July 28, 2006 GMT
Russia - again !

23 July Sunday, Novosibirsk, Speedo reading 34,505 KM

An early start. A very early start. I'm freezing in the tent. I'm at 2600m and in a valley so although the sun has risen I figure it won't hit the tent for an hour or 2 so I'm up at 5.30.
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Then the sun does break through. It's a beautiful morning, brings a smile to my face and I stop and breakfast basking in it before heading off through the Russian Altai mountains
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Fantastic driving - right up there with some of the best of the Alaskan roads - Tok to Valdez springs to mind !! first real classic tree I've seen in days...
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Cops everywhere but I seem to be immune - no problems all day... always someone else...

Hard to explain this picture, stopped for coffee and this lady was out of her house doing the washing in the morning sun... and singing... it was one of those moments that lift you
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I'm flying these roads until I hit heavy rain just as I enter Novosibirsk.. I hide under a bridge and am quickly joined by Sergei and his new (2 hours ago) girlfriend on a scooter. "Hotel Sibir - sure follow !" He sets off in the lashing rain and I follow. In we go and it's beer and champagne and a Horizons T-Shirt as a thank-you ! We swap numbers and Sergei tells me to call if I need anything. he's a mechanic and used to work for yamaha, before setting up his own tuning shop...

beautiful sunset, shame about the horizon...
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24 July Monday, Novosibirsk (again), Speedo reading 34,524 KM

I decide to stay a second night, the town is big and there's a BMW dealership and I figure I'll swap out the knobblies which are shot with just over 8000km on them after Siberia and Mongolia and give the bike a service. (and maybe get some Laundry done too !!!)

First I head to the hotel doctor who refers me to a clinic where I get examined and x-rayed - no surprises - 2 fractured ribs. He straps and advises me to rest for 2 weeks - no problem I'm sitting down all day anyway... I alter the strapping for the bike - this has been my morning duck-tape ritual...
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I head for BMW. Oil change - no. No bikes, no service for bikes, no oil, no tyre change and no desire to help in any way. Screw them. I've spotted a Yamaha dealership on the way. I head there. tyre change is a problem - don't have the kit... but I do get Synthetic oil !

Then I remember Sergei - I mention his name, someone calls him, he arrives with a colleague in tow and we're like old buddies - things happen quickly !!

I'm off with Pawel to get the tyres done around the corner...
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We run into a problem... I notice they'e mounted the tyre the wrong direction... so off it comes and we do it again... then Pawel runs into a problem with the thread on the brakes when he remounts.... I'm getting anxious (I'm not nice when I'm like that ...!!). Pawel is calm, tells me he can fix anything if we have enough time... calms me down and he wanders off on the scooter and returns with a die the clean out the threads - we're in business !

Tyres changed we head for sergei's worksshop
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for the oil change which he insists on doing...
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then he fixes the sidestand which is loose.... and the centrestand which is hitting the swingarm.... and the drving lights get new bulbs and a tighten and a seal and they work again ! Meanwhile I retighten the pannier frames and de- and re=assemble the whole cockpit set-up which has shaken itself loose

then I happen to mention the petrol tank lid... whixh he thinks about for a few minutes and then in 10 minutes has fixed !! genius stuff - he just calls it Russian tuning ! I can't thank them enough
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Another tuning example from a colleague of his... a 1968 Volga
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We arrange to meet for food, pool & beer = my first real night out in 2 months !! it's the least I could do for the guys !! Thank you again !!
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I'm feeling better,,, the bike is humming.... new tyres to take me home - let's go !

I even got a wee wash !!

25 July Tuesday, Omsk, Speedo reading 35,220 Km

I head away the next day for Omsk. All along the road you see attempts to encourage a better style of driving from the Russians...
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None of which seems to work, I've spotted cut-out cars, old abandoned police cars strategically positioned at the roadside.

It's a tough, grey day. Dodging showers all day. A little wet and cold I arrive into rush-hour Omsk. Again I trust to luck and begin to navigate my way blind towards the centre. I make it so far and begin to struggle... a local stops and offers to drive me towards a hotel ... soon another guy signals me to stop, I sign that I'm following someone... he stops him just as I spot a spanish registered GS stopped by the police so I pull over to help. I figure they can't screw him as easily with an audience... the 2 cars pull up too and there's a regular fiasco - turns out that bikes aren't allowed in the centre of Omsk since the local bike club leader decided to give the finger several months earlier to the Head of Police... Kirill (one of the drivers) is a biker and negotiates us out of bother and we're all off to the local Tourist Hotel.

The spanish biker is Carlos en route to Beijing (with guides) and has plenty of experience and stories to relate over an excellent dinner (civilisation beckons !!). Carlos is an ex Chairman of Midland International Bank but has done Paris- DAkar and lots of other bike routes... His nieces and nephews have gifted him a new BMW 1200 GSA !!

I'm planning the rest of my run that evening and look at the Map - I'm as close to Tehran today as I am to Moscow... small world

26 july Wednesday, 200km east of Yekaterinburg, Speedo Reading 36,011 KM

I hook up first thing on the road with 4 polish bikers - Romek and Pawel on 2 Africa twins and Mira and Jacek 2 up on a GSA like my own. I drive with them for the day. Jacek is amongst other things a mechanic - I just love driving with Mechanics !!

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Long driving day through 12 degrees and rain and finally a little sunshine beofre we find a wee hostel and a few beers and a bottle of Vodka to celebrate Mir's name- day !!

27 July Thursday, Perm, Speedo Reading 36,650 KM

We set off together before they head off for Yekatarinburg while I want to push on tonight towards Perm where I will take a day's break to catch up on bike troubles, internet and a little laundry...

Rain later in the day makes it slippy, dangerous wet and cold - I take it easy and I make it to Perm on difficult roads. Not a lot of photo opportunities here in central russia... today I cross the Urals.... you hardly notice the transition though... I'm now in Europe - bye bye Asia today, home straight beckons

Posted by Kevin Maher at July 28, 2006 04:00 PM GMT
 
 

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