July 11, 2013 GMT
Retreat (and advance) from Volgograd

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.


Mike and I reviewed our route options, we thought we would have arrived here about 2 weeks later. Unfortunately our personal route preferences differed, Mike still had time left before he needed to return to work and favoured a more southern route back to Europe then into France. I was more for heading north, for me the trip was about finishing the RTW and getting home, or more importantly back to Jean.

Over dinner of “suicide menu”, when we let the staff choose because we cannot decipher it, we decided it was best to go our separate ways. We had done the “boys own” stuff crossing Eastern Siberia and Kazakhstan. Now we were back in the European continent having crossed the River Ural in Kazakhstan a few days earlier.

The wild east was behind us and the tame west ahead.

At least I would not have to contemplate avoiding the use of one of these again.


The next morning we both woke early, packed and left the motel. I turned right, up the M6, north and west seemed fitting as that would be the route when I got back to England. Mike took the next junction, the M21, south and west.

Don't assume the “M” means motorway, “Main” would be a better word. Single carriage way outside cities. But in this part of Russia good smooth tarmac. Head down, throttle open, Calais was in my sights. Only 3500 kilometres, I was ending the trip as we started it. A headlong dash across a continent.

All I needed to worry about was who would fix my bike if it broke again ?

As I left the Ukraine 2 days later, approaching my final 'proper' border crossing I was stopped for speeding. I had missed seeing the town sign and was still doing 90 KMH, even though it was a motorway, it passed through towns and villages. I chose to play dumb as he tried to explain I needed to go to a bank and pay the fine.

Every time he said bank, I pointed towards the border and said “border”. Eventually he gave up, screwed the paper work up and said “go”. I grabbed my documents from his dashboard, stuffed them in my pocket and high tailed it before he changed his mind.

Posted by Bruce Porter at July 11, 2013 07:56 AM GMT

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