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Old 01-09-2010, 07:32 PM   #736
Zecatfish
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Quote:
There was now less than 700km of the 4280km BAM road to go. Just over a days ride to Taishet and the end of the line.
I hate to see the ride end. I've enjoyed every post and look for them religiously.
Thank You so much for letting us tag along and open our own horizons and the world in general.
I'm sure there is many like myself that never gave Russia a thought as an ADV destination. Thank you so much!!!
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:43 PM   #737
wingnut11
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Usually I don't post on RRs but for this one I'll make an exception. Why? This is the best ride report ever! Just bearly edging out sambors Afghanistan report, close but this is the one.
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:29 PM   #738
jazzdrum69
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wow.

incredible.

I'm in for the DVD!

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Old 01-10-2010, 03:20 AM   #739
KL__07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingnut11
Usually I don't post on RRs but for this one I'll make an exception. Why? This is the best ride report ever! Just bearly edging out sambors Afghanistan report, close but this is the one.
Yes a 100% for the ride and the intercultural lessons. This rr is opening a new world for many of us.

This is the one!

KL
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:15 AM   #740
Colebatch OP
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The BAM Road Story Doesnt End Here !



Tony and Terry checked into the Lena Hotel in downtown Ust Kut. I had ridden ahead of them to get to Ust Kut in time to sort out a boat trip back to Lensk.

I still harboured a burning ambition to get to the Arctic Circle in Asia. Tony and Terry were short on time and had to head back to the UK, but I thought I just had enough time before the seasons changed to try one more time to get North from Udachny.

It would be some time before I could finish the BAM Road .... that would have to wait.

The plan was ambitious, and it was solo ... and on a map, it looked like this ...



The blue line is the Trans Siberian Highway
The pink line is the BAM Road
The green line is what we had ridden to ust Kut and what I planned to ride north of Ust Kut

Tony and I had ridden up to Udachny 2 months earlier (new thread to come at a later date) in an attempt to be the first guys to ride up to the Arctic Circle in Asia, by bike. We reached Udachny, the Northernmost town fed by our road, but the Arctic Circle was around 18km (11 miles) further North from Udachny. We had managed a half dozen kilometres North from the town but it came to a depressing halt at a vast flooded river. We were forced to turn back, with only 7 or 8 miles separating us from that goal. Now, at the end of the summer, the river levels should be lower. I wanted to give it another go.

The Arctic Circle crosses 3 continents, Europe, North America and Asia. In Europe, the Arctic Circle is barely worth of a mention. German retirees in their RVs head up the coast of Norway every Summer in their tens of thousands, heading for NordKapp and cross the Arctic Circle comfortably on immaculate asphalt roads. In North America, its more remote, but heading up the Dalton Highway to reach the Arctic Circle is still something popular enough to base a local tourism industry on. In Asia however, its different. You have to get up to far Northern Siberia - and there is no tourism there. The Arctic Circle in Asia was virgin motorcycling territory. Or at least it was when Tony and I tried it in June - July.

Now was the end of August. I had received news that Mac Swinarski and co had crossed the Arctic Circle by barge on the Kolyma River a few weeks earlier, heading North from Seymchan (thousands of Kilometres to the East) ... and had then ridden their bikes back south across the Arctic Circle on the Road to Egvekinot and ultimately Anadyr. Despite this news, I was however determined to find a way to ride up to the Arctic Circle by bike, if indeed it was possible. Tony and I had come so close last time, just a handful of miles. I wanted one last shot at it.

- - -

A few handshakes and hugs could never be enough to say farewell to the two guys who have partnered me along this BAM Road odyssey. Tony has been with me for almost 3 months ... initially just planning to ride Altai, Tuva and Lake Baikal with me over 3 weeks, but that grew into 3 months across some of the wildest roads in Siberia. I am unsure how it will feel to be riding without Tony. It was in Central Asia the last time I set out on a day's ride without waking up Tony first. I dont think I have met a guy with such understated determination. No matter how tough things got, Tony just put his head down and got the job done. What he lacked in technique he made up for in abundance with balls. The guy is all about balls. If you see him, offer to shake his balls!

Terry has been a different asset on the BAM road. Apart from his ability to have a laugh, his vast off road riding experience going back about as long as I have been alive, was put to good effect on the tough BAM road. When the going got really tough it was great to send in Terry up front to show the best line though. I learned a lot about line picking from watching Terry carve up the toughest tracks. Terry was also the first person we turned to if anything mechanical or technical was amiss. 'Terry, what do you reckon?'. Terry and I rode at similar tempos and for long stretches it was just Terry and I riding together, followed by a wait for Tony.

I will really miss those guys. In 2 weeks or so, they will be back in England, and I will be where they are now.

Maybe I am mad to head up to Udachny again.

I loaded the bike onto the boat for Lensk at an obscure loading point, via the boats narrow steep front gangway. But as it happened, after loading the bike, the boat had to dock briefly at the main river port anyway, next door to the Lena Hotel where Tony and Terry were staying. I called the guys and told them to bring a few beers down to the river bank. We clinked beer bottles for the last time down on the shores of the Lena, and my boat pulled away into the darkness, set for 1000 km on the River Lena.

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Old 01-10-2010, 04:38 AM   #741
quicktoys2
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Absolutely cool ....... I am drawn to your ride report like a moth to a light.

THANKS GUYS .............. I am looking forward to the Artic circle adventure

More teaser pics if you got any

Soto
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:25 AM   #742
SR1
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:35 AM   #743
hwy61
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Another Quick Thanks!

Thanks fellers!
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:05 AM   #744
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We're not worthy. Ride on...
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:28 AM   #745
McGoo
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Im getting all inspired over here.
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:32 AM   #746
Bug Dr.
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Can't wait until the book comes out. Thanks again!
Mike
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:36 AM   #747
bwalsh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch
The guy is all about balls. If you see him, offer to shake his balls!

Nice suggestion but I think I will just offer to shake his hand and buy him a beer or two.



So Tony and Terry, is there a homeward bound RR from the two of you also??
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:00 AM   #748
Flylooper
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Originally Posted by jphish
No Fly rod !? My god man - don't ever leave home without it. If you'd use it, I'd send you one. Those Siberian Salmon are magnificent monsters! Glad they've started considering conservation efforts. Like a cross between a trout and alligator. Thanks for the link - record is over 100kg - hope they released it. Pretty cool! OK - back to the journey. Your trip report is rapidly gaining fame - 2 other ADVriders in my office knew of it & clued me in yesterday. Noticed I was late this morning, but didn't tell the boss...wait...I am the boss!? I should fire myself. Anyway - we're all enjoying the vicarious adventure that most will never experience - Thanks for letting us tag along. Toodles, j
Jeebus! Do they make 20 wt fly rods? They must look like broomsticks!
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:36 AM   #749
shua
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Thanks for the great report guys. I very much enjoyed it, and look forward to more.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:29 AM   #750
ryanwilliamcantrell
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Great history. Very informative. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch
The BAM - Baikal-Amur Magistral - was a transcontinental railway line commenced in the 1930s under Stalin, and completed almost 70 years later, in 2003, under Putin (the track was finished in 1991, but tunnels were not finished until December 2003). The Russians already had the Trans-Siberian, but it hugs the Chinese border, and to put it bluntly, the Chinese are the only realistic external threat to the territorial integrity of Russia. So having a vital 'one and only' railway line next to them for thousands of kilometres was strategically terrifying, even back in the 1930s. Now its a serious national security risk. So they began building the BAM Railway, a second route across Siberia, but this time at least several hundred kilometres from the Chinese border.

So what of the BAM Road?

At one time, in the 1980s, it was the theoretically first and the ONLY road across the Soviet Union. It was never more than a railway service track for the BAM railway, but the Authorities were embarrassed that there was no other road across the CCCP so they promoted it as a major road - despite it NEVER having anything in the way of traffic, and never being passable by anything less than a 4WD, and missing dozens of vital bridges over vital rivers that have never been built. There was another purpose to talking up the road; by pretending they had a good road across the country, the Soviets were also trying to bluff the Chinese and the Americans into thinking their transport infrastructure was better than it actually was.

Following the collapse of the CCCP back in 1991, there was no further interest in the road from the Authorities, and under Boris Yeltsin's reign, the road went the way of the rest of the former Soviet Union - it disintegrated without so much as a hint of maintenance.

When Vlad "the Lad" Putin came to power, a new strategy was developed. It was recognised that a transcontinental road was needed to supplement the railways, but the BAM wasn't the place to have it. The BAM went through empty country. All the population across Siberia was near the Trans-Siberian Railway, so any major road across the country had to be built following the Trans-Siberian Railway ... and so it was. In February 2004 Putin went on TV to proclaim the Trans-Siberian Highway, open!!!

The BAM Road had been ignored in the 1990s, because every infrastructure need in Russia was ignored in the tough days of the 1990s, and by the 2000s it was irrelevant as the new plan was now the Trans-Siberian Highway.

So what have we got now? A road that was once the only route across the country: A road that for most parts hasn't seen maintenance since the Soviet Union: A road that in many parts is so overgrown and eroded that only 6WD trucks can drive it ... and then only without load: A road impassible to normal 4WDs: A road that is so sparsely populated that some stretches include a ride of 3-4 days, just to get to a settlement of 300 people.

Note: Don't be fooled by many Russian Road atlases proclaiming it a relatively major road. This is still partly a hangover of the Soviet days in which the track was promoted as a major road for bluff purposes. Further, as we found on the Road of Bones, Russian Road Atlases are pretty quick to incorporate new roads and towns, but they never delete old ones. All Russian maps have the town (and fuel station) at Kadykchan marked on them bold and clear, though in reality the town (and fuel station) haven't existed for over 13 years now. The BAM Road is another good example. It is often marked as a secondary road, as indeed it was close to being in the CCCP days, but now its mostly non-existant!

Its not like map makers have ever been on it to check its condition!



So welcome to the BAM !

- - -
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