The BAM Road - ultimate test of man and machine

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

  1. capeklr

    capeklr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    373
    Location:
    Cape Town
    This just keeps getting better. I cannot imagine what Tony went through there alone on that Bridge.
    He certainly has something for Bridges.:wink:
    After the Bam Road, even crossing Africa would be a Sunday cruise for you three.:D
    Greetings from Cape Town.
    Jorg.
  2. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,177
    Location:
    Schmocation
    Here's a version of the Polish Vitim crossing, without the music, but with the option of watching it in High Definition:

    <object width="873" height="525"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/zJqDyrZfJpI&hl=en_GB&fs=1&hd=1&border=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/zJqDyrZfJpI&hl=en_GB&fs=1&hd=1&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="873" height="525"></embed></object>
  3. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Moscow, Russia.
    I was again riding about 4 or 5 minutes behind the other two when I reached the river bank/bridge. I was confronted by a chilling sight of a very, very long bridge with no sides, just a platform of old railway wooden sleepers laid side by side stretching endlessly into the distance. Not only was the river wide but it was a very fast swirling mass of water (look at the videos).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was too late for the &#8216;team discussion&#8217; of tactics as the other two had set off and were about 50 metres/yards across the bridge either walking or pushing their bikes. I had little choice. I had to work out for myself how I was going to attack it. It was too long to attempt to ride it being that narrow &#8211; evidently they had agreed the same! <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was fully aware the luggage boxes made this difficult restricting stride length to short paces but before starting I had two additional problems to decide how to deal with. <o:p></o:p>
    • My right boot with the &#8216;crocodile&#8217; sole, flapping and catching the ground on every footfall. The boot was wet from the earlier rains so the duct/gaffer tape would not stick so I decided to ignore it.<o:p></o:p>
    • My side stand had had its sprung retracting mechanism knocked off in rocks some weeks earlier and was kept up by &#8216;octopus&#8217; elastics. This made putting it out to support the bike difficult. Thinking I would need rests at intervals I opted to let it hang dragging along the bridge, in readiness for such rests (in hindsight probably a life saving decision).<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    So there is only one thing to do &#8211; just get on with it. I had decided to walk the bike (using the engine and clutch) rather than push it. I set off.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    The initial <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:metricconverter w:st="on" ProductID="100 metres">100 metres</st1:metricconverter> or so were particularly difficult as there were &#8216;running&#8217; planks of wood for 4 wheeled vehicles and a further plank in the centre. All very awkward, as this made positioning of the bike and therefore my flapping feet a difficult decision. I was acutely aware that I had to keep the bike in control all the way. If it went out of balance to the right I knew I had to let it go and walk home. If it was to the left it would have pushed me into the river far below. And that would certainly have been my end, weighed down with full touring suit, boots, gloves and helmet, because even if the temperature had been warmer the swirling water would have taken me down.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I just walked the bike foreword, engine ticking over, letting the clutch part way out from time to time for a little momentum. Thumb on the kill button, should there be the slightest slip, to keep the bike near.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Approaching mid way (1m 47s on the in-car video the other way) there was a series of very loose uneven sleepers either side of a strange metal topped ridge. I though this was the make or break bit. But no!
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I went about it very carefully and slowly to be stable and after a couple of minutes got over it. Just afterwards I stopped, I kicked the hanging side stand forward, pulled the gear lever into neutral and took a rest, stretching my twisted back and arms. I saw far, far away the others had reached the other side. I was sweating profusely with the effort and tension and was thoroughly wet inside the GoreTex.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    While standing resting there I looked around (not down!) and was alarmed at the dense back clouds to the right. As soon as I saw them there was a rush of wind, a crackle and hiss of nearby lightening and less than a second after the loudest clap of thunder that shook me, the bike and the bridge. Colebatch later said he saw the lightening hit the nearby rail bridge. A downpour of heavy rain followed with more lightening and thunder. Mindful that I was holding the only metal object above the wood bridge surface I really did not know what to do. Move away from the bike and lay on the floor? But the wind gusted stronger and stronger in no fixed direction &#8211; it could easily get blown over. I decided walking to <st1:City w:st="on">Moscow</st1:City> or <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">London</st1:place></st1:City> with no bike was a worse option than being struck by lightening (a grandfather had been struck once and survived so there must be reasonable insulation in my genes!) so I draped myself across the bike saddle to weigh it down.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    To make matters worse the rain turned to large hailstones &#8211; the size of peas. Lying there I opened my mouth to let some in for refreshment as water seeped up my wrists into my arms, inside my gloves, down my collar and also up my neck into my helmet. This storm was so low out on the river that the cloud obscured all vision and I could not see either bank of the river, nor even the river. I couldn&#8217;t see my buddies either. I actually hoped they were all right.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    After 10 minutes the storm abated to steady rain. By now I was shivering with cold. I plodded on, thankful to be able to. The additional problem of the oily/tarred sleepers being slippery with the wet seemed hardly a major issue after the previous period.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    As I progressed I saw the two bikes parked up at the end of the bridge but no sign of the riders. I also saw some people sheltering under the eves of a control hut at the end of the rail bridge- I assumed it was them. Finally with <st1:metricconverter w:st="on" ProductID="10 metres">10 metres</st1:metricconverter> to go I heard sounds from below the bridge.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was so, so relieved I was no longer alone!!
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Like the train incident before, I felt no fear &#8211; just a calm but quick reassessment of every possibility at every change. Again, it is the thinking back that frightens me.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I know I could so easily have not been here any more, but I would have gone out my biggest ever challenge in my life &#8211; the BAM road. I&#8217;m happy and personally proud of myself for even starting that.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Throughout the trip I was eternally grateful to everyone I spoke to along the way, and to my riding buddies, for all their assistance without which I would never have even reached the Vitim Bridge &#8211; but this bit was just me, on my own!
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    (Sorry for the length!)<o:p></o:p>
    Mac73 likes this.
  4. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,011
    Location:
    put something on and stay in that position.
    sorry for the length? that was some of the best writing in the thread!

    thanks for taking the time, it was brilliant!
    Mac73 likes this.
  5. Y E T I

    Y E T I Unpossible

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,518
    Location:
    San Diego
    Wow. Nads of tungsten is right.
  6. Irishdude

    Irishdude Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    52
    Great stuff this RR
  7. Off Limits

    Off Limits Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,480
    Location:
    Camp Snoopy
    another shitting of the pants moment and you just walked away. thats so cool.
  8. Coachgeo

    Coachgeo Diesel Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    519
    Location:
    NOW: Dayton OH area recent past WAS: North TX
    Awesome report Tony. I always tell me athletes; athletes in several of the six Gymnastic Sports, that to work with fear you do one thing to deal with it.

    1. Think technique
    A. This keeps your mind busy not allowing fear to creep in
    B. This gives you plans to solve the scary problem at hand reassuring your safety and/or success reducing fear

    Tony you showed this works with true valor. I applaud your tenacity and wise thinking to get you thru THE BAM
  9. Pax

    Pax shazam.

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    812
    Location:
    Columbia MO
    Guys, thanks for the report. I'm not one to typically chime in on RR, but this is fantastic. You guys are real riders. The humility you guys show is, well...humbling. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us. I've read along with a deep sense of fear and at the same time, an insatiable desire to go ride Russia, the BAM, Road of Bones and so on! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Wow. :thumb

    -Pax
  10. froden

    froden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    72
    Location:
    Norway
    Amazing RR! I've been hurrying home from work the last two days to continue reading! For what it's worth, I'd gladly buy the video version, DVD quality or not.
  11. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,177
    Location:
    Schmocation
    I am still not satisfied with how the height of the bridge above the water has been represented. Certainly the Polish stills and the video have been an improvement on our photos, but it still seemed lower than I remembered it.

    So I have been scouring the internet to see if I just remembered it incorrectly or whether the earlier pics just didnt do the frightening height justice.

    I found this, and this corresponds with my memory of how damn scary it was to be on a 6 foot wide uneven wet oily platform ... and then push a heavily laden motorcycle over 600 metres of it.

    Note ... its not my photo ... credit goes to an Alexei Lubenets for this pic.

    [​IMG]
  12. Katkatit

    Katkatit temporarily grounded

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    TLV
    I've been lurking around here for months now, but finally felt the urge to register, just so I could thank you guys.

    Although I was born in USSR (in Ukraine actually) and lived there till I was 8 (immigrated away in 1994), I have never seen this part of Russia.
    Now Siberia is definitely on my "must see" list. I speak and read Russian very well, so at least I won't have to worry about the language barrier :D

    This is an amazing report, simply unbelievable. Thanks :bow

    Ride on,
    Katya :ricky
  13. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,526
    Location:
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    I can't take it anymore :huh :eek1 :eek1

    I'm a nervous wreck--I'm gonna take to drinkin' if
    this keeps up :loaded

    BigDog
  14. Xenocide

    Xenocide Plodding along

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Wiltshire, UK
    Amazing guys, thankyou so much for taking us along.
  15. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Moscow, Russia.
    Better get supplies in.
    It ain't over yet.
    You have seen the map - plenty of miles still to come!
  16. Lopoetve

    Lopoetve Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    667
    Location:
    Lafayette, CO
    SO in on this awesome RR.
  17. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,324
    Location:
    Top of the Ouchitas, bottom of the Ozarks.
    I'm just gonna drink more!:beer

    This has gone beyond Great!
  18. arrcrussell

    arrcrussell Gimme Dirt

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    NE OH, USA
    Great RR. You wouldn't believe the shade of green I turn every time I read this report.

    Couldn't help but notice that allot of the timber on the bridge out-rigger platforms looks burned - did the bridge catch fire sometime in its past?
  19. Gooch

    Gooch Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    East of the river
    It's odd how in extremis, we worry more about our companions. Your own mood and moment is instantly available -- it's the others you have to wonder about.

    You're nuts. Keep it coming.
  20. Kyler

    Kyler Geezer in Training

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,776
    Location:
    Keedysville, MD
    Yo Gooch! Can't you see your new KLR rolling across the Siberian tundra? :lol3