Editor’s note: Read Part 1 of John’s epic ride from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to his home in California, USA here. Part 2 can be read here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here and Part 5 here and Part 6 here.

Awesome truck stop.

Russian Truck Stop

Russians have these things dialed in! It started raining and temperature dropped, so I rented 4 hours to eat, rest and suit up. Lovin’ life!

Russian Truck Stop Dorm Bed and Shower – by the Hour

Food is fresh healthy and hearty.

Hearty Lunch

Where the roads are fresh it’s incredible riding. Then you hit construction and it goes to shit! The KLR loves it but I’m mindful not to jump the queue too aggressively. After a few days on this east to west corridor I’m starting to see the same truckers, Big rigs, all different brands than North American.

Steel Mule Faces Russian Truck

Destination is Krasnoyarsk, about 6 more hours to go but the sun won’t set until 9pm so I’m rockin.

Tulun to Krasnoyarsk Map

Tunes are bumpin good, google maps is Spotify friendly. I’d do this Monday all year long!

As a postscript to this day’s midpoint,  it’s interesting the notes you make at the time versus distinct memories. Let me explain – above are the notes and pictures, below are the memories.

I arrived in Tulun one day earlier.  The temperature was 72F.  A cold front went through overnight and the temp – mid day next – was 44F.  Leaving Tulun there were ferocious crosswinds out of the North.  I remember, before loading the bike and setting out for the day, sitting in the room in Tulun, looking out the window at the flags –  straight out  – on Beaufort I figured I was looking at force 5 or 6 – crosswind.  Nevertheless I reached deep into memory 22 years when I drove the U-Haul with the big sailboat over the Rockies. The words of the Canadian welder who modified the U-Haul hitch to take the big ball, he said, “you load that truck with all your tools, benches, motorcycles, and anything else that carries weight, so that when you cross those mountains and high plains you keep the rubber side down.”  I figured the same applies here.  The steel mule was heavy.  Sure the tires are narrow and engine/tank CG is high but no sense sitting here thinking about it…  So I resolved to go.

Well, these Russians have kept this highway open as a nationwide lifeline for decades.  So they know where the prevailing wind comes from.  Thank god for treelines. Poplar, I’m pretty sure, tall, narrow, fine branches so even without leaves they break the wind. Of course there were stretches where the tree line would simply stop and I’d lean in hard.  It was fun after I got the hang of  it.  Remember, this is all opposing traffic, two lane highway so passing trucks is a fact of life.  Just another “wind management” challenge.  So by the time I made it to the truckstop for lunch (highlighted above) I had my nerve back up.  I was in a good place to ride on.

 

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