October 18, 2006 GMT
West to Skovorodino...

Good roads for the first hundred miles to Birobidzhan.


Birobidzhan was the last city on the Russian roadsign where we left Igor, if you want to check your ability to read Russian. The funny double sided C creates the sound zjjjjjj as in Birobidzhan.


Russian cities, with the exception of the big ones in the East, have no ring roads. So you go through every city, town and hamlet. Not such a bad thing if you're not in a hurry.


Each town has it's own unique name sculpture. This again is Birobidzhan.


East meets West at a gas station.


Although we didn't know it, this is the last time we would see bitumen for 1800 kms!!!!


Roads were still OK. Just much slower speeds.


We would come across huge piles of sand and gravel, waiting to be spread.


Some were rideable...


and some weren't


Never mind, just take the detour


which brings you back onto the road....glad it wasn't muddy!!


But we make it to the other side...thankyou Mr Putin!!


We met this lady in a cafe....She's from a Russian tribe called Irkut. Notice the mongolian features.


Here's Nikolai sporting a black fox pelt they had for sale.


This is very typical of the gravel roads. They are very well made, but you'll notice the corrugation, which makes for the 'find the best route' game. A few hundred kilometers of this will make your teeth rattle. Speed here 45 m.p.h.


This is our dust trail....shot taken looking backwards at speed.


and speaking of dust


Pretty caked at the day's end. At least I had a helmet visor. Nikolai used his balaclava as a dust mask!


The worst road surface was after they spread this type of gravel seen here on the left...


and before trucks pack it down it's like driving through golf balls...all rear wheel steering...and with two up, a little scary!!!!


We stopped for dinner. Nikolai said a town like this was a product of communism. Since the fall of the wall, people living out here in deep Russia, have not much opportunity so you have a lot of young men drinking and gambling.

After we asked the restaurant to bring us a table so we could watch the bike, Nikolai explained to the crowd of young men that gathered around us that we were in a convoy of motorcyclists, with two back up vehicles driven by some bad ass Brazilian dudes. He said he made up the story to prevent them from following us out of town. The cost of our dinner ($10.00) was monthly wages for some of these folks. And me with $12 K in my pocket!!

The young girl to the right smoked incessantly and had quite the potty mouth according to Nikolai.

A little depressing to see such poverty


The one kid in the middle was a bit odd. Nikolai said he was probably already hooked on sniffing glue. He might graduate to vodka if he doesn't die first.


Doggy was friendly though....or was it the borscht?


We saw a train loaded up with military vehicles on the way in.



Military strength but people with very little...the legacy of communism.

Nikolai, frugal traveller that he is, would always fill up at the town pump. Good clean free water at least!!


Found a good campsite a few miles later. We had ditched Nikolai's tent to lighten the load after our Khabarovsk 'kiss'.

Crouching Nikolai, hidden tiger!


Catching up with my journal waiting for the coffee to brew.


Bread and kielbasa and coffee - breakfast of champions!!!


Came across this abandoned truck...


and it's unsuccessful rescue mission of this bulldozer


We had covered 250 bone and bike rattling miles, but here is the sign for Never, just 15 kms from Skovorodino.


This footbridge coming up...


Saved us a few kms


But on the other side, there's trouble brewing when some vodka soaked locals show up.


Although I didn't know at the time, not speaking Russian, but the guy sporting the camoflage was telling me I wasn't welcome here and he should beat my face in.


Nikolai managed to get everyone smiling again.


Especially this cutie


Who turned out to be the guy's girlfriend. At this point, instead of violence, he hexed us by telling us we were going to have a nasty accident.

Just 10 minutes later and 3 kms outside Skovorodino, his jinx came true.

100_1539 (12).JPG

Thousands of miles from anywhere, with injuries and a broken bike.
Was this the end of the trip???!!!

Posted by Richard Lindley at October 18, 2006 08:40 PM GMT

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