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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Dec 14, 2009.
About all I can say is WOW!
This is gonna be gooooood.
You want more?? my additional archives?? of Tony's broken shock I assume?
Exactly! Since I work at a BMW dealership, it will be good to see what went wrong for future refrence.
Oksana started the day by repairing my tank bag that had the mounting strap torn in my crash yesterday. Then she put a leather patch over the hole in my riding jacket. Oksana does all the clothing, badges, embroidery leather work etc for the bikers in Komsomolsk. Its not her job, just a hobby. She has a normal full time job, but the way bikers work in Russia is that everyone pitches in to help everyone else, lending their own skills to the group.
Tony went down to the metal shop, where the new shock end piece with lugs was waiting for him. It had been made out of some aviation grade stainless steel, and had "Made in Komsomolsk Russia" engraved on one side and "From Russia this [sic] Love" on the other.
And the price for the metal shop guys to have made this new piece? A 200 ruble ($7) bottle of Armenian cognac. Not bad for 2 days work ... and they insisted on putting in the Hard / Soft damping adjuster in ... which would have been more machining than the rest of the work!
It was a Friday night and every Friday night at 8pm, the bikers of the town meet at the Railway station car park for a ride out. We were told to come along and join in, though Kostya insisted on staying behind so he could start putting Tony's bike back together.
Yegor lent Tony his second bike and Tony took his first ride on a chopper as we headed out to a spot by the river.
And we finished up again insisting that we take some of the guys out for dinner. They were reluctant to accept as we suggested one of the most expensive places in town. but we had a few takers:
if there is enough public demand, I might be able to accidentally discover a few more choice items.
Have you seen the Striking Viking thread?
Yes I think that would be possible these days, as long as you werent anal about it. There will be chicken pork or beef stock in lot of soups for example, even vegetable soups ... and some fried foods may be fried in a mixture of animal fat and vegetable oil.
Russians tend to separate foods ... a dish of meatballs and macaroni to you or me is a dish of meatballs to them, with a side dish of macaroni. i.e. it just as easy to just order the pasta and not order the meat at all. They will be two separate items on a Russian menu.
How did I miss this!?
I've got nothing but respect for you guys...
P.S. The pics of the bikini clad women are a nice touch.
It would be hard to top the Road of Bones thread, but you're well on your way. Bring it on.
Loving it man. Thinking of takeing the Land bridge or a ferry or something! Got to get rid of this job!
incredible! and it's only just begun. thanks for sharing!
I'm always scouting for the next good ride! Excellent thread!! Keep the RR coming!! I'll be riding there sooner or later! Threads like this make me want to ride to Europe, via Alaska, Siberia, and Russia!!!
To each his own, my friend. To each his own.
Colebatch -- thanks for bringing us along. I read the whole ROB thread and I'm strapped in for the duration on this one.
Some day, cash permitting, I will be taking you up on the offer.
So that's why it has 15 billion viewings?
OK, you win ... lets get this out of the way so we can get this ride out of Komsomolsk and into the Siberian wilderness:
A few more sights we stumbled across while sunning our pasty white butts (you never pick up much of a tan when you live inside a riding outfit all summer.)
I like the playboy bunny belly button stud ... nice touch:
Oh that pesky slippery bikini:
You would never see two guys doing this ...
And here's one for the girls ... because I believe in balance and perspective. A solid Russian dude in the bottom left.
After a day in which Tony's bike was put back together around midnight, complete with his custom made new shock end piece, emblazoned from the russian workshop with "From Russia this Love" and Terry slept until 5pm; the 8th of August, 1 year anniversary of the opening of the Beijing Olympics, was a day for which we had resonably high hopes of (a) getting back on the road and (b) getting away relatively early. We had been marooned 2 days in Komsomolsk without moving and were all a bit restless. Looking back, when you consider Tony's bike when we arrived, to get out of there in 2 days was a minor miracle. It least we had fun there with great people.
I have to say that the guys in Komsomolsk have really taken Russian biker hospitality to new heights. We had arrived on their doorstep as a trio of hapless adventurers with no contacts in the city and a badly damaged bike (that ought to be taken to a BMW approved technician for a replacement BMW rear shock to be fitted). But 48 hours later and Tony's bike had a remanufactured shock cap, a rebuilt front wheel and numerous other bits and pieces of Komsomolsky 'tuning'. On top of all that we had been housed for 3 nights in Yegor and Oksana's flat.
You can never offer Russians money for all that help ... to offer them money would mean they have to refuse it. If they accepted money then it would undermine the tone of their hospitality. They helped because they wanted to help, not because they wanted money from us. Even to directly offer money can be a bit insulting. Its basically saying "We dont believe you are as kind and generous as you are purporting to be" when they genuinely are.
But we could see that Yegor and Oksana could use the money - they werent well off - and they had spent money on us on food, beer, soft drinks etc. We formulated a plan that would allow us to pay for our accomodation, food, and all the help they had provided us ... we would leave the money semi-hidden, with a note, so they would find it after we had left. That way they would never have to accept it, and they could never give it back.
The incredible thing about bikers in Russia is that if you ride a bike, you are as good as family to them. There is no division between sports bike riders, chopper riders, off-road riders .... a motorcyclist is a brother to another motorcyclist. In the picture above, Kostya is a die hard chopper rider ... not just any choppers, but hard tail choppers (fixed rear end, no rear suspension). Vadim next to him rides a high performance Japanese sports bike, while Kolya the wheel builder, was a hard enduro rider. Yet they are all the best of friends. There is no vicious rivalry between clubs, no fighting over territory etc. A biker is a biker and he is your brother. I have said it before and I will say it again, if you ever see a Russian biker in your own country, treat him like a brother, because I can guarantee he would do the same for you. I don't mean treat him like a welcome visitor ... and I don't mean treat him like an old friend ... I mean treat him like a brother!
Kostya, in his riding gear:
So by midday we are down at the garage sorting out the packing. There was a bit of drama re ATMs. Terry had a badly malfunctioning debit card, and his bank refuses to acknowledge there is anything wrong with the card or international settings on the card, when there blatantly is.
Lots and lots of lots of photos followed before we said goodbye to Yegor, Oksana, Kostya, Kolya, Vadim and the gang, then Yegor, Oksana and Kostya rode with us 45km out of town to the edge of the asphalt, where we said our final goodbyes as a BAM freight train rumbled by. I know Kostya would have ridden further with us if he could, but he rode a hardtail chopper ... and the rough asphalt must have been hard work as it was, without going onto the gravel road ahead.
The dirt began again and we three, we happy three, were out on our own again on the open dirt roads of Siberia. The first village of any decent size from Komsomolsk was Beryozovy, about 200 km to the North East. As it was 4pm when we left Yegor, Oksana and Kostya, I felt that Beryozovy would be a good first target for Team Sibirsky Extreme today.
Tony's bike and rebuilt suspension was humming along like new and the only problem was avoiding dust. But the graded road was wide and we found if we ride as a trio, with two bikes forward, on the flanks of the road, and the third bike close behind and riding in the centre of the road, we can all ride in clean air and at a decent speed. It works fine until there is oncoming traffic!
With due respect to recent mishaps, we rode at a slightly more sedate pace today. Conserving the bikes, fuel and ourselves would be useful over the BAM road. We made the fuel station at Beryozovy soon after 6pm, then went into town to find a general store. We had a good idea where the fuel stations would be as the Poles had their fuel stops saved on the GPS notes as waypoints - for the first quarter of the BAM road anyway. The plan was to camp tonight. Terry is allegedly a camping expert / aficionado and was keen to show us his skills. So we stocked up on camping essentials - beer and chocolate - then headed out of town.
About 25km out of town we found a spot that Terry gave the thumbs up to. The road crossed a nice clean stream flowing over rocks. Not deep, crystal clear and with enough of a clearing to park the bikes and set up 3 tents.
As soon as we pulled up we were set upon by mosquitoes. Not just mosquitoes but the fiercest most numerous mosquitoes of the whole trip. We had to get a fire going and make some smoke, and fast! A look down at the riding trousers was a frightening experience. There were no less than 100 mosquitoes over each of our trouser legs.
Slowly but surely, as the fire settled down, the mosquitoes became fewer in number and we had a chance to bathe in the icy cold stream. A text came in from Joon (yes we have on and off mobile coverage here amazingly). Joon had made Chita! Good lad. (Marked as "Cita" on post #92 map - top of page 7) He is back on asphalt now - the dirt is behind him. We are all really proud of the guy. He couldn't ride 100 yards on dirt when we met him, now he has done over 1000km on dirt - alone. Tony and I had both noticed that when we gave him advice, he really listened. I mean really listened.
Back at the campsite, the as the beers flowed and the sun set, dinner was prepared and sadly the mosquitoes came back for a final fling. I surrendered and crawled inside the tent, yelling abuse both in english and russian at the little buggers. Terry, the camping aficionado who froze his nuts off bathing in the stream and then had them savaged by mosquitoes as he dressed, now sees the value in cheap russian hotels and scrounged accommodation.
This isnt like camping in England!
Team Sibirsky Extreme Rocks!!!
Bikes & Babes and Brutal roads... WOW!!!
Thanks for sharing your epic ride reports...
Awesome thread, thanks so much for the writeups.
It is great to see some familiar faces. Cory, Petar and I (Tim) met up with Terry in South Korea and rode the ferry over to Russia, and then rode to Vlad with him before continuing on with our own trip (www.terranovaexpedition.ca)
We recognize a lot of familiar, friendly Russian faces in your pictures!
We also proudly wore Sibirsky Extreme stickers on our bikes, provided by Terry. Thanks!
Here are some more of Terry from our archives:
Da ... lyudi tam skazal 3 dne ... i ochen mnogo vodka! ne pravda?
Ya budu v polshe, 20-21 dekabra no tolko warszawa .
Great report! Keep it coming!!!