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Old 07-20-2012, 04:39 PM   #16
bujas
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This trip sound really interesting, looking forward to see the rest of the diary log.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:26 PM   #17
Miikka OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BELSTAFF View Post
OK, so let me get this straight, we're doing a Hi-speed low level bomb run across Russia just for the shits & giggles of it, right?

Sounds like fun I'm in


Isn't every ride just for shit & giggles unless one is doing something noble on the side such as raising funds for cancer research..? Like these two guys who we met in Ulanbator: Round the world on a DR-Z400 Pete and Jon are good fellas. Sissies, cause they ditched their chinese pink inner tubes without giving them a chance, but great chaps.
So...yes!

And no. We had to bomb through Russia because we wanted to experience Mongolia.
Taking a year off from work...hefty sum of money.
Taking a month off from family...difficult and heartbreaking.
To ride through Mongolia...priceless!

-m
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:48 PM   #18
Miikka OP
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Chapter I: From Russia with love

Day 2, June 2nd
E of Veliky Novgorod - Vladimir

Jani slept like a baby (or so he claims) and I didn't. First night went thinking of days to come, stuff
that we may have left behind and scenarios that we haven't prepared for. Also, I think I stayed in
guard (with Mora knife) for most of the night for no obvious reason. So I didn't get too much shuteye.

Morning activities were supposed to be familiar and speedy but I managed to pack and repack
my stuff in many different and weird ways spending extra time on the simple task. Nervous?

Wake up was 8am and we finally started engines at 9:30.
That lollygagging was crowned by dropping my bike (sloooow speed) once leaving the campsite.
No biggie, but totally unnecessary.

Generally speaking, I'm not afraid to drop my bike. My bike is a "tool" not a showroom item. But when
you're on a trip and heavily dependent on your bike and gear for the next 4 weeks…dropping the
bike always posses a risk of a damage.
Should have made a graceful exit/jump and let the bike go, but dreading the "first drop" (like a
proper noob) I fought back when bike disagreed with me on which line to choose on the muddy track.
Stupid thing to do since I weigh about 180lbs with gear on and my bike with all gear weighs 600+ lbs..

Bike won the argument and since I wasn't concentrating on a safe landing I managed to land on a
hard spot hitting my left side. First thing to do is naturally to check if anyone saw my embarrassing
tumble..?
No.
Next you check your valuables:

All good, finnish miniature vodka bottles didn't break! (our "bribes" / gifts)

Got first rain in the morning. Could have done without a few more days..
Riding in rain is never fun but riding in rain in Russia in heavy traffic and/or traffic jam is slightly terrifying.
These guys don't slow down for rain and I bet the average age of their tires is 10+ years.
(that's why you see cars /trucks with flat tires along the road all the time!) So visibility is poor as hell,
speeds are same as any other given day…bikers are responsible for their own health more than ever!
You get used to that sooner than you think but that doesn't make it any safer.


Bors lunch

M10 heavy traffic continued and had lots of road constructions going on. We passed more cars via
shoulder than we could count. More than we've passed legally in the past 20 years! At first we used
shoulder only when the line wasn't moving but in the afternoon we graduated into passing from the right
when the traffic was crawling less than 20km/h..

Crossing the white solid line is a big no-no in Russia. Costs more money than speeding when you
get busted doing that. Passing from right can't be any lesser offense but we decided to take our chances
anyway. Traffic was at standstill and we weren't going to get any younger waiting!

No funny business here, just an example how to proceed:


Set camp at 9:30pm with our mosquito friends.




730km on day 2, total 1330km.

Ritsikirja notes:

- Miikka dropped the bike exiting campsite. Crashbar pannier rips and breaks off.
Vodka bottles survive, all good!
(Fixed with our good friend the Gorilla tape)
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:37 AM   #19
Sutherngintelmen
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Nice
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All pics < 6/30/12 deleted by Apple Now with SmugMug supporting ADV
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:38 PM   #20
Miikka OP
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Chapter I: From Russia with love

Day 3, June 3rd
Vladimir - Kazan

Woke up at 7, on the road at 8.
Skipped breakfast because of rain…only had 1h without rain all day.
Riding followed the same pattern as previous 2 days.

Scenery was flat and trans Siberian highway is straight…long and...boring. And did I say straight?


Bike to bike "intercom" is priceless when fighting against boredom.
And overtaking trucks becomes about 90% less dangerous with bike to bike radio! Leader guy makes his move and
wingman gets the "go!" or "no go!" into his ear.
Or wingman scopes the inside of the corner (on right turn) and leader guy can overtake trucks blind as a bat without
ending up as an ornament on oncoming truck's radiator.
Use of common sense is recommended, sometimes even required, but speech connection is priceless!

Now, we don't speak basically any russian but that doesn't stop us from communicating with russians.
We did always ask if they speak any english…and the answer was pretty much always "njet".
After that it was time to speak finnish/english/german and Jani's favorite - swedish(!) - and start communicating with
hand signs and gestures.
A smile and a good attitude takes you surprisingly far!
Come to think of it, we ran across 3 english speaking "non-westerns" during our trip.

We do know "most" of the cyrillic alphabets so that we are able to read road signs to backup our navigation.
We don't know our numbers. Besides 2, dva.
But here's how we got fuel:

Normally I'd remove my helmet to be more polite, but in this case I wanted to tape my poor communication
skills. I used a piece of paper most of the time to tell the clerk:
- octane
- amount in liters
- pump number
If I was successful I got the slip back with price written on it; pay and your pump should deliver!
(well sometimes you have to press a button, crank a lever, hop on left foot or curse a couple of times..)

Our camping gear was all wet so it was an easy call to choose indoor accommodation for the night.
Picked our first Gostinitza experience randomly (well…all of 'em) and it turned out to be a good one.
Got our first shower and did some laundry in the bathroom sink.

Drying gear

Without any real knowledge about russian language we managed to arrange a room, shower, secure
parking for our bikes + food without a fail. I'm not saying that it was always easy, but always doable.
Food was probably the trickiest part. Cyrillic alphabets make it pretty hard to read/guess the menu.
But pointing at other customers plates is always easy. And so is mimicking chicken!


Dinner

Secure parking behind the building. (Cam 3)



Ritsikirja notes:
- 690km, mostly in rain. Total 2020km.
- crotch gets wet after an hour in heavy rain. Rally Pro 3 first, Klim Badlands soon after.
Sitting in a puddle on top of Airhawk propably doesn't help?
- learned that "Schnitzel / kartoffel purée" will get you a meat patty and mashed potatos. Result!
(courtesy of Mondo Enduro. Respect!)
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:38 AM   #21
peteFoulkes
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Superb!

Excellent report. Subscribed.
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:41 AM   #22
squonker
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Very cool. Great writing style.
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Ride Report: Canada North to South 2008 here
Drive Report: Ice Road Trucking 2005-2014 here

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Old 07-22-2012, 04:53 PM   #23
Miikka OP
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Thanks for your kind comments guys!
Input is always welcome.

Story continues tomorrow..
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:00 PM   #24
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levain screwed with this post 07-22-2012 at 09:05 PM
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:21 PM   #25
Miikka OP
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Chapter I: From Russia with Love

Day 4, June 4th
Kazan - Chelyabinsk

Woke up at 6:45 and realized that water was dripping down on our window…inside and outside!
So laundry didn't get quite dry during the night but it sure wasn't as wet as night before.
Had pancakes for breakfast and got on the road at 8:20. Had to fold the laundry you know..

So it was raining again and temperature was around +11 so riding mood was a bit low.
Rain stopped after lunch and smile returned to our faces. Temp got up to +20C.

Drying laundry during lunch stop:



Lunch time!

Traffic was getting better -> less construction sites and full stop traffic jams…and then we hit Ural mountain.
First (and really welcome) change of scenery so far, but trucks tend to be slow on uphills and downhills.
Especially old russian Kamaz trucks crawl up the hills and even the western trucks take it easy on the downhills
in order not to destroy their brakes.

But we didn't have any time to waste! So we had to keep pushing forward.
Now, for the record, we would NOT pull stunts like this back home. After all, we are two family guys with wives
(one each..) and kids waiting for us back home, so we were just looking to proceed as fast as reasonable as
safe as possible. But this is what you get to do hour after hour, straight after straight when crossing Russia,
unless you're happy riding 60km/h.

(Video of course doesn't really show the gradient on uphill/downhill)

So, when in Rome:


Did you notice the burned truck at the end of the clip?
We saw a few of those passing Ural. Brake failures…drivers falling asleep behind the wheel?
Extra reminders to keep our eyes open at all times.

Boggy and wet roadside scenery didn't look tempting for camping so we took a gostinitza again.
Stopped engines 9:40pm, took our valuables inside and did basic maintenance (lubing chain,
oil check and check for any loose bolts) before shower and dinner.

These roadside "motels" (гостиница = gostinica or gostinitza) mostly for truckers are great because
they (usually) have everything that you need. A room, secure parking, shower, toilet :) and cafe.
Sometimes even fuel on the same stop.
If you have tons of time it might be nice to ride in to a town for the night. But that usually means that
first you have to search for a place with secure enough of a parking spot and then food by riding or
walking around the town.
Needless to say, we opted for one stop tactic whenever possible!


Restrooms are sometimes slightly restless..


Turned out I did get a souvenir from my tumble on morning #2.

Ritsikirja notes:

- Lost 2 hours on hitting time zone jump but still managed to ride 760km. Total 2780km

- Miikka's mud landing on morning two gave a small bruise. (and possibly a fractured rib, cause M is now
unable to adjust Mirage screen with his left hand while riding..)
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:38 PM   #26
downdog
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What an awesome ride. Thanks for the great report.

Have fun!
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Old 07-24-2012, 02:44 PM   #27
Miikka OP
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Chapter I: From Russia with Love

Day 5, June 5th
Chelyabinsk - Ishim

Woke up again at 6:45, pancakes again for breakfast. And started engines at 8:20, again.
Rain…AGAIN.
Makes us wonder how many days we have to soak our asses on the road before we catch a break.
And then…afternoon is dry and temp rises up to 23C.

Scenery got back to flat and straight after crossing Ural mountains.





Surrounding area looks really boggy again and we go for a gostinitza. Again. Sissies!?
Engines stop at 9pm and we choose to do minor pending elec maintenance/repair works.


This gostinica had good food and big rooms. Unfortunately room was full of mosquitos and beds were so miserable that we ended up putting mattresses on the floor. So...kinda like camping indoors?







795km, total 3575km.

Ritsikirja notes:

- Miikka does a motelside bypass surgery on Chasecam power button. Success!
- Jani's rear box inverter doesn't work and closer inspection reveals a blown fuse within Fuzeblock.
Another success. (so we thought)
- Gostinitza has a sauna! Not quite the same as back in Finland, but does the job.
- First encounter with an english speaking person. Ella (German, originally from Kazakhstan) helps
us out with food stuff and preps us a piece of paper in russian to order breakfast in tricky places. Thanks Ella!
She was part of 30+ camper van caravan on their way pretty much around the world in 12 months.
Now that takes patience..
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:52 AM   #28
Miikka OP
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..report's on hold.
Family time on my calendar for now!

-m
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:52 AM   #29
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As a family man myself with two small kids, I can totally relate to the hurried pace of your trip and appreciate it for what it is. A great trip! Looking forward to more updates.

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Old 01-24-2014, 12:40 PM   #30
Miikka OP
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Chapter I: From Russia with Love

And we're back!

Time flies and story got interrupted.
Now where were we..?


Day 6, June 6th
Ishim - Barabinsk

Woke up at 7:15am after interesting indoor camping experience. Ditched the horrible beds early on and slept on the
floor on top of the mattresses. Also had to deal with mosquitos! Or actually these tiny little flying biting
creatures were not mosquitos but something smaller, silent and as annoying as they come.
Well, at least the breakfast (eggs and bacon) at the motel cafeteria was good and I got my bike's “media
electricity” (now that sounds fancy!) system back up and fully operational. Naturally, the most expensive component of the whole
system broke down on day 1. Bypassed that and all good.

Riding began at 8:40am in a chilly +12C temperature. And to keep things real, rain started after lunch.
Luckily rain lasted only a couple of hours and "riding index" climbed up. Temp got up to +22 and day was
pretty much as planned; uneventful.
Wasn't much to see along the way. Flat scenery left and right plus tons of trucks. Basic stuff.



After 11h on the road we chose a camp site and in an uncharacteristic way we killed engines already
at 7:40pm. Camp site was best so far. Naturally we had our friends mosquitos with us, but good food and
12 years old medicine are good distraction. ;)






Ritsikirja notes:
- only 11h on the road, mucho tired...guys are getting soft?
- MC Chicken Wings boycott against french electronic components
- meat patties (camping food) GOOD, prep time LONG.

737KM TOTAL 4395KM
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