05 JUN 2002 - SEATTLE, WA (06 JUN 2002, Krasnoyarsk "Globeriders time")
Since I last saw them, the Globeriders have traveled thru:
CHINA: Huludao, Shengyen, Changchun, Harbin, Daoqing
MONGOLIA: Zhalantun, and Yakeshi.
Have crossed the border into Russia at Manzhouli, then continued on:
RUSSIA: Zabaikalsk, Chita, Ulan Ude, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, and Tuluun, and now, Krasnoyarsk.
Exotic names, continually shifting roads, new dialects and languages - how I wish I were with them. But, here I sit, restless in Seattle....
As I noted before, Speed Channel's Bike Week did begin coverage of the tour with this week's episode(s). I watched in admiration and envy. One-third of the broadcast highlighted the remarkable exploits of Helge, his comments and thoughts on this year's tour, with some footage from the first one in 2000. To paraphrase Andy Warhol - I had my 5 seconds of fame moving bikes around the warehouse and into the shipping container with Helge. I think part of next week's segment may include scenes in our house here in Seattle as I was packing for the trip. Right now, I'm Bike Week's most avid fan.
When I started my retirement from 10 years at Microsoft, my team presented me with the following:
[In retrospect, maybe this "baby GS" would have been the better choice. At least, it would have kept me off any streets, and I could have spent my fuel budget for beer! You can actually buy these from your local BMW motorcycle dealer. Of course, BMW sells $500.00 skateboards, and $5,000.00 mountain bikes, so, don't ask....]
Here is the first of many snippets of email that I hope to receive from those Globeriders able to find the time, and more importantly, an internet cafe, as they ride on to Krakow, Poland, where I hope to re-join the group by "plane, train, and automobile". I'll leave the excerpts pretty much as received, correcting only those gross spelling errors that I know the author(s) would have caught had they access to a spell-checker:
Well I'm sitting here in Docquin or something like that. We left Harbin this afternoon, and then rode 140 miles down a really, really bumpy road, that was paved, but in terrible shape. John, on a KLR 650, broke his sub-frame and sheared two bolts that hold it on, but it was welded up within an hour!
We were joined yesterday, in Harbin, by the local "outlaw" motorcycle club. Bikes over 250cc are illegal, but there is an underground scene that has 1100 CBR's, V-Max's , hot-rodded Harleys, etc., etc. They actually followed us the whole way today. Some on pure dirt bikes! Laws are made to be broken here in China, so it didnít surprise us. They were doing wheelies in very busy traffic on the main street, against the traffic, through a red light. Unbelievable.
David and I decided to go for a walk and do some shopping as I lost my sunglasses, and he needed zip-ties, so we walked around down town (a little town by comparison to what we've come accustomed to, with just a little over 3 million people in it.) We stumbled upon the club house of the "outlaw gang" that ďwelcomedĒ us earlier in the day. Whatíre the odds of that???? Well, we were invited in, given beers to drink, etc., etc. Needless to say, we didnít get our shopping done. In the end, they ( 23 of em') took us out to dinner, in a nice Chinese restaurant, of course, then presented us with some seriously nice "racing style" motorcycle jackets! They have about 30 patches on them and are new! Only myself and David, my roomie, got them!
We are only 5 days away from Russia, and have ridden 1900 miles. We have been on 2 TV. news stations, and in one newspaper. The traffic is better as we are getting into more rural areas, but the cities still are murderous. We saw a dead guy hanging out of a truck cab day before last, with his brain dripping out! Yuk. Bike accidents every once in a while too, but not us. The only dropped bikes of ours were both on marble floors in parking garages, or hotel lobbies. So all in all, were doing really well. Some of the craziest drivers are people that will do ANYTHING to stay with us to give us the thumbs up sign or take a picture of us, riding down the highway. They will drive in the oncoming lane with traffic coming right at them, in the lane next to us, making the oncoming traffic veer around them. They do this for miles at a time. Having 3 lanes of traffic in a single lane is common. In a way, itís really fun, but itís for real! The dirt road action today was exciting. We are in the Manchurian plains that are the largest corn and wheat plains in the world. It sounds boring but isnít. Every single moment is right out of a National Geographic magazine.
Dinner tonight was great, just when I think we have seen everything, they bring us an entire pigís head complete with snout, and cherries or some kind of red berries stuck in the eye sockets
I am definitely enjoying the trip so far, and I feel it has been worth what was paid for it. The only bummer is our not being able to stop when we want. But the fact that we can be in China at all is really something. We are such outsiders. Most everywhere we go, people act like they have never seen such a crazy thing. The crowds are annoying sometimes, but most of the time, they are fun. They really get a kick out of the map stickers that Mike Paull made for each and every one of us. My globe fell off 2 days ago, almost breaking my heart.
Shui De Hao,
Rick (Rick Wetzel is from Dexter, OR - USA)
As for me, I'll continue to "ghost write" updates as I can, and will hopefully go "live" again around 01 JUL. I'm getting a bit better day by day, but still can't "sleep" in any position but upright. And, worrisome, no word on when my bike will get shipped back home - always another excuse about paper-work. If things don't go as hoped, I may get an empty crate for the $1,000.00 it's going to ship the "bike" home. Of course, even with that, the riding need not end. I received the following from my brother-in-law, Christian Balagtas, in Cainta Rizal, Philippines. I have no idea where he found it, but, see what you can do with an empty shipping crate, some coconuts, bark, and a little straw?
[I've heard the term "iron horse" used to describe a motorbike, but, a "wooden horse??!!]
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