August16 Yakutsk - Khandyga The plan is to get to Khandyga today. Thats only about 400 km on gravel roads, but there are 2 ferry crossings involved. so lets start early! Here are 2 maps again. The first one shows the last part of my trip from Yakutsk to magadan (red). The second shows the details of the Kolyma Highway, better known as the Road of Bones. The first step is to Khandyga - easy (red line). The second leg to Kyubyeme should be the most secic part as it goes right through the mounteins. Then you can do the "old summer road" (green line) which is not used anymore, but would be the "classic Road of Bones" with big river crossings and a stretch of over 100km through swamps and mud. A real challenge. A few years ago there was a new road built known as "the road through Ust Nera" (purple line) which is an all season road. A good gravel road that I heard is boring to ride because there are no real challenges. After Susuman it´s an easy ride until magadan. Around 150 km before Magadan the asphalt starts again. (map proudly stolen from Walter Colebatch) A few wiki-facts about the Kolyma Highway. The M56 Kolyma Highway is a road through the Russian Far East. It connects Magadan and Yakutsk. The length of the original road via Tomtor is about 1,900 km (1,180 mi). Locally, the road is known as Trassa or Kolymskaya trassa since it is the only road in the area and therefore needs no special name to distinguish it from other roads. The bulk of the Kolyma Highway, the sections between Khandyga and Magadan, is often referred to as the Road of Bones. It was constructed in the Joseph Stalin era of the USSR by Dalstroy construction directorate. The first stretch was built by the inmates of the Sevvostlag labor camp in 1932. The construction continued (by inmates of gulag camps) until 1953. The road is treated as a memorial, because the bones of the people who died while constructing it were laid beneath or around the road. As said, I wanted to start early. But i russia that is not that easy. You can´t just go without saying goodbye to everybody, even if you said goodbye already the night before. so we meet up again in front of Toms Hotel. Mukaltin, Pate and the rest of the russian gang were not there - they had too much Vodka the night before. But surprisingly a priest showed up. I thought to myselfe. "Cool a bike blessing. I could need that." But the Priest just took a picture with everybody and disappeared. I was stunned. Of course after all that meetings and greetings we missed the ferry and had to wait for the next one. The sign on the ferry says: "Restrooms on the beach" I am the King of the ahhhh, whatever He is the real King. Doug for President Until we got to the other side of Yakutsk it was close to 12 o´clock. Still 400 km to go to reach the next ferry. Time for me to split up again and continue my solo ride. Thanks Max, Doug,Tom, Mukaltin, Pate and the rest for travelling together and share a part of the adventure. It´s been great meeting you all. The gravel was deep for the first miles and hard to ride but got better and better. The ride itselfe was uneventful. Traffic got less, the weather was good and spirits were up. There were more villages then I expected. Lots of farming. The people looked very "mongolian" here. I even found a horse race stadium Graveyards looked spectacular. I guess they don´t burie the coffin because of the permafrost. There was even a little museum about the life during the war here. It was actually the only time here that somebody was mad on me, because I am from Austria. "ah, Hitler" he said. I replied "No, Hitler was from Germany". He said. "No, he was Austrian" I "D oh" I reached the ferry just by dawn and missed it by 5 minutes. In the background she goes. again I had to wait for 2 hours for the next ferry, that was also the last of the day. It was 8PM until I got on the ferry. The ferry ride was 2 hours and there are 40 more km to Khandyga where I could stay overnight. So I calculated that I will be in Khandiga at around 11 PM. But hey, did I mention the timezones already? I completely forgot and found out a bit late, that from one side of the river to the other, there was 2 hours time difference. So when I finally got to Khandyga it was 1 AM the next day. But that was not my biggest problem. First of all, I told you that I am afraid of water, right? Did I also tell you that my second fear are dogs? That was an awesome ferry ride I am also afraid of women sometimes, but thanks god, there were no women on the ferry. In the background of above picture you can see that the weather was changing. And when we got to the bank of the river it was completely dark and a horribel thunderstorm started. Please excuse that there are no pictures from now on but the story isn´t over yet. There was no other choice for me to try to get to Khandyga. I only have the original BMW light and it´s just useless in conditions like this. So I tried to follow a car into town. It was one of the most scary rides I did. The road had deep gravel parts at times, then big puddles. I didn´t even see the roadside. It was so dark and the rain was pouring down. I did not know what to do. If I crash the chance to die out here is quite good. I will get run over by a truck or I fall into the bushes and freeze to death. So I decided not to crash. I was looking for some shelter to stay overnight or put my tent up, but there was nothing but swamp and trees on the side of the road. So I decided not to camp. You should have seen me riding that night. Saucer eyed, fully concentrated, still keeping speed and balancing when I accidentially hit a puddle or a pile of gravel, using the whole with of the road. Just to do it over and over again. Finally at around 1AM I reached Khandyga. Now where would I sleep here? There was a Gas station just when I entered the town and I thought I will camp there if I can´t find anything. But I still tried to find a room with a shower. I had a placemark on my Garmin with 2 hotels there. Both did not look like a hotel at all. No sign, no nothing. I knocked at the first, but nobody opened. I went to the other. it looked like a normal house, but not a hotel. The door was open and there was a letter in the entrance hall that said. "knock on the 2nd door to the right in the first floor" or something like that. I knocked and a lady opened and gave me a room and showed me where I can make tee and have a shower. How could I ever say that I am not a lucky guy? That night I was supertired and exhausted. Still sleeping was not easy because since a few days there is only one thing in my mind. "Will I make it along the Old Summer Road?" Tomorrow will be the judgement day.