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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Dec 14, 2009.
two words: Un. Real. :huh
I've got to figure out a way to get to Russia...
So really cool you guys took a perfect stranger under your wing and helped him (Joon) out so nicely!! That is true Advriding at it's best
Glad he made it to GB safely!!
I'll keep on reading this great RR!!!
I'm in. Love the report. I have always been interested in Russia, the people seem great and the culture...........waiting for more, thanks
Amazing stuff. Keep it coming.
Tony woke us at 9am. The local bikers had returned as promised with 1.5 litres of hydraulic fluid … and a cameraman from the local paper. With so much fluid Tony decided to drain the other fork and replace the oil in both forks. Terry and I went out and bought some fruit from the market. We probably havent eaten enough fruit and veg on the Sibirsky Extreme Project to date.
Here's a last look at the Vanino Port:
By 11:30 all was packed and we hit the road back towards Lidoga and then onto Komsomolsk. We knew the road conditions well - the first 80km from Vanino was asphalt, and had a petrol station at the end of that 80 km stretch. Then the dirt started. Down into big valleys and up the other side. It was very easy on the eyes and the only drag was getting the dust from behind trucks.
Every 20 km or so I would slow down and make sure everyone was still with us. 20 km before the half way cafe, and the boys were not behind me. I retraced 15 km where I found Terry with his second flat front tyre in 2 days.
Terry was pretty slick with flat tyres. He doesn't bother taking the wheel off, and breaks the bead with his hands. Tony and I were impressed. But despite all of that, it still took a total of one hour out of the riding from flat to all packed and ready to roll again.
After that hour delay I was keen to push on and get a drink at the half way cafe. I was attempting to catapult myself past a slowish car while on a wooden bridge and things went horribly wrong.
Traction on the wooden bridge was very different to the gravel. It was much slipperier. The back wheel lost traction on the wood while I was accellerating hard in 3rd gear and flicking the bike to one side to overtake the car as the bridge was ending. The bike fishtailed wildly from one side to another as I transitioned from the slippery wood to grippier gravel and it felt like I was riding a bucking bronco. After the first kick or two I realised I was going to lose it, and it was going to be a bad fall.
I went down on rough gravel at about 60-70 km/h. To my own surprise, I was able to pick myself up straight away and signal to Terry that I was down. The bike was facing backwards, and had a small oil leak from the generator cover. Sliding on the gravel had punctured the engine housing slightly. I looked myself over. My right arm ached around the elbow. The cordura outer of my jacket had been worn through at the elbow, but the inner protection layer had done its job. Similarly the motocross gloves I was wearing had worn thru but only just. I had nothing to show for it but an aching arm and some very light scratching on my right wrist and elbow.
Terry took out some epoxy metal putty and patched up my engine housing while I went back to the bridge and cleaned myself up in the cold stream. 20 minutes after the fall and we were all back on the way to the cafe.
I find myself checking this thread almost hourly waiting for the updates. It is rare to find a gem of a story like this on this site. I would do anything to be on this ride with you guys.
After lunch, the throbbing arm was throbbing more. The elbow had swollen up like a balloon and it was hard gettng it inside the jacket. I told the guys I wont be taking the jacket off again today!.
We continued on towards Lidoga as a lesser pace, more like a sedate 80 km/h (50mph) rather than the 100 - 115 (65-75 mph) we had been doing. The bikes, and now we ourselves, were taking a pounding on the road. But the Vanino road had not finished with us yet !
As we approached the 60km asphalt section at the Lidoga end of the road, the last 20 km of dirt was the roughest of the road. We slowed right down to take this rugged potholed stretch. Terry had been concerned he needs to make his bike last all the way back to England so I let him set the pace. Every bump was now felt as pain in my arm as the inflamed flesh was jerked about. We made the end of the dirt and waited for Tony.
We waited … and waited … and waited. After 20 minutes, and with neither of us wanting to go back onto that rough stretch, Tony appeared, riding what appeared to be a BMW Dakar chopper. His back suspension had broken off 7-8 km back. The bike was sitting very low, but the spring was resting roughly on a bit of suspension linkage. The bike was rideable. It was almost 5pm and we still had 250 km to go to Komsomolsk.
All three of us had been in the wars today. It was a straight forward road but the bikes had taken a hammering. As for my fall, I can only assume that there was a bit of overconfidence there. It had been several months since I dropped the bike. And even then never at any sort of speed more than 5-10 km/hr. I had ridden about 10,000 km on the dirt roads of Siberia, aggressively, without a fall and I suspect that played a big part in the overconfidence. Now my arm was smarting. A little more measured riding was in order.
We hit the main road from Khabarovsk to Komsomolsk and I had a chat with Tony while we refuelled and cleaned our boots from mashed grasshoppers. We could turn back to Khabarovsk where we knew bikers and mechanics, but Tony refused to be beaten. He insisted we push on to Komsomolsk as planned. He would lead the way and set the pace, on his Dakar ‘chopper’.
If you think I was kidding about the squished grasshoppers all over the boots, here's a pic of the grille of a car that came to the petrol station just ahead of us. In Siberia, everything is extreme!
As we continued north on the asphalt road, we crossed the 50th parallel. The weather in Vladivostok - Khabarovsk region had been very eastern … hot and muggy, but the further north we went, the dryer the air became. Tony was powering on at 100km/h, broken suspension and all, slowing only when he saw bumps that his badly wounded suspension might not handle.
Around 8:30pm we reached the Amur bridge, just south of Komsomolsk. The river narrowed between some headlands here and was only about 2km wide. It had been up to 10km wide for much of the time we were tracking it. I stopped to take a picture while Tony and Terry continued on.
As I started to take off again, a local biker rode up beside me and flagged me down. This was perfect. We knew no-one in Komsomolsk, and no idea where to get Tony’s shock repaired or replaced.
Vadim was the biker and I very quickly ascertained from him in Russian that there were bikers and a good mechanic or two in Komsomolsk. We continued across the bridge and met up with Tony and Terry on the other side. Vadim took a look at Tony’s rear end and got straight on the phone.
Then he hung up the phone, looked at the three of us, smiled, and said in English ‘follow me - 10 kilometres to bikers’.
Fifteen minutes later we were in a garage in downtown Komsomolsk, and Tony’s bike was being stripped down by Kostya, a young mechanic. The guys insisted on getting his suspension out tonight!
By 11pm Tony’s bike had the suspension out, Terry’s and my bikes were also safely parked in Yegor’s garage (Yegor and his wife Oksana were the senior motorcycle folk in Komsomolsk) and we were all back at Yegor and Oksana’s flat with a bunch of other bikers being feed dinner!
What a remarkably hospitable end to a very tough day for the three of us.
what and awsome adventure. am enjoying every post & pic of yours.
PS. Do you think a vegetarian (eggs are OK, but no meat) could survive in these places, if we ever garnered enough time n money to get there and ride ?
Wow, what a great ride.
Here is the cast so far ...
Vadim who found our sorry asses back at the Amur River Bridge:
Kostya, the young mechanic who at 9:30 at night insisted on stripping Tony's suspension out so they could look at it and work out what could be done:
Yegor and Oksana, the senior couple in the Komsomolsk biking scene. It was Yegor's workshop that housed our bikes, and Yegor and Oksana's apartment that housed us:
And lets not forget ... Tony's Dakar Chopper!
Colebatch, I hope that I will not do wrong by showing these pictures here
Way Vanino - Komsomolsk, when there was no asphalt. Big truck driver swerved off the road
i keep checking this thread like a monkey hitting a button to receive his food pellet. suddenly all my 'adventures' seem like a child riding his bigwheel around the block.
The history of motorcycling on the BAM road is a very short one. So far, as you will have seen from the posts, Vanino to Komsomolsk is pretty straight forward. In fact by making it to Komsomolsk that evening, we had done over 500 of the 4300km BAM in just one day. ... over 10% already done!
But this is deceiving. This region, the Dalny Vostok or "Far East", is well populated and included the likes of Komsomolsk, a city of over 250,000 people. Khabarovsk, 400km south has 800,000 people, so it not surprising that here in the Dalny Vostok the roads are pretty good, mostly asphalt, and all maintained. The "unknown" starts after Komsomolsk. From here, the next city is Bratsk, 3500 km (2200 miles) down the road. There are only 3 other towns of any substance in that distance, Tynda, Severobaikalsk and Ust Kut, all with 30-50,000 people. Most other settlements are railway villages with less than 1000 inhabitants. Once we left Komsomolsk, we would be in the boonies. Not just normal boonies, but Siberian boonies.
Apart from maps, the only other information I had came from the GPS notes of the only other people to head inland from Komsomolsk on motorcycles.
A pair of Poles on Africa Twins came to explore the BAM Road in 2008 from Vanino. Thanks to connections in the Polish motorcycling underworld, I had managed to get a copy of the Poles' GPS notes and waypoints, where they had marked things like water crossings etc, and I had uploaded them to my Garmin. Sadly I dont read Polish, but I got the jist of most of the notes - Polish is not that different from Russian (but with crazy spelling!!). The Poles had made it as far as Isa just before Fevralsk before turning back to the Trans-Siberian Highway. We were hoping to match that and then go further.
So who were these mad Poles?
Well one of them is Robert "Movistar" here in this thread. And the other was Robert "Izi" (R.I.P. my friend)
And why the hell were they on 257 kg Africa Twins for a road like this???
Well i did say they were mad Poles!
Robert's post on here came too late for me. I was already in Uzbekistan when he posted up his trip, but the trip is here:
The BAM stuff is the 2nd half of the 2nd page.
And check back over previous pages again - further photos and comments are added.
Robert, you my friend have licence to post whatever you like on this BAM thread.
Really appreciate the 'senior adventure scene' you got going there, with fellow riders not born yesterday. I hope to be able to pull off something like this myself - "when I'm sixty-four" :)
Colebatch Thank you! I will not write much, your post. My English is tragic. Great to read how your trip was. What were your problems and a battle with nature and the road. Motorcycle underground? You have contact? I did not know that there is in Poland.
Africa Twin and BAM, it's a stupid idea. The motorcycle is heavy, you must raise. BAM from Tynda Severobaykalsk to know. We thought that there would be a good Africa Twin. Our friend has traveled this route 4WD. We had a map. The plan was such that flow from Kamachatka to Vladivostok and Tans Siberian Highway to Tynda and already BAM. After two days on board the captain said that they do not sail to Vladivostok (the change of plans), on Sakhalin Island and sailed later Vanino. And as we were in Vanino, the east part of the BAM. Only we did not know that there will be horror...
And, Я думаю, что нам нужно, чтобы пить водку.