #717
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Progress

We had pushed quite hard since Tynda. The Eastern half of the BAM had taken more time than we expected. We didnt know how tough this Western half would be, but I expected it to be a lot easier, as I knew it had been done before. It was easier, but not as much easier as I expected. There were still tough bits. But we had left Khani 3 riding days ago, so to get from Khani to Severobaikalsk in just 3 riding days (plus the rest day in Taksimo) was decent going.

Here's a map of the Western half of the road so far, from Tynda to Severobaikalsk.

It had taken us a day from Tynda to Yuktali, 2 days from Yuktali to Khani, 2 days from Khani to Taksimo and just a day from Taksimo to Severobaikalsk. All up 6 days on the road from Tynda to Severobaikalsk.

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Old 01-09-2010, 06:46 AM   #718
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Funny thing.
My dad walked by my room just when I was looking at your map. From 10 meters away and just one glimpse at my screen, he immediately recognized the place, stopped and said "you going to Baikal??".
I was surprised how easily he understood what I was looking at, but then I remembered he served his military service in the Red Army somewhere in the area (on the Chinese border).
So I tell him "I'm not going anywhere yet, but I sure will, some day".
"What's with the blue and pink lines?", he asked.
"Oh, I'm just reading about these 3 crazy Britts, the blue line is the Trans-Siberian railway, and the pink line is the route they are riding".
Once again my dad proves that even though we left the Soviet Union 15 years ago, he sure knows what he's talking about: "Holly sh*t, are they riding the BAM? That's crazy, there's no road there! YOU are not going there!"

Anyway, so now you got my dad watching out for me not to buy airline tickets to Moscow and then Vladivostok I hope you guys are proud

Go on now
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:30 AM   #719
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Impressions and misconceptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by WildwoodMOCruiser
What impression do they have of us? "Hollywood"
Interesting question. These are my thoughts and observations:

What do they think on a personal level of us? or of Americans? I never heard a bad word, not even about Americans (and none of us were Americans so they were free to have a bash). They all watch American movies, but in general Russians now look up to Europe rather than America. Everyone wants a European car, European clothes, European restaurants, and holidays to France, Spain and Italy... (and Thailand, Goa and now Bali for the younger folk). I remember in the early 1990s, it was everything American was cool in Russia, but that began to change about 1998, and now its very much a cultural lust for Europe and all things European that I notice in Russia.

One exception to this is the iPhone ... Russians are obsessed with them. There must be more iPhones per capita in Russia than any other country on earth !

The view of America at a governmental level is obviously still very important but not the all encompassing relationship it was in the "bipolar world" soviet days. The Russians now spend a lot of time cultivating relationships with the countries on their periphery, from Japan and Korea to China, India, and Western Europe. At an individual (personal) level, I think you will find the average Russian sees America as a fellow part of the "civilised world", with who they can share a vodka, talk about adventure motorcycling and joke about the "uncivilised world" that threatens the security both of them (and doesn't do adventure motorcycling).

I think that's an important distinction to make. Obviously at a governmental level, the Russian view of the world is complex, and is a grand chessboard. [The geopolitics of Russia, the "chessboard" side of things is a fascinating subject in itself - Russia is the centre of the global chessboard - so their government can never avoid seeing the world as a chessboard.] At a personal level, the Russians tend see the world as two halves ... the "civilised" half (friends) and the "uncivilised" half (unpredictable - to be treated warily). Realistically, if you come from any western country (or Japan / Korea) to the doorstep of a Russian home, they will see you as a "civilised friend".

So this also highlights a distinction between the way the average Brits and Americans view Russians at a personal level (in the "unpredictable" basket - often with some suspicion and wariness) and how Russians view Brits and Americans at a personal level (friends). I think it is this distinction in particular that causes a lot of surprise, followed by humbling embarrassment for travellers to Russia. You read earlier in this thread some reactions from other people who had travelled there and been amazed by the hospitality. I think part of that shock comes from the fact that "we" would not have been that welcoming to them, yet they were that welcoming to us.

Russians are also better than most nationalities at discerning between people at a personal level and government foreign policy. Russians are in general no fans of US foreign policy, yet perhaps as a result of their history, in which government policy had little or nothing to do with the thoughts of the populace, they draw a far more prominent distinction between a country's foreign policy and their own personal thoughts about the citizens of that country. So a Russian will have two very distinct views about America ... one relating to government policy and actions, and one about the general populace.

Britain is currently in a strange position with respect to the Russians. At a governmental level, things are frosty. Yet at a business level is a different story. For some years now Britain has been the biggest foreign investor into Russia. On a social level, Britain, despite being the hardest visa in Europe for Russians to get, remains an incredibly popular places for Russians to visit on holidays, and is THE "choice" place for the wealthy to live and to educate their children. So despite the British government doing all it can to make Russia an enemy, business and social contacts have worked the opposite way to the government.

Normally, to understand Russians its vitally important to understand their history and in Russian history, Americans are not the great historical enemy of the Russian people. That honour goes to the Germans. Every mention of Germans in a military context refers to the "fascists". Even today people will call often jokingly anything German by that name. A new BMW for example is a "fascist car" (... but it doesn't stop everyone wanting one.)

So one of the things that did surprise me about Russian hospitality, is that every German I have met who has travelled through Russia has ALSO reported nothing but the warmest of hospitality, and so it seems to me that the Russians are just as warm to the Germans as anyone else. I have even heard stories of German travellers stopping off in villages where the elderly patriarch of the family lost a leg fighting the Germans, and yet he welcomes an unexpected German traveller like a old friend.

This warm personal contact with people from the arch enemy Germany confirmed my view that at a personal level, the Russians see the world in two sets ... "the civilised folk", and "the barbarians".


Edit ... afterthought ... in these extreme parts of Siberia (where everyone is rugged and tough), they think of westerners in general as soft and spoiled by luxury. But they think exactly the same of Russian city people and in particular "Moscow people", who rural Russians love to mock.
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*** New Sibirsky Extreme Trail DVD Trailer HERE ***
Moroccan Extreme 2011 DVD available HERE
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:47 AM   #720
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I'm late again. Just finished 19th page, but I will catch you soon.
All I can say - truly amazing
Tony Terry & Colebatch
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Your journey is wonderful, but for me and my AT some track with more chicks and less bogs would be more appropriate.
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