November 21, 2006 GMT
BEAUTIFUL BAIKAL

Riding solo on OK roads I was able to make good time.
As dusk approaches - automatically start scanning for secure, convenient camp site.

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It looks good as I sneak behind a hedge just feet from the busy road


'stealth camping'

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After nightfall, just as I was drifting off, this road was passage for three combine harvesters returing from work. As innocuous as this sounds, I was terrified as these as yet to be identified machines roared toward my campsite at about three miles an hour, raking my presence with their headlights. First night alone jitters!

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For added security, I took to using the bike as a tent peg

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At a roadside cafe, this beauty was my waitress. I found the more off-hand the waitress, the more she liked you, so when I received the cold shoulder, I turned to the Nikolai school of Charm....

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and had her eating out of my hand!!!

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Having bypassed Ulan Ude, I headed for Lake Baikal.
Simply beautiful!

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These wonderful fish sellers...

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Offered the bounty of Baikal

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Gassing up in Shelekov, close to Irkustk, I ran into Lernya on a fancy pants sport bike. He invited me to join him and his gang at the 'Tourmann' bike HQ.

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Where my bike took pride of place.

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With relief, not a vodka bottle in sight, but plenty of beer

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and pizza

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Good times

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After 99 bottles of beer, my convoy escorted me...

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to Boris' apartment, complete with a 1945 BMW. Boris left me to spend the night with his girlfriend! (No, he left the apartment to spend the night at his girlfriend's apartment...he wasn't THAT hospitable!)

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and a russian kitty!

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God bless these Russian bikers!

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Next morning, after such hospitality, I felt obliged to join the 'last ride before winter' bike rally. Here we are just before heading to out to the bike rally.

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Gassing up, it starts to rain.

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and gets increasing colder and more miserable in the busy Irkustk traffic. Here we stopped because one of the guys had an accident with a taxi.

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Outside a big sports stadium about 300 bikes gathered for the rally. Including the Baikal Bikers

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This is the main dude of the Baikal Bikers in the center. Max off to the left was kind enough to be my guide out of the city.

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In the pouring rain, following Max through the streets of Irkustk was a harrowing ride. I joined the 300 strong bike rally for about 30 miles. We had a police escort and a very irate column of Russian drivers behind us. At about 4.00 p.m I finally started my ride, by now very wet, cold and with little prospects for a good campsite. Here I stop at a cafe to warm up...yes, that's steam from my very unwaterproof, waterproof jacket!

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With the wet weather, many potential campsites were off limits because of the muddy and dangerous side roads. My lights were seriously compromised by the accident in Skovorodino, as was my helmet visor, but unable to find a decent campsite, I was forced to ride in the darkness. Cold, wet and hungry I pulled into a cafe to warm up, have dinner and assess my options. That's when Yuri and his two chicas forced their hospitality on me.

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Fumbling with my phrase book, 'Mafia' was the reply when I asked him his profession

But when Yuri realized the girls were more interested in me than him...

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he was happy to see me on my way...as was I. He had a very unpleasant vibe about him especially after the youthful hospitality of the Tourmann bike gang. I headed off into the dark, damp night.


But, as usual, a suitable campsite availed itself within a few kilometers. I had by this time become an expert in making camp by starlight. Good night's sleep and beautiful sunshine next morning. Very cold though.

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It was this morning that I'd realized I'd left both my long sleeve medium weight and zip up winter weight merino wool thermals back at Boris' apartment in Shelekov...250 kms behind me...bummer!!


Pressing on, I picked up victuals at this colorful grocery store.

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Came across Marianne and Jchenna riding across Russia using pedal power

bad case of 'helmet head!'

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Long stretches of very bad roads slowed my progress. I wanted to make Krasnoyarsk before dark. I had called ahead to the Hotel Gostiny Dvor. (First one listed in budget section of Lonely Planet). Having parked my bike around the back I went to check in where I met another Russian Souka (arsehole). Despite a letter from my Russian Lawyer (Nikolai!) explaining my extended visa situation, and calling Nikolai on my mobile to further explain, this twit wouldn't let me check in because my visa had expired...I was most displeased, but quick as a flash, whipped out my camera and she tried to duck behind the glass. hehehehe

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Please, if you're visiting Krasnoyarsk, don't stay at the Hotel Gostiny Dvor.

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I called the Hotel Turist and checked in no prob! Nice to dry everything out after my soaking a couple of days before.

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Krasnoyarsk I'm sure is a interesting city, but after my shouting match with the souka at the other hotel, I was thankful to call it a night!

Next morning, after a great complimentary breakfast I was ready to head to Novisibirsk. If I had known what this day would bring, I would have stayed another night in Krasnoyarsk.

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Posted by Richard Lindley at November 21, 2006 06:09 PM GMT
 



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