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Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
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As part of my planning for a proposed trip to Mongolia and Siberia next summer, I’ve drawn the following sketch.
Sketch is very definitely not to scale. Distances in red are in km and approximate and calculated using Garmin Mapsource and OSM.
My timing: about 6 weeks in July/August 2012, start/finish Ulaan Bataar
Freight bike in and out of Ulaan Bataar from Germany. I will transport bike in my van from England at about Easter 2012. (Space in my van for 1 more small bike… Anyone interested?)
Bike: Suzuki DRZ400e with 27 litre tank and soft luggage and knobbly tyres. Assuming I don’t have any blond moments, I know how to ride it pretty well off-pavement.
My general questions are
1. What are the road conditions/obstacles like away from the paved highways?
2. How long does each dirt route take/ how technical is the riding on a particular route? I appreciate one person’s “mildly interesting” is somebody else’s “hardcore” and some people ride 12 hour days non-stop while others fall out of bed at 10am and are in the bar by 2pm.
3. How much other traffic is there on each dirt route, in case a solo rider (me: if I can’t find any riding buddies…) has a mechanical problem or if an obstacle needs overcoming?
A 6 week itinerary I thought could be:
2 weeks in Mongolia > then Irkutsk > western BAM from Bratsk to Tynda > Yakutsk > into and out of Magadan, one way via the New Federal Road, the other via the Old Summer Road > Yakutsk to Lensk via the Vilyuisky Trakt > barge to Kirensk >Irkutsk > back to UB
Walter of Sibirsky Extreme is the trailblazer for all of us on things Siberia/Mongolia: I’m merely trying to follow in his tyre tracks…
Here’s what I’ve gleaned already. It may be wrong/inaccurate. Please feel free to comment on/correct my information.
Bratsk to Tynda via western BAM: I believe Walter/Tony/Terry rode this east to west in 6 or 7 days. The western part is easy and smooth and gets more challenging heading closer to Tynda(?)
Tynda to Yakutsk: dusty boring truck road.
New Federal Road to Magadan: Dusty, trucks go down there, you can do it on a Harley Old Summer Road to Magadan: The distinction between the 2 is described by Chief Siberia Guru Walter at ADVrider - View Single Post - Siberian Extreme 2010 - Back for More Sections 7 and 8 should not be ridden solo. I really want ride these. I believe Walter and Tony rode Yakutsk to Magadan via section 7 and 8 in 3 days.
Yakutsk to Lensk via the Vilyuisky Trakt : Don’t know
Lensk to Kirensk by barge: How long is the boat trip and how frequently does the barge run?
Kirensk to BAM turnoff: Don’t know
UB to Ereersav/Solovyevsk border: I believe the first part out of UB is paved and then the bit to the border is smooth sandy twintrack based on a picture Walter showed me.
So guys, lots of questions, but I’ve made a start. If you’ve ridden some or all of these (Mr C, Tony, Jenabusa, Ed, Dan, Tom, Doug, Rob, Dafne, anyone else…?) have you got any input?
I've read a lot of Walter’s Ride Reports on ADVrider, but they run to 100s of pages and I keep getting distracted by the pictures of fauna and flora (or was it Svetlana and Ivana…) so struggled to gather a lot of road information.
Location: Dreaming of travelling and riding bikes in general..
Just a small addition...
Tashanta - Tsagaannuur Border to UB
Having done this route with Dan I would have reservations about recommending it. It's just so...boring. The route is very flat and there's not a lot of variation in it. Doing it because it is quick or fits the bill in terms of time only is not a recipe for satisfaction. If you have a big 'Dakar' style bike and love ripping across the open plains at breakneck speed then the southern route is fine but I would take a different route next time:
This map covers the more popular routes and from talking to people when we were in Mongolia this summer I would have changed our route slightly.
Starting from Russia in the west I would take the northern route and then south at the first turning on the map here (past the airfield). I would then have a choice of heading east towards Ulanbaatur or down to the southern route and then east to UB. Or, I believe there are a number of fun combination routes that join the middle easterly route cutting down to the southern route (not shown on this map). But you get the idea. Just remember that going to see anything in Mongolia can involve a day or two of blasting long distances across wide open landscapes just to get there which uses up your knobbly tyres and can be pretty tiring.
I can put together a mongolian route for you mate ... meet me for a and bring a mongolia map and a flouro pen.
As for Kirensk, very few boats stop there any more. Basically you go from Ust Kut to Lensk on a barge or on a boat. The ride from Lensk to Yaklutsk is a nice one, great people, pretty interesting scenery, and the only technical riding is about 10 miles of sand on the western edge of Vilyuisk. Lensk to Yakutsk plan for 4 days. Its about 3 days on the barge, and you may have a day or two wait in Ust Kut for a boat.
Western BAM you pretty much got right. Ed and Dan also did that this summer but we are still waiting on that blog, as we speak! An Austrian guy rode it solo this year and he had very limited off road experience before hand. Weather seemed very good this year in Siberia so this road was pretty comfy as it turned out with a few spectacular challenges to steel the nerves along the way. So its definitely an interesting possibility. There is not a huge amount of traffic at all after Taksimo, but you do always have the railway, which is rarely more than a few hundred yards away from the road.
UB to the Eastern mongolian border ... is in 3 prts. Asphalt for the first 300 km to Ondoorhaan, then about 300 km of fast dirt road / track to Choibalsan, then about 300 km of double track piste to the border. There is nothing awe-inspiring about this route, but it beats asphalt back up from UB into Russia if you are planning on heading east anyway, and it is a very rarely visited section of Mongolia. I guess it would be hard to do it if you were doing either the vilyuisky trakt or the western BAM to Yakutsk ... as you need to start those further east. If you were planning Yakutsk via Skovorodino, then I would wholeheartedly recommend this variation.
Finally, for video footage of the BAM, Vilyuisky Trakt and federal version of the Road of Bones, may I say the Sibirsky Extreme DVD is jam packed with motorcycling information and video footage of the region!
1. Worth adding to your planning chart is the route from Irkutsk north/north west to Zhigalavo then the new good graded dirt track north to join the main road, south of where you put "turnoff".
2. The River Lena ferry/barge takes a day or so longer going up stream (south from Lensk) because of currents/flow.
3. As said, we got the ferry/barge at Ust Kut which is on the main east/west road southwest of Kirensk.
4. The short section going north to Tynda is unpaved but good graded gravel.
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