I had a good sleep in, in my hotel in Ulan Ude. I had only a short ride today. Asphalt .. 450 km to Irkutsk ... along the shores of Lake Baikal. But the bike had a list of things I needed to get done to it. From alloy welding the front of the bike up, to new tyres, brake pads, new chain, new rear indicators (I damaged them in my fall near Olgiy), oil change, oil filter, head bearings, a long list of missing bolts etc. The bike was really needing a rest and a lot of replacements after the thrashing I gave it across Mongolia. Irkutsk was the end of Stage 2 of the trail. I had to have the bike prepared for Stage 3, the run from Irkutsk to Magadan, via the Western half of the BAM and the Road of Bones. I would be away from the bike in Moscow for a week. I needed to get to Irkutsk early enough to discuss all of this at the bike shop there. I needed it to be ready when I flew back to meet Terry in Irkutsk. Terry was still in Mongolia. They had no wifi or phone coverage there so I didnt even know where they were now, or how they were going. I left Ulan Ude and grabbed breakfast on the road. It was a pleasant enough cruise into Irkutsk. I stopped for lunch and fuel and arrived at the bike shop in Irkutsk about 3:30 pm after a scenic but uneventful 6 hours on the road. I spoke to the mechanic there ... and told him the bike was his for a week. I wrote him out the list of things that needed to be sorted. He nodded. The list was long. A few things were starting to break and to fail. For the first 10,000 off road km the bike had been fine. Just the cracked front subframe before Kazakhstan. Everything else was just routine maintenance. Now, 2000 km further, the bike, which has had years of improvement put into it, was starting to suffer. Nothing was fundamentally weak. Nothing was failing for the wrong reasons. It was because the stress of SO MUCH off road, aggressively ridden, day in day out, was taking its toll. Its not like I dont know how to prepare a bike for this sort of trip. I have probably prepared and ridden more bikes for more tough adventure bike trips than almost anyone. Each time I do it, the bikes are better ... faster ... tougher. I thought back to my flying days and the failsafe engineering that goes into aircraft. It doesnt matter how well you build an aircraft - or how overengineered it is - the airframe can only take so much before it has to be pensioned off. And it occurred to me that maybe asking a bike, any bike, to do something as demanding as this trip, this Sibirsky Extreme Trail, from start to finish, at the speeds you need to go at to finish it on schedule, was possibly asking more out of the bike than its possible to put into a bike. After 2010, when I rode from Magadan to Holland with zero problems with the bike, nothing that needed to be fixed and just 2 bolts and a fuel tank cap that needed to be replaced (after Mongolia ironically) that I thought the bike was bulletproof. But that trip was only 8500 km (5300 miles) off road. The rest was asphalt. This trip was 18,000 km off road. Certainly for the first 8,500 - even 10,000 km of offroad, the bike remained bulletproof. But now that I was up to 12,000 km off road, the difference was beginning to show. It occurred to me that there is a limit. Maybe at this pace, you can not get more than 10,000 km of offroad in before you start to run into issues. Thats when I began to wonder .... is this trail the toughest test you can reasonably put an adventure bike through? Maybe I had even gone too far this time. Maybe this much off road is too much (without rebuilding the bike). I wanted to talk to Terry. His bike had been through the same as mine this trip. I needed to get a better feel from him how his bike was doing. But he was in the middle of nowhere. I would have to chat with him when we met up again in Irkutsk. I unpacked the gear I would need for a week in Moscow and called a cab, jumped in and headed off to Nina's place - my refuge in Irkutsk. I had to wake up at 5am the next day for the flight to Moscow. I had made it,. Another mad rush through Mongolia. I dont know why, but everytime I seem to be in Mongolia I have mad time restrictions and need to ride across the country as if I am in a rally race. In 2010 it was because I had to get a flight to Holland for my son's birthday. In 2009 it was because it was late September and the snows had set in , but I had a 4 day window of warm weather in which to race across the country. I dont mind it. I love riding flat out in that terrain. But I had taken great pains this year to put together a spanking good track ... and I was missing it. The KTMs mechanical issues has squeezed our planned time in Mongolia by a week. Thats the breaks. I was hoping like hell that the other 4 were getting great pics. (I see now that they did ) Anyway. I was in Irkutsk, and my work was done ... for now. Tomorrow - Moscow !