The BAM Road - ultimate test of man and machine

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. RingGap

    RingGap UK Expat

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    Fantast report, having visited Western Siberia - Urals, this report inspires me to ride this solo.
  2. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

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    These Russian girls:clap! If I was attempting the same thing I don't think I would have gotten past Komsomolsk without ending up as someones baby's daddy.
  3. Qwik

    Qwik Adrenaline Addict

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    +1
  4. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

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    Thanks.

    I admire your spirit. I truely do. There is no greater optimist of personal ability than me

    BUT

    Western Russia including the Urals (all of which I know) are no indicater to this. I too thought BAM would be fairly straightforward. How green I was.

    The Altai/Tuva and Koyma/Road of Bones sections were highly demanding and needed others around, but the BAM is not even in that league. Nowhere near.

    I say this, not in self-glorification (those who know me will confirm this is not my style), but in total sincerity and honesty.

    Whatever the bike, the rider, experience, age and fitness, you need others to pull you through - spiritually and physically.

    It was relentless. Every few yards, every few minutes a new problem and challenge - for week after week after week after week.

    The thread is only now just into the tough stuff. You saw the last photo of me - and I was by then a fairly fit rider having been riding off road continuously for more than the last 2 months.

    Knowing what I know now I would hardly have even considered it at age 20, 30, 40, 50 or any age.

    All that got me through were my two companions, plus the common attitude of us all, and the 2 Roberts the year before, "there is only one way to get out of this - we know what is behind and don't ever want to do that again, so......"

    I would be delighted and honoured to be the first to hug you as you ride into Taishet, alone. I mean this.
    klaviator likes this.
  5. ardbeglily

    ardbeglily Been here awhile

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    Hey TonyP, you know that every Sunday morning you gave the ride report to your mates in old blighty. Whether you got the ride or not.:1drink
  6. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    put something on and stay in that position.
    absolutely fantastic report. i've just made it home for the holidays and took the woman through this again. even she was impressed. i told her it's the new holy grail of adventure riding and she mentioned she'd be up for running a Kamaz behind the group should i ever get cocked up enough to go.

    how far do you reckon a Kamaz support truck could make it? i know you're saying the really hard sections are yet to come. so far it looks like the truck could plough forth aside from crashing through some shoddy bridges.
  7. tylerjwhite

    tylerjwhite Wandering Mtn Goat

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    DITTO

    :bow
  8. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

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    :lurk In!
  9. tee bee

    tee bee Been here awhile

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    Blimey,i am a bit surprised at all the interest in our trip.
    The real heroes were all the russian people who we met and helped us on our way.
    I was just happy to wake up every morning , load up and ride off on my bike, with my two mates.
    klaviator likes this.
  10. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Holy Grail ... I like the sound of that! Great name for it ! :thumb :clap


    I think A Ural or KaMAZ 6WD will go wherever the bikes can go. And will go across rivers the bikes cant go. It would be the only sensible support vehicle capable of making it ... but they are not cheap to run. I don't know about the KaMAZ, but a Ural will drink 40 litres of diesel every 100km on normal roads, more on these 'roads' (thats about 5.9 miles per US Gallon). Diesel in these remote parts was about 30 rubles (1 USD) per litre ($3.80 per gallon)
  11. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Rats kept us awake all through the night in our little railway hut. I woke the boys at 8am to get an early start. We decided to ride along the railway track and see how that went.

    We rode through the mini bog and up to the edge of the track. A train went past. From that we worked out how far we needed to throw the bikes in case a train came while we were riding. We had very little room to maneuver on - the boggy, swampy terrain meant the railway track was placed atop a steep embankment about 5 metres (15 feet) above ground level. We rode along the edge of the track along the foot or so of sleeper overhang. It was a killer for the suspension, but after yesterday, in which we did 9 km all day, it was speedy progress. Our first half an hour covered 3 km.

    We came to a railway siding and decided to ride down the middle of the siding track. The ballast was much more complete here and we had a much wider track (over 1.5 metres, as opposed to the 30-40cm sleeper overhang on the edge of the track. After another very quick kilometre (barely 5 minutes) we reached a very minor station, Mustakh, ... one that served only the siding staff and railway maintenance workers.

    The BAM is a single track railway, so every 50 km (30 miles) or so they have to have a siding for trains to pass. The sidings are all manned and served by a mini station. The station is only a stop for service trains and railway staff trains. There is no public access to trains from these mini-stations. Mustakh was one such mini-station.

    I saw a youngish woman tending the garden there. It was the first other human apart from ourselves we had seen in 2 full days. Terry and I left the bikes in the middle of the siding track and went to talk to her. Her name was Anastasia and she was manning the signalling and points control - the only person here. I explained who we were and asked if a cup of tea was out of the question. She invited us inside.

    [​IMG]

    Tony finally caught up and he too joined us in a cup of tea and chocolate biscuits. I even enquired as to the train situation from here. But Anastasia firmly told us that no passenger or freight trains stop here. Its just for railway staff only. I didnt think there was much choice anyway, but that confirmed it. We had no option but to leave this tiny island of civilisation in the Siberian wilderness and get going again - once we had finished our second cup of tea.

    Only we had to hurry. A signal on Anastasia's control panel indicated a train was coming, and needed to use the siding. She told us to get the bikes off the siding ASAP. Damn ... just as I was starting to feel relaxed.

    By now I was convinced that we were going to have to do it by road, and not by the edge of the train track. We cut down the embankment and resumed on the road. The first obstacle was only a few hundred yards further on - a water crossing that was mostly bog, but a small part of it resembled a stream where an old bridge used to be. What struck me was it seemed to have a one-wheel ramp built up the other side that could only have been built by motorcyclists. A one-wheel ramp leading up the centre of the former bridge embankment was useless to the big Urals and ZiL trucks. This had motorcycle written all over it. I could smell it ... the Poles were here. They must have done this last year. We were still hot on their trail!

    [​IMG]


    We carefully rode the bikes up the ramp made from 2 old railway sleepers and continued the journey.
    klaviator and Samoadv like this.
  12. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

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    EXCELLENT ............ can't even begin to image the true difficulty of what you guys were going through.

    What happened with Terry and the oil in his bike?

    Tony mentioned that his camera suffered water damage (a few times) ...... a great thing to do is to put some instant rice into a little bag (tip of ladies nylon pantyhose) and keep that in the camera bag to absorb the moisture.

    When the DVD is available how will we be able to find it ...... put my name on the list please

    Looking forward to more
    Soto
  13. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    At this point, he is still running on milk.
  14. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

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    A good tip - but this was a bit more than moisture.
    Water poured out of the battery/card compartment and large drops were inside the lenses!
  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Yep, i think they call that innundation! :clap :evil

    Did you get that fixed?
  16. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

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    Yes. The PCBs were corroded!

    The repair cost me what I paid for the camera - but I did buy it at about half the top price.

    So now I have a functioning camera effectively costing me top price - could have been worse!
    Samoadv likes this.
  17. Rideass

    Rideass Adventurer

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    gaaah! Wish I was on this trip! Thanks for sharing!
    Sitting at home learning Russian to be able to make this in the coming year or two... :nod
  18. Gooch

    Gooch Been here awhile

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    I read the R.O.B. report in full, coming in near the end and catching you up. Good writing, great photography, superb story. There's only one problem from my end:

    The big slug of EPIC that I got from reading most of the R.O.B. post straight through induced a severe addiction that cannot be satisfied by the smaller shots of EPIC that you dole out -- no matter how timely.

    In this winter weather, even the paltry methadone of my own ride is denied to me, and I am left to wander the lanes of the ADV information highway like a common junkie seeking a fix. I shamelessly snort even the briefest accounts of sand-pits, get-offs, canyon trips and weekend excursions, hoping to extract the merest ghost of EPIC to sooth the jangling in my spine.

    Of course, it isn't working.

    Please help, Colebatch. Just a little more? Something for the road?
    :loaded
    Samoadv likes this.
  19. probe

    probe slowpoke

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    Thanks for this ride report" IT SETS ME FREE!" from the humdrum of a steady job. Only 3more years until retirement,ready for a new adv. Get to live this report only a couple times a year. They call it a vacation!

    You're telling of another world or country and the lives of the people who lives there, is truly refreshing! And is truly a great Chirstmas present!

    Merry Christmas to you guys for sharing your adventure. Hope to do the same for other's someday:clap Planning on sharing this gift with my grand son,one of these days!
  20. Coachgeo

    Coachgeo Diesel Adventurer

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    A Unimog would serve very well as support vehicle too. They are as capable if not more so (matters the model) of the 4x4's mentioned. As to diesel prices.... if all goes right.... on an adventure like this using a diesel converted bike..... you'ld be little better off cause you'ld be getting 60-90mpg thru the ruff and 90-110mpg on good flats. Question would be can you find diesel in these same areas you found petrol.