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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Martygarrison, Aug 14, 2018.
The next morning it was still raining in Chita and I had 360 miles to reach my next stop Mogocha, a poor railroad town smack in the middle of nowhere. As you leave Chita you ride up a fairly steep ridge line with beautiful views of the river below. It was a view I had been looking forward to capturing on the phone however it was raining hard and I just didn't want to stop right after getting started. As I rode higher out of the city I began to ride into the low laying rain clouds cutting viability to a few hundred yards at most. It was eerie riding, no cars, a stark landscape with no trees covered in clouds.
The clouds lifted and the rain stopped after a couple of hours and the landscaped turned into mountainous forest. The road was good, one of the best I had encountered in Russia. This was because the section of road was just opened by Putin in 2013. I had been warned that gas was only available every 100-200 km's so top off at every station you saw. This got tiresome but I followed the rules. The ride was long, lots of twisting turns crossing ridges and valleys all day long. There were virtually no road works that I can remember so while it was around a 10 hour day it was nothing in comparison to the previous day.
I reached Mogocha in the late afternoon and it was indeed a poor town. It also seemed like few westerners travel here much as I was stared at by many of the locals. I found my boarding house which seemed fine, the landlady was nice and there was a Magazine store next door. For those who are not famililar with a Russian Magazine Store it is a variation of a general store I suppose. When you walk in all the goods are behind an L shape counter and the store clerk sets the items you want on the counter, you pay and then they hand the goods to you. They don't sell any magazines so not sure of the name. I got cleaned up, went to the store and got some water and cup of soups as there were no cafe's in sight.
I went back up to my room and started planning the next days ride when I heard some folks downstairs right where I parked Wanda. Looking out the window there were four men milling around my bike with one messing with the disc lock I had on the rear wheel. I went down and nicely pointed out this was my bike and just tried to engage in some type of conversation. I could not be aggressive in any way. This was their town, there were four of them and I was an American. I tried to wait them out, only they just wouldn't leave. After about 40 minutes of this I needed to rest and eat so I went back upstairs. My plan B was if they stole my bike I would just buy a Trans-Siberian Railway ticket as Mogocha had a station.
About an hour later the landlady knocked on my door waving me to come downstairs. She was trying to tell me that my bike was not safe and it was getting stolen. I got the message. We went downstairs the four guys had brought a van up next to Wanda and it looked like they were going to load her up. The landlady motioned me to get my bike and follow her around the corner. Unbelievably she had a locked garage and waved me in. Yet again the hospitality of the Russians was so thoughtful.
The next days goal was Magdagachi 315 miles to a truck stop that Alex had found. I was supposed to stay with a local motorcycle club but one of Alex's guides had stopped there on the way back from Vladivostok and reported the only services were a sofa and limitless vodka. Neither sounded too good at this point in the ride so Alex found a truck stopped name 777 and booked me a reservation. The ride was much the same as the day before, but at some point started to flatten out. I began to see herds of what I thought were wild horses but may have been just free range. It was hard to tell as sometimes I saw a cowboys tending to some of the herds other times not.
I made the hotel and was in for a rude welcoming. I walked in the hotel door and a lady who was cleaning the floor began to say neyt, neyt to me before I said anything. I tried to understand what was the issue, attempting to use google translate but she was having none of it. She essentially pushed me out the door. Keep in mind there were very few if any other options for me, I was literally in the middle of no where, beat tired. I called Alex (btw Russia has the best cellular service across the entire country). Alex called the lady then called me back to say it was ok now. Evidently I frighten her because I was so dirty. Wow, dirty. I guess I was covered in dirt, bugs and grime but I certainly wasn't expecting this. Oh well the food at the truck stop was good and I had a room.
Final day of the Far East Siberian Taiga 302 miles to Blagoveshchensk on the Russian/Chinese boarder. The topography had flattened out and the riding became easier. I slowly starting seeing a little more civilization as I followed the Zeya River south towards Blagoveshchensk. I arrived in the mid afternoon and just felt such relief. In my mind I had completed the crux of my RTW, had a rest day and only 4 days and 900 miles to Vladivostok. I was pretty dang happy.
This gas station was out of gas so we hung around waiting for a truck to arrive. Wanda was such a conversation starter
That's China across the Amur River
Thanks for the RR, great story.
Magazine in "Russian Magazine Store" just means warehouse.
You for sure have Adventure in this ride/life report!! Thanks!!
My next goal was the city of Khabarovsk around 460 miles away. I would make my way there via Birobidzhan the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast which Stalin setup in the 1920's I believe. At one point the vast majority of the population were Jewish but Stalin's purges post WWII hit the city particularly hard and today Jews make up less than 2% of the population. I spent one night in Birobidzhan a forgettable city actually but I had heard great things about Khabarovsk and was excited about getting there.
The ride from Birobidzhan to Khabarovsk was one the most beautiful days of the whole trip. The scenery looked like it could come right out of Jurassic Park or something. Wide open spaces, mist coming off the tundra which was speckled with trees. Arriving in Khabarovsk the city did not disappoint. It sits on a wide section of the Amur River and is very hilly. It reminded me of San Francisco. I was relaxing now with just over 400 miles to Vladivostok I took a day off and walked around enjoying the sites and also the restaurants.
Khabarovsk, The Amur River is pretty wide at this point
WWII Memorial, they are everywhere across Russia
I had 2 days riding to Vladivostok around 475 miles away. While in Khabarovsk I emailed Yuri Melnikov who I had heard about on Horizons. Yuri is supposed to be the man to see if you want to ship your bike out of Vladivostok. Yuri was very responsive and set up a time for me to drop Wanda off at his warehouse in Vladivostok and then would give me a ride the final few miles to my hotel. No way was I going to ride 475 miles in a day so I spilt the ride in two and spent the first night in the village of Dalnerechensk leaving me about 250 miles for my final day.
True to form the Trans-Siberian Highway wasn't done with me yet. I woke up on my final day to pouring rain which would last the whole of the day. Mother Russia just couldn't let me go easy. I made it to Vladivostok in the mid afternoon, met Yuri, dropped off Wanda, and hitched a ride to my hotel. Just like that my ride was over. It felt really strange, what had been my total focus for the last 2 months was just gone, poof.
I spent the next two days walking around Vladivostok then hopped a flight to Spokane, Washington via Seoul and Seattle. Every year we have a family reunion at the Montana cousins and my older brother was driving up from California. I hitched a ride and spent 3 days at the lake.
I'm back in Washington DC now. It took me a good two weeks to recover physically as well as start sleeping right. I have to fly out to Vancouver in 10 days or so and pick up Wanda when her ship comes in. I'll ride her back to Montana where she will live a life of simi retirement with my cousins (plus she is so well positioned for my next ride up into Alaska!).
Am I glad I did it, yes. Was it fun, most of the time. It gets more fun as time passes. It was very hard for me. The mileage per day required in Russia on a 250 really wore me out and there were times when I swore I would just sell both my bikes when I got home and quit riding. However after resting up I'm really looking forward to picking up Wanda and riding to the Rockies. Total mileage 12,663 miles, 73 days including rest days. Thanks all!
Ride was just over and Wanda left in a shipping container. E-07's have 10k miles!
Thanks for taking us along!
These photos stand out. Virtually no one around. Is this normal?
Not sure, never been there before. It was raining most of the day.
Great RR. Thanks. Looks like an awesome place
That was more than awesome.......it was super awesome..
Awesome ride report. I have a Crf250l and riding her around the world is a dream of mine. I have young kids and I’m 50, but you showed me I have time still! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much, appreciate you sharing your thoughts and great pics!!
Really appreciate your bringing us along...I have to say, I have been riding motorcycles over 4 decades and am still trying to formulate whether or not I have the fortitude for a ride like this. Your report should spur many more of us on. The fact that you knew what you wanted to do, bought a bike, took a MSF course and then rode Russia makes you a DUDE in the annals of ADV. Well done!
Congrats and thanks for the report.
Thanks for writing up your adventure. It looks like you had the full range:
Beauty, awe, despair, hardship, weather and discovery.
Amazing, marty, just amazing. Thanks for the journey.
great report, thanks
Brilliant RR, thanks
Thanks for that. Well done.