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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Oct 18, 2012.
To answer Jaarno's other question.
I use "Dirtbagz" panniers so although they're abrasion resistant they're not waterproof and after a minute or two's submersion will start to let water through so you could easily end up with soaked clothes.. A real slap in the face at the end of a long wet cold day.
I just use a good quality plastic carrier bag inside the pannier.
This year's was a "Next" carrier. It's of course got handles ( that's why its a "carrier ) so when you want your gear out at the end of the day you just haul it out of the pannier and throw it in your tent. Bingo! your gear's still dry. Cheaper carriers just fall apart, Ortliebs get punctured too!
This one lasted all of the trip without splitting.
Suffering from cheese-brain as I've kind of lost the order here guys and not sure which day Bas and Linda baled -this day or the next but they'll chime in to assist I'm sure.We packed quite a lot into the days so forgive me.
Terry and myself needed spares for the bikes to do servicing work and Terry was going to change his tyres. I'd also had no mirror since the day of The Deluge in The Woods, way back before I went up to Barnaul with a dead bike.
We'd pre-ordered some new tyres and they'd been shipped out to the Moto place in Irkutsk.
It's a strange phenomenon in Russia...all the disciplines tend to be located together, so all the moto shops tend to grouped around the same area or industrial estate/whatever. Maybe it has its roots in the old Soviet system and just hasn't evolved out of that form yet?
Anyway. We went to the moto repair shop, found Walter's bike- it looked like it had dropped out of an aicraft-and not much seemed to be happening to repair it. The shop round the corner had the tyres we'd pre-ordered. With my new plan I wanted to fit some 90/10s ( Trailwings, Tourances) as Ii'd be almost exclusively on the slab.
They hadn't a pair of anything suitable and after considerable poking about and pulling tyres off the racks Bas and myself looked harder at the rubber on my bike and surmised it'd probs make it to Moscow where I could take a view with the situation pertinent and better range of tyres available there.
Similarly the chain-I'd only adjusted it a couple of flats thus far so maye it'd get me to Moscow?
I bought a mirror, Terry and myself bought oil-we had filters-and then we went to drop Bas and Linda's bikes off at the shippers.
They were in the office quite a while ( Bas will I'm sure report) and we pillioned them back to Nina's.
I don't get stressed very easily, but standing there with these guys around us, all my alarm bells went off. I have a pretty good gut feeling and now it was screaming: "Get the hell out of Dodge". In addition to the guys in the car we had one player in a half long black leather coat. Nagging us about if we had much money, what the bikes were worth, where we were going etc.. An old man came over to us and said: "Danger. Mafia"
So far on the trip we'd met some other members of the local teamsters. Older and more wise. They were all impressed with our plans of going to Magadan on a "mototsikl". They thought it was cool. In Tolyatti the head honcho even ordered the local MC boss to help us. The morning we left, Andrey the MC boss came to us with a list of towns, names and phone numbers. We were told to call the appropriate number 50 k's before each town. Then someone would meet us and assist us. When Andrey gave me the list he looked at me and said:" You are safe until Novosibirsk. Do you prefer blonds or brunettes?" The thought of two each crossed my simple mind But I explained I was happily married. Andrey answered: "I accept, but I don't understand"
Andrey in the middle between Erik and I
Now back to our new friends in the Nissan with bad intentions
Our bikes were all packed solid with mud. Radiator, around the front sprocket, all over. We figured we were safe in the town as long as it was daylight and decided to get the bikes cleaned. We needed the horses well fed and in good shape for the getaway. We found a local car wash and managed to hose of the bikes there. As we did this the Nissan had followed us and two more cars had arrived. Lots of pointing, discussion and sleazy smiles. Then two cars left out of town. The only way out of town. There was about a 100 k's stretch between Chunskiy and Tayshet with not much people. Not hard to find a suitable place to stop us with no witnesses. This looked like it was getting serious.
We figured that they wouldn't stop us to close to town. If we'd head out we could easy outrun the Nissan. Then head into the woods and disappear. Wait the whole thing out. We now had food and gas. We started slowly driving away from the car wash towards the town exit. Nissan behind us. Then we crossed the bridge that is the border of the town and opened up. The Nissan got smaller and smaller in our rear view mirrors. After a few k's it was gone. Then we headed right of the main road and onto a small dirt track. Did a kilometer in and stopped the bikes. Helmets off and listened Nothing heard. We were now at DEFCON 3. Increased readiness. Being an old soldier, old habits die hard. A good soldier sleeps and eats when he can. We immediately started making some food and got that down our necks. After ten minutes the shoulders started to get below ear level. DEFCON 4. Then we heard a car coming in our direction. "Fhat the Wuck".
This is it, I thought. Last man standing. DEFCON 2. We'll make them work for it. We would stay calm and defensive, but if things would go pear shaped we'd charge in. I didn't hear her sing, but I definitively heard the fat lady hum in the background
Around a small bend in the dirt road an old white Lada appeared. One guy up front. He saw us and stopped. Rolled down the window and gobbled off in Russian. Now, before the trip I've had a Russian course on my iPhone for a year. Normally I could understand quite a bit. Now it was just gobble to me. The guy shook his head, rolled up the window, turned around and took of.
BUSTED. We were found and it was time to leave. We got our shit together and saddled up. Just as we cranked up the engines the white Lada came back. DEFCON 1. All out nuclear war. This was it. I would end my days in a shit town in Siberia. I did send a last thought to the wife and kids, got of the bike and got ready. In my peripheral vision I saw my compadres do the same. I expected to see the Nissan right behind the Lada.
The Lada came to a halt before us. I didn't focus on the Lada. I was focused on the dirt track behind, but no Nissan turned up. Then I heard a female voice: "You come with us. Safe. Come. Safe island." I bent down and looked into the car. The guy now had a woman by his side.
I said: "What???"
She repeated: "Come with us. Safe. You must come. Safe island."
Then she said: " I Mariya, husband Sergey. Come with us and stay."
I was in no mood to stay with anyone, but had a closer look at the two persons inside the car. Husband and wife. They both smiled and had good eyes.
I said: " Sergey, you mafia?"
Sergey smiled and said: "I old Lada, mafia big auto. I no mafia." Then he laughed.
We had a quick council of war and decided we should trust the couple. Mariya told us to follow. We got on the bikes and off we went. We did some backroads and ended up in a small village. Then we headed through a gate and was inside a fenced in property. Their safe island. Sergey opened the garage and told us to put the bikes inside.
"You safe now", he said.
Out of nowhere these two beautiful people came and saw we were up to our necks in shait. They reached out and gave a hand. They were not rich people. Sergey was working as a lumberjack and Mariya was a night guard. They had a son aged 13 named Nikita. They invited us into their home. Fired up the banja and fed us. Invited us to sleep the night and told us tomorrow all would be OK.
Angels from Siberia
I will forever be grateful to these amazing human beings. When it was needed the most they where there for us.
Its coming to that time, when my companions of the last few extremely eventful weeks are about to depart.
I know walters on his way back ,hopefully fully rejuvenated,but Bas,Linda and Rod have been really great company and i will be sad to see them leave.
We,ve been through a lot of" ups and downs" and not all on the back of a bongo i,m glad to say.!( thanks Rod for sharing the experience with the whole world,..... you,ll be receiving an" official" thankyou in the post)
When things were,t going quite to plan in Aktash, Bas Linda and me took off for a few days ,exploring the Altai. I really didn,t know how we would get along, with me being the lone wolf, but they couldn,t have been more friendly and inviting, with Bas always ready to help out when the riding got a bit too technical for me.:eek1, even though at one time i thought he was going to end up as dinner for a rather hungry looking four legged creature.:eek1.:eek1
Linda was always up for a laugh and a really great rider,there was one particular river crossing though, where instead of standing there laughing , i should have run over and helped out.,Linda ,please accept my official apologies !
I really needed a few days r&r,and to sort a few issues out on my bike and to decide which way to head... I must have been a bad b.....d in my former life though,cause a txt from Walter came through after one day, to expect 4 norwegian riders that evening.....little did i know what the future held...
I'd lost some of the dashboard settings on my GPS and so whilst we were back in Nina's I was chatting to Terry and poked and pratted about trying to get them back on without success. Bugger!
I asked Terry if he knew how to get them back on and he said...."Dunno mate, I've got a Zumo but lets have a look-they surely can't be that much different"
I agreed and passed it over, he took a turn poking and pratting without success, until he pressed the wrong response to a challenge/response question and it wiped the settings. Bollocks! :eek1
He apologised , but of course he;d been trying to help so it didn't matter - I wouldn't get pregnant or die a s a result. .
We did a bit more P & P-ing and reset it so it'd work. Sorted...or was it?
We serviced the bikes up, changed Terry's chain etc.
I was leaving in the morning and although I had the GPS I wanted a reference point so I could visualise where I am, towns near to me on the trip-all the stuff you'd have on a map. If push came to shove and the GPS packed in I could stick to the main arteries and get home.
In the UK you can buy a national road atlas in just about any gas/petrol station-in Russia they sell....gas-that's it.
I tried all the kiosks in Irkutsk ( a nice town BTW-I really liked it) and I was offered train maps, local maps, walking tourist maps. .No joy.
In the end I went to a book shop and tried to explain what I wanted to the shop assistant ...a roadmap of Russia. "Ahhhh.......Atlas!" quoth she. . hee haw!...of course!
I got the book and went back to Ninas, Terry and myself sat down and he showed me the route he'd previously taken on a similar ride-he gets around, Mrs Brown's lad.
Tomorrow I hit the road and another , and different adventure starts.
Funny how when you're right up against it, the inherent decency of most people steps in to save you.
We're taught to live with a siege mentality, that our kids are going to be stolen, that everyone's out to rip us off and the world is full of bad guys and danger- it suits the politicians and vested interstests to keep us thinking like that. We're then easier to manipulate.
Whilst you'd certainly drawn a short straw with these mafia types scanning you, it's absolutely the exception-not the rule, but thank God for these guys who saw it and stepped in.
Chapter 3 is already off to a flying start now that The Wild Bunch are on the way to pick up the baton Go Guys!
Whole heartily agree with this sentiment - we are about 9 months on the road now and haven't run into any trouble and only felt unsafe (probably more unwelcome) in a handful of places, only one of those was in the developing world, the others in the US. In Russia never and we walked the streets very late at night on more than one occasion. For the most part Russians are very decent, probably better than many westerners. I remember Walter saying to me that in Russia you can knock on someones door at 9 o'clock at night, not speak the language and get all the help you need.
Rod , Ciedema very well said... totally agree, we are mislead by design, so our masters can put us at each other throat at the word to microphone (media). Being able to get all the help from total strangers is a part of "eastern hospitality" which goes by saying "when the guest comes home, it brings the God home"(my very loose translation ;-)
Love the RR!!! Sorry to see you going home Pr & Beam... you were that icing on the cake! Thanks a lot for your efforts of bringing us closer to the core of the story "na zdrowie!"
Thank you mr C for bringing us along. Really enjoyed your input - always bringing an interesting view and a sense of humor.
Looking forward to the solo slab report ?
Thanks a lot guys for the answers! Appreciate it.
Yes, I also believe you have said piss on tab in those bars on your island
The few hours we had with the Butonovas was like balm for the soul. They didn’t know what good they could do for us. They gave us insight to their lives. Quite different from the way we live in Norway. They shared what little they had. I am afraid to say you would not find that at home. We have everything in the world and it is not enough.
What makes me a bit sad is the future of Nikita. He is a great kid with great parents, but what will his future be in Lesogorsk. The future there is pretty grim. All the forests had been sold to the chinese. Work had dissapeared and the wages had gone down. Alcohol consumption and crime rate had risen. Looking at the hooligans in the Nissan, is this his future? They had respect from people because they were armed and dangerous. This is the place where Nikita has to grow up.
In Russia the hospitality is amazing. Most people will go out of their way in order to help you. They don’t expect anything in return. As a matter of fact, if you offer payment it is considered an insult. Then you put their hospitality in doubt.
When we left the Butonovs we put our heads together in order to come up with something we could give in return and not insult their hospitality. We gathered some money and put it in a folded piece of paper which we all signed and put our greetings on. Inside was a note where we had written that the money was for Nikita. We gave the paper to Mariya and told her that we really appreciated their hospitality and that we respected the Russian tradition. Then I asked her to respect our Norwagian tradition and not open the piece of paper until after we were gone. She promised to do that.
The whole family folowed us out of town and showed us where we should drive to get back to Tayshet. The goodbye was very emotional. Nikita bursted into tears and headed for the car. It was all strange. We had only been with these great people for a few hours, but still it felt as though they were lifelong friends. Now back in Norway we are working on a plan to help Nikita get the education he deserves.
We drove to Tayshet with no major drama. Idiots in Nissans do not have the patience it takes In Tayshet we stopped for food and discussed the road ahead of us and what to do. On the way in towards the BAM we had stopped at a great little place called Peoples Bar in Tayshet. The owner was a nice girl in her late twenties who spoke good english. We stopped again on the way out.
We needed to think this through properly. There were lots of warnings about doing the BAM. Lots of warnings about criminals and what not. Long story short. We headed back to Krasnoyarsk. We had friends there and a place to stay.
We looked at the different options. As it was now, BAM did not look good. Magadan was far away. We were still pretty shook up by the drama in Chunskiy. After a day of thought we decided to do Mongolia for a month. Roam around on our bikes. None of us had visas. Closest town to get them was Irkutsk. We bid farewell with our friends in Krasnoyarsk and set course for Irkutsk. It was a two day drive.
From a local biker in Krasnoyarsk we were advised of a great and cheap hotel just before Alzamay. They had good food and clean nice rooms. It was on the right side of the road. We headed south east. Full of new spirit. Mongolia it would be. Maybe a day or three to get visas. Within the week we would be in Mongolia.
Inside of me something felt wrong though. I had been planning BAM and ROB for two years. I was pretty pissed of that some idiots had ruined the plan. In the movie «Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man», Mickey Rourke as Harley says: «It is better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool.» I felt pretty uncool at the moment, but I had a wife and three kids back home. Still breathing, but uncool.
If the writings as good as this, Chapter 3 is going to be knockout.
I'll chime in with my report of the trip over Russia but it's not going to compare. Can't wait.
Got similiar experience with local mafia in south Ukraine, 5 years ago. Luckily enough we were in large group of I believe 12 bikes... Still they followed us though the town and we made planned escape in the evening to the next town. But good people are everywhere. Good you found them... or they found you...
'Norwegian' part of this RR starts well :)
I have just one question - would it be nice to present some short bio of the riders ? Just like Walter did at the beginning of the RR ? and Bas & Linda did the same when they entered this RR ? Would be really nice I think...
You just upped this RR game big time. What narrative!
My humble wish is that this story never ends. And maybe it doesn't have to, in our minds.
yes.... but I havent met the Norwegians yet in the story.
I will do an intro of them when I do meet them :) ... when they join the Sibirsky Extreme ride (like I did for Rod, Beamster and Prutser way back on page 50).
Patience grasshopper. For now its kinda just a parallel story
From the guy making the Bootie Call
Will do, good sir !
A man is not a camel !
He can not go 40 days without water
Where is the report and fantastic pictures of the Bootie Call?