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Old 11-18-2012, 07:51 AM   #675
Colebatch OP
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Schmocation
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Day 30 - into Kazakhstan

Last day in Russia for a while. We were heading across the border into Kazakhstan - It was a short day ... about 200 km. As was typical of border crossing days, it was a predominantly asphalt day. This was one limitation of Russian border crossings. As far as I was aware, all of the "international" border crossings had asphalted roads leading to them. And if it was an international crossing, it meant the read leading to it was a Federal Road. The entire Russian border is surrounded by an internal buffer zone, called a border zone, into which you can only go with special permits. For foreigners like us, those permits must be applied for 2 months in advance, and had to be picked up in person from the relevant regional office. It made travelling off road close to the border pretty much impossible, unless you wanted to risk appearing to contravene Russian national security ... which is a risk beyond that we were prepared to take. So when crossing a Russian border, we had to approach it on a Federal asphalt road.

I had been annoyed by my brake pedal ... it wasnt adjusted right for the standing position. I adjusted it as part of our morning checks and we headed off towards the border. After a mere 15 km (9 miles), Terry rode up beside me flapping his arms about and directing me to the side of the road while yelling FIRE FIRE.

I pulled over and as I began dismounting Terry was already throwing sand over my flaming back brake caliper. We grabbed a water bottle and extinguished the flames ... The alloy back caliper was half melted. It was deformed. It was absolutely not repairable. Something must have gone terribly wrong with my back brake adjustment. I now had no back brake. A close inspection of the rear steel brake disc showed that while it was totally heat discoloured (and still is to this day), it was neither badly scored nor warped at all.

Thinking quickly, I sent a message to Prutser, one of the 3 riders who would join us in Astana in less than a week. I asked him to get me a back caliper and bring it in his luggage. Within hours I had a message back that he had found one at a Dutch bike dismantlers for 70 EUR ... bargain price. Awesome, it could be fixed in Astana if it could get to him in time. The dismantlers didnt want to send it until they received payment, and Prutser was flying out in just a couple of days. It would be touch and go.

Terry and I were still 3 and a half days ride from Astana ... it would be a learning experience to try to ride off road without touching my back pedal.

The Russian - Kazakh border came and went in a one hour visit, and we were back on the steppe ... this time, the Kazakh steppe.

We finished up in the first town we came to in Kazakhstan, Karabulak. We tried to get some Kazakh sim cards for the phones, and a late lunch. But we found a decent cheap hotel and decided to call it a day.

We struck out when it came to the SIM cards. Kazakhs dont sell micro ones ... which Terry and I both needed for our phones. But we had a nice dinner. Our hotel had a cafe attached to it but across there road was the towns main restaurant. A bit over the top it was for a rural Kazakh town. The beer was cold. We needed a lot of it as the Restaurants in house DJ / self Karaoke man was truly appalling.

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Colebatch screwed with this post 11-18-2012 at 09:04 PM
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