Russia, Mongolia, Stans & Beyond - On a GSXR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 7days1shower, May 21, 2019.

  1. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    183
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Well I’ve not gotten too far in the last 2 days.

    Most people make the dash from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk in one day, however on the advice of my Japanese friend, I decided to do a 100km short day to Ussuriysk first.

    This worked out well as I spent the morning riding around Vladivostok trying to buy some chain lube and a way of acclimatising to riding because besides short test rides I actually haven’t ridden consistently in a couple of years!

    Got into the small city of Ussuriysk at a little motel surrounded by automotive battery shops. Once there I noticed my back hurt from the backpack and also one of my tail fairings was hanging off due to missing screws from back when I crashed the bike on track.

    The battery shops was notable because I had to buy a battery in Vladivostok since mine was removed for shipping. It’s a new Korean one but 120CCA vs my previous 135CCA ... hopefully not going to be an issue later on

    The back I’ll get used to, the bike, a bit of cable tie maintenance.

    Unfortunately, the plan to leave the following morning was dampened (pardon the pun) by rain. I looked up as many forecasts as I could and have decided to leave tomorrow morning instead…which could also be raining

    I’m in no rush but I would like to try and get to Mongolia in time for Nadaam

    I know the Turkish biker had ridden almost 2 days in the rain and been quite miserable so I really want to avoid it if possible. Plus the accommodation is cheap here, close to a huge supermarket for cheap eats…except everything smells like cigarette smoke…

    In other disappointing news, the Japanese biker has decided to head back home due to his wifes health and the Turkish biker has had an engine failure and is on a truck to Chita now… hoping for better luck my way tomorrow

    Leaving Vladivostok

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    A great supermarket with a couple of vodka selections...

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    Ussuriysk

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    Motel Blues

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    #21
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  2. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    May 6, 2009
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    529
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Looks good so far. I'm in for this ride...if you finish it.
    #22
  3. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    615
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    I've never seen a gsxr with agressive ties before, it looks great!
    The license plate was cracking me up, SOA. So many wanna-be "bikers" have SOA shirts, or jackets.
    Have a great ride! Following along here.
    #23
  4. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    I'm starting to wonder how far I'll get too but here's hoping!

    They're actually standard issue plates that came with the bike when I bought it! I've never even watch the show lol
    #24
  5. Lopburi

    Lopburi Lost in paradise

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Thailand
    Sons of Arthritis? I think your too young for that. You’ll get there eventually. Just keep going
    #25
  6. Lukeb

    Lukeb Been here awhile

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    Apr 30, 2015
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    Location:
    Scarborough Qld
    Awesome have a great trip hope it all goes well...
    #26
  7. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Things I can’t do; analyse weather

    I thought that I would wait out an extra day in Ussuriysk as today would have some window of opportunity without rain.

    Turns out, it was even worse than yesterday.

    All packed and ready to leave ... in the rain

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    I had to get out of there though, the smell of cigarettes was permeating my clothes and honestly making me feel sick

    A thorough muddy drenching all day long till I got to the small town of Bikin

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    Although most of its roads are dirt it has a nice hotel which while on the pricey side, I really need to just rest and dry out what I can

    Big supermarket right next to the hotel was handy since the only other place to eat was a 'Chinese' place next door

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    Was thinking to spend an extra day here to wait out the rain again but with everything already wet now, hardly any point

    Onwards to Birobidzhan tomorrow
    #27
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  8. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Sydney, Australia
    Today was a total rollercoaster; started off with low expectations in the wet but day progressively got better till a point I was near ecstatic with the improvement till moments later that excitement came crashing back down


    I started off packing the bike in the rain again, resigned to another wet day. Didn’t really matter too much since most of my gear was damp anyway… so much for the fancy Klim jacket, Forma boots and Held gloves and all of their GoreTex

    Packing in the wet in Bikin

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    I now understand why all I keep finding are Chinese restaurants

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    A saving grace seemed to be that the road surface was much better than yesterday and there even some nice flowing corners but while the tyres were performing well enough in the wet I was too hesitant to tip in in the bike at 90km in the wet


    However within about 50km, the skies started opening up, started seeing more bikes and in general my mood just got so much better!

    What I was riding out of

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    But it was starting to open up in front!

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    From there, the roads stayed well surfaced towards Khabarovsk and with a few 60/70 bends the riding got fun too.

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    Coming into Khabarovsk

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    I’m glad I followed advice to not stay in Khabarovsk as this was the only part of the day that was a bit congested, hot and dusty; like any city really.

    From there, I even had a chance to briefly meet my first Russian biker on an R1M with a group of friends from Vladivostok on sport bikes

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    Unfortunately, about 15 mins after that fuel stop I looked down to my RAM mount to see my phone….gone ☹ I rode the whole 20km back and forth again very slowly looking for any sign of it but it was well and truly gone. I guess navigation becomes a bit more challenging now

    Given it was already coming on 8pm I decided to give up and head into the town for the night at Birobidzhan; the main city in the Jewish Autonomous Region created by the Soviets as part of the ‘Birobidzhan Experiment

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    As I pulled up to my Airbnb, the host was outside working on his car (a new top of the line Landcruiser) in a shiny tiled garage where he also invited me to park the bike

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    The apartment itself seem to be brand new in a similarly brand new building. At less than the cost of a hotel with a kitchen, washer and an amazing bed, at least I could be in comfort while I lament over the loss of my phone

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    Noodles is all I'm really capable of cooking but I added fresh vegetables!!

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    Walking to the supermarket it felt like quite a nice town too. These pipes ran along the road but not sure if they once (or still do) serve a functional purpose

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    #28
    SmilinJoe, Merlin44, cs84 and 8 others like this.
  9. MJS

    MJS Long timer

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    Dec 23, 2005
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    Location:
    Off the grid in San Felipe, Baja
    Hot water pipes for heat. Heat is provided as a utility, i.e like water and electric.

    Bummer about the phone.
    #29
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  10. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Sydney, Australia
    So I didn't post an update here on my ride from Birobidzhan to Belogorsk because for lack of a better word; it was uneventful.

    I only even had 2 photos to share from it which really aren't even that interesting

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    Yesterday certainly turned things around.

    As usual, I put my next intended city into the maps.me GPS application on my phone (my other phone..) and it made me a route out of Belogorsk and towards Magdagachi.

    Now to be fair, I did see that there were some unpaved roads on this route from the city back to the highway, however, I had noticed that the application sometimes picked up roadworks as unpaved and decided to carry on as roadworks were everywhere!

    So, I headed out from the hotel and went through the next couple of small towns running parallel to the highway; ok, roads not the best but had a chance to fill up

    I then got turned onto a road that seemed to be even worse running parallel to the train line; ok, I’m sure it’ll cut me across to the highway soon

    The road was just gravel….then deep gravel. Ok not so bad, good chance to see how these tyres perform as I had only briefly tried them on some loose gravel roads back home; good traction, bike was sliding around a bit but I had read to not fight the bars and just keep the power delivery smooth. Not dissimilar to riding on a wet track but it was pretty hot and dusty!

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    Ok finally, we are cutting across the train line and a long road now to re-join the highway. No more deep gravel but still unpaved; I can deal with this

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    The road slowly got narrower and turned into single track; ok, I can deal with this too…

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    Single track now had overgrown bushes all along it smacking me in the knees and wrists and without me noticing, the tracks were now getting deeper too

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    Before I knew it, I was at a small water crossing. Again, just as I had read, I got off, checked the depth and the best path through. The bike made it through well with just a little extra power out needed at the end to get the rear wheel out of the mud. Surely regular road tyres would have failed me here

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    As I came out of the water and over a small crest, ahead of me lie deep tracks that were undoubtedly made by those big KAMAZ trucks with very aggressive tread

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    I took stock of how far I had come and (perhaps foolishly) decided to press on.

    From here on in, I didn’t have a chance to take many photos and it turned out the GoPro had run out of battery too; not that I noticed

    I was too busy wrestling the bike through, without a doubt, the worst “roads” I have ever ridden on.

    The track had turned into deep, muddy ruts with some just being massive ditches full of water where a previous truck had perhaps gotten bogged and been dug out.

    I was lucky that it had not rained for a day or so as I was able to find some dryer sections to go around the ditches in places.

    At the same time, I was very surprised in both the bikes and my ability to keep going. I didn’t drop the bike once even after making the mistake of putting my foot down for support and having it sink shin deep into mud

    The bike didn’t get much of a chance to get out of 1st or 2nd but every time the temps got high, the fans came on right on cue and knocked the temps back down.

    Finally, after 2 long hours, I covered approximately 50km and was back on the highway, never so glad to get onto mind numbing, straight tarmac again and onto more uneventfulness…. Or so I thought

    After about 45 mins, the rain started. I was passed by a big tourer type BMW with Russian plates; a quick wave and he blasted past.

    I saw him once again parked at a café next to the servo I was trying to get fuel at but nyet! No benzin I guess, I think the delivery hadn’t come yet

    At the next petrol station, there he was right behind me in the line! So, a quick hello and we started talking.

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    I still had about 120km to go till my intended town of Magdagachi for the night which had one gastinitsa (guesthouse) but also a risk it may be fully booked out!

    So when Vladimir invited me to stay at his place instead, I gladly accepted

    Only once we started riding I realised that after another 40km on the highway, we turned off to go deeper in 100km; a road which I would have to backtrack the following day to continue towards Mongolia

    But writing this now, I have no regrets about that whatsoever even though it has set me back another day.

    We got to the small town of Zeya and proceed to buy some groceries (basically meat and vodka) and head to his ‘dacha’ (a traditional Siberian summer house) and spent the night drinking, talking and grilling meat

    With Vladimirs dad; Boris

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    Getting the firewood ready

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    Vodka and starters

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    One of the most amazing sunsets I have seen

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    Cooking!

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    So in writing this long update, what really I really wanted to get to was how this one day helped me.

    The previous night in Belogorsk I was feeling upset, angry and a whole bunch of emotions that I wouldn’t have thought I would be feeling when on my “dream trip”

    I was annoyed that I lost my phone, felt angry that it seemed someone had found it and not bothered to respond to my message asking for its return. How dare Russian people screw me over?!

    I was annoyed that my body was taking such a beating on this bike and that too, so soon into the trip

    I was worried that I was hearing of unseasonal rain in both Russia and Mongolia; would I even be able to try crossing Monglia?

    I was even more worried about this bike; I had always been adamant that I wanted to used my first bike but what the hell was I doing. All it did was cause me pain and it would most probably fall apart at the first sign of rough terrain.

    So after going to bed with all this in my mind, to be challenged with the toughest roads I’ve ridden so far and come out of it unscathed and then experience amazing Russian hospitality put my mind at ease.

    Things still may not work out, but I owe it to myself to at least give it a go…

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    #30
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  11. GuyM76

    GuyM76 n00b

    Joined:
    May 3, 2018
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    London, UK
    Epic day. I'm sure I too would be questioning my choices with a GXSR on rutted dirt tracks in the middle of nowhere but you kept going and it panned out well.
    I guess keep going would be the motto!
    #31
  12. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I love your attitude man. Watching and following along with interest from NC, USA
    #32
  13. vicmitch

    vicmitch Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
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    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    You are giving me hope that I can do this dream ride on my Victory. I will be watching your mistakes as my learning process
    #33
    08StangGT_CS likes this.
  14. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile

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    Nov 11, 2015
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    Newfoundland
    You got this! Plus everyone loves Aussies... you guys are the Canadians of the Southern Hemisphere. LOL
    #34
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  15. Kevin K

    Kevin K Adventurer

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    Jul 20, 2008
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    91
    I think it's bad ass that you are doing this trip on a gsxr.
    #35
  16. Kevin K

    Kevin K Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    91
    I think I'd rather long distance tour on a GSXR than Ed Marchs' C90. That dude is amazing.
    This is an unbelievable adventure. Leave your doubts behind. If touring Russian and Mongolia on a sport bike were easy ,everyone would be doing it
    #36
    krautman likes this.
  17. krautman

    krautman Been here awhile

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    Apr 22, 2007
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    Santaquin Utah
    Keep doing what you are doing hang in there ! This is the stuff we all dream of while we are stuck at work ! This is what we all dream about when we are paying bills raising children and trying to keep a marriage together . We love our families but want adventures . Please carry on and keep posting .
    #37
  18. ferals5

    ferals5 Team black bikes

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    #38
  19. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Sydney, Australia
    After parting ways with my new friends in Zeya, I had to backtrack the 100km I had come off the highway and carry on.

    Packing up by the river

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    By now, I have figured out my rhythm, and its not great. I am basically doing 300km a day and breaking up my stops as such. I know this is much less than a lot of others and even myself a few years back but my body really hurts so I’m trying to rest and leave around 9 to 10am and wrap up by 5pm with plenty of stops to rest and have water.

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    I’ve not been stopping too much for lunch though; should probably start having lunch

    The ride was fairly uneventful to a highway gastinitsa (guesthouse) at Never.

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    Except for running into a Korean rider

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    I didn’t recognise him at first when I pulled over to just say hi but it later dawned on me that this guy was on the same ferry as me from Korea to Russia but used a different customs agent.

    From what I could gather he had just changed his chain but the idiot had left his scrap metal right there in the shoulder for me to run over. Granted, I didn’t think he was an idiot for just that but later on down the road I saw him again in the very narrow shoulder, this time, SLEEPING next to the bike right there on the highway with the helmet covering his head.

    A car even flagged me down further on to ask me if he was with me and if he was ok; not my problem!

    I later found out from another rider I had met on the ferry, Mehmet from NZ, that they had briefly ridden together and the Korean riders bike actually had stuff falling off from his packing onto the road! A right mess…

    He had even tried insisting we ride together to a hotel

    Luckily for me, a hotel was not the plan for the night but instead but I would be staying at a ‘bike post’ of the Iron Angels MC in Mogocha; a first for me so didn’t really know what to expect

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    When I got there, it was a small barn on the outskirts of town and I was led in by a guy and girl I assumed were in the club but turned out to be travellers themselves!

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    They were kind enough to make up a batch of pelmeni (dumplings) for me to join them for dinner and then took me to grocery store to stock up on supplies.

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    After this, It seemed like a good time to head back down into the garage to check on the bike as my new friend Alexei and his girlfriend Ulya were working on theirs too

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    Everything seemed fine till I checked the chain; strange, it was immovably tight! I was sure I had checked the tension that morning and fairly regularly before that although it had not needed adjusting at all.

    I mentioned this to another one of the Russian bikers hanging about and right away he had my axle nut loosened up and smacked the wheel in with a hammer to get the adjustment right…I did wish he used the adjustment bolts instead but job done right?

    Nope; still not satisfied with why a chain would just tighten up I did a few more check and realised that it just had one very tight spot and the rest now was so loose it was hanging; my first mechanical issue

    Alexei suggested we take a dip by the river to freshen up. Not a terrible idea since the bike post had no running water (or toilet) but I just washed my face and arms and came back to ponder over the bike.

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    After some Googling and throwing up the question on Facebook, I decided to adjust the chain so the tightest spot was not super tight but the rest of the chain was not hanging off either. Hopefully this will keep me going till Ulan Bataar where I can get a good mechanic to look over it while I rest

    This was going to play on my mind for a while though; so Alexei pulled out a bottle of absinth from deep within the mountain of crap on his bike and offered me a shot.

    Once upstairs, I was still sitting quietly trying to look up what could cause uneven tension whilst more local bikers arrived; they assured me they had a solution to my problem

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    What I didn’t know was that the solution didn’t actually have anything to do with the bike; the solution was to drink, drink, drink!

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    The next couple of hours sort of blended into one with more bikers coming with more vodka but it definitely stopped me worrying about the chain!

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    #39
    td63, Merlin44, cs84 and 8 others like this.
  20. russatkinson

    russatkinson Crashing my way through rally stages since 2019

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2019
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    49.2144° N, 2.1312° W
    What a story so far - you're an absolute trooper for taking this on riding a Gixer too, that's legendary. I'm sure there'll be times when it seems too tough but you'll definitely look back on it all and laugh as you re-tell the story once you've completed the ride so hang on in there. I can't wait to read about what happens next...
    #40