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Old 04-20-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
laszek13 OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Poland
Oddometer: 35
AURORA PROJECT - winter ride to Murmansk.

As I promis fiev monts ago I like to show you my RR.

It was in February this year.
5 good friends on 3 motorcycles - one XT350 with skis from Shwedish army and two old R100Gs sidecars.
First we wont to say THANK YOU for our sponsors !!!
If this is not legal - write me e-mail and I will delate.

OK lets start.
Over a year ago on our site of weirdos who fancy old iron junk, history, not necessery useful inventions, jokes and other not really trendy topics, Pastor posts a thread titled as above in bold.
It was inspired by our common friend Konrad from Sierakowice. He is a weirdo as well. Like us, he’d rather get his ass wet riding in the rain on his old MW750, ride byroads through decrepit villages and smell the hay than go on a motorcycling event, bumping through drunken bikers and watching if someone isn’t “watering” his tent.
So, the subject has been served – feel free to grab a bite.

Project details;

Goal – to see aurora borealis from as close as possible from a bike’s saddle. On the way there try to cross the frozen lake of Ladoga and eventually get as far as possible north of Russia – to Murmansk.
Astronomers say there will be unseen amount of sun activity since many years which influences directly to what we call aurora borealis. Therefore we’re about to see an amazing spectacle if we manage to get there and there will be no clouds.
Date: middle of february 2012
From Gdynia to Helsinki by a ferry. From there get north and continue to White Sea and Murmansk district until we run out of time (whole undertaking needs to be maximum two weeks long including the way back home).

Pastor calls me and asks:

-You’ve read the new thread? So? You coming?
-Weeeell, the plan is outstanding, but you know, all the work, responsibilities, not that much money and this trip won’t be cheap, considering the date – I say.
-Think about it mate – responds Pastor.

And I really thought about it.
I craved for something unusual. I really did.
My thinking was this: I don’t go, the guys will have a great adventure and in effect I will bash my head against the wall because I gave up so easily. On the other hand if I go it will demolish our home budget and I’ll have regrets the entire way that I spent so much money on a whim.
My significant other says:
-There’s still time, we gonna make it, it’s important to have something... that important in your life – says Agnieszka.

We’re going. I’m coming with you.

When I wrote back to Pastor and said, we’re going, but with my wife, the man grabs his head and says:
-Don’t tahe the woman, she’s still good, would be a shame to break her.

Sometimes things get clarified after a while.
Originally I intended to ride my own motorcycle, R80GS, but the guys advised against it. Not only is it a heavy juggernaut but also with a passenger it would be a misery not a joyful ride. On top of that I had an accident this spring on a patch of wet tar (greetings to road maintenance) which resulted in demolition of my ride, which I’ve been trying to fix an entire summer. I end up riding with Adam in his sidecar – Agnieszka is dissapointed, but supports me as much as possible with my trip planning.
In the meantime the squad clarifies.
-Pastor and Lupus, R100GS with a russian sidecar
-Me and Adam, also R100GS with a Velorex sidecar.
-Szparag on a XT350 with swedish army skiis, manual gear shifter and additional rear brake handle just above the clutch handle.

It appears that the biggest issue is completing proper gear, clothing, boots etc. Ordinary civilian motorcycle apparel isn’t much good in these conditions. You can’t wear too many layers underneath, it’s too tight.
It takes a loong time to gather all the clothing. Ofcourse one can purchase ridiculously expensive gear for snowmobiles or so called winter motorcycle winter clothing but there’s no time for experiments, we need something soon and for a reasonable price.
Miraculously I find a company online, Norfin and one of very few polish representatives of this contraption. It is clothing designed for fishing under ice (they do not dive into cold water, no noo, they stand on ice and put small sticks into a hole in the ice).
On that ice it is windy as hell. So it got me thinking – these people know what to wear to keep the bodyheat and comfort.
I’m negotiating prices. Guys join in – it’s not cheap.
Duh, it’s the most expensive purchase for this trip – pants and jacket made of geese down – over 500 usd but it was worth it.
Minor things like a russian fuel stove, sleeping mat from Lidl, aluminum canteens – those I had. I got some underwear from my brother working on a construction in Norway. They get only the warm merino wool stuff. Lupus believes that there is nothing better and he’s right about that. Only natural textiles, wool, down etc. – no synthetics.
Boots have been spotted by the guys in US of A on a closeout in a workwear store.
We buy three pairs (all they had, but proper sizes) pf canadian baffins, less than a hundred dollars each including shipping.
Szparag and Adam go for Norfins, not worse than canadian, but slightly more expensive. We’re going as cheap as possible anyway so why spend more when less is available.

We got something, we’ve got things set up, but we ran into problems with sleeping bags, one costs about 400 usd. I am trying to convince the guys to look for some sponsoring, but not all of them are keen on that idea. Especially Pastor resents media and publicity. But we’ve got ourselves the best sleeping bags this way, and probably he got over with it – am I right reverend?
A company Pajak Sport agrees to make us some at low prices, after long negotiations but it’s still a bit steep for us. To the rescue comes a company INDUSTRIVERKTYG IDG-Tools AB, which agrees to pay for the remaining cost of this equipment – a considerable amount of money.
Elwood gets us some lubricants from Variant. And last but not least, a real gem in form of a free ferry trip from Gdynia to Helsinki thanks to Finnlines and a very nice guy, mr Rafal Kwapisz. All that including cabins (usually I’ve sleepinging on the corridor floor).

It cannot get better I thought. get’s really interested thanks to Sambor and will gladly publish our accounts – that’s valuable as well.
Damn, we have to be doing something really stupid since it all works out so well.
Well, mabye almost all, Adam hassles with getting some screw-in tyre studs from Italy. He has them promised at a half of the price, we’re just waiting for the tyres to get a proper size for the spikes. Finally they arrive and we tell Adam to get them.
The italians are baffled, they insist that nothing was promised and it is not possible, they redirect us to their representative of some kind in Poland, where one stud costs one euro.
Considering the fact that one tire requires at least 250 of those it doesn’t look too optimistic. We decide to pass, generally cursing those damned italians and we get some third party replacements which turn out to be quite sufficient for those conditions, even though they dissapeared rapidly on tarmac since they had no cemented carbide cores.

One last thing that remained was the visas. Somehow it appears to be a huge problem for one company that should get them, so we clench our teeth and wait to get our passports back so we can take them to other fixers.
We get our visas shipped to us three days before the trip starts.
Since that moment not one of us slept well, not to mention sitting at work – there’s only one thing on our minds.
My packing a day before the launch isn’t going very well. I don’t want to take unnecessary things in order to squeeze all this stuff on the motorcycle, but somehow I keep thinking that all of it is just too much in terms of volume, since weight isn’t a concern for any of us – the beemers will haul it anyway.
Still – what the hell need I that blanket for, that additional fleece – I still have no idea.
As it turned out later things like shampoo, towel, cream, down boots for sleeping and various other stuff were never used.

On the 18th of february we slowly pack our stuff into a car and with Agnieszka and Nynek we drive to gdynia to Elwoods crib. The guys join us in the evening since they had a couple of hundreds to be done from Swinica.
On the way a small breakdown in Adams car – untried brake decides to do some sightseeing and screws off ripping apart the umbilical cord in form of a steel brake line. With help of locals we quickly fix it.
So, we sit at a late evening smiling and enjoying salads, courtesy of Elwoods wife, supporting polish brewery in the process. We lay down to sleep, wherever one can find place so that in the early morning we will arrive to the port at a proper hour.

And finally we’ve got long awaited 19th of february 2012.
It still does not sink in with us, that a great adventure begins, of five friends at proper age, ones that should be attributed with flipflops and newspapers rather than motorcycle trips.
Adam dissapears in the morning for a mass in Oliwska Cathedral and shows up quite late for the gathering by the garage. We pack quicklyin an untidy manner, we’ll get it all sorted out on the ferry anyway, rush to the port to get the boarding passes and be there for a nonexistent check in and customs clearance.
Upon the ferry entrance someone honks behind us and gives magical signs. We stop to find out that there is smoke coming out from a wheel of our sidecar. No time for adjustments – I get into the car to get some weight of that wheel – it is only a couple of kilometers after all. We’ll look into it on a cardeck.
We crawl onto the ferry, strap on our bikes and quickly undress since it is quite warm in Gdynia as if it was spring.
We gather what seems to be necessery for a 23 hours trip not forgetting Pastors moonshine and a couple of polish beers, which will not be available for us for some time.
We drop the stuff in our cabins and go to the deck called “sunny” to wave to our friends and families standing on the shore. After all the goodbyes, waving and nodding we look at ourselves, having the port dissappearing behind our backs and it finally dawns on us, that those months of preparations, hundreds of emails and phonecalls finally turn into real deal.
Alright, I’ll say it even though I probably shouldn’t – we hug each other, but in a manly fashion!

First simply map.

and this short moovie - I like it. It is not finisch but you MUST see.

and now I will go buy some beer and wait this evening for first part of 400 pictures

laszek13 screwed with this post 04-26-2012 at 01:12 AM
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:01 AM   #2
bk brkr baker
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Are all Pols crazy ?

Or just the ones that ride ?

Just kidding, fantastic expedition !
RR's Catnip Hill to Peoria ___Loopin' Seattle to WestFest
It started with some beers __1500 miles to the Dentist
Skeedaddle to Seattle______ A 30 year old on a Three Flags Run

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Old 04-20-2012, 02:56 PM   #3
laszek13 OP
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We are not creazy - we are love live and adventure.

Only fiev pictures tooday - my wife is angry for me when I look for net all evening.

soap and shampoo was not use during all ride

it,s nessesery

our kitchen

and some of fucking food - russian food was beter

almost all but russian set made by down i nessesry,

sleaping bags - we need too

merino wool

and Buffin shoes, helmet Actic Cat i will take too.

we have all what we need - so lets go ride.
Strart from south-west of Poland call Swidnica

its below zero but our old shit dont wont start

so what - who care. Finnaly we are on the road.

breaking front beake is not a problem - some of wire and go to... visit with our friend Elwood in Gdansk - something about 600 km from start.

Elwood is our friend who had a problems whitch you never...... ever will now, but his heart is BIG as he is.
All of us in this part of world is like you - the same world and problems.

when the gassoline price is something about 2 Euro we still wont to find somethig normal. All time we learn russian language in old system but it is soo close and there are people really, really natural. Friendly eaven if they dont have not too mutch.

it's no matter
there is was ( in Elwood flat) was really nice blaaa, blaaa.

and soon will be more.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:29 AM   #4
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All the cool russian ride reports from last summer are over, now let's see the winter rides. Great stuff, keep it coming!
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:50 AM   #5
laszek13 OP
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Later, a small sightseeing around the ferry, so we know where’s what,
last cellphones lost their reception before we pass Hel (a small hell
J) and we hide in the cabins to talk, eat chineese noodles from radom
while drinking beer.
Previous assessments of the boat lead us to the conclusion that one
might ride a bicycle there, though in imagination since due to
undisclosed reasons someone riveted some of those into the floor next
to the window, behind which there’s only water – and mind you those
were not water bikes. Second discovery was in form of a huge bathtub,
not for cleaning yourself like you do at home – they call it a jacuzzi
and it does something that looks like someone farted underwater – but
without farting – because it is not elegant to do so and not nice at
So far we shamble and plead a man in the reception to open a car deck
(normaly the do not do that) so we can check out why our tyre is
smoking. As it turns out the support welded in by Pastor is not really
where it is supposed to be. He didn’t foresee my and my stuff’s
weight. We grab a hammer and other instruments and we remove the
problem by bashing it – that should fix it.
After above complicated technical operation we go to the forementioned
bathtub. I announce that I will not go in with my underwear on because
it might not dry out in time and I will not ride wit my ass wet. So I
neatly wrap myself around with a towel and unwrap just before sliding
into water, where some man sits already and I put my towel aside.
Others, apart from Adam who dislikes water get in in their undies.
Outstanding – warm water on a cold Baltic Sea.
The social bathing ritual got clarified all by itself. We sit in a
tub, the moonshine gets passed around, even through the dutch guy who
kindly refuses at first, but eventually grabs the bottle himself out
of the line. Next sauna, getting on the deck – and the process
Warmed up and relaxed and content (thanks to Finnlines) we get going
and have a sitdown debate about everyday’s problems – it just turned
out that way. Nobody bashes or lectures anyone. We try to understand
the troubles and each other. We get into our cabins and fall asleep
In the morning we see only whiteness and ice behind windows – quite
contrary to Gdynia. We eat breakfast, get coffe and assemble onto the
cardeck to our vehicles and there’s massive heat there. We sweat
profoundly and pray for opening of this oven as soon as possible and
eventually a pilot approaches and leads us out to the port gates –
what a relief.
Small repacking, reclothing, a smoke with Szparag (only the two of us
are smokers in the group) and we get the hell out as fast as we can,
to get of the highway and big city.
It is minus one hour to our time at home.
We have less than 600 kilometers to the russian border – probably
won’t get there today – maybe later, but we’re not in much of a rush –
we didn’t come here to be in one.
Since getting of the ferry we did just about 320 kilometers. In the
meantime, by riding some completly white byroads we arrive into a
small town and do some pre-emptive shopping for the supper and
tomorrow’s breakfast. Such custom will be on a daily basis from now
Drinks bought less than an hour ago turn to solid state – that is a
problem, albeit a small one, this becomes normal and get’s fixed by
melting snow and brewing tea on the stove.
Well, just a first contact with winter motorcycling. Got to get used
to it, that’s all. It is starting to dawn so we look around for a
place to stay for the night.
There’s a small driveway by the road, something parking-like but with
huge piles of wood prepared for transport. Nice place to pitch our
tents and have a windshield made of wood logs.
Miracoulosly Szparag spots a roof by the forest – something like a
shed or something. So he goes through the snow to his waist to check
what it is and yells – eeeeehm guys! There’s even a grill here!
I’ve heard once about survival cabins in Finland, but never seen one.
We stumbled upon one by a pure accident. Small houses like that can be
seen around Finland in scarcely populated areas between villages.
These are simple wooden cottages with a fireplace and often a kettle
inside. There are benches around inside laid with a styrofoam where
one can sit or sleep. Behind it there is a well known facility in form
of a booth with a heart shaped hole in the door. Beautiful conditions,
really. You have to remember to leave some dry wood inside after you
leave so that someone in crisis coming there after you may easily
start a fire – simple and brilliant. Such cabins are looked after by
local communities – you don’t need to search for wood in the forest.
Evening cooking on a fuel stove in which white snow melts and
appreciating a first passing day – pure magic. We lay down to sleep. I
thought I might test my russian down clothing and lay myself on the
bench laying just in it. I fall asleep and wake up in the middle of
the night trembling from cold ( ice sickles hanging besides me? Didn’t
Quickly I unpack my sleeping bag in the light of my flashlight, I get
inside just in my underwear not bothering with a sleeping mat at all –
it quickly gets warm, dry and splendid.
First lesson learned. You don’t sleep in what you wear during the day,
the clothing gets moist with sweat and you don’t even notice it. It
might be cold but still – you breathe with your entire body cumulating
enough water in your garments to feel some serious “brrr...” after a
Tuesday – we skip the breakfast and pack our things onto the bikes and
struggle further north in the snow.
The road is white not only by name anymore – there’s so much fresh and
hardened snow that we decide to put the spikes on our tyres. Even
after armoring them our speed rarely exceeds 50km/h. The road is very
twisty and up to 12% uphill. Riding onto such hill one can not speed
up to much because you never know what’s behind it – maybe a car,
maybe another turn, maybe something completly diffrent. On each stop
we are a photo attraction and will continue to be through entire way.
We finally arrive into finnish part of Karelia, choosing only byroads
obviously. I notice that there is quite a lot of old cars in this part
of Finland – Lada Samaras, Zhiguls, even one Skoda 105. A truly
strange sight.
The road is nice, white, even and straight enough that I decide to be
the rider for the first time with a sidecar attached – strange
experience but quite interesting. What makes me wonder is the fact
that it is warmer this way than inside the sidecar – maybe because I
need to struggle a bit with the handlebars instead of just sitting
with the backpack watching the nature. I get accustomed to the vehicle
quite quickly and ride along the others not trailing behind. On our
way a firs encounter with the police – they stop us out of curosity
rather than will to check out anything. After fueling up, not much
more expensive than in our country we ride and marvel the beautiful
winter – a real one with plenty of snow covering absolutely everything
that sticks out of the ground – magical views that you’d have to see
I will not try to describe too much what you feel on the road, how you
feel the people, smells and such untangible things because as Adam
sees it – it is very personal and hard to describe, something like
love – it’s only mine and let other seek their own.
It is starting to dawn again so we start searching for a place to sleep tonight.

laszek13 screwed with this post 05-08-2012 at 10:33 PM
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:22 AM   #6
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after long night we are going to harbour

on the ferry

look at this faces

our cabin - THANK YOU FINNLINES !!!

soooo nice

very extremly travel

Helsikni harbour - strange consistency of water

white and hard

time to gooooo

somwhere in Finland.

nice winter

breakfest of masters

first night of our trip

we found survival house

in forest

nice place for sleep

and for free

no door but who care

next morning

next survival house - luxury - with the light.

We look around for some abandoned shed in the fields or the woods, whatever with a roof – we don’t feel like pitching tents, no place to do so anyway. There’s so much snow everywhere it is pointless to dig a place for the bikes and tents. We pass one shed to which there is no access by motorcycles, then another, then some abandoned house, it get’s dark and we get nothing. While riding I observe the right side of the road, Adam ovserves the left and all of sudden he slams the brakes yelling like a madman – THERE IT IS! We turn around, get of the road on a trail plowed from snow, into the woods – there is a cottage there. Frankly, it is almost invisible, just a huge pile of snow with a chimney. Our jaws drop when we enter – ofcourse there is a fireplace, kettle, axe, wood, but not only – there are sausage spikes, hooks for clothing, a table aaand... light! Seriously – a forest Hilton for us, amazing. We set the fire, Adam is steaming like a kettle, we prepare the food and finally get some rest while talking – nobody misses TV or internet. In the morning we barely manage to start Pastors cow, the starter got busted – we push it with Adam’s sidecar, not for the last time. We clean up the cottage preparing new batch of forewood from a nearby shed, we sign in in the guestbook and we ride towards the border, 150km away. On a bordercrossing in Vartius everything gets done instantly. Nice people help us even with the paperwork. No other people crossing. We set our watches yet another +2 hours. In the summer there’s only one hour of diffrence from Finland, so we have +3 hours compared to Poland. We eat a couple of kilometers and we are in the first russian city Kostomuksha. Obviously we fill up our tanks here hence the prices are for normal humans, we exchange some cash in Sieverbank, I fix my glasses at the optics, we shop and in the meantime Pastor gutted the cow to have a talk with the starter. In the store we realise that the prices on almost everything apart from cigarettes are like in Poland or higher – it was supposed to be so much cheaper J Generally wuite a rich feeling to the place and quite european – bank, store or a pharmacy – all like in Poland. The starter finally decided to cooperate. It’s well after noon so we dash as quick as possible from the city to find a place for the first night in Russia. First village after a rough and hilly road appears after 50km. It’s not easy since it’s quite empty everywhere, no sign of people. When we knock on the doors to various houses to ask for a bed either nobody opens even though lights are on or they don’t know to whom should they direct us. Finally someone manages the subject and calls a friend who has a place. We wait a while for an answer and look around – nice wooden houses, snowmobiles beside nearly every one of them. The village is by a lake, seems like a touristy place. Finns come by here since it’s close to them, they think we’re finns as well at first. Local russians work often in Finland on the other hand. We finally get our answer – they agree to take us in for the night, not for free ofcourse, but 300 roubles per head is a good price for a cottage with a stove. Our host, Valerij heats up bania for us but only me and Lupus decide to warm up our bones, the rest regret that later on. We get back from bania by the lake, just in our shorts, rubbing ourselves with snow. My nose stopped running and I slept like a dead man. And we’ve got a thursday. We wake up at 8 AM polish time which equals to 11AM here. Today we managed to ride for 300km, and what kilometers they were! All the time 40 to 50 km/h on a twisty byroads. Theoretically you could go faster but who knows what’s behind next corner or a 12% steep hill. One of such hills manages to beat our XT, ridden by Adam this time. It stops in the middle of the hill and won’t budge uphills, no chance. I ride behind him, all I can do is stop, even though I know that I won’t be able to start up from there either. Pastor does the same, no way to pass the others. So we all stop and I yell even though there’s no traffic on the road: - Get on the side of the road quickly, if something appears on the opposite lane it’s going to sweep us away. But try to get to the side when there is no roadside, just waist high snow. Adam turns back his motorcycle to ride down – Pastor thinks he cannot make it and tries to catch him with his cow – eventually we all end up in the ditch full of snow and laugh our asses of. We struggle to get on the road and after a while we get to a “town” – two stores, couple of houses. We do our everyday shopping and we start a makeshift kitchen by the store immediately. Best method to keep your food from getting frozen – eat it right away. After the meal we continue further, to get to Kiem the same day.

- 17C is not a problem for us


Russsian border.

now time for dinner - I will back tooday.

laszek13 screwed with this post 05-21-2012 at 11:22 PM
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:26 AM   #7
laszek13 OP
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In Kostomuksza we must reparate starter.

you want some fisch ?

In Yura garrage - here we stay for a night.

Route M-16

ARCTIC CIRCLE in February - Yessss.

this you can have for 20$ per head.

Dear wive.....

next morning outside we have -26C - we like it

XT have small problems with frozen carburator.

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Old 04-21-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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soo hot tooday

In Murmansk.

We are leaving Murmansk for one day...

and we go too Zapoljarnyj city

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Old 04-21-2012, 10:56 AM   #9
VanIsland Rider
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Awesome adventure, great pics and video. Thanks!!
"perfect is the enemy of good"

2004 R1200GS (yes there really is such a bike)
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:04 AM   #10
laszek13 OP
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It's not finisch - will be more pictures.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:40 AM   #11
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Zapoljarnyj - city Mordor.

this almost end of the world - but even here is MC klub and we will sleep in their garrage

Mr. prezydent - what are you doing here ?

after over 60 years in lake valwe still works.


so beutyfull things in place like this

now we can go back to Murmansk.

atomic icebreaker Lenin

in Russia everything must be big

this is part of submarine KURSK

our sign - first in winter

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Old 04-21-2012, 12:25 PM   #12
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here wi will stay for a night


11 sluice of White Sea canal - no entrance.

but not for us

Anton's flat

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Old 04-21-2012, 12:28 PM   #13
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mightymatt43 - piszesz po polsku ?
może masz wolne moce przerobowe na przekład mojej relacji z wyjazdu ??
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:49 AM   #14
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this is absolutely epic. i would imagine that it was not very comfortable to ride in those conditions but well done. brave souls!

niesamowita podróż i fotografia!
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:34 AM   #15
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WOW, What an amazing place and ride
Geoff in the Desert
1983 XJ900R, 2000 XJR1300SP, 2013 KLR650
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