Pegaso Russian American Tour
Mike has stared at the map of the world for a long time, plotting routes across Russia. I wanted to go for another long motorbike ride. We start on the 1st May 2013, we have just 91 days to complete this RTW trip
Between the two trips Mike and I had set the start date for this one.
We chose to do the trip using Aprila Pegaso bikes (I already had a well used one so Mike bought one as well). When we told people our plan the most common response from them was "prats". And the trip name was born.
Its not a very cunning plan, it involves riding west. A long way west. In a short amount of time.MORE...
Everything is organised and paid for; the flights from Gatwick, the train to Gatwick and our hotel. The bikes are serviced and have a place on the RoRo from Liverpool to Halifax, Canada, and we have started the steps for the bikes to get on a RoRo from Seattle to Vladivostok.
Everything, including visas, are sorted.
But then we wake up from our happy dreams. Just once it would be nice if all the hiccups happen after a trip started.MORE...
The bikes have gone. Now we can sit and twiddle our thumbs for a few days.
We made the RoRo, despite the best efforts of my bike, it was back in Pitstop for some last minute repairs only hours before needing to be at the port. Mike's has been ready for weeks, and does not seem to shed bits or snap bolts like mine, yet.
We fumbled around for our passports to gain access to the Freeport (Liverpool, Seaforth complex), technically our first border crossing, then had our first customs search. When I say search, I mean open the pannier and close it again.
Things often seem closer than they are, we got off the train at Gatwick and could see our hotel. It wasn't far so we walked. Aided by directions from a car park attendant we cut through some woods at the back of it, lugging our awkward bags.MORE...
We are into the swing of it, get up at 06:00, on the road by 07:00. Do 200-250 miles before lunch and then another 100-200 afterwards. The 400 miles a day are ticking along nicely. Or at least they were until we received a RoRo update tonight.MORE...
Following the bad news of the ferry delay we mulled over things while riding the next day then reviewed our options. We did some research and emailing and we have been able to find a shipper who will fly the bikes from Vancouver without (hopefully) breaking our budget.
As we have already booked flights to Seoul on the 27th, that has set our new timetable.MORE...
Three years ago I bumped into Jim in Mexico, and then later crashed into him twice in the same day, somehow we have still remained friends. This time my bike was much better behaved and kept her panniers a decent distance from Jim's.MORE...
The bikes are all crated up and waiting to be flown to South Korea. We had an exciting and tiring two days sorting out the crates and paper work.MORE...
When we packed the bikes in Vancouver we expected to be off the road for a week, ride for a few days in South Korea then ship them to Vladivostok and be riding away again a few days later.
It has now been over a week bikeless, it looks to be another week more.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate paper work ?
I should have known it was a bad move to publish the last blog entry, it exuded the air that the bike shipping to Seoul was all sorted and we would be riding across the country.
Following our route change we planed was to ride across South Korea, but after our mistake with the Air Way Bill (both bikes on one to save money) the South Koreans would not allow them out of the crates at Incheon Airport, Seoul. Then the South Korean customs did not allow us to unpack the crates at Donghae Port because they were in bond, and insisted they stay crated until they arrived in Russia. This caused us issues because we needed to get a photograph of Mike's VIN number for the Russian customs clearance paperwork. After a good deal of discussion using our Agent in Seoul we were reluctantly granted access, with our passports as security, to partially unpack Mike's, get the picture and repack it. All the time under the scrutiny of the head of customs for the Port.
The next day we were able to enter the port with no security checks and wander around the area unhindered before boarding the ferry to Vladivostok.MORE...
We've made good progress, and are now west of Lake Baikal.
In the meantime we have had more good natured fun with the Russian bikers. Our latest escapades began as we entered the town of Mogacha, 500 kilomtres from Chita. As we bounced down the road in search of lodgings and petrol a biker on a chopper flagged us down, asked what we needed, indicated where they could be found and then said "Clubhouse, follow".
We noticed his back patch colours, "Iron Angels", and thought, with a smile, "Here we go again". The bikes were securely locked away and we were escorted to a hostel.MORE...
I always said it would be Kazakhstan that was the most likely place my bike would break. But only 2 hours into it was a bit extreme.MORE...
It took us 3 days to get out of Semey, One day was for my recovery and the 3rd to register our visas. They have a strange system in some places like Kazakhstan . yes you have a visa to get in. but then you have to visit the migration police in 5 days to register. Day 1 is the day you enter. that was Saturday, and they only open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. But not if Monday is after a weekend holiday.
All forms need filling in Russian. We paid a taxi driver to help ease us through the system. This involved retuning to the hotel to get an hotel stamp on the forms before the policeman would continue the process. At one point we had a total stranger filling our forms in for us.MORE...
Kazakhstan, wonderful country, wonderful people. But it seemed to be determined to kill my bike.
After Almaty we headed south west, flanked to our left by the foothills of the Himalayas and the borders of Kyrgyzstan. The roads here are good, and at times the scenery is spectacular as the green lower slopes are split from the blue sky by the white peaks.
For most of the trip we haven't known where we were, where we were going and very often where we had been.
After leaving Kazakhstan, and its wild and unpredictable roads, we followed the Volga down to Volgograd. For those of higher age, it was formally known as Stalingrad and flattened during the war as Hitler tried gain it as a prize, and access to the oil fields of the Caucuses. However the Germans never had their way and gave up in 1943. They continue to honour the defiance to this day.MORE...
Five days from Volgograd to Calais, 3500 kilometres (2200 miles), then a short hop across the channel to stay with a friend (well his wife as he had gone Morris Dancing) before the final leg home.
74 days to ride around the world, I won't change the blog title as Mike isn't home yet.
I even managed to arrive home in time for Jean's birthday.
(Yes, I do have a new T-shirt on)MORE...
Mike returned to the UK last week, but instead of going home went straight to the Bridge Rats 10th Rat Pack rally at the Heath rugby club in Halifax.
In his one man determination to finally get a 'Furthest Traveled' award at a rally he rode Europe to the most western point at Cabo Da Roca which is slightly north of Lisbon, Portugal, before pointing his 'Peg' on its final lap home.
On far too many occasions we have both been pipped for the award, largely due to our central UK starting point, by either someone from Cornwall (when on remote Scottish islands) or a visiting marauding band of Belgian bikers.MORE...
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