The Eastern Trail Nirvana - BE to Central Asia

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

  1. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    Ben's Borat impersonation looks perfect for crossing the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan :imaposer

    I sure hope he didn't bring a mankini to go with that mustache :lol3
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  2. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Yeah that was very welcome. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan are all great for riding, but you start to miss the green grass a lot.
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  3. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Haha he sure did not. That guy is one of the textbook examples of "a real man!".... except for this moustache experiment perhaps. Yeah Ben, you know it was a mistake hehe.
  4. Runswithscizzors

    Runswithscizzors Been here awhile

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    Great to see how this ride progressed. That pic of you fixing the tube is classic......
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  5. BLucare

    BLucare Ambitious, but rubbish

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    There's a German-to-English Google translation for that face :-) something about "old enemy of humanity," I think.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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  6. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Thanks. Well yeah... i blame my worthless tire dance. Must have done the wrong moves...
  7. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    D56: July1 - 280Km - Kyrgyzstan5 - Son-Kul and fuel challenge

    Camping is cool, way more fun than hostels. You just need to be sure you have a good stock of fuel, water, food and other items to have a guaranteed super experience. For one item, we failed to stock up correctly..

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    Well, there's vegetation now, so always something around to wipe whatever needs to be wiped.
    And we roll again

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    That valley was absolutely enjoyable. When that was completed, we were supposed to take a right to Ak-Tal for fuel, as we had already 300km. Unfortunately there's a bridge to cross, but the bridge was broken.. The diversion was approx 100km, which is ok for distance, but not for time.

    Back in Osh, we had a look at timing and devised a rough schedule to make sure Ben could reach Russia in time, and allowing us to have a proper farewell party with steak. Loosing half a day was not on that schedule..
    And so we made the unwise decision to continue to the lake and try to reach our planned destination by being easy on fuel consumption. I still don't know what I was thinking back then.. That's just bad planning.

    We continued left to Son-Kul, and 30min later Ben already needed his spare fuel.

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    The road up to the lake is an easy beauty again (sometimes that's fun)

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    On top of the last pass we met this guy (Polish I think)

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    Who was freaking out immensely. He just started his trip and drove around Son'Kul, telling us horror stories of mud, pain and struggle. Well… we didn't go in detail, but the mud wasn't the problem.. When he almost cried out in distress when we mentioned the bridge to fuel was out, we felt it was time to leave…

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    Son'Kul is a lake with many Yurts on the shore. Beautiful place to visit, without a doubt. For some reason unclear, it wasn't catching on for us, and we decided to take a less common trail to the North-West in search of fuel. That road was again nice and easy, without traffic.

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    Fuel was found at the bottom of the valley. Ben had used all spare, and I just hit reserve after 415km. Not bad

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    It was decision time. Do we try to squeeze out as much trails as possible, or head for Bishkek (my end station) in relax mode?
    Well Kyrgyzstan was nice and cool. I was hoping to explore some more trails there, but didn't felt the need anymore. My tubes were still an issue, and we both hoped for a nice relax goodbye. Many other items contributed to the decision to skip the planned routes and find a nice road to Bishkek. That meant for the last time: Plan set, now execute!

    We had beer and wanted to have a last perfect camping spot. That's something very easy there in Kyrgyzstan, you just have to look around for 5 minutes and try to decide which one is best.

    Is this ok?
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    Yeah works for me
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    Another night to remember, without going into details.
    Next stop: Bishkek. Not without a last challenge though, as Nikita has special plans in mind.
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  8. BLucare

    BLucare Ambitious, but rubbish

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    That really was a perfect last camping spot! WOW. Unreal :thumb
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  9. C5dad

    C5dad Man on the Run!

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    Cannot wait for the next episode! This has been a wonderful ride report!
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  10. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    You asked for it, see below
  11. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    D57: July2 - 250Km - Kyrgyzstan6 - Gravel, Dust & Dead Sheep

    This would be the last riding day. That thought kept crawling through my mind the whole night. When you're on this kind of trip, you obviously don't want it to end, but there was no way around it. There's a golden girl waiting at home, it had to end.

    The night was full of talks around the campfire, with plenty of beer, causing frequent excursions at night for pitstop.

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    No need to rush in the morning, i was determined to enjoy the last wild camp as much as possible.

    Our stash of coffee and cereal just lasted long enough for the trip
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    Before we left, i had a romantic moment with my friend Rocket, thanking him for good behavior.

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    And he thanked me back by stalling himself on the first slope out of the campspot… :muutt
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    Ok ok.. That was my bad. Mental distress, not paying attention and screwing up the gears like a total n00b.
    And we continued

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    After some time, the valley opened up and we saw some locals having the time of their life with a dead goat (that might have sounded gross…).

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    That was some spectacle right there. Proper olympic sport! These horses looked like finely tuned machines, extremely healthy and muscled. The riders were not going easy at all, crashing into each others horses and using the wip extensively on each other.
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/kok-boru-the-horse-game-yo…/

    Very cool, now let's continue. Last stretch of gravel

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    And then tarmac.

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    Last selfie (looking oh so happy there)

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    And moving on to cross the last mountain pass before we reach the hot flats close to Kazakhstan.
    At the top of the pass we had to go through a tunnel and screwed that up a bit.

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    This one is like Anzob in past years. Crap surface, almost no lights and no ventilation. What we didn't see, was the red light at the entrance (see picture). This is a one way tunnel as it's too narrow for 2 trucks to pass. We just entered, and were greeted with a bunch of massive trucks coming from opposite direction. Very interesting indeed… At the other side, the last section of twisty road

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    And then it was time for straight tarmac roads, loads of traffic, immense heat

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    Traffic jams, speed checks, billboards, dying engines…
    Eh? Yeah Nikita had a last challenge for us in mind. When we were stuck in traffic, she would just die. No alarms or anything, just dead. Starting her up again was ok, but keeping it running was something else.
    Symptoms: Bike dies at idle. Ben noticed the voltage on the dash mounted meter was below optimal. He had to "reset" the bike to get it running again. And it was very hot there, getting close to 40C. That could only be electrical.
    When he was stuck in traffic, the bike idled so low output from alternator. His aftermarket cooling fan was running the whole time (low speed, hot day) so took extra wattage. The general output from the alternator was too low, and the BMW ECU just quit causing the bike to stop, hence the need to reset the bike. Well that's sweet, another thing to fix :). This could be regulator or stator.

    We were very close to the finish line now and agreed to push on and find a fix the next day. Priorities… today was steak day!!!
    Without many problems (just getting nuts in busy Bishkek) we reached the hotel which is used as drop off / pickup point for overlander bikes

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    The truck in the back just delivered a fresh load of motorbikes. Some had crazy plans..
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    Lots of bikes there, but we had to place to ourselves. The hotel owners were a great bunch of guys. 3 former Sovjet army guys with a heart of gold. They welcomed us with open arms, and their first action was giving us a liter of cold high octane beer per person. Best welcome EVER!

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    One of them (Deniyar) was very interested in our stories. We would just sit there for hours, drink beer and chat away. He was extremely interested in my Rocket bike (Salut Kamerad!) and wanted to discuss a price. Funny conversation, but no my friend, this bike won't ever be sold, period!
    On his recommendation, we walked into the city following the old heating pipes

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    And found……. STEAK!!!!

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    We both went totally nuts there. Lots of reflection, too much to drink, way too much to eat and with a struggling stomach and liver we called it a day.

    My riding was over, which sucked big time. Ben would still have another year of riding ahead of him, so we would focus on getting his bike ready for that (the upcoming stator challenge) and get my bike prepped for transport. 2 more days (posts) to go..

    For those who wondered: I booked transport homewards with the company ADVFactory, ran by Sambor (Krzyszstof Samborski). He provides transport service from/to many locations in Central Asia, Russia, Europe (Iceland) and Latin America, all for reasonable cost. My experience with the company is 100% positive and i'll use them again. Check his website advfactory.com if you need more info.
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  12. BLucare

    BLucare Ambitious, but rubbish

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    STEAK! :tb

    About the heating pipes: What's up with that? Avoiding loads of traffic and people that way?

    And hey, @BensonCrusoe, best of luck on your continuing journey :ricky
  13. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Haha, it's something from the old Soviet times, where cities or villages were equipped with "District Heating" systems. There's hot steam (or other energy) running through the pipes. I didn't ask for details on how it was done in Bishkek, but the general setup is that energy (heat) is produced in central location and transported into the city for various use. That can be heating a house, or providing hot running water, or other uses. This is more environment friendly (if done correctly) than having a water heating system or burner at every house or building. It's not really specific to Communist organization (the government provides) as it goes back to the Roman empire. Pompey had a similar system, until their central heating system went up a notch or two :hmmmmm.
    There were no signs on these pipes to tell me what it was. I poured some liquid on the concrete shell and it sizzled and evaporated immediately, so it was definitely for ... hot stuff :D
  14. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    D58: July3 - 0Km - Kyrgyzstan7 - Prep work and bike check

    Relax mode had set in, all pressure was gone. We started our day with shopping for Ben's journey continuation. He had to cross Kazakhstan again from South to North, to enter Russia. I booked a flight to Belgium on July the 5th, via Istanbul for reasonable cost so that box was ticked.

    The problem with Ben's bike was a troublesome topic. Alternator or rectifier would be the source of the problem, for which there was no immediate solution at hand (no spares). Using a voltmeter, we went to work.
    We started the bike, disconnected the stator from rectifier and let it run on battery. With the voltmeter on AC, we measured the phases and immediately understood the stator was not in good condition. I know I have pictures of the readout, but can't find them anymore.. Anyway, we saw 2-3V AC on idle, which should be ten times more.

    Our hotel owning friend was witnessing our efforts and we all three concluded this needed attention asap. The bike won't be able to run much longer, considering he has ride through the 40C flats of KZ.
    Almaty was close, so Ben decided he would leave early next day to make use of the morning coolness, and find replacement part in Almaty. Cool, plan was set.

    Something new snapped in his headlight and we took out the JB Weld one last time to fix that. His bike had more epoxy than plastics lately…

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    All luggage was re-arranged. He was a heavy user of my tools, zipties, grease and ductape, so that went from my bike to his. Two days ago, his Coleman stove decided to die on him, so we swapped stoves. Anything he could use was added to his kit, he would send it back to me when his mission was completed.

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    On my bike, there was little to do.. Washing clothes and prep for transport.

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    Which means:
    The top bag had my camping gear. That went into the side bags and freshly washed clothes in the topbag (which is also a backpack) with toiletries. That bag would be my check-in luggage. All electronics (batteries, cams, drone, gps, inreach, hard drives, ..) would go in the camelback as carry-on luggage. Riding pants, boots, helmet is strapped on the bike. This whole kit would go on the truck as it was, no need to crate it or anything.
    Any spare liquid (oil, fuel) went to Nikita

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    I also did a full check on Rocket, my trusty companion. What was the damage for 2 months rough riding?
    • The bolts on the triple tree holding the risers came loose. Not really damage, just needed a twist.
    • A rear blinker had snapped, but still worked. My fault, when I had the Mosko kit set too much to the rear
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    • The rear chain guide snapped off, which is not a huge issue. This only happened two days ago and was sort of expected, as it's a piece of plastic.
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    • On the Mosko kit, there were two small holes in the top bag. My fault, as I over filled it a couple times. They still work and are still waterproof. No complaints.
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    • 5 flat tubes..
    And believe or not, that's it :). Everything still works as intended, not a crack in any part of the frame. This bike did a super job, with all the flaws it has. I couldn't wish for a better setup, but have to stress that this bike is by no means perfect in all conditions, it just is for this trip with my expectations.
    There are other bikes with more power (which I don't need), more safety features (no desire for it), 6th gear (ok, willing to discuss that), comfort on highway (which is definitely true, but I don't need that), wind protection (nope), etc etc. If I would ride through Europe, the Americas, Nordics, … I would probably take something else. Horses and courses, to each their own, I stick with my rocket.

    Ben that day received a message from one of the guys we met in Kazakhstan with a reference to the interview he gave. For those of you that speak Russian:
    https://tengrinews.kz/travel/kladbische-korabley-lvinaya-gora-novyie-obyektyi-ekspeditsii-320581/

    Bit boring post, but luckily I found another picture of the last campsite. Just to beef it up a bit

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    :)

    And that was it basically. Later that day we went out again in super relax mode, celebrating the last evening (we thought). The stator gods had something else in mind for us, and there would be another day full off encounters, challenges and fixes.

    Bear with me for 2 more posts, almost done.
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  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    It's got water. All Soviet apartment blocks are supplied with not only cold water by the utility company but with hot water as well. There are usually two circuits, one for central heating and one for hot shower / tap water. Power plants are designed to use heat exchangers to take waste heat out of the hot steam turbines and use it to heat the cities water. In that way, the power plants don't just supply energy in the form of electricity but also energy in the form of hot water for the city, which arrives at pressure in every apartment building. When you consider that Soviet cities are not made of houses, but mostly of huge apartment blocks with hundreds of apartments in each block, it actually makes a fair bit of sense. It would not work in the US or Canada with low density housing, one residence per building.

    In the bigger richer cities, the pipes are well insulated and buried underground (usually under the main roads along with the cold water pipes). But in places like Bishkek that are a little more cash strapped than Moscow they run the pipes above ground and insulation has fallen off and not been replaced

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  16. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Very interesting, thanks for clarifying.
    Hot water makes way more sense than steam indeed :-). Must have been boiling hot, as the water poured on the pipes (i just threw some on it from a bottle) instantly evaporated.

    I was wondering about the concrete shell around the pipes. Would that have been the original insulation or for other purposes?
  17. C5dad

    C5dad Man on the Run!

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    The insulation is wrapped in a concrete like material similar to a cast. The hot water is usually under pressure so the temperature is above 100C/212F depending if the buildings had a mixing station to blend with cool water for domestic use. Super heated water was used for heating and hot water needs in many applications and carries much more energy than steam due to the density differences. OK, enough thermodynamics.

    Joris - thanks for sharing this RR! I am enjoying it and its helping with my future plans for conquering the world by motorcycle!
  18. BLucare

    BLucare Ambitious, but rubbish

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    So, Joris: when are you coming over to tour America? :wave:ricky
  19. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Man, thanks a bunch for the info. Again, very interesting.

    happy to serve! Good luck with the planning
  20. OldManJoris

    OldManJoris Rider

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    Never say never, but no plans in foreseeable future. I've been to America many times already, unfortunately for work. We'll see, but most likely any plan in the future will be East or South from Europe.
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