|03-09-2014, 05:40 AM||#46|
Joined: Oct 2010
A few years ago I was crossing the Darien gap from panama to Colombia and happened upon another rider who had just made the journey...in a raft powered by his motorbike. Their plan seemed really haphazard and jerry rigged, but the bottom line is that powering the boat messed up the transmissions on 2 of the 3 bikes.
I wish I knew more details, but unfortunately I don't. I imagine the difference in torque and resistance on the transmission was really hard on it.
My idea is almost the same, except I want to carry the boat on the bike. If I am successfull for the Bering, I could perhaps go further to the Darian gap. I don't know yet, but I prefer to focus on the Bering for the moment..
|03-09-2014, 10:13 AM||#47|
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Seven Springs NC
Good luck on your trip and I wish you a safe one! I am in for the ride.
Edit: Never mind on the propeller question. found the answer on your website. Thanks!
- Converting 1998 Harley Sportster XLHugger 883 into Dual Sportster
WhicheverAnyWayCan screwed with this post 03-09-2014 at 10:21 AM
|03-09-2014, 04:28 PM||#49|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Okie near Muskogee
This is not my deal
|05-18-2014, 11:21 AM||#51|
Joined: Oct 2010
These days, I am preparing the bike and the boat. I just changed the rocker bearings (I saw on adv that there is an issue on my bike). I have also to clean my house, ... I expect to leave on Wednesday, but it could be Thursday. Everyday, I postpone the date by one day. But it will be definitely this week.
There are still many unknown parts for this trip. For instance, I am waiting for an authoization for crossing the Chukotka and will leave before having it in my hands (the Chuktch authorities told me that I should receive it by email).
My idea is now to go as far as possible to analyse the issues, and to prepare a second attempt next year or later. I know that it will be difficult at many different points of views: administrative, but also the river crossing, the state of the sea, .... But it's for me already a chance and a pleasure to try.
|05-18-2014, 02:49 PM||#52|
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Quesnel, BC
What can I say, sounds like a fabulous adventure! When you make it to central British Columbia (Quesnel) be sure to stop in and take me up on an offer to buy you dinner!
David Marshall - Quesnel, BC, Canada - fastforward.ca
2006 BMW F650 "YZ" Dakar | 2013 BMW G650 "YZ" Sertao
|06-01-2014, 08:18 PM||#55|
I don't ride much.
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: LA - Lower Alabama
To the OP - good luck and Godspeed. Very cool - keep us in the loop!
|06-02-2014, 08:54 PM||#56|
Joined: Oct 2010
On the road
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Monday, you sent an invitation to friends, telling them that you would leave Thursday. They arrive, and you have to explain them that it will not be Thursday, but Friday. For the last ten days, you shifted the date by two days every two days. It's a bit better now because you say "after tomorrow" instead of "tomorrow". Meaning you get the end of the endless preparations.
You're happy. Not yet to leave, but to finish this long stage. The "boat mode" now seems functional. For months you worked for this. You spent a lot of efforts. It was difficult to invest you both in this project and in your work. A double life. Since May 1st, you did more than you focus on the journey, and you're confident.
Your friends ask you: “Where is the bike?” They all expected to see it in the garden, loaded, ready to start. You tell them your delay, the luggage still in the lounge, and the bike still in the garage, not yet fully lift ... You just received the shims for your valve clearance this afternoon. And you come with Michel mount a reinforcement kit for the rear frame. You ordered it several weeks but didn't find the time before for installing it.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Once more, you have postponed by one day the D day.
Today, you cut your side stand and add an outer tube, telescopic, in order to make its height variable. You know that the original version of the side stand would not fit. You remember during your first RTW, you were often looking for the perfect angle to lay the bike. You think that by reducing a little height, its use will be easier .
The weight also makes you worry. Michel has advised you to replace the spring of the shock absorber with a harder. You are trying to find one, but you don't succeed in this task. Seems to be very special for this bike.
You spent a lot more time than expected to organize the luggages. Some parts of the ship propulsion occupy to much space in the panniers. At the end, you bought a big bag to put your stuff , and you will have also added the lower unit of your mechanics, your tent , your sleeping bag ... A bag of 65 liters while you initially thought that a small 25 liters bag would be sufficent. You also placed in the boat the paddles and the bladders for extra gas. All gained weight, overweight. But in the end , everything finds a place, even if you still need half an hour to fill the bag of boat parts. A puzzle.
Youdon't have time to test your load. You must not go that Saturday . You take advantage of your evening to go for a last via ferrata . You change your mind and relax your back. You have a pinched nerve for the last two days. It is not painful but just annoying.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Martine and Joel are there to photograph you leaving the house, and shut the doors behind you. Leaving the bike in the garden, you feel for the first time the whole weight. There is a year you had driven the boat, but the load was only partial. The difference is huge. You're not comfortable when riding and especially to turn. This is a surprise. You imagine the weight like a passenger, but it is much worse.
You make an appointment to Joêl to leave the village. You arrive before him, you stations on the lower side and looking for the right place to place the side stand. You descend slowly from the motorcycle. She leans side stand, continues to bend, sag ... and revolves around the stand to find the ground. A big blow to morale . You try to raise it, but you can't. Even without your back pain, it would be too heavy. The weight is too high. This is the first time in your life that you travel without being able to stand up your bike. A strange feeling. A driver stops, goes out his car and helps you to stand up the bike. The bike stays on its side stand, but it looks so unstable.
Joel comes. It takes some pictures. You tell him what just happened. You go, but if it drops three times a day, you will give up and come back in two days.
10am. You leave. Towards Grenoble. You don't feel comfortable. You take the highway. Just after the entry toll, you stop and take time to analyse the situation. In the parking, avoid the fall.
You cannot go like this. It does not make sense. You look at your stand. You need another one, higher, based further. It could take on the plate that you used to hold the tubes in boat mode. What to do? You think Michel who lives on that side of Grenoble. Maybe he has tubes, perhaps it is equipped to weld ? You call him and Michel asks you to come.
Pascale and Michel did a world tour in a sidecar 5 years ago. Michel is now preparing for a year a new side car, for future trips. He named it Multipass. Supposed to pass everywhere. The side car do not need side stand, and he kept the side stand of the motorcycle, a Ducati.
It seems to be the useable. Michel takes his tools and his super drill. It adds a hole in the plate, and add metal-rubber buffer at the end of the side stand. You have now two stands in parallel.
Michel also tunes your shock absorber and lowers your fork tubes up. You will also look to rearrange your load, but there is nothing to do for this...
You're going for a test-ride . You appreciate the changes. You are no longer afraid to leave the bike on the side stand. A huge progress. And driving is also more enjoyable. The load is always present, but it feels a lot less. You no longer need to place permanently on your weight forward. You find hope and smile ...
The day passed quickly. Already 6 pm. The final of the European Rugby Cup will begin. You sit with Michel watching TV. You did not think you would have the opportunity to watch this game. In the evening, a new and beautiful meal.
You talk about your respectives travel places that you have found each other. The customs at Apachetta (5000m), the border passings, the mosquitoes, ... You spend the night at Pascale and Michel , and will leave tomorrow. But in better conditions.
Sunday, May 26, 2014
A Sunday breakfast. Some emails and it's already 11:00. You feel better than yesterday.
You take the motorway to Strasbourg. A road that you know because you take it every year to go to Nuremberg at an exhibition. At first, you will holds 95 km/h , little by little, you decide to go at 100 .
While the sum of your two tanks is 26 liters, the reserve LED turns on every 190 km. Every time you add 8.5 liters to fill the front tank.
You note the numbers accurately to determine your consumption. Consumption is correct, but you fill uncomfortable you stop for a full after such a short distance . You only filled the tank before , the only available without asking the boat.
For the first day you decide to stop you after 7 pm. You reach Baden Baden. You know a hotel on the highway where you've already slept. This is fine. The bike has a garage and you enjoy to go fill both tanks. It remained close to 6 liters and the reserve had just come on, again after 190 km . Probably 2 liters in the rear and 4 in the front. The question is whether you can count on these 4 liters. Without a jerrycan easily accessible, you will struggle to know the answer, but to run out of gas. In any case, you need to fill the rear tank if you want to stay unstressed.
During the night, you resume your old habits of writing. You also prepared the first pictures, but you realize that you forgot to take the information for the FTP connection. Too bad, there will be no photos the first days on the site …
Monday, May 26, 2014
You started at 8am. You don't like the German motorways. Trucks traveling at 90 km/h and cars at undefined high speeds. You always worry about the speed of those coming behind when overpassing a truck.
Your first goal is to reach Amberg, after Nuremberg. Therein lies the site of WP for Germany, manufacturer of your shock absorber, and you hope to find there a harder spring.
The morning went well, despite a little rain. During a stop, LED lights on your dashboard to indicate a problem with the fuel injector. A long flash followed by three short. Everything had seemed to work well ... Maybe an intermittent loose connection. You're a little worried, but you will do with today.
You arrive at the office of WP in the early afternoon. The site must occupy twenty people. Especially a WP panel, but you feel a KTM site. Motorcycles in preparation. It leads you to Christian, the specialist for suspensions. You tell him your problem and he immediately looks for a solution.
But the springs they have in stock are only 80, 85 and 90 N/mm. And he did not stock other than 80, the stock one that is on your bike. Christian spends calls, searches the solution. There would be a spring in Holland at a third party. He also finds a place in Berlin to make the replacement, but he cannot reach the person. A spring must be replaced by a specialist because you have to be equipped with a press. As there is no immediate solution, he suggests you continue your way and leave you a message when it has the solution.
So you leave again towards Berlin. You take small roads. vAn impression of tranquility. You finally reach the highway because you do not want to arrive too late at your friends Berliners.
At one stop, you notice that you've lost the screw of one of your exhaust protections. You remove it completely before losing.
Berlin. You have the GPS coordinates of your friends and you go through the city with the compass. Reasonable traffic for a large city. The last kilometers are long.. Patrick and Jana live in one of these bars very long buildings. An old building dated of 1919. You met Patrick and Jana in Chile, while you were with your daughter Claire. They impressed you with their voluntarism. Patrick worked for a museum and Jana was a doctor. They had passed their motorcycle license just three months before leaving for a long trip through the Americas. No particular experience or motorcycle, or travel.
They have now returned to a sedentary life. You spend the evening talking travel. You do not lie too late as they begin their work early.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
You always wake up early. You have many things to do on your computer. The apartment is nice. At least the two main rooms are very large. The bathroom is tiny. An old building with very high ceilings. The apartment has charm.
Finally, Christian WP warns you that the solution he thought he had found did not work. On your side, you find that Rally Raid, an English company, sells complete replacement shock absorbers. You decide to order one. The concern is that Thursday is a public holiday, and you do not want to wait for Friday to get it. In addition, Patrick and Jana will be absent by Wednesday afternoon.
You think your Russian teacher in France is native from Latvia. You contact her. She tells you that you can do to deliver the package to her sister in the Riga region. So you order the shock absorber...
This solution is fine, but very expensive.You'll have to sell one of your shock absorber when you'll get back.
You should have prepared the bike before you leave, but you did not have time. You need resolving problems at these early stages, as it is still possible.
Patrick arrived in the late morning. Jana will not return until tomorrow as she has a night shift at the hospital for 24 hours. After a few hours during which Patrick has yet to work, you go out to explore the city. They live in the former "East Berlin", but just outside the wall. You see the memorial. You go to the Parliament. Berlin seems to you very green compared to Paris. Large spaces, often green. Many cyclists and their rides seems much easier than in French cities.
Rain disrupts your walk. You stop for a coffee. You end up doing some shopping before finding a restaurant for dinner.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Again a bit of internet in the morning. You still have things to put in place for websites.
You eat breakfast when Jana arrives. Jana tells you about his work at the hospital. Germany has also financial problems that impact on the organization of the health system.
You found pictures of southern Chile, where you had met Patrick and Jana. The opportunity to revisit this period which was already wet.
You go in the early afternoon after refueling. You leave, promising you find yourself in Grenoble or here, with more time. Patrick guide you to the highway. You go in the rain.
|06-02-2014, 08:56 PM||#57|
Joined: Oct 2010
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
It's raining. You're not too unhappy with your rain gear.
The rain also cools. You did install heated grips when purchasing the bike and you appreciate today. They help but you must still stop you every hour to take a big hot chocolate or cappuccino.
The bike is doing pretty well. Strangely, no LED flashes today. After 300km, you decide to do a full tank anticipating the lighting of the subject. You could do without, but you wanted to experience: untie your boat, push it forward to access the filler cap in the rear tank ... It takes you more than 5 minutes to do, and much to put everything in place. But the bike did not fall!
Motorways in Poland are not free, and only few cars use them. At your first stop, you realize that Poland is outside the euro zone ... you expected to pay in Euros to Russia, and you're a little disappointed.
After Poznan, you go up to the North. You stop in Gniezno, the first city to find a hotel. You want to heat. You try the first hotel on your way. Its parking seems exposed and you're asking if there is a garage. Negative answer. You keep and find a second hotel. No garage either, but they have a room on the ground floor where you can store your stuff. And parking seems less exposed.
Then you undo the straps holding the boat, the owner of the hotel arrived and said you may enter your bike in the lobby. It is a common practice in Central Asia or South America, but you did not think someone would propose you here.
The receptionist and the owner are nice. You talk to them about your trip, show them your book of photos from the previous trip. After a tough day, their warm welcome you.
You also learn that Gniezno is one of the first capitals of Poland. The receptionist gives you a tourist leaflet presenting the city. Five kings were crowned here. They all have good heads, not heads of warriors, or lazy kings.
The hotel is very good. From the window we see a stadium. As often in Poland, a Polish flag and European flag dominate, side by side. You are for the development of Europe, and happy to see that here the European sense is proudly displayed.
You order a pizza. The cost of living seems you two to three times lower than in France. You think you want to go back to Poland, with more time to visit.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
The rain stopped, even if you meet regularly showers. It's cold.
The road you have chosen on the map was supposed to be a shortcut. You're wrong: villages succeed and you do the 50 km/h average. At least it makes you discover the rural Poland. As everywhere, the campaign is the latest to evolve and sometimes you feel transported back in Soviet times. The only difference is the road where trucks and modern cars run. But there is still the old facades, old factories, and sometimes old tractors ageless.
You smile when you see signs prohibiting traffic to horse-drawn cars. The problem should be there another 20 years, but you do not think this is always the case.
At noon you stop at a restaurant road. You take a hot goulash and appreciate each spoonful.
You are now on a large cross road: the S16. It will lead you to the Lithuanian border. A funny way, very uneven, where some portions are large, and others look like a small country road. Many turns. You move a little faster, but barely. Fewer villages, but still crossed cities. Few bypasses.
You wanted to be entered in the evening Lithuania, but you give up. It's late and you're already tired.
You always fear the judgments because of the stand. You need to find a perfectly horizontal plane, or else seek the perfect orientation. Often, you think to have found, and you realize that balance is very unstable. Sometimes you open both side stands hoping they are complementary.
As for your electrical problems, they come less often even if the error is sometimes repeated. Often at low speed when the engine is very hot in the city. But when you cut the contact, it is usually forgotten at restart. You do not understand this error, but you will live with.
The early days, you had very large doubts about the ability of the bike to take you away with all that luggage. Doubts fade gradually, and you can enjoy the road to look at the scenery, to think about your family, your friends.
For the fuel, you have found the strategy: You need to fill the two tanks at the evening, once you have removed the boat, and fill the front tank only during the day. It means a first section without filling of 400-500 kilometers, then stops every two hundred kilometers.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Thanks to Olaf and Andy, friends met in California, you could retrieve some "OpenStreetMap" maps for your GPS. But that does not prevent you from getting the wrong roads. Either you are not yet familiar with your GPS, or is that your view is too low. You enter Lithuania too by the South.
Trying to join Kaunas you follow a main road. But the road becomes narrower, then it ends on a small dirt road in the woods. U-Turn. You look at your GPS. Indeed, you left the main road 20 km earlier, but you can find it, not too far. For the first time, you follow an unpaved road with your load. After 10 minutes, you find the real road. Real roads are actually nice and wide in Lithuania.
Do a little dirt road is a good experience. You're not very comfortable, but you say to yourself after a few hours, you will more confident. Anyway, you will not have a choice because what awaits you in Siberia is much more complicated.
You do not want to arrive too late to Riga because once recovered your new shock absorber, you have to find a mechanic who can make the replacement. You're not sure you have all the tools. But if you're too late, it will be necessary to attempt the operation by yourself on a hotel parking.
Such as Poland, Lithuania is not in the "Euro zone" and you stop where you are sure you can pay with your Visa card. You have almost forgotten what EU countries that have adopted the Euro, and those who did not. However you discover across the border that Latvia has just adopted the Euro. This will help your stay in Riga.
The roads are excellent, but there is no highways (even if they are called A8, ...). Crossing 50km / h in urban areas are common, and you risk arriving too late.
Your shock absorber awaits in Jurmala, on the suburb of Riga. You can find easily with your GPS. Jurmala is a residential suburb and as a seaside resort. Its access requires a special toll for the visitors that you avoid unintentionally following the flow of cars residents.
Viktor, the brother in law of Diana, your Russian teacher, comes to greet you. He organized everything: found the mechanic, and the hotel right next to each other. Their twelve year old daughter speaks French very well. You're impressed by her French. She often spends holidays in France with her aunt and her cousins.
You go quickly to the bike shop. The mechanic accepts the job. It will ready two hours later. It is close to 20h, and they worked late for you. You can retrieve the bike, and move in the nearby car park. All this will seem almost miraculous ...
You just placed the bags but you realize the difference in suspension: harder and farther away from the stop. The bike is higher than before. You had planned to lower it by adjusting the shock absorber. You look in the manual. You understand that this tuning should be done before placing the damper ... Ouch. You need to lower the height both increase maneuverability, especially at rest, but also to adapt the bike to its side stand and loading. You need to find the solution with the mechanic tomorrow, but you think he did not really want to work on Saturday.
By looking at the spring, you see its characteristics: 95 N / mm while you had clearly stated that you wanted 100 N / mm. The seller Rally Raid had told you that this value was available. You groans ... but it'll have to do with. We have just started the weekend, and you can not wait for next Tuesday. Try to stay philosopher ...
Saturday, May 31, 2014
You start the day by sending your old shock absorber in France. There is a post office not far from the hotel and you can get there by walking.
Then you visit the mechanic. You afraid of being unpopular, but it is quite the opposite. He tries first of all to change the setting without removing the shock absorber from the bike, but he didn't succeed. You must remove all tanks, the luggage rack ...
You stay with him and took the opportunity to inspect areas that could crack under load. Everything seems normal.
Once the work is finished, you ask him how much you owe him, but he refuses you paid. Because you appreciate this double work really was not his fault.
You have difficulty in appreciating the difference in height. You'll see tomorrow with the full load.
For the afternoon you go for a short visit to Riga. A commuter train station is near the hotel .
Riga impressed you by the beauty of the facades of its buildings. The city center is extensive, but oddly seems very sparsely populated. Traffic is also surprisingly fluid for a city of this size. In the center, the majority of cars you see are big models. Big German sedans or luxury 4wd. The motto here seems to be " a big car, or nothing ..." .
You enter a bar for a coffee. The waitress speaks surprisingly good English. Several customers arrive sequentially. All asked to be served in English. So far you did not have anybody to talk in English, and now suddenly you feel you find somewhere in London. In the neighborhood of your hotel, you understand that the local language is Russian. Yet , everything is written in Latvian , the only official language ... Each district 's language.
Your walk leads you to the tourist district. The houses here seem better restored , and the tourist center is built around some churches and monuments. You are walking there half an hour, then you decide to change. Passing on the other side of the railway track, you get into a popular market. They sell everything, but you can not find a bicycle pump. You left home with a low cost pump and you want to replace,it before the first punctures. You will not find a good pump today.
You walk to a huge tower, probably built in the 60s. You imagine that it used to be the headquarter of the Communist Party. A tower that could have inspired Kafka.
You come home in the evening at the hotel. You are happy with this fortuitous visit to Riga.
|06-02-2014, 10:25 PM||#58|
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Been subscribed for a while. I really enjoy the report so far.
02 DRZ400E Dualsported in AZ
14 KTM 250 XCW (Plated in AZ)
85 HON XL80S (Wife's ride)
00 and '07 YAM TTR 90s (kids' bikes)
89 Lockheed F-16C (Work vehicle )
|06-03-2014, 05:47 PM||#59|
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Charlotte, Y'all
And off we go! This is awesome - can't wait for more!
|06-08-2014, 06:17 PM||#60|
Joined: Oct 2010
First days in Russia
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Riga you seems empty on Sunday morning. You can cross the city quite quickly.
You are driving in the rain. You do not have much luck since you left. Rain, cold, wind … It brings out three.
You observe many stork nests. You also see the remains of foxes hit by cars. Wildlife seems dense in the region.
For several tens of kilometers, the road follows a very wide river. May be a kilometer wide. Three or four times the Loire in France… You understand that all this rain must flow somewhere. There are also many lakes or ponds. Water everywhere. Fishermen often installed on the riverbank. Sometimes on a boat.
Rain. This journey begins under the sign of trouble. May be a way to prepare you for the future. You smile when you think back to your world tour. You’d have been only a few days of rain and cold for a fulll year, but it never lasted long. You arrive at the border in the early afternoon. Here’s a long time since you no longer have to spend actual land border. You overpass the trucks. The police control. They help you by filling your forms in Russian. Someone asks you where you are going and you answer “Chukotka”. Police laugh, and you understand why.
Then customs. Customs helps you too. At the time of inspection, they ask you just drop the bag above. She wonders about the boat and you show a picture on your brochure. Lodka? Da! You were afraid that your boat could be a problem, but it is not.
She finished you fill the papers, makes you sign, and you can go. Everything happened in less than an hour. You tidy and starts. As usual, you forgot the last control, the output of the border where they check that your passport is stamped. You need to reopen your backpack. At the gate, you try to place the motorcycle on its side stand but you feel the fall awaits you again. Finally, the policeman comes out, in the rain, to examine your documents.
Shortly after the border, you stop to fill your tank before, and go back in the rain. After an hour, the rain stopped. It”s also warmer. You’re surprised by this change. While you only 150 km, that you fall out of gas. It must, however, remain you more than 8 liters. You think back to your previous trip. During the first two months, you could not use your last 5 liters. This time it is the last 8. After waiting 5 minutes, restart the engine accepts. And you drive at 60km / h to the next petrol station, about ten kilometers. You must fix this issue, probably by improving the path of the petrol hoses.
Then you stop at the first hotel. The receptionist wants to give you a room, but without filling the form for the visitors. No worries! The lack of these small papers irritates border police but they actually don’t care anymore, except in Vladivostok..
Before you go to bed, you notice the many mosquitoes in the heights of the ceiling. Since a few days, you face the first mosquitoes of your trip. They came annoy you when stopped at service stations, customs …
Monday, June 2, 2014
Wheater is nice. Amazing …
The road is good and traffic reduced. As you approach as Moscow traffic becomes denser, and the temperature continues to rise … You remove your clothes then your rain jacket.
You’re a few days in contact with Mikhail, a biker from Moscow who is active on the Advrider website. Lloyd, in Melbourne, who told you about this site and you registered to learn more about your bike defects.
Mikhail has a motorcycle parts store and you offered to deliver you a Michelin Desert in Irkutsk. A miraculous solution for you because your current tire is already dying. You have its GPS coordinates. He is itself travelling abroad, but his associate can help you. You are also going to find a tire cheaper than a Desert to take safely to Irkutsk.
The arrival in Moscow is complicated. If there had not been this history of tires, you’d bypassed by the outermost ring. Congestion, and the heat just keeps rising. Bikers are never happy!
Your bike with its load is difficult to maneuver. You are tired. The time would be favorable due to fluid traffic, but summer works complicate things. The last few kilometers are endless when you’re still more than 15 miles from the store, which is located in the southern suburbs.
You do not have a GPS map of Russia and you use the “Compass mode”. You do not know when to leave the ExpressWay to head South. You decide to take an exit but you are wrong: going North now! You try different streets to come back… You stop at the first station for a status and cool your engine. Finally, you decide to give up and you prefer to stay on the ring road, the A104 (as in Paris), to join the M7, “Highway East.” Again, traffic jams, but you finally get there. Unfortunately, the M7 is not really a highway, and it will take you a good hour to see the traffic become almost “normal.”
Tired, cooked, you stop at the first hotel after 18 hours. You are welcomed by Galina, the happy receptionist. She asks you about your trip. You explain and show your brochure, the book of the previous trip. She enthuses: “Romantik! “. You smile. You like that word.
You’re even in urban areas, and Galina find you a room for storing your boat. On the other hand you let the metal panniers on the bike. The car park is closed at night.
You go to refueling. You stop at a small station, deserted. As usual, the woman asks you to pay first and you try to negotiate. You would prefer a full refuel to measure consumption, you insist. Usually, things always manage, and they let you refuel. But the cashier is not Galina, and cry sometimes you process through his armored window, sometimes through the loudspeaker. You should say how many liters! You left her your Visa card, but she wants to charge it immediately. She can not charge the card because she is always speaking. You abdicated, give her 1000 rubles for 18 liters, normally 600 rubles … You think you need about 17 liters … She keeps 500 rubles, and starts the counter for 15 liters. Of course, you will not have full refueling, but finally she cuts off her speaker. It is good to hear the traffic noise from the highway. You are eager to come back to Galina!
Galina awaits you with a gift: a magnet that attaches to fridges representing Russian dolls. You thank her, and she shows you as she photocopied and framed your picture which she found in your book. One where you are with a giant Australian. You just feel like a charlatan. All romantics may be charlatans.
Later, at the restaurant, you get a call from Mikhail. He has a friend, Serguey, in Vladimir, the neighboring town, where you can leave the amount for the Desert tire and two liters of oil. You will try to find it tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
You do not leave by early and traffic difficulties make you arrive at 10am only to Vladimir. Sergey waiting for you. You go first in a supermarket to find an ATM. You also buy a Russian SIM card that will allow you easier access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the card does not work: you thought wrongly that your phone was unlocked. Never mind: Sergey embarks your phone and return shortly after. Everything works out quickly here.
While you wait Sergei, a man with a small pot of tar and a brush approaches you. You think he should be mender. The man has a nice smile. As usual, you tell him you’re French, you do not understand Russian. It does not matter: it tells you something. You do not understand much except the middle of the sentence the words “Saint Exupery”, the French poet. Maybe he spoke about roses, sheep, aircraft or baobabs … The words “Saint Exupery” make him talking you in Russian and you in French. He does not loose his smile.
Sergey is back, and you leave the place go in search of a rear tire. You find Alex, another biker in a motorcycle parts dealer. Alex speaks very good English. You’ll have a coffee. You understand that it is one of the famous Russian bikers. Famous by his travels. You tell him yours, he enjoys away, even if it is reasonably skeptical about its feasibility. Your approach is not to do, but trying to do. He likes as well.
It notes on your notebook a list of contacts, bikers who can help you on your way.
It also calls Danila, a biker in Nizi Novgorod, the next town to ask him to find you a tire. Shortly after, Danila calls to tell us that he found a used tire, but still in good state. Everything you need to reach Irkutsk.
Networks bikers are important in Russia. Fraternities. Every major city has its “motorcycle club” and mutual help to bikers travelers is a rule that you never met at this level outside Russia. There are several explanations for this fraternity, but a “practice” is the size of the country, and the difficulty of the journey. But the main reason is the role of “fraternity” in the Russian life.
A Vladimir, Sergei and Alex are doing everything they can to help you. They will then lead to the exit of the city. You’re impressed by their availability.
When you arrive at Nizi Novgorod, you call Danila and meet. His motorcycle, a GS1200 is out of order, because of the ABS system. Modern motorcycles are complicated to repair.
Danila lives with his grandmother and their two cats. He will leave you his room. His grandmother’s mission to make you gain a few pounds. After a shower, you find Vitalik, a biker friend. You will visit the city together, with Vitalik’s car. A city that has a long business history and industrial. It was at the time of the USSR prohibited to foreigners because of the production of secrete weapons.
You enjoy the low light to take pictures. After a while you realize that the message appears regularly on your screen indicates that you forgot to insert the memory card … So many days you take pictures without saving. You are frustrated…
You termineras the visit still shots, but with a memory card.
In the center of the old town, a castle, or rather strong: the Kremlin. A permanent exhibition of weapons of old tanks, artillery, … that were built during World War II in the city.
War or military equipment are still very present in Russia. You also noticed yesterday, while a man flicking through the TV with a restaurant that war movies were frequent. Danila justifies this obsession with the 20 million Russians died in World War II. You think about the Napoleon and German invasions. But you don’t completely share his opinion. You feel that the subject is grown. A component of nationalism.
You get the tire to 9 pm. Not too bad for a used tire! You’re tired and you would rather do the change in the morning. Danila insists and you start to change the tires… You’re not very effective despite getting help from Danila and Vitalik. But you end up getting there.
You’re impressed by the links of friendship that bind Danila and Vitalik. You know that more lives are difficult, more friendships are strong. In France, a friend is usually a person who shared moments of leisure. Here, we ask a lot to a friend, and also gives him a lot. Friendship requires mutual availability and sharing. You envie these relationships.
You come home until midnight. Danila’s Grandmother had prepared the dinner, but she went to bed. Too late… Everything is good, but too much.
You discuss with Danila. The topic is of the day is Ukraine. You do not really have an opinion, except that the Ukrainian people finds themselves hostage between two blocks. Danila fully supports the official Russian position. You understand: his grandmother herself was born in Ukraine and part of their family lives in the Donetz region.
You go to bed late. You know the next day will be difficult.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
You wake up each morning as the sun. Too soon. When the grandmother gets up, you agree to. She is happy for your visit. You are both a Danila’s friend and a distraction. She speaks to you, but your progress in Russian are too limited.
You are happy to have shared this moment with Danila and his grandmother. Having understood how they live, see their difficulties and the nice sides of their lives. Danila working in the same field as you, he has equivalent skills. But your living standards are very differnt. Yet he would not leave Russia. Not only becauce it is his country, but he feels that here everything is possible, he may succeed .. The same American concept that the system gives everyone the opportunity to become a billionaire.
While storing your tools, you realize that you forgot the extension for your sockets. You speak Danila, thinking to tell him that you will just stop at a “hardware shop” you saw. The Castorama or Leroy Merlin found, as in France, just outside of big cities. But he gives you his extension, and insists that you keep it. You should not have to talk about it … You accept it and store with your tools.
Vitalik accompany you on his motorcycle to the exit of the city. Traffic is again dense.Tu does not advance quickly.
Russians roads often vary. You feel that the atomic unit is ten kilometers, or sometimes multiple. Never the less. Beautiful sections, then the oldest parts, a little bumpy. And often work areas. As winter must stop all they must enjoy sunny days and work twice.
Sometimes the road is completely blocked: the reduction from two to one lane, or a zone of alternating shift due to work.
Better you manage your essence, but sometimes you take a few risks with the reserve. After driving a little too long, you decide to go to a village a little aside to the full to empty. The cashier, customers are surprised and happy to see you. They ask you about your trip. Besides, the drivers of a tanker are busy filling a tank. You are accosted by one of them. She is a very beautiful girl. You fill lucky to have the attention of such a beautiful girl. You wanted to ask permission to take pictures, but you don’t. Intimidated …
You wait 6 p.m, and you stop at the first hotel. You will not have made much progress, but you’re exhausted and you feel that driving is dangerous.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
You sleep well, you feel better than yesterday. The heat is still present, but you have to enjoy. You saw on television during a break in a restaurant that Kazan was the hottest place, but it will not be the same going east.
Good drive in the morning, but the afternoon is more complicated. More work areas … There are real works, and also those in preparation: the roads are grooved waiting to be covered. The grooves, you do not dare drive too fast, even if you’re more comfortable with your new tire.
Each day, your drive with you strange loading seems easier. The new suspension as the tire are for something.
Ural? Some passes, but nothing up nicely. While you’re in a work zone, you see before you a wall of black clouds: a big storm. Should you stop to put your rain gear, and just a “Kafe” on the right. You come to order a drink, and want to stand out on the terrace. But the storm falls one stroke: wind, hail, torrential rain … You’re very lucky to have been able to stop you here. At a minute … The kafes are many on the road, but it was at least half an hour you do not have not seen.
The storm has passed, but the rain continues. You decide to leave. The road is complicated: fucked by holes are filled with water. You come in without knowing their depth, happy every time it leaves. You do not see much and you have to keep your visor opened. The right strategy is to follow a truck to observe its behavior, the depth of the holes. But you must avoid to have a vehicle behind not getting crushed in a fall. You know that the main danger of the journey is in the road accident, and you’re really not comfortable.
When you leave the difficult area, you stop at a gas station. Already 7:30 p.m. … You go on again 45 minutes before a village. You wonder if there is a hotel … On the right, a road s shoves in the woods, to buildings. A hotel can be … A fence with a watchtower on the side. A man down. A room? Yes … It makes you go into a kind of fortress. You head to a house floor. The house is luxurious. On the ground floor, a room. The man makes you visit with an electric lamp with a sauna, a pool fed by water from the river, a luxury bathroom … You’re the only customer, and this room seems to be the only room… You do not understand where you are, but it’s late, you’re tired. You continue to visit the outside. In a second building, a games room: pool table, foosball, …
Several fish ponds with trout, and also a huge cage squirrels.
You go recording. The man asks you only 750 rubles. The day before, you paid double for a sordid room in which you have not dared to use or sheets or towel. You do not understand and you pay.
You realize that the power is restored. So there was a failure … and man, Andrei, can open the electric gate for you to enter your bike. He accompany you to the restaurant. The night you sleep well perplexed in fine linens. A strange place.
Friday, June 6, 2014
A good night. Restorative. You take advantage of the comfortable bed. At 8:30, you will decide to get up. You realize that all the clocks in the house have the same error: it is not for them 8:30, but 10:30 … During your previous trip, the time zone change was generally the countries borders. But then, it happened somewhere on the road.
A beautiful day for a biker: not too hot, not too cold … Every day that you walk away from Moscow, the traffic is a little more fluid. There has crossed cities, but nothing too complicated.
While you ride, now your left mirror falls. Fortunately, it gets stuck between your leg and the tank. Probably broken … vibrations, shocks in the works areas.The absence of mirror is a concern. You have to be tomorrow at Omsk and you remember you gave Alex a contact in this city. You send a text message announcing your arrival and explaining that you broke your mirror.
You take the road with this concern in mind. In the late afternoon, at a gas station, you decide to pay with your Visa card. You return your code once, but the cashier seems to say that you did it too early. Second time and a message in English that tells you that you have no more than one trial. You gently retyped, but another failure. Gradually you realize what just happened … That you sometimes forget your code, but usually, you never used the three trials, and wait a few hours that your memory has returned. You don’t have many rubles, and you left Sergei Vladimir most of your euros for the tires. Fortunately, you can reach Omsk without worry.
The night in a basic hotel, you call your bank. It is 5:45 p.m. in France. You understand that we are Friday and the agency closes in 10 minutes for three days because Monday is a bank holiday ..
At least you quickly have data in hands: there is nothing to do till Tuesday morning as Visa would need the agreement of the bank to act. Tuesday morning they will start customizing a new card, they will receive it next Friday (best case). You will not get it … before some time. In the meantime, you will have to find resources, and a mailing address to send them your card. You are now fatalistic, because you can not see anything else to do.
Advent of bed, you dig your stuff. In your paper, you find 350 euros you had placed there at the time of leave. You’d also forgotten, but this is a nice surprise. You should be able to continue the journey. May be traveling to the economy, but with 350 euros in Russia you can go far.
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