The BAM Road - ultimate test of man and machine

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

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  2. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Some of these towns have mobile coverage ... its cheaper for the government to subsidise a mobile phone antenna in town that to connect everyone up to landlines. Usually internet access is available in Russia through the mobile networks. So any village that has mobile phone access will have internet via GPRS and a mobile phone.

    The only landlines in Gerbi and most BAM villages belong to the railways, and in Russia, the Railways have their own phone network ... so there are actually two separate fixed line networks in Russia, the normal one, and the railways one. In BAM villages, there is only the railways phone network and so thats why the government subsidise mobile phone operators to set up an antenna in many of them. From memory, there was (when we were there) no mobile phone coverage in Gerbi.

    Igor worked for the railways, (actually in these villages, most people worked for the railways - the villages only exist as railways support villages), and he was their IT guy as Tony mentioned above. So he had internet via the Railways fixed line network.
  3. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Nope ... no clue who they are. Sorry
  4. Jeff@TheQuadShop

    Jeff@TheQuadShop TAT survivor

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    Incredible!!!
  5. Jeff@TheQuadShop

    Jeff@TheQuadShop TAT survivor

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    :thwak
  6. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

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    Hi Colebatch,

    At the risk of sounding premature how did Terry's XT660r cope? I only ask because I have one and am wondering whether to up the spec for a long trip. If this topic is covered later on then I am more than happy to wait whilst being entertained by your escapades. Back to you, sir.

    Cheers,

    Dickyb
  7. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Igor and Noi had woken before us and fixed breakfast, including some delicious Thai fried rice. The riding gear was slowly drying in the morning sun.

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    The villager who we had met yesterday and who had told us about the Poles dropped by to see if we wanted a lift across the river in his truck. There was a big river crossing just outside of town and apparently the Poles had gone across it on the railway bridge according to this chap. We shouldnt need to do that as the water levels were lower now than then, but he was headed that way anyway so told us he would see us at the river.

    We said our farewells to Igor and Noi and hit the road. Sure enough, 2km out of town was a wide river ... but not too deep. I crossed it in 3 parts, the latter part the deepest. Terry and Tony had crossed the first 2 sections when the guy with he truck pulled up and offered to ferry them over the last deeper bit. Terry's thought process was that we can do it ourselves if we need to but if help is being offered, then we should take it, and so Terry and Tony were ferried across the last 3rd of the river.
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    The road was in bad shape, continuing on in the same form as late yesterday but with a full water crossing every 5 km or so. Progress was slow as we were constantly stopping and wading through thigh deep streams and rivers.

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    About 2:15pm we came across the first settlement of the day, a logging operation with a few houses around it. Closer inspection revealed all the people in the settlement to be oriental. As we were looking for a shop to buy some soft drink or lunch, I pulled up in front of a building decorated with a red banner and asked where a shop was. 8km down the road was the reply in heavily accented Russian. As I prepared to leave I noted the red banner was decorated with Korean writing. This was a North Korean logging community.

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    The Russians seem to have granted a few logging concessions to the Chinese and North Koreans ... effectively supplying timber to China and North Korea without having to do the harvesting and sawmilling themselves.

    Sure enough 8km down the road we got to the town of Suluk, where we did refresh ourselves with ice-cream and soft drink.

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    But we had a long way to go and were back on the road by 3:15pm. Fuel was at Novy Urgal, about 130 km down the road. At the speed we were going that could be 4-5 hours or more. But fortune smiled upon us, and the road from Suluk to Novy Urgal was a good one, a graded road. This was good for 80-90 km/h (50-55 mph).

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    We relished the chance to ride with more speed and got to Novy Urgal and refuelled by 5pm - the last 15 km was asphalt - pretty bad asphalt, but asphalt never-the-less.

    We found the sole cafe in town and sat down for a hot lunch/dinner. Terry liked his escalope so much he ordered the same again. Over dinner we discussed options. It would be 6:30pm by the time we hit the road, and there was no-where to go. No proper towns and no hotels until Fevralsk. Even camping enthusiast Terry was now also of the mindset that camping in Siberia is a last resort only. And so we decided to stay the night in Novy Urgal.

    The town has about 7000 people and is the largest town we have seen since Komsomolsk. It has one hotel. We found it and asked for rooms, but alas, the hotel was being renovated and was not taking guests. We had 2 options ... ride 30km off our route to Chegdomyn where there was a hotel, or try the railway station, where they have a couple of rooms.

    We tried the railway station, and found they would have a triple room free in an hours time. Done!. In the meantime we headed off to find a store to stock up on beers for the night, and paid a visit to the town's statue of Lenin.

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    It would be a balmy sticky night and with no ventilation in the tiny triple room, sleep would prove elusive for all of us.
  8. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    I believe you are doing more for Eastern Russia tourism than any "Ministry of Tourism" ever could...
  9. Oh2RideMore

    Oh2RideMore Long timer

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    Vstrom?
  10. I Z I

    I Z I n00b

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    Two Vstrom :)
  11. Robert Movistar

    Robert Movistar Adventurer

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    Yes Colebatch, when the river was deep, is riding a bridge. If the plate is riding river. The only car that was on our way BAM is KRAZ 6WD. This was too Etyrkien. But he went in another direction.

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    Great pictures!


    Siema IZI, tylko nie pisz ile piliśmy. Dotychczas robiłem dobre wrażenie:freaky
  12. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Dobre wrazenie przeszlo. Zreszta zawsze byly pewne watpliwosci czy trasa mogla byc planowana na trzezwo... Ale wciaz jestesmy pelni podziwu, wiec nie gra roli.

    Impressive story & pix - both you and Colebatch! Wonderful!
    :bow
  13. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    Walter and Tony, amazing pix, can't wait to see the rest! Am leaving town soon for the holidays, hope to see you both soon!
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  14. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    No V-stroms anywhere near these roads chaps. Robert met them on the Trans Siberian highway (note in the photo the lovely smooth asphalt road!).

    Robert took this BAM road as far as Fevralsk ... after that he had to cut back and take the main Trans-Siberian Highway home as he was out of time on his Russian visa. Thats where he met those guys.

    You can do the Trans Siberian Highway on a Goldwing if you want! (and people have). But the BAM Road is a very different proposition from the Trans Siberian!
  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    An early start was called for and delivered via my alarm. We packed up in front of the railway station building and prepared to leave when I was approached by a curious guy asking where we were going. We got asked this 100 times a day so I didnt pay too much attention to it. We had planned to get to Fevralsk today and he apparently lived in a town about half way there, called Etyrken.

    We went back to the cafe from last evening, where the food had been very good, but it didnt open until 11am. It was 9:15 now. We asked around and the only place we could get any prepared food was the hospital store, which sold the likes of piroshki and tea (Russian fast food). So we went there, for a disappointing breakfast, but we needed something solid in the stomachs to power us thru what would probably be a tough day. It had rained last night for the first time since we had been on the road and the weather was not looking much better this morning. It was heavily overcast.

    There were quite a few Polish GPS notes for this section (implying a problem area) and it seemed the weather too was not going to be as kind to us as it had been in recent days.

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    By 9:40 we were on the road. The first 50 km was a breeze. Graded gravel road. We passed the village of Alonka by 10:30 and I set my sights on Etyrken for lunch. It was another 90km down the road. But as soon as we passed Alonka the road deteriorated again. Unlike earlier stretches, this section had very recently had rain - the last few hours. This road was water hole city! We were carving s-shaped tracks in 1st and 2nd gear to try and get around the puddles.

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    The puddles became deeper and larger and more frequent - every 5-10 metres. Streams ran down the middle of the track. In many places, the road bed of logs was visible. There were holes in the road where streams ran below the road - when I say holes I mean holes a foot or two across in the middle of the road that went thru the roadbed to a stream a couple of metres below.

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    It was challenging riding and required full concentration. The first river crossing came up soon after we had passed the first vehicle of the day, a large 4WD GAZ truck. 10 minutes later, we arrived at the river crossing, pondering our options, and then the truck caught us up. We asked for and received a lift over the river. Always with these truck rides, the main issue is to find some sort of loading site, a ramp high enough to push the bikes onto the back of the truck. First I went over, then the other two bikes. It was the only other vehicle we had seen all day and the only one we would see for many more hours ... and it had come along just after we arrived at a river crossing. It was very lucky timing. We offered the guys payment for the lift, but they just laughed and waved it away.

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    Here our man tells us how high the river will be after a couple of hours ... as rain was on the way!
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    Then the rains came and the already wet track became much wetter. Visibility fell. The BAM Road was tough enough when it was dry. Today we had been introduced to awkward wet roads, and now the heavens were opening above us.

    This BAM Road was now getting tough.
  16. tee bee

    tee bee Been here awhile

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    Real good reading walter and great unseen (by me) photos. If you remember the first night we stayed with yegor and oxanne was even more incredible as it was there 3rd wedding anniversary, thats why the party. We just gatecrashed.

    Real good to hear from robert movistar, 250kg bikes? they were (b!!!!y) crazy.:rofl
  17. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Hello Terry and welcome to the thread. Yes I have been sorting and editing a much wider selection of fotos than i had on the blogsite, for a more comprehensive report on the BAM specifically.
  18. Direktor

    Direktor Been here awhile

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  19. Robert Movistar

    Robert Movistar Adventurer

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    We met them in Magdagachi - Transsiberian Highway. Visas were still valid 1.5 months, only the end of the holiday.
    Colebatch, you have a 100% reason! Way of Moscow - Vladivostok, you can ride Honda CBR 1000R. Only a short stretch of the Chita to Khabarovsk (+ / - 900 km) wide is a typical "Russian way".

    Alonka Station, the road from the water, wrote of her Colebatch
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  20. Robert Movistar

    Robert Movistar Adventurer

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    Weight of the bike when we sent them from Moscov to Kamchatka. Of course, the weight bike with a minimum amount of luggage. The real weight bike with full fuel and luggage at BAM to 265 kg.:gdog
    You can be sure it was not good:pep

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    But the Africa Twin was going perfectly! I love this bike though it is not young!​