The Eastern Trail Nirvana - BE to Central Asia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by OldManJoris, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    Ernest Shackleton is attributed as saying - Through endurance we conquer. Is this who you were referring to?

    I like another of his sayings - difficulties are just things to overcome.
    #81
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  2. Runswithscizzors

    Runswithscizzors Been here awhile

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    Outstanding!

    "Joris, the old enemy of humanity, disappears again with his machine in the forest and xplores the trails in the surroundings."

    Took good, sir, too good!
    #82
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  3. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Sir Ernest Shackleton, aka "The Boss", aka "The greatest leader that ever came on God's earth, bar none". Belgian beer is yours MrKiwi!
    Another saying, which I have printed at the wall in my office: "Optimism is true moral courage". Like that one a lot, as the one you mentioned.
    I've spent lots of time learning about his methodologies for crisis management, which are still used today in large corporations (NASA for example). Helped me a lot, although Ben probably got annoyed with me constantly firing quotes and speeches in his direction :D
    #83
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  4. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Haha yeah. Google sure managed to give that a hilarious twist. Probably my wife would agree with the translation.. :rofl
    #84
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  5. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    D38: June13 - 200Km - Kazakhstan6 - Trail porn

    We didn't get disturbed by anybody or anything that night. I've seen many reports where riders are searching for freedom. While that's not my goal (it's just about having fun), I do believe riding and camping here can feel like total freedom. When we woke up, there was again only silence.

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    We did take caution not to step onto a scorpion or big spider that could potentially have snuck into our boots during the night. Safety first! :-D

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    And broke up camp and left, after a simple breakfast without coffee (water management).

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    (this is one of my favorite pics)

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    Perhaps a funny note about water management..
    Ben is a paramedic, he knows his stuff about body functions. To check our internal systems and how our water consumption was, we made sure to describe colour and viscosity of our water waste at every rest stop, so he could judge if our water consumption was good. After a while, I understood well enough and was now and then happily shouting the correct description of my piss at him, while taking a leak (which only happened once or twice a day). It must have been a funny sight, just a shame there wasn't anyone around to see or record.. Aaaanyway back to the report

    It didn't take long before we had to fill up the tanks with the reserve stock. Ben lost his Fuel Friend Canister 2-3 weeks earlier. The only canister we could find was a heavy metal reservoir. Not ideal, but it did the job

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    The metal funnel was made from the Primus windscreen. We had to make sure not to loose a drop (there was some wind), which is not super easy with this rear tank filler.

    I also had to fill up a bit later, after 460Km on a full 21L tank.

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    Again, just another nice day of riding, life was good :-)

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    The surface type didn't change too much, except for the amount of Fesh-Fesh which was now present in abundance..

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    I have to admit, Fesh-Fesh is a struggle… you just never really know what to expect. The way to ride it is the same as deep sand. Give some extra throttle, keep power constant or slightly climbing, shift your weight to the back, keep control with legs and hope for the best.. That works as a charm, but as the hours passed by, my focus was getting less and less. Bosoi was getting close and I noticed my anxiety was slowly fading away. That's when it's starting to get dangerous :-).
    And yes, on the last 10 meters Fesh-Fesh i lost control completely. The bike went from left to right and threw me off, made a 180 flip in the air and landed on my lower leg with a Mosko pannier.

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    Ben was already some kilometers ahead of me (you have to keep distance to avoid riding in the dust) so he didn't see me pinned under the bike, face in the sand. The knee did hurt a bit, as my foot was bent 90 degree. Slowly, very slowly, i started to dig myself free and managed to kick the bike of my boot (huray for lighter bikes!).
    I'm using the Forma Dominator boots for some years now. They aren't waterproof (no MX boot is waterproof) but very stiff and highly protective. In this case, they saved my ankle and the trip. If I had my other boots (normal allroad adv boots) it would have been another story.
    I could continue and found Ben right before Bosoi. We passed a horse or camel skeleton and he figured i was taking my time to make pictures :-). Not really man, i was just in the mood to eat some sand and test the flexibility of my knees :D. It was all good, we could laugh about it :lol3

    We saw horses again, which means Part 1 was finished and we were back among people.

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    Happy to learn the fuel dude had fuel. He gave us thumbs up for coming in from that direction, apparently not many people take that road. Nice bloke, he was also the owner of a hostel, mostly used by truckers who provide supplies to the town.

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    8USD in total. This place had approx. 20 beds, a kitchen and bathroom with bathtub, lounge and Sat TV. We were the only guests. Beer was available in the store. Good times :drink.

    Bosoi is mainly a worker town, for the huge Gas Turbine station nearby. Most of the food comes in over a road leading to the North East. We would not ride that one next day, but would continue East through the old Aral Sea bed for another dose of sand.
    Time to stock up (water, cola, beer, apples(!)), rest a bit and get ready for last day. That would bring an unexpected encounter again, as we would be featured in a Kazakh NatGeo documentary somewhere in the middle of nowhere..
    Had we known that in advance, we might have shaved..
    #85
  6. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Finally after 3 days I get caught up. Great pictures and narration. Thanks for sharing.
    #86
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  7. Runswithscizzors

    Runswithscizzors Been here awhile

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    This is one of the best rides I've read in a while.
    #87
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  8. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Thanks from another "Old" man :)
    #88
  9. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    That's a bit too much, but thanks anyway :D
    #89
  10. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    D39: June14 - 400Km - Kazakhstan7 - Sand, Sand, Sand and … NatGeo

    The last section would be another 370Km, if we didn't have to revert on our tracks. That's a long day ahead and we were getting tired. The weather forecast was not in our favor, as this would be the hottest day so far. My crash the day before was still fresh in my mind and we knew this day would be tricky to stay focussed and to not make stupid and costly mistakes.

    We tried to have an early start and strapped our kit to the bikes in good moods

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    Ben has a crazy amount of straps to deal with, to make sure his luggage stays rock solid on the bike. As of this day, he would be known as "Strapman" (with the Batman theme song of course). He was getting an expert in this, and managed to get his Magadan kit super solid on the bike in less than 5 minutes. It's a good piece of kit, but that's already known.

    And off we go, into the playground!

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    We had our GPS set for a couple waypoints, were there should be some ships in the sand. I found them on sat images but alas!... It wasn't meant to be. We stumbled into some dudes taking care of horses

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    And they explained us that locals cut them up last year for scrap metal. Only one remained, but the access road was flooded.

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    It didn't look like a difficult route, but we had a time pressure with the distance to cover and uncertainty about what lay ahead, so we abbandonded the idea alltogether and carried on.

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    Soon enough, the Aral Sea came into view

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    I had plotted a route along the coastline, but that was a mistake. The trail hasn't been used for some years and was covered in deep fine sand, sometimes a meter high. Doable, but would take too much time and energy in this heat. We reluctantly had to turn back and scout for another trail.

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    Safety first people, safety first!

    While we were searching for the right direction, we bumped into this fine fella

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    And had some funny chats in broken Russian. He was clearly not a big fan of the 650 Dakar (Computer??? NJET!) and loved the old carb fed DR (Aaaahhh Carburator!! Da!!). This dude could ride his Russian machine like a pro! He pointed us in the right direction again, and we tried to make up for the lost time as fast as we could

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    Until we hit proper sand dunes.

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    Where we learned how to NOT ride in the sand..

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    I can guarantee, those were funny times :muutt

    We continued our way in good spirits but were very aware of the heat and the effect it has on our minds. You start to daydream and see things. I was having visions of good food (cool salad, water melon) and seeing stuf like vehicles and flags… wait that's no dream??

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    Another bizarre moment. We bumped into a 4x4. The driver saw us and got on his radio. Suddenly a bunch of Land Cruises drove in from different directions. Some ladies:

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    Jumped out of the car and asked me if they could do an interview. "Sure" I said and in 2 minutes i had a microfone and transmitter in/on my vest and 3 cameras on me, while they fired questions. A hundred pictures, 5 interviews and douzains handshakes later they were happy. They were shooting a documentary for NatGeo and some other TV and youtube channels in the Aral Sea, about historical remnants and other stuff i don't understand. We did get a copy of the broadcast, it looked like this:



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    One of them is working on a mapping project for that whole desert. A few weeks back i gave him my logged route with GPS tagged pictures, which he will gladly accepted. Our efforts were not totally for nothing :-)
    When they left, we rushed on hoping to arrive before the sun went down.

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    But the heat was becoming too much..

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    And that's when mistakes happen.

    We finished the trails close to the evening and were greeted with the "Lada Puthole Tarmac" again. You had to ride slow and keep full focus on the 10 meters in front of your wheel. The very last puthole was a big one, 2-3 meter wide and a meter deep. After I cleared it, I saw a big cloud of dust in my rearview mirror, which had the signature of a crash.. Uh oh..

    When I got back to the scene, Ben was just getting back on his feet. He was ok, well nothing broken or no permanent damage, he would just have all the colours of the rainbow for a couple of days on his side.. But the bike was another story. He missed the puthole so was launched in the air and landed the bike on the front dash. All the steel structure was bent, plastics were cracked, crashbars had a different shape, dashboard was in pieces, etc etc. Even his key was bent to breaking point. He couldn't turn the handlebars anymore as everything was out of shape. But.. He was ok and the bike still ran. We spent a bit of time getting everything to work in such a way that the bike can be driven. This was a huge crash, so it's a tough machine. To give an idea of the force of impact:

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    (the bottle was still usable :D)

    We would still need to finetune everything when we had the chance, but for now we had to keep moving. Spoiler alert: this bike would still ride a long way, including Pamir and Western BAM. Again.. It's a though machine (and rider, that dude is build out of reinforced concrete)
    We limped into Ayteke Bi, found a cheap hotel thanks to a local and had a small celebration with plenty beer. Desert/Steppe crossing was completed with minor difficulties. We felt happy and content, the hardest part was done (euhm… well we tought so..)

    At midnight i had to go back to the bike. June 15th was my 40yr birthday and I carried a gift from the lady back home in my panniers for 40 days, wrapped in colourful paper with an accompanying card. Time to see what was taking that luggage space :-).

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    Perfect! Just in time for a new cooling shirt :lol3. Oh I do love that woman!
    #90
  11. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    As of recently, Ben can proudly call himself an inmate. He's not writing a RR here, but if you like to get in touch with him look for @BensonCrusoe . His blog (including this desert crossing, ferry crossing, BAM, Vitim and more goodies, and still ongoing for many months) can be checked at wheretheheckisben.wordpress.com. It's in German, but Google translate can help.
    #91
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  12. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    How cool to run across the TV crew. Sad about the crash, just pleased that it wasn't any worse
    #92
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  13. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Yeah we were a bit lucky there. Only single crash per person (and a number of drops) but no permanent damage. This place is absolutely not good for speeding or showoff stuff. My GPS logs show a rather slow average speed but it's definitely the right approach (for n00bs like myself :-) )
    #93
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  14. BLucare

    BLucare Ambitious, but rubbish

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    Welcome to the club, @BensonCrusoe!

    And Joris, I would translate Ben's blog, but after seeing what Google translate had to say about you, I wouldn't want to think what it would say about me :lol3
    #94
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  15. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Hah, i actually prefer the Google twists :p.
    #95
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  16. BensonCrusoe

    BensonCrusoe n00b

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    lee
    learned from the pro;)
    Man that translation seems to become very famous...wonder if someone read the full text by the way;)
    #96
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  17. BensonCrusoe

    BensonCrusoe n00b

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    Man.That was actually one of the parts i remember the most.Campsite was legend.Riding was pushing my limits every minute,back than.And I still feel sorry for not noticing your crash old man!
    And yeah you really have to be a paramedic to know what piss color is healthy;)I am trained for a purpose!
    #97
  18. BensonCrusoe

    BensonCrusoe n00b

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    Actually that crash was the only real one in all the 27600km so far.Happy about that.And happy about being a lucky Motherf*****;)
    Still, when I think about this interviews in the desert i have the feeling of strong surreality.But it was real.Kanat,the driver of the first vehicle became a good friend and host when I visited Kasachstan the second time.Still in contact.If anyone needs a good Hostel in Astana-->NOMAD 4x4 Hostel.The Guy is awesome and an overlander by heart.
    I really like to read all that again.Thanks for the work mate!
    #98
  19. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Pretty sure you'll have an audience by now



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    #99
  20. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Cheers bud. Now start working on your reports! Always so slow...


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