KTM Gigolo - London to Mumbai

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jason9364, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Life on a KTM Adventure is much like life as a gigolo... I assume... much of the time one ride is much the same as any other.. going through the motions.. nothing special... same old same old... arriving on time ... satisfied but not sated. Sometimes the ride will rock your world.. grab you by every nerve ending you have and shake you hard.. mirror every move you make in perfect synchronicity and take you screaming over the line exhausted and bathed in sweat. Sometimes the ride will be lumpy, loose and uncomfortable.. unpredictable .. painful even.. accompanied by strange noises and unpleasant hot smells.. and sometimes you seriously wonder if you will get to the line without your riding partner expiring underneath you... This is the story of a KTM gigolo.

    It all started so well. Me and one other ride out to Asia, meet a few others for a while then head to a far flung foreign port to ship the bikes home. I've got all the visas.. I've got the carnet .. everything is ready to go. Three days before I leave. I'll just check where the engine number is. I know it will be checked against the carnet. I get down on my hands and knees and take a look..

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    OK then ... I just lay on my back in the garage.. this could be a problem.. I bought the bike off a bloke that had it from new.. how the fuck do I end up with a bike with no engine number.. apart from the obvious. Jesus.. I need a plan...

    On my last trip to Russia I threw the bike down the road ... well ... sand.. and really crumpled and bent the pannier rails. Jesse rails are made from a cheese/chocolate alloy and you only have to fart near them and they bend .. even a small fart will do it. I asked around and found a fabricator in a shed just up the road that builds wings for airliners by night and helps restore old aircraft by day. I got him to copy my pannier rails but in 16mm solid steel bar.

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    Hard as nails... I also had him knock me up a rack to mount my spare tyres and make them easier to carry.

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    So.. Plan A.. call the fabricator with the engine number and dimensions of the area to cover .. he gives me a call with 1 day to go .. "ready". I go and collect them and file the ends round ..

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    Stick it on ..

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    Well ... that looks ... ummmm. Maybe if it was a 1916 Sopwith Pup that would be believable but I don't want some bored border guard with a huge mustache and a sharp pencil telling me to bugger off and refusing me entry, leaving me trying to get the bike back from the middle of bum fuck nowhere..

    12 hours to go... I've got plans B to G but they'd all involve trying to find people to help me on the road .. then I have another thought. I actually know someone with access to an engraver don't I? Yes I do. One phone call and a 20 minute journey and I'm getting some aluminium plates made..

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    That should be enough. I get some liquid metal and stick one of the plates on .. straight on the side of the cylinder .. in plain view.. give it as long as possible to get roughed up.. it will be fine... what could possibly go wrong.

    It's a sunny Sunday and I'm off again. I kiss my wife goodbye.. just like I was going to the shops... I won't speak to her for a while... We have a pact when I'm away. I don't call unless I have added significant shit to a far flung foreign fan. She is happier to believe I'm riding in lovely warm sunshine all day every day on good roads with absolutely no other traffic.. and who am I to tell her otherwise..

    I meet my riding buddy on the M25, go to Folkestone, take the train..

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    This trip is not my usual format. We have a vague plan and we have particular places we need to be at particular times but the rest of the time we will just be winging it... that and I'm taking the kicking in my own pocket this time. I'm keen to run the wallet raping gauntlet of Europe ASAP.. fast forward ... just a blur of tarmac and beds. It's just like re-reading the first chapter of my favorite book ..

    First stop Reims, a beautiful city, but the stop is outside in an industrial area that could be anywhere, the usual collection of anonymous buildings and fast food outlets .. and an instantly forgettable pink hotel....F1 themed .. it's the pits .. next..

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    Berlin .. an Air BnB south of the city. Put the bike in the motorway slot.. pull the trigger .. hold it down

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    Christ traveling through Europe overland is expensive.. all the service stations seem to have gone the way of BMW garages .. splashing loads of cash of expensive chrome and ducting and 'themes' .. and green plastic cows .. then having to charge shit loads to pay for it all.. jesus.. I feel a rant coming on .. I was talking to a bloke in B&Q a while ago about this .. 'read The Age of Absurdity by Michael Foley' .. so I did.. 'Buy more shit or we're all fucked' seems to be the general theme..

    Anyway ..on these trips I have must admit I have a drinking problem.. and the further from home I go.. the worse it gets... "Hello... my name's Jason.. and I'm a Milkaholic". I cannot resist it. Ideally I would take a friendly Friesian with a huge set of udders as a pillion.. that would be perfect... At home I probably drink 3/4 pints a day, maybe more. How many calcium units is that? Whatever it is I certainly qualify as a binge drinker. So whenever I see it .. I buy it .. and never one at a time ..

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    Get to the AirBnB and meet our host Zoltan. Zoltan.. I was expecting a Heinz or Ernst, not Zoltan. Such is the diversity of Europe that Zoltan is from Hungary. He is a mechanical engineer and works in the car industry. We're chatting about engines and I ask him about the shallow pistons on the Ktm.. "Oh... they're good.. but they're not a long term solution" .. that my friend is just exactly what I want to hear as I head off into the wilderness on a bike with an engine of seemingly unknown provenance and mileage.. thanks.

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    Someone has knocked the s off of beds .. its a double. My riding buddy booked it.. ..a bit presumptuous.. this is only our second night together .. oh well.. what happens on tour .. next..

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    I get up and before we set off I have to have a word with my wallet. It's run away and hidden in my socks. It's sitting there quivering in fear and it won't come out. It knows today it's going to be subjected to toll torture and vignette hell and it doesn't want to go. All I can do is promise it will be over soon and that I will treat it a lot more gently in a few days .. just tickle it with pretty foreign currencies .. not stick my fist up its arse and pull huge sums out kicking and screaming the way they do at the toll booths... its not convinced.. it won't come out so I grab the sock and shake it until it pops out and starts running round the room like a mouse dropped from a cat's mouth .. desperately looking for sanctuary.. I feel it's pain ..

    Out of Berlin in the soft morning light and south over the mountains on roads paved with gold .. or at least they should be .. through long tunnels lined with €500 notes down into the beauty of Slovakia and across to small village outside Zagreb.

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    Whatever the flavor.. whatever the price .. it has to me mine.. the true sign of addiction

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    My buddy booked the room tonight .. twin beds .. we must have fallen out .. or I'm not as good as I thought I was ..

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    Croatia is shut today .. national holiday .. fuck .. how am I going to get my milk? I wasn't prepared for this.. maybe I can find a doctor ... get some condensed milk on prescription .. just to take the edge off..

    The woman renting us the room see's I'm in trouble.. she can see me sweating and shaking .. she knows I'm close to an episode .. so she drives to her mum's house and gets me some milky medicine.. it's warm ..possibly body temperature . not the way I like it .. not since I was 2 months old anyway .. but I'm in no position to complain.. phew .. that was close..

    Wake up.. walk out the room .. someone has been in and stuck some adverts on the doors ... looks like milk addiction therapy to me .. something I'd definitely be interested in anyway ..

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    Out and south we go. Croatia is weird country.. all concentrated on the coast it seems.. like Canada is concentrated along the border. Out in the middle there isn't much of anything.. and we're going through the middle.. It's getting hot now.. proper hot..stupid hot.. why the fuck am I wearing leathers hot. Stop just shy of the Bosnia border for some lunch. Time to start introducing random brown slop to my diet and they have just the thing on the menu.

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    Get down to the first border of the trip.. this is going to be a theme for the next few days. Sweating in hot queues of metal, finding your way round a maze of windows.. filling in forms .. the Bosnia border is pretty straight forward though. Insurance is mandatory so go to the nana-in-a-box first and flash some dollars then a quick stamp and on our way towards Sarajevo.

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    It's only day three .. time for a problem by now surely .. do I have to wait until I'm properly in the middle of the desert .. surely the shit and happens brothers are travelling with me.. I'm sure I saw their visas somewhere .. ahhhhh here they are ... that fuck for that ..

    Traffic is crawling as we approach Sarajevo and the Bitch is getting hot. Proper hot. This shouldn't be happening hot. The fan is running constantly but the bars are still going up. Then I just stall it ... just for a laugh .. I choose the biggest busiest junction obviously .. why not .. I'll just press this little button and all will be well .. ok.. I'll just press it again... ooooooooooooooo ... look at all these amber lights ... soooooooo pretty .... The Bitch refuses to start.. and then she starts warning at me that if I press that button one more time she's going to start self harming .. I don't even read the messages .. My mind is already into 'oh fuck' mode and going through getting the bike home from here.. There are a few other warning lights on now too so I just push the bike through the traffic .. only stopping briefly to have an argument with a fat hairy munter that had fallen out of an ugly tree, hit all the branches, then gone up for another 5 goes .. and throw it in the gutter ... its a good job I'm not on the side of a mountain .. it could easily be at the bottom by now ... BITCH.. The trouble is she is possessed by the devil... FACT

    I was having some issues with her when I was preparing for the trip .. I'd had enough .. time to put her out of my misery .. so I took her up the road to an abandoned building... filled the place with petrol ... set fire to it .. came back in the morning and this is what I found..

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    Untouched ... i expected to find some baby dragons in the ashes ... all she wants to do is fuck with my mind ..

    So I give her 10 minutes.. approach her quietly with my head bowed and my hands pressed together and press the starter... success. Warning lights are still on and she's running like a pig but we get down to the hotel and I leave it outside half hoping it will be gone in the morning. Go for a walk round Sarajevo old town... I've been through here before and I really like it. It has history and atmosphere and bullet holes seeping out of the walls.. and beautiful women everywhere you turn.. I spent a lot of time turning .. no pictures though .. I feel like I've definitely gone through the perv age threshold .. from 'daddy' to 'grandad'..

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    Not sure about the food though.. I think this one has come straight from the pavement to the plate ..

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    Get up in the morning and the Bitch is still outside. There are scorch marks on the surrounding pavement where I presume she has torched prospective thieves just to amuse herself in the night .. whatever .. she seems to be back to normal self ... another of her mind fuck tricks .. so we head off out into the countryside towards Serbia.

    Bosnia is a very beautiful country in parts. Lakes and mountains and huge meadows full of wild flowers.. good roads too

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    Stop for coffee ..cake .. and a caress for my helmet ..

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    .. and a caress for my helmet ..

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    Doh .. wrong … picture

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    Out of Bosnia, into Serbia and on towards Belgrade.. just another big collection of concrete and tarmac chaos .. It's proper PROPER hot and we're stopping every 10m for cold drinks .. we stop at a petrol station and I go in to buy some cold coffee .. another one of my addictions .. and always purchased in multiples ..

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    There is a really unusual looking girl behind the counter and I ask her if I can take her picture.. she looks like a cat .. she must have the smallest mouth I've ever seen .. I think one lipstick would last her a lifetime .. she won't have it though .. she just flicks her tail, hisses and scratches her nails down the curtains .. very strange .. lovely coat though ..

    I remember Belgrade as being a wild west style city with out of control traffic and real edgy vibe about it but I think it's got it act together now, tied it shoelaces properly, straightened its tie, sorted out it's behaviour and been for an interview at the EU headmasters office about joining the club... its a real shame.. still I did manage to get over myself for a few minutes and get the tottieometer out ..

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    I'm out hunting for milk.. but I find a motorbike... an old Honda previously owned by a monk .. the current rider used to be friends with the (now) monk and bought it recently as a 'non-runner'.. that hadn't been turned over for the last 20 years. He poured oil down the plug holes and gently teased it back and forth over a few weeks until it was free.. then it just started. He's polished it within an inch of it's life and it sounds lovely... not for me though.. far too reliable..

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    I still managed to get my milk though .. .thanks for asking ..

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    Serbia seems to have nothing of the natural beauty of Bosnia but it's an interesting place none the less. The buildings the Americans bombed back in 1999 are still 'as was' .. sitting as a reminder to behave themselves. We're come to a small town and it's at least 20m since the last drink so we stop in the town square and immediately get invited for a coffee from a man celebrating his birthday. He's in the army and says he remembers riding a scooter down this road and having a cruise missile fly just over his head and hit the base just a couple of 100m from where we're sitting.. lucky he wasn't early for work that day ..

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    I didn’t know Alec Baldwin had a Serbian brother ..

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    Just like all my other addictions .. I like multiples ..

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    I'm hoping to meeting my old mate Brian in Sofia today. Get to the Bulgarian border and it's a car park. I have a real problem at borders overcoming my British gene.. I feel I have to queue.. it's a compulsion.. I just cannot help it. My travel buddy isn't affected by this problem and would happily push in at the front but we agree on a compromise and push in half way.. as the actress said to the bishop ..

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    The Bitch is getting hot again. Yesterday coming into Serbia she was glowing red .. proper pissed.. and she has started loosing coolant now too. This time I pushed her through the border in 37 degrees and full leathers .. I'm sure I could see her smirking ..

    Down to Sofia and another game of spot the difference .. one city merging into the next .. we're moving fast.. eyes on a destination over the horizon..

    Get to the hotel.. knock on the door next to mine and Brian appears. My old mate has been down to Greece and is on his way back. Always good to see him. He never looks a day older .. he's always looked 95 ..

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    Out and heading south.. we're looking for breakfast .. and at last we see signs of leaving Euroland ..

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    That and the fact that MacDonalds don't do breakfast here..

    Stop for fuel and I see a woman who is not exactly hiding the fact that her jumper lumps are straining at their leash .. her nipples are in danger of popping off like champagne corks .. perhaps if I just gently wiggle them between my thumb and finger ..

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    Out of Bulgaria and into Turkey. I'm carrying a drone and I'm not sure it's allowed so I hide it .. somewhere they'll never look .. unless they have a special drone sniffing dog .. I always worry though .. it's like Midnight Express .. are they going to feel my heartbeat .. see the pulse in my neck ... fuck no .. the bloke just remotely inspects them from his chair in the shade .. and we're away..

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    #1
  2. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,190
    Location:
    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    Got milk?
    #2
    Avispao likes this.
  3. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Turkey. I've not spent much time here.. I'm searching for pastures new ... I've still got the mojo no-go feeling .. I need a kick in the eyeballs .. a stiff new scent up the nose .. something to grab my attention.. but right now I just need to stay alive. We get to Istanbul and head for the old city. This place seems to be about 300% over populated .. the thermometer has gone into the comedy zone and my bladder is on lockdown to stop me loosing any more fluid. The Bitch is unhappy again and I don't blame her.. tiny tight streets that it's impossible to filter through.. creeping and crawling ... sweating and swearing through the maze. I don't stall it this time but it's feeling nasty .. like it's running on 3 cylinders .. yes .. I know ... thanks

    The Hotel is right next to the Blue Mosque and the calls to prayer are going out as we arrive... drawing the faithful out from the cool sanctuary of the shadows. We follow the crowd .. follow the call .. follow the sunset ..

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    We walk down to the water and look across the Bosporus .. look at Asia.. look at our future..

    "Shit loads of history round here" .. I'm sure that's how they start all the bus tours.. everyone and his wife has been through here and left something to be remembered by. A nice atmosphere and a real melting pot of people. The only downside is the constant pestering.. the length of my temper is directly opposite to the air temperature. I just give up at the first hurdle .. the first restaurant .. the first place I can find cold liquid and try to replace the 50% of my bodyweight I lost on the way in. The 50% that is currently dipping out of my leathers and making the hotel room smell like a gym changing room..

    This trip is a lot earlier in the year than I would normally go as I need to get back in time for my baby girl's wedding. Consequently its a LOT hotter than usual. I'm happy with the cold. I'm never happier than when I'm covered in goose pimples, my tummy banana has run away and hidden in its cave and my nipples could pierce armour plating. The heat is different, especially as its now pushing 40 degrees. I'd much rather sweat than bleed though so I'll just have to get used to it. I've done it before but it takes a while to get used to it. Milk is the secret. Milk is the secret to everything.. and I can still find it here.. on the black market .. I just have to check it's not camels .. or horse.

    We have a rest day here but the next day is a long one so my buddy buggers off to Ankara to split it in two. I haven't shaved in a week and my whiskers are in danger of getting tangled in the wheels. I've promised myself a shave at a proper Turkish barbers so I hunt one down, dragging my beard along the pavement behind me. These blokes know what they're doing .. I think the average Turk's face is like the Forth Road Bridge .. they have to shave them in teams .. one barber at a time is not enough and they just end up chasing bristles across their face..only to find another wave of stubble where they shaved 2 minutes ago. I'm a one man job though .. an easy job .. he could probably do it with his eyes shut .. perhaps not though .. not this time .. I'm not quite ready to die..

    He spends more time rubbing cream into my face than I usually spend on the whole deal .. this would cost a fortune back at home, I'd have had to sign a dozen wavers, he would be wearing high vis and safely goggles and the walls would be covered in small signs from B&Q with pictures of decapitated bodies and blood .. but out here he just puts in a blade and goes straight for the jugular. My face is super smooth.. it feels like cling film .. almost slippery smooth .. but he's not happy so back out with the cream for round 2 .. and then the wax. I don't think he'll be happy until he sees my skull. Wax all over my ears and under my eyes... then he gets 2 ear buds dips them in the bowl and sticks them up my nose .. JEEEEEEEEESSUS ...

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    For years now my hair follicles have been emigrating from my head and relocating in my nostrils .. so pulling them out involved him putting his feet on my cheeks and yanking with all his strength.. the result.. well I won't scare you by showing you what they looked like .. he just took them into the kitchen and put them in a cup of hot water and gave me this .. maybe they're all made this way ..

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    These 2 were clean shaven when I came in 20 minutes ago ..

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    Next day I go for a walk round the city. A lot of the pleasure of these trips comes from taking pictures. Today it's not working.. you can't force it .. I get really frustrated .. and lost. I like getting lost though. I don't get lost enough.. even though lots of people tell me I should ..

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    Out of Istanbul.. across the bridge .. and into Asia ..

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    and... and nothing .. I'm really surprised how sparsely populated Turkey is .. and blank .. get out the city and just you and the tarmac.. and nothing.. except the wind. Turkey likes it's flags.. the bigger the better.. and the wind enjoys playing with them.

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    No matter how hard I think I cannot remember anything about the ride that day .. nothing .. my mind obviously didn't see anything worth wasting memory on .. not until the sun stated falling and the landscape was brushed with soft yellow light ..

    I was really low on fuel, out on an A road and there was just nothing and nobody about anywhere. I hoped the GPS was lying to me.. or I was going to be walking.. I'm going over a new bridge and I see what looks like an abandoned fuel station off the road with no obvious path to it. I'm not in a position to pass up any opportunity so I get off the road, ride through a small abandoned village and under the bridge .. just follow my nose. Get to the station and there is a light on. Someone appears and looks at me like he hasn't seen a human for weeks. The pump is working though .. the fuel is probably 40 years old .. and leaded .. but who cares.. I go to put my helmet back on but he gestures to me .. would I like a drink? Why not .. I follow him out through a derelict shop to a small kitchen where he makes me some tea.. we go back to the sofas and just sit in silence for 20 minutes watching a film on a grainy TV set.. I think he just wants company.. I think he's the only person for miles around .. its times like this that makes trips for me. Nice tea too ..

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    We shake hands and nod .. smile and wave .. and off into towards the setting sun

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    I'm meeting my mate in Cappadocia, the place with the caves and the balloons. It's well hidden though and you don't see it until you're right on top of it.

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    Looks like a bad case of rock worm to me... Cappadocia though is tourist central as you can imagine. I meet up with my mate and he drags me to his cave .. I like what he's done with the place ..

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    We're taking a day off here to have a ride around the different locations. I've been on the bike 1 minute.. I get to the bottom of the road and turn right.. something felt weird .. something isn't right .. so I stop. I see shit and happens .. or the Fuckall brothers .. running away and falling over themselves laughing .. Oh... brilliant...

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    The day the Ktm designer decided where to put the ignition switch he obviously left his brain in a bin. The switch is in the yolk in front of the bars.. so when you move the bars .. if you've got anything other than a single key in the ignition.. like a keyring for example (what WAS I thinking) with another key on .. then .. if you're luckily enough to be carrying the Fuckall brothers .. things can get wedged like a shove penny machine and just snap the top of the key off .. which is nice. Fuck I've only been away a bloody week .. I CAN start the bike with the stub and some pliers as long as I hold the fob close to the ignition .. I really fancy doing that for the next 6/7 weeks .. out with the spare... when I get hold of shit and happens ..

    So .. off we go .. again .. there are houses built into the rocks, there are houses built right on the tops of rocks, and someone recently discovered a set of underground caves 6 storeys deep too. I went to level 1 and freaked out .. it was like running about in someones bowel.. all dark and tight and smelly.. impressive though

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    We wanted to go up in a balloon but the wind is still blowing hard and looks like it will be for the next few days so we take a Turkish bath instead. You have a quick sauna then you're taken into a big room where a health and safety inspector would run out of ink in 10 seconds flat. The room is about 200 degrees for a start, full of fat blokes in skirts .. singing. That's a health and safety issue right there. In the centre is a raised square area where soap is liberally applied by aforementioned fat hairy singing blokes. The whole place is tiled, it's all sharp square edges, and the it's awash with soap bubbles. It takes all my concentration to walk 2 meters to my allocated fat bloke without my legs going all 'baby giraffe' on me... once you reach the safety of the table you can just relax .. listen to the singing .. look up at the amazing tiled ceiling with the suns rays casting tunnels of bright light through the steam .. and get liberally soaped by a fat bloke .. go on .. you know you want too.. then into a big communal bubbling bath for a while where you can fart with impunity. Lastly you can be beaten and stretched and tortured for an hour by very angry man who has sharpened his elbows on an angle grinder and just loves making people scream. I'd recommend it.

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    Get up and out.. into the blankness. The camera isn't interested.. it's just not worth trying when it's in this mood.. We're heading north to the black sea coast and we've a way to go. Going to take a while. What we really need is a delay.. seems shit and happens are riding with my mate today .. fuck they've been busy ..

    We get stopped by the police at a checkpoint. We're all legal and stuff .. insured .. international licences .. should be absolutely no problem. I'm first .. I'm through .. I look round and the policeman is on the phone .. that's not a good sign. Problem 1 .. someone has entered his plate as a O not a 0. This happens all the time. I have a 1.. and it's often an I on the documents.. Problem 2 is they have his number plate down as a car. Maybe they only saw it from behind .. it's an easy mistake to make .. anyway, this causes mucho problemo..

    About an hour and 50 phone calls to various official offices later, the details have been updated and we're on our way again. Time to get some squiggles on my helmet ..

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    Fuck this is dull... sooo soo soooo dull .. I'm riding with one eye open to save the other from the pain of looking at it .. we get stopped for speeding .. just to relieve the boredom ..

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    You have to have these null days .. you have to have the yin and the yang. I'm a spoiled twat right? Yes I am.. I know I am .. but it doesn't help. We get to a petrol station.. running late. There are a load of old men sitting having a chat and a fag. One of them speaks really good English. He's a dentist and specialises in teeth tourists. We've been looking at the map and decided we have time to skip into Armenia but there are no border crossings from Turkey. I ask him why ... he talks a big intake of breath and off he goes .. full rant .. I wish I'd taken more notice in history lessons .. then I'd have kept my mouth shut. 10 minutes later .. I wish I'd never asked ... 30 minutes later .. I really really really wish I had been born without any ears ..

    By the time we get to the coast its getting dark. The town we're at is built on a 60% angle.. I think it was originally built on the level then tilted .. all the roads are at hideous lean angles, regardless of their direction. Come to a turning and the left peg is nearly touching the road, but put your right foot down and you'll be lucky to touch tarmac. Scares the shit out of me.

    I'm feeling really restless and I don't know what I want. I get like this sometimes on these trips .. just passing the days .. head in a spin .. like an addict looking for a fix .. and Turkey isn't doing it for me.

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    Follow the coast road east. I've no doubt I've not seen the best of Turkey but I'll really not miss it. Just time for a few more squiggles and we're out

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    Get into Georgia and it's immediately a different world.. and a much better one. The second we're through we're set on by the hawkers.. insurance .. yes .. you .. random bloke .. yep .. I'll just hand you my passport and V5 and some dollars and you can disappear into a random hole somewhere round the corner and sort it out for me while I sit in the shade and drink. You .. you look trustworthy .. change this funny money into your funny money will you .. I should really check it .. but my bothered-ometer just isn't working in this heat. Luckily my documents come back to me 15 minutes later together with some pink paper covered in writing I don't understand. Perfect.

    We get up the coast a bit and stop at the first beach for lunch.

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    And I take a quick dip in the Black Sea to cool off .. ahhhhhhhhhhhhh .that's better..

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    One of my riding buddies mates has recommended a route across the south of Georgia towards Armenia so we head into the mountains to Khulo looking for some relief from the heat. Take the a nice twisty road up to Khulo and look for a bed. The place is dead but we're still told the hotels are full. It has quite an unfriendly atmosphere about it.. strange stares and quiet when we walk past .. but I like that. Gives some of my 6th, 7th and 8th senses some exercise.. we end up down the road out of town in hostel perched on the mountainside.

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    Take a wander about and look for something to eat. Go into a shop that looks like the last delivery was sometime in 1940.

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    The only place we could find with stuff not past it's sell by date was the off licence

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    We're off to Armenia.. the road up to Khulo was as good as advertised .. I'm looking forward to more. The second we leave the town the road turns to proper shit and stays that way for the next 2 hours. Very steep and very loose .. like my bowels. It's Georgia FFS, what did I expect. Still, nice views when I can take my eyes off the road.

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    By the time we get to tarmac the bikes are really tired .. time for a little lie down ..

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    Get into town and go for breakfast and the feeling is the same as in Khulo.. but if you persist long enough you'll get a smile .. sort of ..

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    We're heading for the Armenia border. Looks like there are 3 to choose from, but we go for the closest. The road is up. We perch on a thin strip of tarmac as we try to go against the trucks.. the BMW gets its bum fondled by a trailer and nearly goes over the edge ...

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    Get up to the Armenia border. Is it open? We were prepared for queues but we're the only ones here. Not another bugger in sight. Go in and bang on a window.. wake up the guard.. get a sleepy stamp in my passport then go for some insurance. They're all sat around eating their dinner. I rub my stomach .. 2 hands pop out through the glass .. one has my insurance .. the other has a sandwich.. that's a first:)

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    We're headed down to Yerevan, one of the worlds continuously inhabited cities .. bet you didn't know that.. I didn't .. We're only just a few minutes inside, always the most dangerous time, and we're pulled for speeding. The locals are living in poverty with fences made from crashed cars but the police can still afford radar and video. It's a nice clip to be fair .. some good fast overtaking .. I wonder if I could buy it off him for my blog .. he starts by showing us the chart of the fines and we're at the top. This is where he would usually smile and get his buddy to sit in the back so I could put the money in the slot and we could be on our way .. usually..

    This bloke is different.. he really wants the money. I wasn't expecting that. He's getting quite wound up about it .. and me offering him £20 hasn't helped. We haven't got any more cash so he phones up someone at headquarters and get an earful. We're threatened with the removal of our driving licences until we pay .. we need to respect the law .. even though there are locals driving past us with their feet to the floor and smoke pouring out the back like a challenger tank. We go to plan B, just go quiet. He's really pissed though and starts shouting down the phone and getting all red in the face. His little mate has to take over before he explodes. We explain that this is all the money we have, and we're leaving tomorrow, and eventually they take the £20 I offered him in the first place .. and get no ticket .. WTF was that all about .. proper good cop bad cop ..

    First big town and it's been proper pissing down. The roads are awash. There are huge 6ft x 4ft open metal grills in the road taking the floodwater, and bikes if you're not careful or you approach them at the wrong angle. Where is that health and safety bloke .. . I'm pulling away from some lights and a huge dog comes running out from the side of the road. It's times like this that can finish the trip in an instant. It's not just playing, it wants a piece of me. I brake hard and hit the back of it and it lets out a big yelp and stumbles straight into the path of a oncoming car .. game over ..

    Get to Yerevan and into the city centre. Nice city, and a complete contrast to the countryside. We're staying in an old ground floor apartment block. The landlord tells us not to leave things within reach of open windows as they're likely to go missing. No chance of bringing the bikes inside so they have to take their chances chained up outside. It doesn't feel at all threatening and the locals are really friendly. We take a wander round the square in the evening amongst all the locals. Feels a lot like Russia, everyone out for a walk and a chat. I like the feeling round here.

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    I'm up early, just in case I have to start filling in a stolen bike police report but they're still there. Stretching and yawning in the early morning sun.

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    #3
  4. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,690
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Brilliant!
    #4
  5. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,190
    Location:
    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    :stupid
    #5
  6. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Armenia has some proper history and it's a shame we can't see it. It's one of the oldest countries on the planet. I'll come back here again, I'll leave it for next time. The country runs away to the south but we want to exit to the north tomorrow so we ask our host for some recommendations and head south to Khor Virap monastery overlooking Mt Ararat where Noah supposedly disembarked.

    Getting out of Yerevan we go to get fuel. Little place by the side of a main road. More like a kiosk than a petrol station. This bloke put the hose in the bike, pulled the handle, lit a fag. Amazing..

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    Out at Khor Virap its a beautiful place but a bitch of a climb up in leathers and 40 odd degrees. By the time I get to the top I can just about see a blurry Ararat through my sweaty eyeballs. Can't see any lamas though.. or hippos.. or <a href="https://bugguide.net/node/view/1061891"">push-me-pull-yous</a>. Its a bloody long walk to Africa from here.. especially with those little hippo legs ...

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    Nothing gets wasted out here. If horses could be powered by natural gas they would go round with LPG canisters strapped to their backs too.

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    From Khor Virap we ride round to Noravank. Another monastery hidden in the mountains. The roads are surprisingly good and pretty empty too. Loads of trucks pushing out smoke like they're vaping with liquorice. Greta Thunberg would have a shit fit out here ..

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    Tonight's bed is at a 'resort' on the lake at Sevan. We find the place and ride along the beach. I think it's a weight watchers retreat .. no food and a fucking long walk to anywhere .. we eventually track down a cafe with a very short menu .. bread ... cheese ..

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    We're heading north and out towards Tbilisi, passing through little towns. Taking it really slowly to avoid being pulled. If you stop for a few minutes you'll see the same policeman go up... down.. up... down

    I spot an open door out the corner of my eye so I turn around... see the same policeman ..again.. and see an old bloke sitting in a chair in a small room, just looking out watching the world go by. I go up and ask if I can take his picture.. he doesn't move .. I think he's dead ..a display model .. but he slowly raises his hand in assent and I take a few pics. Go to shake his hand.. very carefully. It's like holding a piece of balsa wood, it's almost weightless. I think somebody just opens his door in the morning and he sits there all day.. he's probably still there. I hope so anyway.

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    We have 2 borders to choose from, so we choose the one with the wiggly line. Get to the border and we're the only ones here again, what are the odds? Get through the border and we see why we're the only ones there. The road is an award winning shitter of a road, all under dark trees, big deep muddy puddles, rocks and holes, sand and gravel.. all good practice.

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    Get to Tblisi in good time and go for a wander. Nice place. Stupid hot though and I have to rest the Bitch for a while before launching an assault up the hills to the hotel.

    Our hotel is in the old town. All stupid narrow and stupid steep streets. Even with the lungs of the Bitch she can't do a hill start here, the road is too steep and too slippery. I'm following a Grade A twat up the hill and he's doing 1mph. I'm shouting and screaming expletives and blowing my horn but he's oblivious, unlike the surrounding people who are listening to my swearathon in stunned silence - a couple of them hold up 10s... Scooter riders have to get off half way up this hill and push it's that steep. There are as many cars going backwards as forwards, lining up for another go.

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    I go for a walk round the slightly less steep streets, I'm looking about at the buildings .. WTF? All the buildings are slowly loosing a fight against gravity and falling down the hill towards the river. The windows and doors are all to cock and have they have huge cracks running all through them. They look close to collapse to me and I'm fucked if I'd go inside one.

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    So.. I go inside one for a massage... go into a cubicle and walk in to get undressed and nearly fall down a fucking great hole in the floor where something has just given way. And I mean a FUCKING great hole .. The masseuse comes in and starts .. and cannot do my left leg .. because they can't stand on the floor by my left leg.. because there is a FUCKING great hole in the floor .. then I smack my head on the way out because the door frame is all to cock ..

    So I go looking for a shave. I've walked for miles and can't find anywhere then I see a little hole in the wall, see mirrors, walk in. There is a large Nigerian lady inside and a little boy playing on the floor. I ask if they do shaves and she points to the chair. So far so good...

    She calls her husband in. He goes to the drawer and gets out a safety razor. 'Nope - I want a cut throat razor please'.. they both look at each other.. "a cut throat" .."you've only ever done one of those before..and that didn't go well...what was it .. 60 stitches?" .. "but we need the money" .. "well, he looks like he has a tough neck .. give it a go.. you're a fast runner" .. "Ohhh K' then"...

    He dabs some foam on and starts picking away at my face.. I can smell piss .. it might be me .. at my age weeing isn't always voluntary.. but I think it's him.. I think he's scared he's going to kill me .. and I agree. He's just taking small dabs at me from a distance .. like someone petting a dangerous dog .. By the time he's 'finished'it looks like I've just had a bag of rats put over my head and they've had a feeding frenzy. I don't care.. I'm just happy to get out of there with only 40 stitches ..

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    North, up through the gorgeous Georgian mountains. People had told me Georgia was a beautiful place, and here it is. Beauty by the bucket load.. big buckets too ..

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    Get to the Russian border in the mountains. Get to the guard, takes our passports .. and doesn't give them back.. "wait over there".. 2 hours later and he comes back to us .. "interview.. come this way".. we're taken to a little room along with a couple of small Thai girls.. hello .. what's going on .. is this some sort of "welcome to Russia" gift? No, of course it isn't. We are all being interviewed separately to state our intentions in Russia.. and have our phone IDs recorded.. This is a sensitive area and we were warned when we were getting our visas. Following directly east to west we would go through Chechnya but we've decided to loop over to the north instead to spend a few more days here. Interviews over we're sent outside to wait..again.. 4 hours after arriving we're through, insured, and on our way in to Vladikavkaz.

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    Vladikavkaz is like stepping back in time, and it's all the better for it. Ride down a few miles of dual carriageway on the way in and there are big statues every 100m.. no traffic at all .. the only things I overtake are a herd of cows. It sees to be a really sleepy little town. Get to the Hotel Vladikavkaz - any hotel in Russia that is named after the place it's in is always in the very centre - a fact to amaze your friends with - and this is right on the river.

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    Did I say sleepy .. well they apparently don't sleep in Vladikavkaz... or they sleep in the day. The road outside the hotel doubles as a drag strip by night and all the local spend until 3am ragging the tits of their metal steeds. They've got to get their kicks somehow I guess.

    From Vladikavkaz we trek up to Rostov-On-Don. Why Rostov? I'm beginning to wonder after the 5th hour of blank flat land roads, heat and wind. Perhaps the local famouses thought the same thing. Read any Chekov, Pushkin or Tolstoy and your laughing muscles are unlikely to get any exercise .. Russia is the same all over .. nothing.. nothing .. fuck all .. wilderness .. FUCKING GREAT CITY ... repeat until border ..

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    Rostov to Volgograd .. see above .. but Volgograd is a lot lot nicer.

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    Take a wander down to the river in the sunshine among the beautiful people.

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    Next morning we're on our way out of town to visit Mother Russia. When in Rome and all that . We're riding out of town in the morning rush, dodging and weaving through the traffic on the dual carriageway. My travel buddy is riding behind a old twin axle transit van.. looking to skip through. Suddenly there is bang and the left rear axle just collapses. The outside wheel comes off and starts racing through the traffic alone, the inside wheel jams in the wheel arch and sends the van slewing over the road until it hits the central reservation. Russians are used to this and they just skip round it without looking. We ride skip through and ride alongside the speeding wheel until it bounces onto the pavement looking for someone to kill..

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    You can see statue from a distance but you can't really get an idea of scale. Drive up, park, walk.. and ... fuck .. just FUCK.. That status absolutely fecking massive. It's covered in scaffold and the air is thick with the sounds of workmen tending to her gently...with hammers. I bought the drone up, I want to give it a fly but I'm concerned I'm going to be arrested. Truth is .. nobody cares .. excellent..



    Go in and see the eternal flame and the list of the fallen.. its a long list .. its a very very very long list.

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    Out of Volgograd and its bleak and cold and raining and I'm happy just to let my pores close for a while and give my sweat glands a break.

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    The relief is short lived though and the heat returns with a vengeance as we get closer to Astrakhan. It's secret location of a huge Russian tottie factory. I think the bordwalk in front our hotel is at the end of the protection line.... amazing ..

    Nice city too. Big Kremlin .. big square .. girls on horseback .. I'm thinking of staying.. We go for dinner at a place by the square, there is a woman there with her husband and a couple of small kids. I'm guessing by the she way she slowly and gracefully stretches her long leg out and points at the menu with the tip of her outstretched toe that she is a ballet dancer... not that I'm studying her you understand. Her husband looks like he punches through walls and makes sandwiches with the bricks...

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    Its a shame we're leaving Russia, but where we're going is Russia by proxy anyway. We ride out towards the border, towards a door, a door I've not been through before. I know it's shit on the other side.. but I'm going to open it anyway ..

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    #6
    dazco, Don T, B10Dave and 8 others like this.
  7. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    We were warned... Leaving Russia is like being pushed through a door and having it slam shut behind you. In this case it's an oven door, and we're on the inside, staring out though the glass back at mother Russia. You can't go back, the only way is forward, and the only option is the semi derelict, comical road leading off from the border towards Atyrau. Deep breath, pack your pants carefully and go. The road is just complete bollocks for miles and miles. It's low 40s and I'm sweating my tits off. There is sweet FA out here except camels, heat and potholes. After about 300km we stop for fuel. It's so fecking hot out here that they have people pumps next to the petrol pumps. You stand there while the attendent sticks the pump into your mouth and pulls the handle in .. the numbers spin round until you're rehydrated and the pump cuts out. I took 20 litres .. not bad ...

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    Into the shit we go again .. lots of lorries crawling about through the mess, clouded in dust, spitting and holwing in low gears and pumping out dense cancer clouds. Overtaking these things is a test of faith. You've no bloody idea what they can see and you're completely and utterly blind.. just the feel of the wheels crashing and sliding about underneath you as you open the throtte and hope. You can chew the air as you pass, crunching the sand between your teeth.

    We've seen nothing for miles and miles. You begin to think you've missed a turn to 'humanity' and you're heading off into hell. Then a building appears in the distance.. its a truck stop of sorts.. a small cafe where people can get out of the sun. Ride across the powder sand and into the sanctuary of the building. i think the over timer went off ages ago and I'm well overcooked ..

    Get some eggs and bread and as much liquid as they can carry from the kitchen.

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    There are a couple of the truck drivers sitting at another table and one of them is trying to talk to us. Or rather he's just trying to talk .. it's proving quite difficult for him due to the fact he is absoutely shit faced. He's so drunk he forgets to swallow when he drinks so when he opens his mouth, all the liquid he just poured in comes running out and down his chin on to the table. He's a fucking mess. Him and his mate get up, walk out, fire up, drive off. We'll be trying to overtake him in a few minutes ..

    Get to Atyrau and its fucking stupid hot now.. about 46 .. and my sweat glands are all wide open and gasping like coy carp being fed. Come to some lights. Sit. Wait. Watch the bars climbing... the bike was running like a bitch on the way in and it's really unhappy. Do I switch it off or not? I'm in a big queue .. pushing it in this heat will be bad .. eventualy I chicken out and turn it off. The lights go green.. turn the switch .. hit the button ... "fuck off" is the replay from the engine bay ... Horns are blasting behind me.. people are squeezing past rushing to beat the lights .. 3 more changes of light later .. try again .. same answer .. fuck you bitch...

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    I wait 10 minutes .. try again and it starts. I'm taking no prisoners and I spend the next 10 minutes punishing the bike in the heat. Making it scream. Making it suffer. I get to the hotel and its hot again so I just get a coule of water bottles, fill them up with stinking water and pour them over the engine. The whole lot fizzes and hisses like a cat in a cage, bad smelling steam filling my nostrils. I take the panels off - it's losing water but it's not obvious from where. All I can do is refill it and hope it shows itself one way or the other... something to fill my mind with as we head acrosss the baren wilderness ..

    Next morning we know it's a long hall across blank lands. Running the gauntlet between shadows 100s of miles appart. Someone left the oven on overnight too and it's roasting. Go to the petrol station, take my fuel can off and go to get it filled... "Niet" .. fuck off mate, just fill this up .. I'm not in the mood for argueing .. I'm in the mood for watching a human torch run the 100m in 5.5 seconds to that river over there ... "Niet".. WANKER!!!!!!! As luck would have it a police car pulls on to the forecourt and I grab the copper as he rushes for the air conditioned sanctuary of the shop. Show him the can, point at the 'benzine' stamped in it .. and he tells the attendent to just do it and stop fucking about .. As we're filling up there is a huge smash on the road outside as 3 cars play metal origami. I award the prize to the white Lada whose front end now resembles The Shard. As if by magic, out rushes the policeman .. perhaps they have Minority Report out here .. he was just waiting for that to happen.

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    Out we go. As usual the wind is playing in the emptyness that starts as soon as you leave town. Running around in circles, rushing from one side to the other, breathing in and breathing out, playing blow motorcyclist and trying to score points by putting you in a ditch.

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    It's hotter than yesterday.. my nose is burned 5 layers deep and feels like a thick peice of cardboard. Whose fucking idea was this? Jesus..

    Get petrol .. on a 1 to 1 ratio with water .. sit in the shade and feel my tounge return to normal size as it sucks up liquid like a sponge. Watch a fat bloke go into the shop .. I think he was looking for a recharge too - he's bigger coming out than he was going in ..

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    It's the middle of the day and the sun seems to be sitting about 100m off the ground.. we can see a cafe ... one two three .. go .. like running across baking tarmac in bare feet .. oohhh ahhhh ooooh ah ah ah ooooooo ... and we in .. safe for now.. get to the sinks .. get half naked .. run my shirt under the tap and put it back on .. nothing like a bit of thermal shock to get your heart pumping ..

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    Even out here in the absolutely middle of bum fuck nowhere we meet friendly english speaking locals keen to cross their lives with ours for a few minutes... crossing tracks as we make our seperate ways across the planet. We get talking to a Tajik oil worker making his way back from Aktau on the Black Sea coast. He gives his number .. 'any problems just call me'.. You're unlikely to get that on the M4 services ..

    We're heading to Beyneu near the border to Uzbekistan. Someone has been along the route with a humanity hoover and removed all signs of life, then you get a small congregation of buildings where they have emptied the bag..

    The heat is getting almost ubarable now, and humid too. We're stopping as often as we can.. which is every couple of hours out here. We're still at least two hours out. Just counting the Ks.. realing it it .. making all sorts of promices to mind and body if it can just keep it's shit together until we get there.

    'There' is a small hotel amongst the collection of random buildings that is Bayneu. Looks ok. There are 3 French GSs (what else..) outside, looking used .. and abused. Fuck me.. it NEVER fails to amaze me how some people pack .. OK.. I'm going on a long trip .. best get onto the Touratwat webite, tick the 'select all' button and throw as much unnecesary shit at the bike I as can, attach it to wherever there are spare nuts and bolts to hold it on. And I'm going to camp.. so what I need is a 3 ring circus tent, a 15 person gas barbecue and cutlery for 3 peice place settings .. and see these massive panniers, they have a lovely flat space on top.. a place to stash my dinner jacket, 15 pairs of shoes and as much other unnecessary shit as will fill this oversized bag that arrived from that other overland website .. in fact 2 of them turned up so I can pack my paddling pool too .. and pillion .. I'm not carrying a pillion am I .. seems a shame to waste that space .. I'll put another fucking great body bag up there to rest my back on .. and then I'll strap a pait of tyres on the front .. just enough room for me .. perfect ..

    Yea.. perfect.. that's why you've tuned up here on a 6 month old GS with a pogo stick for a rear shock mate .. that's why you've had to crawl the last few 1000K feeling like you're in open sea on a small boat .. Anyway.. enough ranting .. now .. the French bit..

    I haven't got a problem with the French per se, but this lot are a bunch of arragant wankers that pretend not to speak English and just reply in monosylabbles, and they treat the hotel staff like low life and I do not like that at all .. Most bikers you meet on trips like this are friendly and keen to swap experiences, share knowledge and just enjoy being alive but this lot have all taken C@*T exams and passed with flying colours. It's not often I meet such a complete bunch of twats ..

    So we check in and the lady gives us a room downstairs. It's fine.. the AC is noisy but who cares. Then she comes in all appologetic and says she has got a better room upstairs so we move up there, We're going out to get some provisions .. where is my wallet? Fuck... I'm starting low on the panic scale .. holding it at level 1 .. it's here somewhere .. it has to be .. when was the last time I had it .. 2 hours ago .. level 3 .. 2 hours in 46 degrees away .. in a truckstop .. am I really sure it isn't here? Ask the hotel lady if she has seen it .. nope .. level 6 ... I have a spare card on the bike but no spare driving licence .. 7 .. FUCK IT.. I'm going to have to ride back 2 hours and see if I left it ..in 46 degrees .. and then back.. I get on the bike, ride down to the shop and buy a load of liquid .. get on .. head out .. level 8 ...

    As I'm hankering down.. looking at the long black like heading out into the wilderness I feel a buzz in my pocket .. they've found it.. When we moved rooms it had fallen out of my pocket and gone under a couch. One of the hotel ladies had crawled about looking for it and found it .. Hallelulia ..I instantly release the panic pressure valve and I'm down to a 0 .. go back to the hotel, grab the cleaner lady.. give her a big kiss and a cuddle, have a giggle .. thank the goodness of human nature .. and hate the Frenchmen even more for treating these lovely ladies like dirt ..

    We go for a wander round the town. Fuck.. what future do these people have out here, trapped in a small prison of a town surrounded by sand.

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    Next morning we're up early. We've a long way to go and a border in between. I go down in the dark and see 2 of the hotel women asleep. They sleep under table in the dining room with a big sheet over the top to turn it into a tent. Fuck sake ... their smiles are instantly on though as they make me a breakfast of eggs and sleepy dust ..

    Today is 500km to Nukus .. 499km of which is almost totally uninhabited. I need extra fuel, I'm going to put some in my pockets .. some in my wallet .. and I'm going to literally fill my boots..

    Get to the fuel station. They're used to this. People stocking up for the long journey. They don't care what you put fuel in so I fill a few water bottles and my can and strap them to the back then head out of town towards the Uzbek border. The signs aren't good.. a sand road leads out into the desert . but as if by magic it turns into a brand new spanking smooth band of blackness. Get to the border, the road stops and its back into the sand to ride past the queues of trucks waiting patiently. Get to the front and the border looks shut... time to fuel up ..

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    The gates open and we're let through and out of Kazakhstan in an instant. Only to join a huge queue into Uzbekistan. The traffic is tunnelled into a narrow concrete channel and it's full to bursting with cars waiting patiently in the ever growing heat. In Italy this would be a horn fest, in other places this would be a fight, but here its just quiet. People get out there cars and usher us to the front, squeezing past with microns to spare. We're like animals in a cage and women money changers patrol up and down with shopping bags full of cash .. yes really .. low denomination notes mean you can't carry Uzbek currency in a wallet, you have to wear a rucksack. We get to the front and go inside. Uzbeks are like the Kazaks, super keen to encourage foreigners so we're pushed to the front again but we refuse and let the ladies in front go first. I am British after all ...

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    Hand over an inch of currency for some insurance. This place feels like the desert equivalent of the Resturant at the end of the Universe, full of weird creatures all waiting for .. who knows what ..

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    When the planet designers were planning this area they just thought fuck it... nobody will want to live in this hell hole.. we won't waste any time, effort or resourses on it, we'll just leave it to scortch under the blazing son. Shadows are too precious so we'll allocate ... none ..

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    Riding out here you just begin to wonder.. mostly you wonder if you're going to die. It's so fucking hot here you fully expect to see Bealzibub stretched out on a towel by the side of the road.. glass of warm blood in his hand.. soaking up the rays .. keeping his lovely red tan topped up..

    There is nothing here.. absolutely nothing. I've ridden in some hostile places before but this is special. It's blank, flat, featureless and its waiting to kill you. There is absolutely no relief at all.. anywhere. I'm wearing my leathers.. and I'm spending all my time convincing myself that there must be an end to this. I'm genuinely trying not to panic, to hold my nerve and just ride into the wobbly mirage in front of me. All I've seen is a dot on a map, a symbol on a screen, and I have to trust that's the truth.. that there is an end to this nightmare road.

    I'm getting really fidgety and my tounge is filling my mouth. I'm having real trouble concentrating. I'm a MASSIVE idiot and don't ever carry enough liquid with me . .ever. .despite being told by everyone I ever ride with. My riding buddy has a camel pack and gets through gallons a day.. I sometimes have a 500ml bottle of juice with me, but today that's in the past .. that was hours ago .. the road from the border is a bastard for the first 100km so it's been slow going, and now I'm so thirsty I would drink my own piss .. if I could piss that is .. but then something appears on the horizon. Something that isn't just sand. It's a semi derelict building.. with some trucks outside.. its the loveliest thing I have ever seen in my life.

    Park under a cover.. and the heat is immediately reduced. I take a look at my temp guage, probably only about 30 here out of the sun

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    Ummm .. nope. Get inside.. past the inevitable Globe Busters stickers .. and into a room of fat sweaty bodies and flies. Whatever .. who cares.. there is a fridge promising cold drinks .. at 45 degrees .. so I buy the bottom shelf and start pouring. I just sit .. I'm a fly landing strip .. I don't care. They're walking about all chatting to each other .. comparing shit .. complementing each other on their bad breath .. I just cannot be bothered.. I can feel the first 10 glasses going straight to my ankles.. then my knees, and by the time I get to my 3rd gallon I'm beginning to feel human again. That was hard. That was really hard. But it's not getting easier any time soon. I'm feeling like a water ballon with legs as I waddle outside to sit in the shade with the other mentalists stupid enough to be here.

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    Leave the sanctuary and run from the sun towards Nukus. Still no fuel. The problem is that 90% of the cars in Uzbek run on natural gas so proper fuel stations are very few and very far between out here. By the time we get to Nukus my buddy on his GSA is reading 1 mile range. Nukus is the end of the world if you're going west but it's the door to civilisation the way we're going. Shops .. milk even .. a decent resturant and hot showers ..

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    Next morning, the usual in a new country, go find an ATM. I find an ATM, then I find another, and another. None of them work for me. Uzbek ATMs only work for people with local bank cards. This was a public service anouncement . You need to find an international ATM, usually in a big hotel. A kindly local directs us to one and we press in some big number and stand back .. you know those card tricks where they send hundreds of cards flying in the air out their hands .. exactly...

    We're headed for Bukhara today. 550km.. easy peasy.. we've done the hard bit now. I bet there are Starbucks every 10ft from now on .. Fact is, these towns have grown up around oases and once you leave you're quickly watching civilisation dissappear like end credits in your wing mirrors. Back to the desert and and the relentless heat again. And in public service anouncement No2... never ride past a petrol station out this way.. or you could very easily be in trouble. I went past one .. then hit a new concrete dual carrageway. Ahhhhh 'new' will mean proper services and regular fuel .. I'll just carry on .. I'll be fine .. I tell you what .. the people that built this road must have bought a very very big bag of sandwiches and a 100 gallon thermos with them.. fucking thing goes on for 150 miles with nothing... NOTHING .. then a LPG station .. then NOTHING again. Nothing but heat and scrub desert.

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    By the time we get to Bukhara the Bitch is back in to binary mode again. On or off... fast or stop .. shit or bust.. our hotel is hidden down an alley off an alley off a smaller alley somewhere. I'm bursting the bitch and she's tearing a strip off all the walls with her noise, look in the mirrors and it's all dust and falling masonry. Good job there is nothing important round here .. Get the hotel and we're told to bring them through to the inner courtyard as even the flies will take off with stuff from your bike round here. Then 2 minutes walk out to the square

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    I've always wanted to come here. Anticipation is often one thing, and the reality is another but not here. Go for a walk back in time .. way way back ..

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    Amazing place. Just amazing...

    I need a shave .. and I'm sweating .. there is a droplet on the end of each follicle on my face.. I look like a dandelion covered in dew .. so I go hunting for a barber .. looking in the shadows .. looking through windows and doors .. looking for someone tooled up with a cut throat razor .. I see a little white shed with a chair in it .. and a man in white.. that's a good sign.. no blood .. unless he puts a new shirt on after every shave. Fuck it.. my feet are sore, my bollocks are picked in sweat and I'd rather risk my life than walk another foot in this heat. Go ahead mate, do your worst.

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    Here we go.. lather/fly food first. Give me a good covering and let the flies come and play all over my face like little kids in mud. They're having a great time while it's taking me all my time not to twitch as the blade blade slowly skims my jugular. I think the bastard adds something to the lather to keep the flies on his clients rather than on himself... clever man .. still... I don't have any of the near death experiences I had with the Nigerian and leave with a face like tight silk hugging a warm breast. I like it here .. I like it a lot.

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    From Buhara its a short hop down to Samarkand.

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    This time the hotel is a hostel down some sort of urban assault course, open drains and ditches, tight tight .. fuck me this is tight alleyways. Get to the hostel and somebody has bought a tank, loaded it with BoHo shit, parked in the courtyard and spent two days firing at every wall and crevice. Apparently they hit the fusebox too .. no electric. 46 degrees again and no AC. Just before the hostel as we rode in I noticed a pool of water in a small square. Possible a fountain.. possibly a pond .. definitely water based, and definitely my next destination. Dump the bike, walk down the road.. climb in ... oh fuck me yes ...

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    So I'm sitting in the pond .. clothes on .. as you do.. and some small kids see me and decide they'll jump in too. They're in.. they're out .. they're drinking enough of it to give me the shits for the rest of time .. then there comes some shouting from down the street .. the kids stop .. then jump out and run for it as the noise gets louder and louder until a bloke with a raised fist and spittle dripping down his chin comes into view. I'm guessing this is his pond I'm cooling my testicles in .. and bathing isn't allowed .. OOOOOOOkkkkkkkkkk.. He looks at me. You can see the decisions going round in his head.. I look at him .. stop pissing in the pool immediately .. and smile .. he just looks .. turns .. leaves .. another win for international relations.

    I squelch back to the hotel, change and go and feet my eyes on some more sights ..

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    A quick breakfast surrounded by youthful women.. never a chore .. then head out towards Tajikistan. It's complete unknown to me. I'm expecting it to be ... interesting..

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    #7
  8. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,690
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Cute gals uplift any story. :D
    #8
  9. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,190
    Location:
    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    Me like. Thanks.
    #9
  10. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Tajikistan. Probably one of those places most people have never heard of. I made a point of deliberately not googling the fuck out of it before I left.. leaving it to describe itself to me in 3D surround sound and vision rather than on a small piece of glass.

    The border is just like all the others round here. Lots of big hats and guttural accents, headscarves and hijabs, people just moving from one place to the next. Another tourist expedite zone too. We've shown from one place to the next to the next.. pay our road taxes .. and pop out the other side PDQ. No insurance though ..

    My thought was that Tajikistan was going to be a step back from Uzbekistan but I was wrong. The same person who operated the humanity hoover has driven a beauty bulldozer right across Uzbekistan and piled it all up in Tajikistan. The scenery immediately welcomes bikers with spikey mountains with tight narrow gorges, like riding through the wrinkles of an old mans face, then added some lakes and drinks cooled by running mountain streams ..

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    Oh yea... and the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzob_Tunnel">Tunnel of Death</a> ..

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    5km unventilated and on a constant downwards slope to make you feel like Jules Verne on a journey to the centre of the earth. Dark and wet and with the air bluer that during one of my best swearathons. They advise cyclists to get a lift through .. or they'll be lifted out ..

    Get to Dushanbe and an overland hostel. Everyone is here for the same reason .. at the beginning or the end .. the start or the finish .. the Pamir Highway .. fuck yea. Lots of boys toys .. some big .. some small .. some with lovely long brown legs, hair in plaits, and knickers drying on a line ..

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    They take one look at us and decide that we're too old and crusty to mix it with the yoofs so they direct us up the road to an old peoples home instead. So we wade back out to the bikes through the ankle deep bullshit and bollocks and hashish fumes and go to the abandoned building round the corner. We're on the 180th floor I think. No lift.. 45 degrees .. and dead bodies on the stairs like the approach to the Everest summit. Fuck me sideways its hot..

    Hot and sweaty calls for cold milk. I'm thinking milk stations should be included on sat navs... every evening starts with a hunt.. I can almost sniff it out .. the smell of a cool dripping udder. Follow my nose down past some shops selling things with sell by dates that are either 70 years in the future or 30 years in the past, down to a main road. 6th sense says left .. steps getting quicker .. I can feel it's close .. then I see some supermarket trollies .. fuck I've not seen any of those for about 3 weeks .. I'm running now .. addiction driving me forward .. I'm in .. where is it? WHERE IS IT ... there it is .. natural.. strawberry... banana .. FUCK YES.. I'm in... standing in the cooler with a pint in each hand .. pouring it in stereo .. Strawnana flavour .. Get to the checkout with a dozen empty containers and half a dozen full ones .. milk dripping down my chin .. that should do for tonight ...

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    Dushanbe to Osh.. the Pamir Highway. You can get a taxi no problem .. for about $1000 dollars. You can sit in a 4x4 in a cloud of dust and be thrown about like a small teddy bear in a washing machine for 5 days, or you can strap on a pair of tight sports pants, write a short letter to your loved ones, fill up, fuck off and ride the bastard..

    We're heading for Kalaikhum, a little town with it's face pressed up against the border with Afghanistan. Again, I deliberately didn't Google the Pamir, other than to identify the route. Surely I'll know it when I see it .. this is pretty .. is this it?

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    Nope .. oh well .. this then?

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    Really? Still no? Fuck ... what about this..

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    In my mind the Pamir Highway doesn't really start until Khorog but who cares .. it's just a name .. and this will do for me. We get to the Afghan border, I think I'll go for a paddle

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    or maybe not ..

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    Afghanistan. It's just there .. just 100m away from me. 100m separating sectarianism from sanctuary. It's surreal to stand at one end of the bridge to the border. Like 'awesome' and 'amazing' and all the other words that have been overused to the point of pointlessness .. surreal is what this is. The Russians.. Bin Laden .. ISIS .. death and destruction. And here I am on my bike, staring the entrance. Maybe sometime I'll have the nerve to go in ..

    The road soon turns to shit as it threads itself between the tight shoulders of the mountains with the river rushing between. Seldom have I seen such a natural border as this.

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    We're climbing and falling and the bitch is on fire .. almost.. the temperature is going through the roof again and I have to stop to let her cool down. This is getting to be worry now.. and pretty fucking annoying too.

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    We come to a section with a big waterfall coming off the mountain and across the road so I ride underneath it and stop. The weight of the water is punching my head and shoulders and screaming in my ears .. the bitch is steaming beneath me and I'm wondering what her problem is.. It's loosing coolant but not a massive amount .. the fan is on all the time. We're quite high but that shouldn't make much difference. Fuck knows.. perhaps at her age she's just getting hot flushes ..

    Get to Kalaikhum and the electricity is out. Cans are the order of the day ..

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    There is a hotel in town, and from the car park outside it looks like this is for the tourists who only like dust on the other side of a piece of glass. It has it's own generator and sits with its middle finger in the air to everyone on the outside

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    Guest house 'shepherds' greet you as you turn across the bridge into town and we're corralled into a small guest house by the river. Cheap and cheerful and full of restless souls. Two of the souls are nice middle age Kiwis couple on a Tiger 800. They started in the UK too and are riding all the way home over 7 months. Word is the riding gets a bit more serious from here on so we decide to ride together and see how it goes. We spend the night in a sweatbox while the taxi drivers get the penthouse with the river view.

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    I love places like this in the morning, everyone wandering about half asleep trying to synchronise their own morning routines with everyone else, sharing a single sink, shivering in with a mixture of the chill and excitement.

    The town has been treated to about 200m of tarmac then it's out onto the rough. The road and the river, Tajikistan and Afghanistan moving left and right together like perfect dance partners, always close but never touching. Villages are visible cross the water, people too, sometimes waving as they pass on horseback .. AK47s that is .. not hands ..

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    It's a beautiful road, it's an amazing road, but it's a hard, slow and dangerous road too. The temperature is mid 40s again and the Bitch is boiling. Every opportunity I get.. every time I see running water.. I have to stop throw water over it, wait a few minutes .. carry on ..

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    Find some kids washing some cars in the middle of nowhere .. a completely pointless operation .. do something useful instead and try to put out the fire in the Bitch's belly .

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    I'm stopped in the shade, letting the bitch cool down ... again .. and I suddenly see a priest. What are the chances? Right.. mate.. over here .. please can you exorcise this bitch for me .. I'll try anything ..

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    I can feel the tension rise as he approaches .. I can hear metalic tinkling as the Bitch tenses herself for a fight .. I see him grab his cross and start mumbling low chants .. and the next thing I see is him running for the river with his cassock on fire and his beard ablaze .. sorry mate .. it seems this Bitch really is the daughter of the devil..perhaps she belongs on the other side of this river..

    The rest of the day is a complete disappointment .. just shit .. just look at it .. rubbish ..

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    Fuck what a road that is.. I've been lucky to ride some good routes but this one is quite special.

    Towards the end of the day the sun seems to be coming in to land directly on the back of my head. Hotter and hotter and hotter.. we come to a small town with a river full of kids .. make that a river full of kids and 2 bikers in full biker kit .. Mark the Kiwi and I just walk down to the river surrounded by kids .. convinced we're going to stop .. they're definitely going to stop .. I bet you they stop .. we don't stop .. we just walk straight in .. full leathers .. and in we go. It's not until I'm up to my neck I remember my money and my phone .. oh well .. they'll have to take their chances ..

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    Get to Khorog, nice hotel with a hen party going on in the restaurant. This particular hen looked like she had already laid quite a few eggs.. and she liked her music LOUD. The sort of LOUD where you can feel your ears actually moving with the base, and your food vibrates in front of your face. I ordered ... it doesn't matter what I ordered because the bloke couldn't hear me anyway .. so got plov by default.. I do like a bit of plov with my bass though..

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    From Khorog you can either take the road directly east to Murghab .. or you can take the diversion south and loop through the Wakhan Corridor. Fuck .. no choice .. we're going to take the Wakhan route.. I know I won't regret it ..

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    I'm about a mile in and I'm regretting it already .. fuck this road is an absolute shitter. Rough as arseholes with deep sand and even worse .. deep gravel. The three of us come into a small village where the bloke with the gravel truck has obviously got bored and just dumped the whole bloody lot. We're all going too fast .. up to our tits in small round polished greased pebbles .. slewing about like 3 elephants on ice. Some bloke chooses this exact moment to get out of his car and step right into our path.. and leave his door open.. leaving us next to no room to get through. How the fuck nobody got hit I've no idea. Given a million tries, this is the only one that would have ended without disaster. Must have looked spectacular though.

    I can always tell how shit the riding has been by the number of pictures I take and on this section I think I took .. 1

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    The destination is just a small collection of houses. Follow a hand painted sign down a rocky track.. sound the horn and some very grateful local will come out and steer you towards their home stay where you can inspect the damage of the day ..

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    My tyre rack has snapped, my number plate is hanging by a single bolt and several bolts from the luggage rack have MIA.

    We've managed to avoid death all day but someone out there still wants to get us. Mark goes into the 'shower room' reaches up to turn the water on at the shower head and gets a big shock. Electricity and water aren't best mates obviously and they've got acquainted somewhere. He chickens out and takes his singed body hair back to his room. I just grab a rag, walk in, reach up, turn it on.. it's a bit tingly .. I quite like it ..

    We all sit around on the floor for more plov before settling down for the night with the mozzies.

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    Between us and Murghab lies the <a href="https://www.dangerousroads.org/asia/tajikistan/3830-khargush-pass.html">Khargush pass</a>. Ever heard of it? Neither had I. It's on the list of the worlds most dangerous roads. Dangerous usually means spectacular. Its an arse clenching sandy windy steep and loose hideously corrugated cold and inhospitable bitch of a road. It's one of the best roads I've ever ridden.

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    The Bitch is really really really unhappy today. She really chooses her moments. I think yesterday didn't do her any good, all day with her tits and arse bouncing about. She's loosing water and there isn't much of that up here. I don't want to turn her off. Who knows if she'll ever start again, so she's being punished to within 1 bar of her maximum. Eventually we get to a check point, complete with a cold stream. I wash her down, fill her up .. wish I'd bought a [insert any other bike on earth here] instead ..

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    Eventually we spot tarmac on the horizon and spend the last couple of miles getting ever faster like the ground could collapse beneath us at any point.. Jesus .. what a ride that was.. not that the future looks to bad either

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    I'm running low. Get to a village and ask .. follow the pointing fingers to a small house. Knock on the door.. yep .. this looks just like my local Texaco ..

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    I'm looking for a drone spot .. I jump on the brakes.. I get off the bike ..where is that coming from? There is water on the road.. and it's coming from under the covers somewhere..

    Get to Murghab and a nice hotel for about $15, plus another $20 dollars an hour just to sit in a comfy chair and watch the receptionist.

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    I've got to look at the Bitch.. see what's occurring. I get the side panel off and the problem is immediately obvious. Another KTM genius decided that the overflow pipe would run between the reservoir tank and a sharp piece of plastic. The shaking and vibration has made the reservoir tank shake about and pinch the pipe against the plastic. It's nearly cut all the way through. I need to take the reservoir off then I can probably cut and shorten the pipe for now. In these days of 'that's two hours labour to take that off mate' you need to take the tank off to get at the reservoir mount .. and so all the plastics have to come off as well .. but as luck would have it Mark the Kiwi is an avid collector and purchaser of random products from petrol stations promising all sorts of miracle cures to all automotive ills.. and he's got some magic tape that supposedly seals onto itself and can fix split hoses. He's having a good day and he's smiling. a) because he just had a shower and b) because there was an uninhibited French girl walking about in the showers with her pert lady bumps on display .. perhaps the French aren't so bad after all. 5 minutes later.. job done..amazing

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    Get up.. mind the cows .. fuel up and head out into the amazing morning light you just only get at these altitudes

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    Follow the Tajikistan exit signs towards Kyrgyzstan. Just like the exits of your local supermarket, the last bit of the journey is lined with treats and temptations .. and I'm tempted .. I'm tempted to just turn around and just do the whole thing again ..

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    #10
  11. Gronckle

    Gronckle n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Worcester, UK
    Awesome photos - especially love the portraits capturing the character of the people.
    #11
  12. Gagoem

    Gagoem Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Oddometer:
    17
    Location:
    Emmaus, PA
    Wow thank you for the detailed report!
    #12
  13. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    342
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    Incredible.
    #13
  14. bkendig76

    bkendig76 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Conestoga PA
    Over a week without an update. Hopefully the Bitch didn't leave you stranded in Tajikistan. Looking forward to the next installment of your latest epic journey. Awesome pics and words as usual.
    #14
  15. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Sorry mate .. here you go
    #15
    bkendig76 likes this.
  16. jason9364

    jason9364 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Out of Tajikistan is easy peasy.. I watch a couple of Tajik soldiers playing football. This is one of the highest border crossing in the world but they play like they're at sea level. A cold and exposed place even in the summer. Take your boots off and step inside to the welcome of a wave of heat from the fire and the smells of cooking, nutty brown faces in the shadows. NASA should send their prospective Mars astronauts to places like these.. living on top of each other in isolation for long periods.

    There are 25km of nomansland here before you get to Kyrgyzstan, but there are people living in the occasional hut and small farm along the route.. not something I've seen before. I wonder how that works..

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    The road is the perfect shit/spectacular mix and any pain of having your bollocks bashed by the seat is easily distracted by the spectacular scenery. I've always loved Kyrgyzstan. Other countries have their spectacular parts by in Kyrgyzstan it's just everywhere. Get the border.. boots off again .. into the 'office'. Nobody here again and the guard is a lovely bloke.. he just tells us to sit down and he fills in all the paperwork for us. This border isn't computerised so he writes little notes all over the customs forms to make sure we can leave with no problem.

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    We're meeting some other riders in Osh.. congregating for the next piece of the jigsaw. The sun is dropping an it's windy and cold. We're riding through the groves in the mountains, racing the shadows. Get to Osh and it's the usual .. why the fuck don't they just save their money and forget about traffic lights completely. They've tried them, but they just don't work round here. Nobody gives a toss. Put yourself in London mode.. push.. shove.. and dare the traffic .. it's the only way through. Get to a big overland hostel on the outskirts and meet our first rider. He's come over from London and been here a while. I don't think we're going to get on... and I've not got off my bike yet..

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    We're early..about 5/6 days early.. You need contingency on these trips and we've not used any. Travelling in a pair reduces the likely hood of problems.. unless one is riding the Devil's daughter of course .. but we've done ok so far.

    We decide to spend a couple of days here to rest up. I hate resting up... resting makes me restless ...

    Get up.. breakfast.. looks good.. looks 'normal' for a change. There are a varied collection of people here as usual, including the 'I speak in a loud voice and love to tell everyone all about myself and never let anyone else get a word in edgeways' knob... I could probably fit a fist in sideways mate so beware .. I know I shouldn't get wound up by these muppets but they just grip my shit .. they waste my life ..

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    Our room is right next to the toilets and they seem to be the busiest room in the place. Judging by the smell there are a lot of people busy turning their bowels inside out and using every hole available to get alien bugs out their systems.. that's not a good sign .. must be the campers.. probably vegans.. or veggies .. or <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism">Jains</a>. This is what happens if you don't eat properly.. it's like putting piss in a petrol tank .. I don't believe in a God.. I believe in Mother Nature and if you think you know better than her .. good luck with that. You fuck with her at your peril .. just look out the window

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    Ahhhhhhhh... that's better ..

    After breakfast we wander down town. It's time for another shave and a haircut. The hunt is on .. the sun is evil hot so we head for the cool cover of the market and search among the stalls for a man with a blade.

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    No.. not that blade thanks .. something smaller ..

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    You hear these places before you see them.. sounds of men laughing and chatting .. scissors clipping .. the occasional raised voice .. and the smell of .. blokes..

    I've lucked out.. I get the big boss.. and the full treatment.. We chat away in my pigeon Russian.. families .. kids .. work .. I don't know what 'going away anywhere nice this year' is in Russian but it was probably said and ignored.. At home I use a triple blade and shave once .. he uses one blade and shaves me 3 times.. skin like soft glass .. all the nerve ending exposed .. feeling every draft of air .. delicious.. and a haircut too, not that there is much of that to do.. I give him twice what he asks for and he starts singing ..

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    We go for a wander.. someone is knocking at my door... my back door.. I think something is keen to get out so I head back to the hostel in the heat... feeling worse with every step.. fuck it! I'm going down fast. Get to the room ad let the pressure off but the bug has it's claws in my guts and it seems happy to stay. Lay down.. shut down.. I'm woken up by sicky burps .. my favourites. I hate being sick.. I panic.. and I think my stomach is going to appear in the sink before my eyes.. get to the shower and honk... there you are you bastard.. it's the ham from the omlette.. probably touched by one of the evacuees using the toilet outside .. or left in this heat .. either way it's making an very unattractive sick pizza in the bottom of the shower.. back to bed for a few minutes .. 8 hours later it's the middle of the night and I wake up with more sicky burps.. and something alien moving about in my stomach looking for an exit. It feels like it's trying to cut it's way out .. I make it to the bathroom and the next thing I remember is coming round later looking at the ceiling .. the pain got really intense and I think I just passed out.. by this stage the alien has managed to work his way through the maze of my intestines and is ready to leave .. right now .. I'm sure there are scientists that have calculated the amount of thrust a human can produce.. well I seem to have the afterburners on too .. the sound is like pointing a hose in a bucket.. no chance of a splash even .. it's all one way traffic .. I can actually feel the pain exiting my body .. brilliant. Farts back to manual and we're ready to go.

    We decide to head north a few hundred kms for a ride out to Tokogul with our Kiwi friends. They're heading to Almaty to meet some friends and this will be our final day together. They're a lovely couple and I'll miss their company. If you see them about, wish them well and send them my love..

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    The ride up is stupid hot. I'm really getting tired of this heat. I'm riding with all my vents and cuffs open to try and scoop as much air as possible. As much air... and bees. I feel something shoot up my sleeve and sting me.. bastard. Stop.. take my jacket off.. a big dead bee drops out and I have a good swelling developing on my arm. Jacket on .. ride away .. 10 minutes later .. the exact same thing happens again .. so now I have forearm like the world wanking champion and I can hardly get my jacket over it. Get up to the lake and there is an old hotel perched by the water. No rooms though apparently. Fuckywank.. 'Are you sure?'.. Here is her first reply..

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    'Yes'.. 'really?' .. 'yes' .. 'could you check?' . 'I did' .. 'so no rooms at all'.. 'No .. apart from Room 25'.. WTF! Why do people do this? Maybe room 25 is the scene of an ancient murder.. or it's haunted .. who cares. It's a double so the Kiwis have the bed and we get the floor. This place was obviously a Russian tourist hotel and it's fallen into .. well .. disrepair would be an understatement .. but it's on the lake and I can get horizontal under cover.. all my requirements are met..

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    Next morning we wish the Kiwis a sad farewell and they head out and over the horizon..

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    There are some kids in the car park.. one seems to be the unique owner of a kevlar skull.. fuck knows how he did that ..

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    Spend the day letting gravity take us slowly back south to Osh. I say slowly .. but not slowly enough obviously. I come round a corner in a small village and there is a hut outside the police station.. with a man with a gun pointed at me... a RADAR gun obviously. I don't know how this works out here. I don't think the police get payed anything at all. I think they all just get turns with the gun. I'm right outside the police station. No words again... I just sigh.. roll my eyes .. give him about £5 .. get a nod .. ride off..

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    Get back to Osh and the same hostel to meet with 3 of the remaining riders.. at least I get off my bike this time .. before deciding there are one or two that I won't be sending Christmas cards too ..

    We need to service the bikes. Zorros .. a Swiss German I think.. has recently opened a fledgling business where you can do your own servicing and buy help for the difficult stuff. He knows a welder too so I get my rack fixed. I think this is what they call an 'invisible repair'

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    I’ve ripped open my trousers on the foot pegs and need a repair so I head own to the market again to find a menders. I find one place.. that points me to another.. that points me to another. Nobody wants to know.. I go back to the 2nd or 3rd place I looked at.. 2 old men bent over ancient sewing machines.. the air thick with glue and polish.. and I ask them again.. I grab a piece of old leather off a shelf and show them .. just patch it .. please .. I reach out my hand .. and he reaches out his. He takes the trousers and sews while his mate takes broken shoes from people at a window and makes them serviceable again. Shoes that would only be in dressing up boxes at home are standard issue here and can't be thrown away.

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    My feet are itching and I need to move.. now .. so we decide to ride down to Sary Tash and wait for the others to come down tomorrow. Yet another beautiful ride .. how many times have I thought that this trip .. stop for dinner and meet a friendly French couple who write travel books.. and restore my faith in the Gauls

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    I see a boy on a horse. The boy and the horse are obviously having an argument about something. The horse is snorting and flaring it's nostrils and twitching it's hips and the boy is sitting totally relaxed on it's back as it stomps around thinking of what its going to do next.. stop.. run .. buck. I feel a real affinity with this lad. We're both sat astride our recalcitrant steeds.. wondering exactly who is in control. I get off and have a chat. He wants chocolate.. that's all the kids want .. simple pleasures

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    We plan on riding to Sary Mogul and we've got a tent booked at Mt Lenin base camp. The location is given as the village, and when we get there we're directed to a track.. it's an hour up there.. OOOOOOkkkkkkk. We start down the road but quickly meet a river crossing. I wade in up to my knees and can hardly stand up as it's so running fast.. and it's all rocky. I look up 'the perfect recipe for disaster' and this has all the ingredients so we decide that discretion is the better part of valour and we go back to Sary Tash with our tails between our legs to find a door with a bed and a bog.. if you're there .. Pamir Extreme.. an oasis amongst the ruins.

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    We've got a day to kick our heels before we head east.. my heals are well kicked by now .. kicked to shit in fact .. so I take the camera for a walk around the village ..

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    I come to a school. Kids .. lots of kids out playing and lots of women in white supervising. In the UK I would have already been arrested and put on a register for being this close to a school with a camera but out here they just want their pictures taken. The kids all run to the fence and line up then the women just ask me to come in.. open the gates and line the kids up.. snap..

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    One little kid comes over and I pick him up. Without thinking I just pick him up and throw him way up in the air. I used to do it to my kids. My neighbours said they would just watch the kids appear over the hedge screaming then hear them laugh as they landed. Anyway.. after a 5 second 'flight' the kid lands in my arms and starts laughing.. all good .. until I look down. An orderly queue of 40 kids have all queued up for their flights .. and they're all staring at me .. so I'm in a school throwing kids in the air .. just like I would be at home .. NOT .. I've done about 10 and I'm fucked.. we're at altitude and kiddy throwing is hard work .. and there is a smell .. quite a bad one.. Most of the flights have gone well but a few have obviously had 'flight fright' and they've literally shit themselves .. I'm getting about a 3/1 alright/shite ratio .. time to leave I think .. so I feign a heart attack and leave the ladies to clean the kids up .. good memories ..

    I give the afternoon sun time to mellow and soften before I take a ride back towards Takikistan to take some pictures. The light is beautiful .. it like golden dust falling from the sky .. it's falling on the grass .. on the horses .. on the mountains. I get off the bike and just stand there to watch Mother Nature paint with the evening light. Quick light brushstrokes fill the sky .. a thick dark shadow or two start to appear .. sharp lines become blurred and soft .. fuck .. FUCK I love Kyrgyzstan .. and I love this.. just this .. just this right here right now.. the golden globe of the camera just keeps turning and falling .. kill me now .. just kill me now..

    Some kids from a lonely Yurt see me and come running through the light.. all giggles and smiles .. panting little bodies .. hair flying about in the wind... holding hands so the little one can keep up..

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    But I can't die yet .. I've got a date to keep tomorrow .. the next page.. so I go back for my 1000000th bowl of Plov and bumpy bunk bed for the night. All the group is here now.. ready to play..

    Next morning we're up and ready to go early... 'Gentlemen... start your engines' .. 'no not you sir... you with the BMW' The starter switch is being met with silence. It's cold up here and the battery isn't showing 12V .. it's sort of working its way up to it .. 12V horah.. but no joy. Its the amps mate.. that's what you need .. and its all out of amps .. so we jump start it .. and cross our fingers.

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    Out into the morning towards the Chinese border at Irkeshtam. Fuck what a view.. riding alongside a ridge of white that is the Himalayas.. the scale of everything here is just 'off' .. just wrong .. just .. fuuuuck ...

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    Out of Kyrgyzstan we get a smile from the customs bloke as he reads the little notes from his mate at the other border.. a piece of cake.. just about as far away as you can get from what happens next ...
    #16
  17. Oldschoolrocker

    Oldschoolrocker a.k.a. EZE Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    2,384
    Location:
    Tacoma Wa
    For 2 days now i've been trying to catch up and read this all, like trying to put down a good book, not that I read books. I do drink tons of milk though..yeah one of those people..nectar of the Gods! Thats where I knew I was in on this one. Fucking brilliant work!! Cheers!
    EDIT: Here in US we can buy the milk in 1 gallon jugs(3.78L). Some days or most I nearly go through half of one. The colder the better!:super
    #17
  18. Cyclenaut

    Cyclenaut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Desert S.W.
    Fantastic RR & images !!
    #18
  19. vfxdog

    vfxdog Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    777
    Location:
    Santa Monica or London, depending on work.
    Brilliant stuff!
    #19
  20. SteveTheLocal

    SteveTheLocal Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    279
    Location:
    Island in the Salish Sea
    Was my phone busy when you were looking for riding partners!? For Christ"s sake let it ring next time. I'm in!
    #20