August 20, 2009 GMT
Russia - the Cold Motherland

We had heard some horror stories about the Kazakh/Russian border, mostly from Mongol Rally competitors, who were giving dark warnings about seven hours spent just waiting in line etc. But in the event our fears were groundless, there was no queue as we crossed over accompanied by a Mongol Rally team from Sweden, we had plenty of food and water with us, however it took just two hours and we were done, into Russia, land of plentiful, cheap fuel (38 pence a litre), good roads and not bad food (so far).

We met up with more Mongol Rallyists for our first night camping - the Yak Street Boys from Sheffield and their motorcycling companions, Gayle and Craig on Yamaha Diversions. We all commented on how cold it was as we got into our tents that night, in fact we had started to dig out our thermals and fleeces again.

It was 24 hours later before we discovered that we weren't just in Russia, we had entered Siberia- a land famous for its icy temperatures and unfeasibly long winters, still not sure how we had managed to sneak in without noticing - there was definitely no "Welcome to Siberia" sign that we could see, but maybe they just save that for the gulags.

In the morning we had a shock when we discovered Thelma's battery was completely flat - even after it had been disconnected for the night. Unfortunately we only found out after waving off the Yak Street Boys and so we had a long push getting Thelma back along the muddy track ourselves and out to the road where we flagged down a car for a hefty soviet push start. We were off in search of an electrics boffin

We entered Novosibirsk, which turned out to be a huge city, knowing that we needed to find a motorbike workshop. Our hopes weren't high as we had met Sergei at a cafe on the way and when we asked him about a bike place, his reply was

"Don't you realise that we have ten months winter here each year? Nobody rides a bike".

We used our non-scientific but time-honoured and often proved method for finding a bike shop - ride into town until you spot a big bike then ask the rider where a mechanic is (remont in Russian if you're interested). Once more we were successful and were taken to NBS Motors, and introduced to Andrew who speaks excellent English. He welcomed us to "Siberia's biggest bike shop", ah, so we're in Siberia, that's why it's so bloody cold, we had no idea and thought it was further east. There were certainly no "Welcome to Siberia" signs,maybe they save them for the gulags.

We were pleased to find that NBS were more than happy to help us, and their mechanic soon got to work with our electrical system. The verdict being that our battery is dead (not news to us), and the bad news that there are no suitable batteries in Siberia. The good news being that after many phone calls and careful measuring of the battery compartment, Andrew had managed to track down a battery that would fit. Which was how I found myself riding 2000 miles with a cheap Korean car battery crammed under my seat.

As the shop was closing for the evening (8pm on a Saturday), Andrew once more got on the phone and found us the best electrics boffin in the city (if not in the whole of Siberia) - Kosta who gave up his Saturday night to track us done at Nastia's house and set to work on Thelma's electrics - the guy is a genius and incredibly helpful and generous with his time. it was 11.30pm by the time he started work on Thelma, this was followed by an Internet research session where he found out which locally available regulator would do the job, and then an early morning trip to the market to buy one (and a second as back-up) followed by a further fitting and testing session on Thelma, all so that we would be able to continue our journey without delay. We set off with a Russian regulator to complement the Korean battery.

But what else happened on that Saturday night? Andrew contacted his freinds and we found ourselves at a Bikers' Banya Party at Nastia's house. The Tomsk bike club were in town and there was a party on for them. For those not in the know, a banya is a Russian sauna complete with cold plunge pool and bunches of birch twigs to beat against the skin and cleanse oneself. Which was how we found ourselves in a sauna with burly bearded bikers brandishing birch twigs and singing in russian (them not us); before you start to get too hedonsitic a view of the proceedings, we were very English and wearing vest and knickers.

It was a great party, with Nastia being a wonderful hostess and insisting we stay in her house when we had been ready to put up our tent in the garden. We were sad to be leaving the following morning but Monglia was beckoning.

Spasibo to NBS in Novosibirsk

and also a huge spasibo (that's thank you in Russian) to Nastia for hosting us and Kosta for all the work on Thelma.

Posted by tiffanycoates at August 20, 2009 06:50 AM GMT

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!