Back home

Sunday, August 17, 2014

You are now hosted by Vladimir and Nadia. Loneliness at the hotel was difficult and you enjoy the discovery of the family life in Russia. Since yesterday, you help Vladimir in a large cleaning operation. In addition to the museum, he rents two other flats that used to be dedicated to the WWF which Vladimir was the representative in Chukotka. He stopped several years ago this representation, but kept the flats that gradually became filled with a thousand things as diverse and varied. But he learned two days ago that the flats will be inspected on Monday by the town administration. They should therefore be cleaned in a hurry.

In the evening, you go to the public bath with Vladimir and Ronald. This is the first time you enter in a public bath in Russia. This sounds like the ‟ hammam ” that you had discovered in Algeria except that everyone walks completely naked. Vladimir presents you the director of the University Center. You knew the showers after a rugby game, but it is surprising to you to discuss naked with very honorable people. This probably helps relationships in everyday’ life. This stout gentleman could be a bank manager. And this one, may be a policeman? Naked, all appear equal, despite plus or minus a few dozen kilos. Everyone just talks with his neighbor.

Back at the apartment, you find Nadia. She spent the day collecting blueberries in the tundra with her friend Natacha. Natacha and Nadia are both from Siriniki. Natacha is Eskimo while Nadia is Chukchi. Childhood friends, they have received all their schooling together, then, went to Saint Petersburg University. Today, their daughters Lena and Gula are just as friendly and follow the exact same ways.



Monday, August 18, 2014

You remain concerned about the shipping of the bike. Vladimir is convinced that Serguei will find the solution. But Serguei cannot anything more than you. He calls the airline companies, which redirect to Moscow. The eight-hour time difference mean that there is nothing to hope until the evening. So you go back to the river to find Nadia and the children of the camp.

At the evening Gula, Lena’s friend, telephone for you to VIM Avia, the second company you didn’t try till now. Gula spent several months in the United States and she speaks English perfectly. Within minutes, everything works out. Each package is limited upto 150 kg, but you can split the load in several packages. Gula requests a quote for 260 kg and you should receive it by email during the night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You have received the email from VIM Avia. A quote that gives you a smile. There has still to split the body of the bike to make it two parts. So you join Sergei at his warehouses. With the help of two of his employees, Sergei involved in repacking. On your side, you have removed the rear wheel and also the holding tubes for the boat. A weight reduction of about 20kg. What remains of the bike must weigh less than 110kg. That leaves forty kilos for the crate.

Finally Serguei insists to lay the bike on the basis of the crate. Instead of rebuilding a closed crate, it covers the whole with a tarpaulin, and then with a large plastic wrap. You hope that it will be accepted by the airline. But it seems to be as light as possible.

You are surprised to see Sergei so much involved in the operation. He manages a company with over a hundred people, but it attaches importance that all goes well for you.

The wheels, the fork tubes, and other accessories are placed in separate boxes. In total 5 cartons plus the motorcycle.

Now you can purchase your own flight ticket. You realize that the price is surprisingly low: 700 euros for the 260 kg of cargo and 400 euros for your ticket. In 2010, you had paid twice more for a fly Montreal-Barcelona” and four times more for “Melbourne-Buenos Aires”. You take advantage of the weakness of the ruble.

Each dinner follows the same ritual: Vladimir watching the news that report about Ukraine, he curses again Westerners, then smiles when joining the table. Today, he talks about his own crossing of the Bering. You had thought it was an unofficial journey, with friends, but Russians do not play with the border guards. They had authorizations. Two successive crossings were organized by Alaska and Chukotka at the Perestroïka. A way to celebrate the end of the cold war. A team of Russian from Chukotka, sailing on Eskimo boats, was supposed to meet an American team from Alaska, sailing on kayak. The first expedition failed because of bad weather, and the second went well. Since these expeditions, Vladimir has friends in Alaska.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gula accompanies you to the airport for the delivery of the bike. On the barge, you ask her about her life as a student in St. Petersburg. Also about her Eskimo origins. She has participated to cultural events between Eskimos of different nationalities. For these meetings, she went to Greenland and to Canada. The Eskimos, who are now called “Inuit” in Western countries, inhabit the polar regions of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Chukotka. You discover as well as for thousands of years, these peoples lived and traveled on different continents. The Inuit of Greenland and Chukotka have different traditions and dialects, but Gula assures you that there are many common words, and that communications are possible. However, those of Chukotka and Alaska were part of the same ethnic group, the Yupiks. For them, crossing the Bering Strait has long been a regular, trivial, event. Again, the myth of Christopher Columbus discovering a virgin continent crumbles.

You also talk with Bertol, the driver who works for Sergei. He is originally from Bukhara. The economic crisis in Uzbekistan is so difficult that you have met many Uzbeks in Siberia. You can imagine it must be difficult to be an economic migrant, living so far from home.

At the airport, you are asked to enter the cartons and the bike through a small door on the side. Probably for reasons of customs rules. But the door is too narrow and you have difficulties to raise the bike to make it fit.

Without particular explanation, the lady who receives the parcels, tells you that the cartons will fly tomorrow, but the motorcycle next Tuesday. Your disappointment is so strong that after a few minutes, she changes her mind: the bike will leave tomorrow as well if you just sign papers tomorrow morning before 10am. No worries, you will be there before 10am.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You wake up with a fever. Children and Vladimir seemed for some days affected by the flu. It is now your turn. This may complicate the end of the journey.

You take the barge at 8 am to be sure to be on time at the freight terminal. Everything is going well, and you can then join the passenger terminal. The planes are few to take off. This morning, only two helicopters, and this afternoon, the VIM Avia flight. You realize you could have asked if it was possible to travel the motorcycle by helicopter to Provideniya. For these huge devices, the weight of the bike is certainly not a concern. It was probably the solution. It is now too late.

Because of the holidays, you thought that the plane would be full. This is far from the case. Less than thirty passengers for 200 seats. It is true that five flights a week for a town of 14,000 inhabitants, this seems quite over-sized. Flight duration is 8:30 hour. Probably the longest distance in the world for a domestic flight.

Moscow. The landing took place at the scheduled time: 4pm but with 8 hour time jetlag, it is already midnight for your body. You get your bag, and look for the “cargo terminal” . Once there, you’re welcome. The only concern is that you are headed on the “international” terminal while the motorcycle was stored at the domestic terminal. Finally, the agents call the other cargo terminal to move the motorcycle to where you are.

Time passes. At 7pm, the bike has arrived. You have then to go to offices to pay the airport taxes. At the end, you start opening the cartons to 7.30pm, 3.30am for Anadyr. You are very tired.

The fact that the motorcycle is lying make reassembling easier. But you’ve removed a lot of little things, and it takes time. You did all that finished around 9.30pm. It remains to find fuel. Your tanks are completely empty. You ask someone who works at the terminal if an employee can not sell you one or two liters of petrol. You have a hose to siphon. Unfortunately, he and his colleagues have diesel cars.. but he ensures that he will find a solution. Time passes. Oleg works on the site with his wife Julia. Julia speaks English. They take care of you, bring you water, sandwiches.

Julia and Oleg end their workday at 11pm, and it’s already 10.30. They offer you to sleep at their home, but they live 70 km to the south, away from your path. You are too tired to ride so far. They are looking for a hotel and they want to accompany you to the gas station.

When starting, you realize that you have no clutch. The bike lost oil, and the small tank is now full of air. The disadvantage of hydraulic controls. You start as you can and follow slowly Oleg and Julia car. Fortunately, traffic is low at this time and you get to avoid full stops. At the gas station, then to the hotel, Julia pays for you. Impossible to give her money back… Until the end of the trip, the Russians have been very generous with you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Petr, the owner of the hotel is a Francophile. He helps you to find oil for your clutch. He also calls Andrey, a biker friend with whom you discuss trips. At the end, you leave Moscow only at early afternoon. Shortly after you left, the rain arrives. It does leave you practically to the house.

From Saturday 23 to Tuesday, August 25, 2014

You ride always in the rain. You take paracetamol regularly to contain fever. Your rain pants is punctured. You’ve used it for the river crossings. Probably he did not support multiple times you sat on stones. So as soon as the rain is blown by the wind, water enters your bottom and you are in a bathe, soaked.

Riding without the boat make things much easier. The bike seems so light now, even if the panniers weight more than 25kg each. And no more stress about the side stand when parking.

You do not hesitate to choose comfortable hotels. You need to warm you up, to dry. You are also surprised by the quality of hotels in Lithuania and Poland. Quality being equal, you would have paid at least two or three times more in France.

Tuesday morning, you’re between Berlin and Nuremberg. You can finally go to a bike shop to buy a new rain pants. You still get rain the rest of the day, but you now stay dry.

You arrive at your house about one in the morning. The last day, you drove about 1100km, three quarters in the rain. But you knew it was the end of the trip. Although conditions were not ideal, you have enjoyed these last days on the road.

First week in Anadyr

Sunday, August 10, 2014

You thought Anadyr totally isolated, but you just spot a drive south of the town on the OSM map (OpenStreetMap). A dead end, but you need to get out, to ride.

The first few kilometers, some vehicles are stopped on the side of the road. Residents of Anadyr go in the tundra to collect mushrooms and berries. Then, nothing. Just the tundra. The road becomes bad and you go slower. You make rodeo, avoiding as much as possible the flooded parts.

At the foot of a small mountain a white tent. Could be a Chukchi family. The road passes two hundred meters below the tent, but while you are approaching, you meet a man on a quad. He seems as surprised as you. He speaks English … He tells you he leaves to pick up his wife, but he quickly returns, you could wait him at the tent.

You go and park the bike near the tent. A boy of about fifteen years receive you. He offers you some tea. After twenty minutes, the man comes with his wife. Vladimir is Ukrainian, Nadia is Chukchi. They spend the summer here, with young people from Anadyr. A kind of scout camp. But the camp will be soon discontinued because the bears are starting to be too many and too pressing.

Vladimir is a photographer for the Department of Culture of Chukotka. He is also volunteers as local representative of the National Geographic Institute. Finally, he organize this camp for children during the school holidays. You talk to him about your trip, the failed crossing of Bering. He crossed it in 1989, during the perestroika. With several friends, they sailed on an Eskimo boat made of wood and walrus skin. From Provideniya they had reached Nome in Alaska and had come back. The number of crossings is quite low, and you didn’t know this one.

The tundra is a desert, but you are doing some amazing encounters.

Vladimir makes you visit their installation. Near the river, he built a shower that takes water upstream. Everything would be perfect if the place was vandalized in their absence. The hut by the river was on fire. What for? Vladimir can only be saddened.

With Loucha and Maxim, the last two young boys who remain in the camp, you get on one of the small nearby mountains. You’re happy to do a little exercise. Since you left Grenoble, you’ve done little more walking in the mountains and that you lack. In the tundra, you see mushrooms and several kinds of berries. The days of the year when the tundra is generous. The bear must have been also very busy in collecting their own supplies.

Upon returning from the top, you’re invited to dinner. Once more, the war in Ukraine is in focus. Vladimir is a native of Donetsk and the siege of the city is very painful for him. Again, you hear reproaches aimed Obama. Why Obama? You do not understand that the sources of the conflict is brought back to his person. But the Russian medias focus on him.

Vladimir would be interested in your project for 2016. He also has a friend in Alaska, a photographer like him, he could contact. He knows your contacts at the Department of Tourism, and also Kosta. Chukotka is huge, but everyone knows each other.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yesterday was rainy and cold. At night, you were hoping for news from the airline, but the answer is further postponed to tomorrow. As every day.

This morning, the weather is nice. You go to the sea port. As the aircraft remains uncertain, it is best to take the boat to leave today or tomorrow. You are familiar with the guards of the port. At the first a first barrier, the man is a Buryat native of Ulan Ude. Then the blonde lady who knows that you’re going to visit the dispatcher.

The “dispatcher” is not the man you saw last Friday, but the one who told you three weeks ago that there was no ship to Provideniya. This time, it’s for Vladivostok there is no ship. Nieto. Nothing planned in the coming days nor in the coming weeks. You insist a bit but you understand that he cannot create a ship when there is none. It remains to hope that the company Transaero will accept the bike. You had at least the assurance of being able to go on the ship, and now it has vanished. And then there is also a second company for whom things would be simpler, but they require that the motorcycle is on a crate. It may be time to find or to make a crate.

In the evening, you call Vladimir, the man you met in the tundra. You would need his help to find a crate for the bike. Maybe the store that sold his quad keeps some crates that had been used for the motorcycles or quads they received?

Vladimir and Nadia invite you to dinner. You show them your book, they show you some pictures taken by their American friend who lives in Alaska. Silver panoramic photos from there twenty years. Objects worthy of a museum. You did not know there analogical cameras dedicated to this technique. Vladimir plans to do a show with these beautiful prints.

At 20h, the TV news. Vladimir suffers. His brother and sister are in Donetsk, in the bombed areas. It has the same grievances against America, Europe, Obama you have heard many times. You understand his suffering, and hear his anger.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Vladimir go with you to the store where he bought his quad. It is is the main distributor of equipments in Chukotka. There are warehouses, but also a mechanic workshop and several shops. The director, Sergeï, is a friend of Vladimir’s. There is no crate available, but he agreed to make one and to deliver the bike to the airport. You’ll spend tomorrow to disassemble it. A big worry discarded.

Vladimir must join the Scout camp near the river. You go with him. They came to fish, but their rare taken will not be enough to feed the troops. However, there is all along the beach huts with fishermen who use nets. Their technique of fishing seems far more efficient. Three men withdrew a net laid across the bank, about fifteen meters. In the net, fifty salmons.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vladimir is chasing time. He must take care of the youth camp, go to his work read emails, take care of his future trips to Moscow for the National Geographic Institute … Busy, you still solicited him to fix your own worries: pass migration office for registration, find a place to clean the motorbike, call the airlines for information, contacting Sergueï for the crate,… He saturates and forgets his keys once, another time his documents, or his phone. Once or several times.

Besides the occupations you know, Vladimir also chairs a committee of citizens who checks public accounting. In the past he was a geologist, a radio DJ or a singer. He also established a museum dedicated to the cosmonauts. Finally, he teaches photography and mounts exhibitions of pictures at the Department of Culture. So many things..

By early afternoon, you go to the mechanic workshop which belongs to Sergeï. You remove the front wheel, the fork tubes and disconnect the swing arm to make the bike more compact. You also disconnect the battery and empty the fuel tanks. The opportunity to clean the air filter, that you had not done since Bilibino. It is more than necessary. Everything done quickly. It will be harder when reassembling, alone in the Moscow airport.

You’ve decided to give the boat to Vladimir. It will be useful for his youth camps. It will also facilitate your way back, the shipment of the bike and may be it would serve as replacement boat for 2016.

In the evening you are again invited to dinner by Nadia and Vladimir. They celebrate Ronald’s birthday, their youngest kid. Before the meal, Nadia proceeds to a Chuchi ritual: take a small portion of each dish and throw all in the tundra to feed the spirits. As the tundra is a bit far from downtown, the spirits will recover these crumbs at the bottom of the building.

Nadia is native from Siriniki and you have questions about her village that lies between Nunlingran Provideniya. Before meeting her, you did not know even the existence of this village. On Google Earth, even knowing the exact coordinates, you see nothing that looks like a building. The area is blurred.

The population of Siriniki is divided equally between Chukchis and Eskimos communities. Hunters of marine mammals that circulate on boat not only to Nunlingran or Provideniya, but also to Enmelen and to Kenerguina or Egvekinot. Good to know, but it’s surprising to have to go to Anadyr to learn it.

You discuss the difficulties of Russia. As for alcohol, vodka, Nadia reports that in Siriniki more than half of her generation has already died due to alcoholism or suicide.

At 8pm, Vladimir leaves the table to watch the news of the day. Always Ukraine. He came back furious as each evening against Western countries and Barak Obama. You do not repeat anymore that you appreciate the American President. You gave up to replicate. You know that your arguments are nothing compared to his suffering. After ten minutes of shouting, he smiles at you and promise not to talk politics anymore. Even though he knows it will be for a short duration.

While you listen without understanding the discussion, you realize how many are the origins around the table: Vladimir Ukrainian, Nadia Chukchi, Gula, the friend of their daughter, is Eskimo, and the little Micha who is present for Ronald’s birthday was born of a Tatar father and an Eskimo mother.


Friday, August 15, 2014

You make a presentation of your travels to the youth camp and Vladimir translates what you say. Since they came back from the tundra, Vladimir and Nadia trying to keep the kids as they can. The camp would have to happen over the lifetime of the tundra, but the bears have decided otherwise. They must now place the planned program in the city rather than wildlife. Not easy. It annoys everyone. Meeting locations in the city is the Museum of the Cosmonautes created by Vladimir. A little noisy apartment overrun with canvas tents and other camping gear. Fortunately, the group can go on foot or by bicycle to the river, or in the nearby tundra.

Vladimir has frequent interruptions to take care of your worries. The deal of the day is your registration with the Migration Board. This will be a week since you arrived in Anadyr. Register is not as easy as you had imagined. But after two round trips between the Migration Office and the Department of Sports, everything seems back to normal.

You were surprised that a migration office exists in Bilibino. You understand now that the office is not just for foreigners, but also for non-resident Russians. Russian have both national and international passports. To travel in Chukotka, you need a passport and special permissions. Whether one is foreign or Russian. Are there any other countries in the world where the travels are controlled like this? You do not know, you’re far from going everywhere.

You return in the late afternoon on the bank of the river to find the youth camp. In addition to the fishing, they are entitled to today sessions rifle and a workshop for marine knots.

The day ended, Vladimir calls for you the Vim Avia airline to ask them if they would accept your bike. For now, your last chance. The bad news of the day: a shipment should not exceed 150kg. The bike alone already exceeds this limit. So no ship, unreachable airline, and another that limits the weight. The situation appears to hang every day.

It would remain a solution: put the bike without wheels an fork in one crate, and all the rest in a second crate. It’s a pity you do today may learn it because the single big crate has been completed today. You will probably have to reopen it, put the bike out, and cut the box in the lengthwise to make two crates from one. Not very encouraging and the cost of the operation will continue to increase.

Keep cool. Anyway, there’s nothing left to do before Monday morning. This is what you already told you last Friday.



Monday, August 4, 2014

You know that the ship will not leave until 4pm, but you load your luggage on the bike early in the morning. You want to get to the port to talk to the captain. This is the boat of passengers that will go to Provideniya on August 11th. Probably the last card to play.

At checkout, you call Ludmila to ask her to accompany you to translate. You know she does not work today, and she had offered you her help yesterday. You wish to discuss about the journey to Provideniya with the captain, and you think that it could be confusing for him.

The ship is not very big: 50 or 100 passengers. There is no crane on board, but it is moored under one of the harbor cranes. It would therefore be no problem for loading. The question is whether it would be in the same situation in Anadyr.

The captain is there. Ludmila explains your request. The answer is clear, non-negotiable: he will not take your bike, whatever the destination. Surprised, Ludmila insists. You quickly understood that the position of captain will not change. The guardian of the harbor entrance told you that she had already seen a car on the deck of this ship. That may be the problem … A bad experience would have set up the strict rule to reject all vehicles.

The director of the Port informs you that there will be a cargo of the “Chukotka Trading Company” that will leave in three days to Anadyr. You have to go to the offices of the company to take a ticket and see the conditions of carriage of the bike. You follow Ludmila towards what is one of the largest buildings in Egvekinot. The interior is neat, almost luxurious. There is no problem to carry the bike, except that only a Russian may file at the port of departure, and only a Russian may recover it on arrival. This rule is unexpected but Ludmila proposes to be the sender. She also calls her friends to find someone who could get to the port with you to the reception. And she finds a former colleague who is willing to help you in Anadyr. You’re going to leave Egvekinot.

However, you just lost all hope to reach Provideniya with the bike. The passenger ship is prohibited to you. So you give up the crossing of the Bering strait for this year. It’s settled.

You lost the game by going the first time to Anadyr. You wanted to focus on the Bering strait, bypassing the journey of Egvekinot to Provideniya. Avoid the first 400 km and bring the total distance to a more reasonable value. Now you know that the state of the sea will become increasingly problematic. The coming week is announced bad. Favorable weather slots are passed. And your low speed does not allow you to take too many risks.

You had a good chance of success if you had known sooner that Kosta and Rodney taught you. If you had knowledge of the existence of the Enmelen and Nunlingran villages. On the other hand, the purpose of this trip was primarily to learn. Understand the challenges and discover the solutions. But it was possible to go further. Provideniya at least, and probably Nome.

The solution would have been not to stay in Egvekinot and to sail to Kanerguina, and to look there for the person who could accompany you to Enmelen. Kosta knows someone who could. This first section would have been a perfect test, progressive. Once in Enmelen, you could have continued alone until Nunlingran and then Provideniya. Enmelen and Nunlingran are villages of whales hunters. The locals know the coast and know how to move. Egvekinot is a city, and occasional fishermen do not go out of the bay. Two worlds that do not know each other. For the inhabitants of Egvekinot, sailing outside the bay is just impossible. The exit of the bay is too far. For the Chukchi whale hunters, this is their life. At least in the summer.

For the fuel, you would have loaded the boat with at least a hundred liters starting Egvekinot. Navigate overloaded in the first protected area posed no worries. And you would have been quickly lighter in the second part. It was possible to reach Provideniya before the end of July, then to use the current slot to pass the strait.

Once again, you return to the gotsinitsa and unload the luggage. Once more, the boat takes its place in the hall. A call from Philippe, the KTM biker who follows you with a delay of 3 weeks. He is in front of Zyrianka on a barge ready to leave for Aniusk. You explain to him about your day, your disappointments. You spend two hours on the phone. He wants you rent a plane to go to Provideniya. You should force things. You are more fatalistic.

He will also talk about his own journey. He will meet Kosta between Pevek and Bilibino. They will, probably with Pavel, head the same route you took. Once in Egvekinot, they will rent an amphibious vehicle to reach Vankarem since Amguema. Then a boat to accompany them to Uelen. Philippe would remain on bike as much as possible. It was also the route that you had originally envisioned. Less coast, less sea to cross. But incompatible with the administrative requirements: the boarder guards want you leave Russia in Provideniya.

In the evening, you realize that for some time, the evenings have become recognizable. You’ve even been surprised by the darkness waking you last night. There is a month when you were on the Kolyma, it was very difficult to distinguish night from day. The summer solstice is away. It is also likely that the sea state is related to the sun’s influence. At the time of the solstice, the stability of the position of the sun must limit its impact on the tides. However, the more you will be closer to the equinox, the more the trajectories of the sun affect the tides. And the tidal range must amplify the amplitude of the waves. This is all new to you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You spend the day updating your blogs, and answering your late mails. You add drawings Gilbert sent to you just before you left. You also continuing to look at the weather files, but more with the same attention. For now, the return of a calm sea is still not expected.

In the afternoon, you get a call from Kosta who comes to news. You explain to him the situation, your disappointments, but also the willingness for a second trip in 2016. Kosta tells you that he will participate to this project. The news make you glad. You’ll have to find sponsors on the one hand, and companions on the other.

Kosta impress you with his knowledge of the terrain. You regret not having discussed about your route when you met him in Bilibino. He would have brought you the solution.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

You’re leaving in the early afternoon for a ride to Amguema. This is the only road from Egvekinot with that to Bilibino. You prefer Amguema to avoid river crossings on the eve of departure. You go on after Amguema to locate the track leading to the east, toward the river Vankarem.

An amphibious vehicle stopped near a ruin. You continue your route still twenty kilometers. You look at the map on your GPS: you have gone too far north. U turn. By joining the amphibious craft, you realize that it is parked where the intersection should be. But you do not see any trail that starts from there.

You discuss with people near the “go-everywhere” vehicle. They come from a mine and are waiting a bus that picks them up. The driver knows Kosta and it is probably the vehicle that would accompany Philippe to Vankarem. A monster… What consumption? 120 liters of diesel per hundred kilometers. Could it get to Provideniya? Not Provideniya. . ” You doubted the response. Provideniya is surrounded by mountains to the north.

You leave them and will meet a bus half an hour later. In the region, the “buses” are adapted from big trucks. Not much to do with Parisian buses.

You enjoy the ride. Few pictures, but you stop again near the orange mountain, the color of KTM. You even find KTM grass in ponds.

You come just for dinner after going to the port to ask what time will leave the ship. It will be tomorrow in the early afternoon. Parking the bike you realize that clips on both rear indicators are broken. Too much vibration, shock too. Set for a full load, your shock absorber is probably too hard. You were too lazy to change the setting.

Ludmila suggests you to go with her for her evening walk. She tells you how she arrived at Egvekinot during the Soviet era. She worked at the airport, and the city had three times the population today. Working in Chukotka had significant financial benefits: the salary was higher than two comparing with the center of Russia and each month was considered as a month and half for retirement. And she loved the Chukotka wildlife. While many were leaving after the collapse of the Soviet Union, she decided to stay. Her life is now here.

She occupies two adjoining apartments in an old building. She lives with her dog in the first and collects abandoned cats in the second. It currently houses 52 cats. Is there a limit? When she had only 8, she thought 8 was the limit. Today, she believes that the limit is 52, but if someone leaves again a cat on her doorstep, she does not know what she will do. Too bad, because the number 52 is special. Card Games …


Thursday, August 7, 2014

You load once more the boat on the bike and do your goodbyes. You start to know many people in this small town. Before yesterday, someone you thought had never seen called you by your first name.

Some shopping in case the boat would not serve meals. There are an incredible number of grocery stores in Egvekinot. As in Bilibino. They all look alike, but they often differ by a few products. Go into a grocery store, look, and come out without buying is common. At first felt uncomfortable when leaving a shop witout purchase, but you now visits three or four stores before finding what you are looking for.

You go to the port with Ludmila.She is officially the person who must deliver the bike. The ship is carrying coal. It is the twin of the one that you took to return to Anadyr. The motorcycle is quickly on board and you say goodbye to Ludmila.

You discuss with the representative of the shipping company. You explain to him the anticipated end of the current trip, and your willingness to come back in two years to complete it. He thinks that his company, which strives to promote tourism in Chukotka, would sponsor such a project. He will talk to his manager. It can also help you if you need information about ships. Once more, you get the information too late…

For future travel, you think that with several bikers and with Kosta, the trip could be the object for a movie. There really matter to film, both in central Chukotka than on the coasts.

The wind is strong in the bay, and the ship has difficulty moving away from the dock. But once started, it remains surprisingly stable. On board, passengers are few people you’d cross near the amphibious craft, north of Amguema. They work in a gold mine, and take a plane to Moscow. Their annual vacation.

There is also Igor, Igor said “Diesel”, a marine biker from Vladivostok. He saw the sticker of “Iron Tigers” on your bike. The motoclub Vladivostok who hosted you in 2010. If you need anything, you can contact him.

On deck, you admire the scenery. The Egvekinot Bay have several branches that dig into the mountains. Fjords of great beauty. Regret for not sailing on your boat in this bay.


Friday, August 8, 2014

The crossing is fast. Less than twenty hours. Arrived in Anadyr, passengers join the city on a small boat. But the ship must remain anchored in the middle of the river, waiting its turn to load coal. The captain tells you that you will get it back your bike tomorrow morning at 8am.

Before leaving the port, you make visits to the dispatcher. A ship should go to Vladivostok in the middle of next week. He advises you to call him on Monday or Tuesday morning.

Once in town, you ask a man where to find a gotsinitsa. It leads you to the famous .. luxury hotel where you had ended up taking a meal. The “Chukotka”. You stop your guide to 100 meters away. You do not want a “five-star” hotel, but a simple gotsinitsa. It brings you to a second location. May be a “three stars.” This is still too good, too expensive, but you give up a third request. With a little luck, you will leave after two or three nights. You’re surprised that dusty as you are, people will drive in posh hotels.

You leave your stuff at the hotel and you go to the airport, which is on the other side of the river. The barge passes close to the “Professor Kromov”, Russ’s ship that is already back from its cruise. Once at the airport, you look for the cargo area. The lady who receives you does not seem available, but she will do her best to help you. You call Kosta to help you in the discussion. You know that the information can be useful for Philippe.

At the end, the shipping of the bike should be possible, but not until the Moscow agreement. A bike is considered as a “dangerous good” and acceptance is not automatic. You will not have a response until Monday night or Tuesday morning, and it will be too late for the plane on Monday. You’ve once again caught out by the weekend. So if you take a plane, it will be next Friday. Here you are for a week in Anadyr. Unless you take the ship to Vladivostok, but it would add at least three weeks of travel. You’ll see on Monday.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The captain of the ship had asked you to be present on the port at 8am, but the boat will dock at 10am. A “normal” delay in Russia. Once back to the hotel, you look at your maps for routes around Anadyr. You want to ride the bike and explore the area. You are quickly cooled: there is no road from Anadyr. At least no summer road. Anadyr is like an island. You can take a barge to the other side, where the airport is located, but that’s all. Do you understand why there are no motorcycle Anadyr? Why taxis are 100 rubles whatever your destination. Only with the boat you could have rides, but the assembly time is too long.

You call Kosta whether he does not know any roads not marked on maps. He suggests you go on the other side. There, you can take a 8 km road and visit the ruins of an abandoned missile (ICBM) site. It’s a bit limited as ride, but why not. You will go from Monday to visit the lady of “Cargo Terminal.” Time will pass slowly in Anadyr.

A short walk. In the square close to the museum a sort of fair with entertainment for children. On a platform, Chukchi dancers provide the show. Young men take turns to sing and dance to the tunes of traditional music.

You go to the hotel. You’ll have time. You can start working on a second trip.


Egvekinot-Anadyr-Egvekinot …

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You’re on the boat as planned at 7am. The crew offers you a coffee at the bar, and a young woman comes to meet you: Natalia. She was your contact at the Ministry of Sports and Tourism for getting the Chukotka pass. You tell her to have met quickly Mille yesterday. You feel she is disappointed by your level of Russian. You had only exchanged emails and you used intensively GoogleTranslate.

Your cabin is comfortable and you re-read the texts late for your blog in English. At lunch, you come among the last in the dining room, and you sit at one of the last available seats in front of Natalia. You are surprised because there mostly Russians around this table. When you ask your neighbor if she is cruising, she’ll explain that she is Irina, the Minister of Sports and Tourism of Chukotka. The person who obtained your Chukotka Pass. She also explains that this trip is not a cruise, but all passengers come to participate to the “Artic Games”, which took place near Provideniya. There are not only Canadians on this boat, but Icelanders, Russians, Norwegians and also Greenlanders. The ship brought up on the participants, and it has been probably used as a hotel for the duration of the games.

In the evening you attend a screening of photos on the running of the games. Beautiful photos for a beautiful event. A confidential event more of culture than sport. Not really “Olympic” games, even if the sport was the common thread. The opportunity to bring together young people from different polar regions. You would have liked to attend. In any case, all participants seem happy. All seem to become friends.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

You arrive close to Anadyr early in the morning and the boat is anchored in the center of the river, close to the Anadyr airport, located on the opposite bank. Three quarters of passengers take a flight today. The others will have their flight tomorrow but they land for a walk. You stay with the crew, to take advantage of the Internet and to prepare the next steps of your trip. Rodney, the owner of the boat, told you that your bike will be landed tomorrow, with the barge which will supply the boat.

You ask questions to Rodney on the route to cross the Bering Strait. He is the best person you could meet to discuss it. He will not recommend going through Cape Chaplino which lies just east of Provideniya. Big waves, strong current. Too dangerous. There is a track that would allow you to get around by motorcycle and reach, 20 km north of Provideniya, an area protected by ​​two islands. That would make also reducing your sailing by more than 100 km. From there, you could sail to Lavrentiya, then cross the strait south of the Diomede Islands. He thinks that this crossing is feasible, and you’re happy to hear it. It is also necessary that you have permission to leave Russia from there rather than from Provideniya port.

The evening meal is in reduced committee. You are still a dozen of passengers. You sit in front of Mille who speaks with Rodney about her life in Alaska. Mille is not an American citizen, she is Danish. Her difficulties in obtaining the green card, her life with her huskies.


Friday, July 25, 2014

The last passengers left. Remains the crew who prepares the ship for the next cruise. You go back a moment to talk to Rodney. You quickly tell your lives, your travels, your projects. He is the only one with whom you have really communicated on this boat, and it is rather a surprise.

You arrived in town around noon and you go directly to the port. It leads you to the “dispatcher” the person who knows the list of departures. You speak in Russian with him as you can, but you understand too well his answers:

  • Provideniya?

  • No boat to Provideniya.

  • But Seagrand? Niet, it goes to Vladivostok.

  • When a ship to Provideniya?

  • There is one ship plans at present: on August 11th, and it will be a passenger boat which can not take your bike.

  • Then when?

He does not know … after August 15? In Egvekinot the Seagrand was the container ship that also went to Anadyr. Its captain said it would go to Anadyr and then to Provideniya, but its destination has now changed.

Disappointment. Your coming to Anadyr does not make sense now. You do not want to stay there. Return to Egvekinot? There is a boat tonight, then the next one in a week. You leave the dispatcher to think about this, come back ten minutes later: you return to Egvekinot tonight. You shall make the tests there and see what happens next: either you’re go along the coast, or you will wait for a boat, or you will give up the journey and get home. Or … well you’ll see.

You will have lost a few days in this useless round trip. But it has been the opportunity to meet Mille, Irina and Natalia. And especially Rodney who has teached you how to sail through the strait. In the end, not quite useless.

The boat is Egvekinot is still loading. It carries coal. Apart Bilibino which had its nuclear power plant, the only one in the world above the Arctic Circle, all cities have coal-fired power plants. These plants provide the mandatory heating for the towns in winter. Their replenishment is the main activity of sailing, on either sea or river.

The dispatcher asks you to come back at 3pm for border guards check your documents. You go into town looking for a restaurant. You find one in the center, but too chic. You try to find another in several parts of the town, but each time you ask people, the answer is the same: no restaurant here, but you can go to the center, there is one. You’re tired by this research, and you finally resign yourself to go to this “klass” restaurant . You look like a clown. All clients are businessmen. All very well dressed. The atmosphere is very chic. Fortunately, there is a cloakroom where you can leave your bag, your helmet and your jacket. All dusty. When you get into the room with your boots, your pants dirty and your fleece, you really do not feel you in your right place. The waitresses seem embarrassed. You’re sorry for them. You eat a fish dish as quickly as you can, take an espresso and run away to find the rain.

At 3pm, you return to the office of the dispatcher. Border guards inspect your documents. Everything is ok, they will report to the captain. You must now be back at 7pm for boarding.

Back in town. You park the bike near the church. You see, front of the next building, Irina and Natalia. You just have time to explain to them that you return to Egvekinot as they are in a hurry. Near the church, Swedes and Swiss tourists. They will be on the Rodney’s boat for the next cruise. You go to the museum together. Photos are prohibited except to pay a few euros. You pay ten euros each to see two rooms without interest, and the cashier picks you to kick you out because you stay more than 5 minutes in one of two rooms. Museums and Bilibino Egvekinot were incomparably more interesting, better supplied and above a thousand times more welcoming. You continue to wander in the rain. You get into a hair salon. You’re the only man, but never mind. The hairdresser is an artist of the scissors, and she is smiling. Her smile warms you.

At 7pm, you’re at the port. You are about ten passengers. A new lift in the air for the motorcycle. You became effective for unloading and preparing it for a crane. You are entitled to an individual cabin while the others are two or three passengers per cabin. The crew, but also other passengers talking with you. Three young people go to Egvekinot for a concert. They are interested in your journey and you show them the video. You’re always happy to see the smiles when people understand the principle of the motor-boat.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Always bad weather. Rain, cold, fog and 2 meter waves. You would not like to sail on your bike in those conditions. This cargo is much more stable than the Rodney’s boat. Much bigger, much longer.

At breakfast, one of the young musicians want to talk to you. He wants you to speak at the microphone during the concert, you push a few screams. You are not interested, and he is disappointed. But you will come to attend their concert.

You go back on deck early afternoon. The sea became flat. Of course, you’re already entered the long bay of Egvekinot, but the contrast with what you saw three or four hours earlier surprises you.

Once landed, you join the gotsinitsa. Everyone looks happy to see you. You find yourself in the same room. You’ve become a regular.

In the evening, the concert takes place on the ground floor of the gotsinitsa. But you fall asleep before the festivities begin …


Sunday, July 27, 2014

You hate weekends in small Russian towns. The most popular activity is to drink vodka. Most people that you meet and feel stagger vodka, and it makes you more uncomfortable.

You wanted to ride to Amguema, but it’s raining and visibility is low. So you start to assemble your transmission system for the boat. The good news is that all parts have well traveled, without damage. Your packaging was at the level of the journey.

You put more time than expected for mounting. You had already forgotten some of the details. You alternate sequences of mechanical and Internet searches.

Some good news: Dominique, a friend who has sailed solo Atlantic accepts to help you for the weather forecast. You download GRIB files regularly in the area, but your knowledge of the sea is low, and you need advices.

Finally, you discover that Nunligran, which is halfway between Egvekinot and Provideniya is a real village with about 300 inhabitants. Maybe you could find gasoline there ? At the very least, there will be a store and you could take a break. The distance between Egvekinot and Provideniya is 450km. You do not feel you get started for such a journey. While cut into two parts, it becomes more realistic.

Everything will depend on your tests. Before you left home, you just starting to plane. But you did not have the time nor the good weather to seriously test “planing” mode. Lots of things to check before embarking for a great crossing.

In the evening, your neighboors come to you. You spend time with them, tell them your travels. The youngest, Dima, seems particularly interested. You’ll also get your book to show them. Each time, the Russians in Siberia are surprised that you can make such trips. And you’re happy to bring surprises.


Monday, July 28, 2014

You finish to prepare the bike for the trial. You’re visiting Maria. You tell her you’re looking for information on Nunligran. Maybe the local representatives of the Chukchi could help. She will contact them.

Back to the Gotsinitsa, you meet Dima. You thought he was working, but he does not work now. You ask him if he could give you a hand this afternoon to mount the bike by boat mode. He agreed.

You take coffee with Dima before you go to the sea. He now seems reluctant. You understand why he is not working now: he has a broken hand ! But he assure you that he can help you with his good hand. Why not.

You should get into the sea. You go there with the bike loaded, but Dima does not come. You will wait in vain. Misunderstanding? It’s not a big deal.

Nobody but a man who unravels a fishing net near a shed. You come and trying to initiate a conversation. You explain your project to him. Man is surprised and telephones to the border guards who will come. Surprizing, but why not … You call Bob from Irkutsk and ask him to translate what is being said. You did not meet the officer earlier, but he is aware of your project, probably by his colleagues. He knows that your documents are in order, but he puts you on your guard against the risks of the sea. Bay is protected, but no one comes out with a small boat. You know that.

Once the border guard left, you continue the discussion with the fisherman, joined by two of his friends. You take out your map of Chukotka, and talk about the road. Nunligran? Nobody goes there from Egvekinot. Too far! But he confirms that you could sail, after the bay, in a long 80 km lagoon opened at both ends. After? The waves will return you. That makes him smile.

You understand that sailing could be dangerous. Conditions can change quickly. You know that this trip is possible for you if you are helped to weather. If you can be certain favorable conditions.

There is no culture in Russia “weather forecast” for boaters. There are also no real sailors in a place like Egvekinot. Only large ships, a few taxi boats and then individuals – often casual fishermen – who remain in the bay area. The bay is more than 100km long, and there is alreay much to do. You understand that no one travel to Nunligran since Egvekinot.

You also looking for a solution for the night. If you set up the bike on the boat, where could you leave it? On the beach? Not very safe, and the tide will move it. Find a shed ? You would have to drag the boat on the rocks. This would require that whenever you find a lot of hands to help you, and you also would multiply the risk of punctures of the boat on the rocks. However, several boats are moored to buoys. You think that you have to find one available or make an anchor buoy by yourself. There are lots of scrap pieces on the beach, which is not really a beach. You could let the boat at anchor and would join the bank by swimming. The water is cold, but you have your dry suit. There are a good fifty meters to go. The sea water is not good for the bike, but you must do these tests. You shall take a bath into a river when you will switch back to motorcycle mode.

You ask the fishermen if they own one of these buoys. No, they store their boat in their shed. Of course, buoys that you see have all owners. How to find the owner of a buoy? He does not know or does not understand what you are asking for.

Time has passed. It’s almost 4pm, and Dima did not come. You go to the hotel a little annoyed. You unload the boat and mechanics for the night. Meanwhile, Maria has called you to propose you to give a presentation tomorrow morning for school children. It will be at 10am.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The presentation takes place at the public library. You present in English your two trips and the English teacher translates. That of 2010-2011, and the current one. Children have many questions again. You’re happy to avoid the autograph session, but everyone wants to photograph you. You accept graciously, remembering you that, young, you always refused.

Then the director and English teacher make you visit the school. There is only one school in the town, they were 3 during the Soviet period. Today 400 students from primary. The buildings, equipment, are in very good state.

Many photos in the hallways. Sports, but also military activities. You did not know that these “military games” began at school. You are surprised, but the director as an English teacher seem to find it quite natural. And their students are particularly good at it. You understand why the omnipresent military thing does not shock: it is met very early at school.

You go to the gotsinitsa for lunch and then you go again on the beach. There are two small taxi boats that have just arrived. One with Chukchi children but the driver is a European-Russian. He seems close to these kids and seems to be a good man. You try to talk to him. They come from a village, Kanerguina, located at 45 km on the way to the exit if the bay. But he never goes to Nunligran…

2 pm. You know you will not mount the bike on the boat today. It is already too late for the tide. You’re going to visit Maria. She has information for you: first the next ship to Provideniya will leave on August 12th. Probably the passenger boat which you had spoken with the dispatcher in Anadyr. Then for Nunligran there … it remains unclear whether you can find gasoline. Nunligran is not in the Egvekinot district, but probably in Provideniya district.

You talk to her about mooring buoys. She calls the head of sports in the city. The sports department has a boat attached to a buoy. They accept that you’re moorings above.

You ask also the director of sports if he knows a person who can help you to mount the bike on the boat. You think you can do it alone, but you’re not sure. And you should not be surprised by the tide, with the bike disassembled and placed on the beach.

He calls someone who can help you. Sergey you seem to be a pensioner. You’re probably not both among the strongest but you should get there. Appointment is made for tomorrow 1pm.

You come back to the town. Trying to find large plastic garbage bags, but the concept of garbage bag does not exist. Since you’re in Russia, you realize that there is often ordinary objects found anywhere else but here.

9pm. You’re on the internet after writing this text. There is a knock at your door. Probably someone who wants to talk bikes, or travel … No, a lady in a blue raincoat closed up to the neck, which stretches out what is looking like a police card. Behind her, the border guard you met yesterday. She wants to see your passport and pass. You’re not worried because you know they are in order. She asks you when you arrived, when you plan to leave. You do not know. You follow her into the office of the gotsinitsa. You begin to understand: hotels must register foreigners to the police station, and it did not happen. A legacy of the Soviet period begins to fall into disuse, but Chukotka is still under a strict control. Thereupon, it must be more than 8 days you came to Egvekinot. She asks the hotel employee to write a long declaration. A bad time for him. The Russian administration uses a lot of paper. You hope that it just is not too much trouble for the employees of the gotsinitsa. They are really kind with you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You start to prepare the bike on the front of the gotsinitsa. It’s raining and you’re quickly soaked. At noon, everything is ready, and you take a meal before you go to the beach.

Sergey is there. You unfold the boat, install the bike over before removing the wheels. Things are going reasonably well. You are happy to have forgotten nothing, except perhaps some details of assembly. There is a lot of detail, and time passes, always in the rain. You are cold .. You have nothing on your head, and your hair is soaked.

A man Tolek, attends the show. He owns an old shed next to the place you are working. He seems friends with Sergei, and it gives you a helping hand sometimes.

You are supposed ton insert a small shock absorber between the swingarm and the bike. But the fixing screw is broken. The thread on the swingarm took too mud. You should have cleaned beforehand. It’s too late now … You can not remove the screw portion that is blocked. You do not know how important this part, but it will do without for testing. You know that it is not necessary because you had added later.

The two fishermen you met yesterday passed quickly. One with whom you had discussed still looks skeptical. You understand the words “not serious”. The remark irritates you. Of course all this is not serious! Is he serious with him his military uniform, his double chin and his smashed metal boat?

Finished, and you still have to go attach the boat to the buoy. A man went also anchor his boat using a mini inflatable boat. Sergey will ask him to lend it to you. Negative response. He is probably in a hurry. So you go to the buoy on your boat, and come back by swimming in dark water, dirty … When you get into the water, you wonder if your dry-suit is still waterproof after crossing Russia. Fortunately, it is. Swim warms you, and you come away from the water finally with a better feeling than when you entered it. Near the shore, a film of oil floating on the surface. You need to also avoid broken glass are everywhere mixed with stones. Always epidemic vodka.

You let your suit hanging in the Tolek’s shed. You ask how much you owe Sergei. You want to pay but he refuses and instead offers you to go buy a bottle of vodka. You feel you touch the bottom, but you’re all frozen and how could you refuse ….

You go to a store near the gotsinitsa. Sergei also took a bottle of wine because you told him you do not drink vodka. Then you return to your room. You have some food and you offer dinner.

The opening of the bottle of red goes wrong. You put some wine on the cloth that you had taken to protect the table. Bottles of vodka down, and you start to see your companions being met by alcohol. On your side, you will drink half a glass of wine and then go throw the rest down the toilet. A bad batch.

While your companions will leave staggered, you get a call from Kosta. He wants to know if you’ll always be there for the arrival of Philippe. But Philippe is still in Seymchan, so do not reach Egvekinot before 15, see 20. Although late for you.

You connected to the Internet and look at the site of Le Monde. The news is not likely to make you happier. A very bad day in the world as in Egvekinot.

But the bike is finally in boat mode.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Even the rain all night. You recognize that morale is not there, but you’re trying to assume. A good shower, some clean, some mails to relatives.

9am. Upon leaving, the rain stopped and a patch of blue sky settles in over Egvekinot. It has pity on you, the rain. You headed to the beach with a little apprehension. The boat will be there as you left it? One of the floats there will not be deflated? The bike does not bathe in water? No, you see the bike on the boat, nothing changed since last night.

As you prepare, a phone call: a woman speaking English tells you that you are called this afternoon at the migration office, she will be present to translate. You wonder what they want you, but why not.

On the beach, Tolek. Are you ready to join the boat to swim when you see a man with a mini-canoe. Tolek and you can borrow it and recover the boat dry.

The tests start. You must first set the balance of support for the boat not too turns to one side, so you can steer just by moving your weight.

And then you try to plane. Nothing to do. You try several angles, you tune the belt tension, but every time you accelerate, the air reaches the propeller that cavitates. This happens every time you reached 10-11 km / h. You had fought against it for months and thought it was fixed just before departure. But you had not been able to do all the required tests, lack of time and favorable weather.

Without planing, your cruising speed is about 5 knots, or about ten km / h. It would double if you could plane, and you would consume less.

Why this? For planing, you had caulked the holes around the belt with tape. Now some rubber cut from a tube, which clogs the holes. The tape does not really appropriate because it does not last. The rubber would it be too soft, too flexible ?

The final solution would be to insert the belt into a closed frame, which would also protect against the pieces of wood in the rivers. But this is not something that can be done quickly, above all in Egvekinot.

You stop trials early afternoon. You lose the hope to plane reliably in the short term. So join Provideniya on your motor boat. 400km to 10km / h for 40 hours. Too risky, too long.

You go to the hotel. Natalia, the hotel manager comes looking for you. She wants to take you to the migration office, but it is first in other offices, may be a municipal service, that you visit. Photocopies of your documents. Natalia then guides you to the Migration office. You do not recognize her immediatly, but here is the lady who visited you the other night. You thought she was a policewoman.

The translator is also present and you know her: the guide in the museum. She is also entitled to copies of passport, papers, … You ask her if she is also a foreigner, but no, she is here as an official translator, so be photocopied id card and diplomas.

Photocopying sessions end after a good half hour, and then begins the interrogation. Dozens of questions about your identity, your schedule, your arrival, your relationships with the people of the gotsinitsa, how much you pay, etc. A question that will surprise you: do you have any psychiatric treatment? Not so far.

The inspector writes the minutes, then the interpreter translates orally before you sign these papers.

You finally understand the concern from: arrived in a city, you have to register if you stay over 8 days. The date of your first arrival is the one that counts. You did not, and therefore you are wrong. In the end nothing serious, but you had this interview and these papers to explain why you had not done. Finally, the inspector issues a smile. She is relieved.

You leave the office, it’s already 5pm. A session of bureaucratic tourism has occupied your afternoon. Once in his life, it deserves to be seen, but it’s enough.

Friday, August 1, 2014

You get up early with the idea of ​​sailing around the bay for a few hours on your boat. You will also redo some tests for planing. It’s not raining, but just out of gotsinitsa, you understand that you will have to wait: we do not see 100 meters due to fog. This limits the interest of a cruise in the bay. Better to wait.

Around 10 am, still foggy. You’re going to visit Maria. She has news for you: a ship will arrive on Sunday and depart to Anadyr on Monday. If you want to take it, you need the bike reassembled tomorrow at the latest. Rather today if anything goes wrong. But you need recovering now the wheels you have left in the shed of the Town because tomorrow is weekend.

You’re going to take this ship. Maria tries to reach the person who has the key to the shed where your wheels are stored. You have them at noon when the fog finally lifted. You see Tolek coming, staggering. Drunk, he remains calm and nice. He often repeats “pajalousta” (“please”).

You borrow a small boat to avoid swiming to the bike. At least your dry-suit will be wet on the lower legs only.

Once recovered the bike on the beach, you put yourself at work. There for several hours, but the tide is high, just starting going down, and you have plenty of time. You try to go up alone, although Tolek, joined by another drunken man, watching you and is ready to help you. You want to check that you are able to do it by yourself.

At the end, you ask Tolek and his friend to bring the bike forward when getting the rear wheel: the bike slipped because of the slope, and the swing arm is too close to the rear board of the boat. The wheel does not pass.

Would you have succeed without their help? Probably by completely deflating the boat at that time. Or, if you planned the problem by hanging the bike in front of the boat with a strap. You would have been able to get the bike by laying on the side, but better to avoid.

Then you pack the parts and the tools, and you still have to fold the boat that is dirt with sand and gravel. You remove your pants and come in the water to rinse it. Error: you forgot to close the inflation valves, and water goes into some of the floats.

The sun and wind dried the bag, and help you to dry the boat. A Chukchi woman arrives with her children. She had already passed yesterday as you were testing. You chatted. She is smiling, softly, and continues to ask you questions. She helps you to fold the boat in its bag. At 5pm, you can finally go back to the gotsnitsa. It was another day that did not go as planned.

In the evening you call Kosta. He teaches you several things: first it would probably be possible to reach Provideniya by the earth, from Amguema. A man who has an amphibious vehicle, probably the same kind of gear than Vladic in Bilibino would be willing to accompany you with Philippe. But Philippe is still far from Egevekinot. Kosta also teaches you that there are still another village, Enmelen before Nunligran. He also knows a boat owner in Kanerguina who can get to Enmelen. By steps, you could probably reach Provideniya.

You search Enmelen on the internet and you actually find the coordinates of this village. By zooming in on Google Earth, buildings can be guessed. You regret not learn it earlier. You did not think Kosta could know so well that part of Chukotka and ways to get around.

Around one in the morning, you are woken by music. Another night of dancing on the ground floor of the gotsinitsa. You think back to what you’ve learned from Kosta. The journey of Egvekinot to Provideniya, is less dangerous than you can have thought. There are 400km, but almost the first half is protected, and the last 200 km can be cut into 3 sections with these villages between. But there is always the concern of gasoline.

You also think back to your testing. You threw in the towel too soon. You should have to think rather than give up. This dirt water has frozen your brain.

One of the latest changes you made consisted in adding a piece of rubber below the anti-cavitation plate. That may be a mistake … If the air is captured at this place, it is likely to flow under the plate to reach the propeller. It would be even better to let the air in the teeth of the belt… You could think of, try other things, remove these pieces of rubber, try to analyze the problem step by step. It has worked, there is no reason for not making the boat planing again.

It’s too late now, unless you get to Provideniya, and do more testing. If you want, you still have the passenger ship on August 11. Not sure that it takes your bike, but you can ask the captain. Or wait for Kosta and Philippe who will arrive in two to three weeks. But probably too late? You were often told that the sea in August is bad and even worth in September.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Still fog. You finish the work on the bike. There will be still disassembling the transmission mechanism and the storage of all the parts in the saddlebags. You will do it in your room.

You do go for a ride by early afternoon. You make the trip and back to Amguema, 90 km north of Egvekinot. You recover the landscapes you liked between Bilibino and Egvekinot. But you take the time to stop for taking pictures. You take small trails to the rivers, you look at the toondra. This may be the last motorcycle ride of the trip.

A couple of times, stopped vehicles. Natalia, the manager of the gotsinitsa told you that this is the period of fungi, “gribis.”. Indeed, there are many over the tundra. Animals should appreciate as well as people.

Every night, you download the GRIB file for the weather forecast. As of Monday an episode of calm on the coast. The one you could have enjoyed. And then the bad weather, waves of 3-4 meters. August?


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Your last day in Egvekinot? In any case, you will publish your blog tonight. It’s been a long time since you have not published and your friends are starting to worry.

You need to also decide what you will do once in Anadyr. What you want to do.

Go home ? This trip was the desired recognition. You understood the challenges, solutions, and also met people who can then help the success of a second trip better prepared, in two years. However, you’re not 100% sure you can make the second trip. Will you find the companions ready to accompany you? Will you succeed once again for getting the permission to cross Chukotka?

Go further ? Either you take the boat to Provideniya if they accept you with the bike. This will allow you to meet people there, whether it is possible to obtain the agreement of border guards to bypass the Cape Chaplin. And maybe you will cross the strait if the weather in August is not as bad as you are told.

You get a call from Ludmila, the guide of the museum. She proposes you a walk along the coast. You spend the morning walking. You are happy to see clear water, clean. The sea is not as dirty as anywhere near the beach of sheds. Pleasure as walking. The day is beautiful. You know these next three days were the perfect weather window to cross the Bering strait. If you had been in Provideniya … Even at 5kts, you could have try without a big risk.

Ludmila often contacts the few foreign guests in Egvekinot. A way of maintaining her English. She speaks to you about biologists, anthropologists who have gone before you. She seeks to understand if you have also a scientific reason, if you would like to write a book about this place, about your journey. Once, she accompanied a group in an amphibious vehicle to Vankarem. The path you wanted to take initially to approach the Bering Strait before you understood that you must leave Russia from Provideniya.

You also go to the port to make inquiries. The boat will leave tomorrow is the famous passenger ship that will go 12 to Provideniya. “The Captain Suknikov”. You’ll know at least if they accept your motorcycle or not. Otherwise, you will not go tomorrow, and will have to wait for a cargo that would accept you and your bike.

Waiting is something you have to accept in Chukotka. For the past two weeks, three Chukchi women, one accompanied by a child of ten years, are waiting in the gotsinitsa to take a helicopter that will take them to Port Smith, on the Arctic coast. Many times, they believed that the helicopter will leave and have traveled by taxi to the airport. But each time, the flight was canceled due to bad weather. You know that if they do not leave in the next two or three days, the weather is not going to go into arranging.

Back to the gotsinitsa you disassemble the mechanical transmission, pack and store the parts in your panniers. A puzzle that you do not remember more precisely the solution. You must find it.

At the time of deciding the continuity of the trip, as you think back to your motivations. Why the Bering strait? For you, the Bering is a symbol. That of ignorance of your kind in the history of mankind. When you were kid at school, you are presented America as a new world discovered by Christopher Columbus. At no time had arisen the question of when the “Indians” had arrived. You had understood they had always been on this continent, as well as Asians, Africans and Europeans had always been present in the old world. You never had realized that America and Eurasia were connected by the Bering Strait. Since then, scientists have realized that men like other mammals peopled America from this path. That all men are from a single branch, and there was no more humanities arising in several places on the planet. All this might be obvious, but you do not think many people know that they necessarily have a common ancestor with anyone on earth. Whether Native American, African or Polynesian. That we are all more or less cousins. For you, the Bering is the symbol of this ignorance. An unfamiliar place that is considered the ends of the world, then it is rather the center joint.

For years, the Chukchi and Eskimos crossed without knowing it was considered a frontier separating two continents. It was a central living area, and fishermen easily passed from one bank to the other. But modern history has made no-man’s land, another Berlin Wall, an insurmountable barrier. If it is still difficult to cross the strait, it is primarily for administrative reasons.

So much for your philosophical motivations. Now you’re also happy to travel, and travel on a motorcycle in these places of great beauty. Glad to meet people in hard to reach areas. Happy to show that we can leave home and go anywhere. Happy chasing an utopia, a world where we could go everywhere without flying in a big aircraft.

Now you must go back to your disassembly and your storage.

6pm. You take your meals at the gotsinitsa. The weather was great, quiet, and you are surprised to find the lady and her daughter who have been waiting for the helicopter to Port Smith. She smiles: the airport does not work on weekends. Fortunately, tomorrow is yet to be beautiful.


Bilibino to Egvekinot

Friday, July 18, 2014

You went to leave your luggage in the truck last night. You also wanted to make a try for loading the bike on the truck with a hoist. You want to be able to load and unload as quickly as possible so as not to waste too much the time of the drivers.

This morning you have an appointment with Pavel at 10am for the departure. They all take a taxi and go to the gas station for you to fill and then bring your jerrycans. You carried a total of 70 liters of gasoline.

You do not understand all the discussions, but Costa and Jeima will stay in Bilibino. They will take later a truck to Pevek. Danila goes into a truck driven by Sacha. Nadia and Mikhail, the elderly couple who accompanied Costa, climb into the Pavel’s truck that is also carrying your luggage. And you follow on your motorcycle without any luggage. Or rather you open the road as you would have trouble keeping behind the cloud of dust raised by trucks.

During the first hundred kilometers, the road is good, even very good. Trucks are not moving quickly due to the relief. You stop to wait them approximately every 30km. The fords you’re going through are shallow. Streams rather than rivers. But you know it can not last.

90km. You expect the first big river at 200km, but here’s one that already gives you pause. Instead of taking the path of the trucks, that you think is too deep, you walk away downstream where there is a less deep pass. You cross with apprehension. The current pushes the water on your boots, and you quickly have your right boot filled with water. You should have put your rain pants, but it’s too late. You waiting trucks. Sacha comes first tells you that you must cross back because it’s lunch time… You take off your boots and pant and barefoot cross. You’re happy to make your first crossing without a fall, but do not abuse.

Rivers succeed. An hour later you’re looking again at a more reassuring than the official ford crossing when Pavel tells you that the bike will be loaded over the truck because others deepest rivers will follow at 10, then 30 km.

Danila does the hoist while you prepare the bike. It takes ten minutes to lift the bike at 1 meter from the ground. At the next crossing, it will be wet to the engine, a height of about 1.30m.

After this first series of rivers, you get the bike. All loading and unloading takes a little more than half an hour, and you’re ashamed to lose this time to your fellow travelers. In Siberia, the time has not the same value as in Western Europe … We take it, but we do not count. You’re still not a true Siberian.

River after river, your two boots were repeatedly flooded. While you have put again the bike on the side of the truck, Pavel cares. He thinks you’ll catch cold. It offers you a new pair of socks, pants and lend you a pair of shoes. You also got a problem with your camera: it is wet, and the “shutdown” button does not work anymore. You find a workaround: wait for a timeout to have the lens in, then remove the battery… But takes 2 or 3 minutes, so you limit the number of pictures.

The day lasts. It could never stop as the sun never sets. But Pavel and Sacha, the drivers, stop around 11pm. Always near a river to get water for tea. In Chukotka, the river water is clear and pure. Just bend down to fill the kettle.

You’re looking for a little sand area to plant your tent. You dresses it quickly, get the dinner with your companions, and you lie down to sleep. Pavel kept your pants and your boots soaked. He assured you that everything will be dry tomorrow. You find it hard to believe.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

You’re waking up to the sound of a herd of reindeer. You stopped near a Chukchi camp, and you observe them from afar. Alone, you could have gone to meet them.

Pavel gives you back your boots and your pants. Everything is dry. Heating system in Kamaz is awesome … you are recovering the bike mid-morning after a new series of deep rivers. This time you wear your rain pants to limit the entry of water into the boots. You know it will not be totally effective, but with a little luck, you will remain your feet dry longer.

Late morning you stop in a base camp. Probably the people who work for the road, or the remote base for mines. The wealth of the region remains the gold mines, but they are far from the road. Sometimes hundreds of kilometers. The trailer that Pavel had on his truck is lowered by crane. And you leave, Pavel is now pulling two trailers.

Shortly after, a river that seem deeper. Pavel tells you that you will put now the bike on the trailer because you are going to find several deep rivers. The hoist can not be used since the two trailers were popped, and you have to lift the bike arm strength. At four, it is actually not that difficult but it should not do it too often.

In the early afternoon, you arrive at the bridge of the Palawan River. The only bridge of this road, you will not take it because it leads to Pevek. You wait at the junction for one of Pavel’s friend who should pick the second trailer to Pevek. The appointment is set up in the middle of the day, but you wait until 6 pm. A little late for Siberia. Pevek is only 200km, but it takes 7 hours to drive for a truck.

Danila makes fire because the temperature has dropped since Bilibino. There is now less than 10°C. You discuss with Danila who will leave for Pevek where he will be joined later by Costa and Jeima. Danila parents were born in Ukraine, and the subject is burning to Danila. You’re surprised by his anger, by his criticisms aimed at Westerners. But you understand. Part of his family lives in the bombed areas. You did not think that so many Russians had relatives in Ukraine.

Danila has traveled extensively. He spent several months in Australia, Papua New Guinea, in many parts of the world. He is critical towards many things in Russia, but he sees clearly that the eastern part of Ukraine should remain linked to Russia. The boundaries were drawn up under the authority of Stalin without considering people’s identity. At this time, everyone was primarily Soviet, and membership in the Ukrainian or Russian Republics was anecdotal. Today, families are separated by a border that became real, and the bombs fall. Danila is angry like many Russians.

Danila has not thirty, but he regrets the Soviet Union. At the time, the borders were irrelevant. At the time, the population of Bilibino was twice as large. At the time, ghost towns did not exist. The country working. The Communist Party was to Danila an anomaly, but the Soviet Union wealth. For Danila Gorbachev destroyed a country.

You’re as surprised by the support that the Russians bring to Putin. Rare are those who criticize. For you, western, Putin is the archetypal politician attracted by power. You imagined hated by his countrymen. A man of the system, cunning, without human value. For the Russians you meet, Putin is instead a man appreciated. He restored the government authority. It also greatly reduces insecurity and started work on the reconstruction of both economic and political of the former Soviet Union. Or the new Great Russia. Jokes to Putin are many, but they are rather benign.

When the Pavel’s friend arrives to get the trailer, no rancor for the delay, but the fun reunion. The road was just opened, and since the closure of the winter road, friends had not seen. A new tea, coffee, discussions, jokes …

It is almost 8 pm when you leave. You have taken the place of the Danila in the Sacha’s truck. You follow the Palawan river to the south. Many river crossings.

The scenery is very beautiful. You realize that it is one of the most beautiful roads that you know. You remember, when young, you have traveled with the same emotion the road between Tamanrasset and Djanet. During your RTW, you had admired the northern route in Mongolia, and also the route in the Bolivian Altiplano between San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni. But it is even more beautiful. The valleys are green and bare mountains. The variety of rocks is such that the colors change constantly. You’re very happy to be on this road.

Relations with Sacha, are strange. Danila warned you that Sacha was angry against your helmet which had made a scratch on his dashboard while you were in the Pavel’struck. Sacha is very attached to his truck, his habits, and you have to deal with. You’re sitting on the empty seat near the window. At your feet the food crate. But your feet are together at the central seat where Sacha leaves his cigarettes and his bag of sweets. Your position is not the most comfortable especially when the truck makes rodeo on the stones.

While you enjoy discussing with Nadia and Micha, the elderly couple traveling with pavel, you feel a certain distance between them and the drivers. Perhaps because they strive to take their meals apart, while drivers put everything in common. You regret this cold and you try to creater a link. Again, your level of Russian does not help. But you try to help them to get their bags in the truck when it is needed. Climbing the trailer for Micha who is 75 years old is not that easy, and you saw him falling back during a break. Fortunately fall inconsequential.

Nadia and Micha are Muscovites. They look like any pair of French pensioners. You could have imagined former owners of a haberdasher, or maybe a drugstore in a small Provencal village. But Micha is still working, and Nadia just retire. What work? Both are weapons experts … Nadia worked for the navigation systems of the long range ballistic missiles, and Micha is always an expert for spying satellites. Again the army … You reliving the same events.

Pavel is now driving ahead, and Sacha follows with you on board. Regularly Pavel announces a bear at right, then another at left … You had come to believe that the bears were part of a myth, but you can testify they exist, and they are indeed numerous. Sometimes an elk. Bears need food.

When the trucks arrived, the bears fled. Even if they are huge, they easily understand that they do not match for a Kamaz. They then begin to run at a speed that you would not have suspected. They also run fast, whatever the terrain. Once you see one going up on a way with 45 ° slope. It was as fast as going down… You’re impressed by their power. And the energy they display as the race lasts several minutes, until you lose sight of the animal. If a bear was chasing after you, he would catch you in a very short time. You wonder if the sound of your bike would have the same effect as a Kamaz. Would flee it? You hope so. Anyway, you are for the first time happy to have a very noisy exhaust.

Sacha tells you that a few years ago, some bikers from Poland had passed. You had read their blog, and found a lot of information on this route. A Seymchan a docker had told you the same. It seems that apart from them, no rider has passed by.

In the evening, you camp again near a river. On the other side of the river, a convoy of trucks that come from living quarters to a gold mine. Little exchange between drivers. The world of the mines seems to be apart. Pavel shows you on the hill surrounding a bear watching you. It does not seem impressed by the stationary vehicles, and it is in no hurry to escape. It will eventually depart quietly. Near the Kamaz, you fall asleep without concern.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

As you go up in his truck, Sacha proposes you to sit next to him. Smiling, he speaks to you about the rapprochement between Russia and France. A little later, he will grant you with a “My friend.” Glad you’re on the evolution of your relationship because you were embarrassed to feel that your presence was imposed without real Sacha approval. You’re also happy to be sitting more comfortably. But discussions are still quite limited. Sacha speaks to you as if you understand everything he said, when you’re really hard to follow the thread of his words. With Pavel, things are easier because he repeats things in different ways, seeking the vocabulary you know. Pavel do not hesitate to get one or two words of English sometimes.

In the early afternoon, you experience snow during the passage of a pass. A bulldozer is drawing the track in the snow. Two men live there in a trailer and one of them is a friend of Pavel. You are invited for a tea, and each brings its cakes, its smoked fish and other delicacies.

In late afternoon, another pause beside a river. Pavel and Sacha take out their fishing rods. In three quarters of an hour, they have caught a dozen kilos of fish. Pavel tells you that it is not much, he is disappointed. Maybe this is the beginning of the season, the fish have not yet taken their normal size.

The majority of fishes are cut and placed in a bucket with salt. Others are reserved for the evening meal. You notice Pavel’ knife: an Opinel … Pavel is proud of his knife that is excellent. He knew it was a product of the French high technology, but you did not know that these so sophisticated products were exported. Since your arrival in Russia, you often see French products: Tefal kettle, a Bonduelle tin, a bottle of “Petit Marseillais’… and now the ultimate tool: the Opinel!

You back on the road in the evening, and, as before, Sacha and Pavel drive until midnight. You’re impressed by their resistance. The evening camp is located at the last deep river …. You looked forward to the pleasure of riding your bike. It will be tomorrow morning, after passing this river. This day as a passenger has been very long.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Here you are happy again on the bike. Pavel told you that you still get 8 rivers to cross, but it must be 8 rivers for a Kamaz because you cross many. You do not accounts. You take a lot of fun on this “road”. When you were 23, you had spent 18 months in the Aures, Algeria, with a motorcycle, the very first XT600. You officially was cooperating teacher in a university, but your schedule was such that you spent most of your time browsing the slopes of mountains and desert near. So you like the stony slopes, and you gradually find yourself some reflexes of yesteryear. There is always the rivers that you care. There were not so many in the Aures and they were often dried. But gradually you get used to and you even take pleasure in the cross. Basically, there are only stones in the bottom. Except that these stones are slippery, and you do not always see that you may end up stumbling over a larger than other stone. You are not scared about falling, but you don’t know how the electronic of your bike would behave.

Could you have come all this way only with your luggage and your boat? Probably not. In any case, you would have known repeated very complicated situations. You do not know if you’d be past, but the risk of dropping the bike in a river was great. Discharged, you drive the bike as a toy. Loaded, it is often the bike who decides and you become the toy that is shaken.

You have mainly benefited the truck to relieve you of your load. Crossing a river without luggage has nothing to do with the same crossing loaded with more than 100kg of luggage. The bottom of rivers varies greatly: some large stones on which you bounce and sometimes pebbles or gravel in which one sinks quickly. Often your used tire over-inflated, has tended to dig into the gravel. It sinks, but a minimum speed and engine power are enough to continue the crossing. With the load, you’d be stuck, stuck in the sand, in the gravel… To avoid this, it would have taken you twenty times unload and reload after crossing. It would also be necessary to deflate and take the risk of multiple puncture… A couple of things that could have been different you with some fellow bikers.

By late morning, the intersection with the 180th meridian. The complement of Greenwich. It should be the date change line if there were political boundaries. You observe your GPS: E179 ° 59.99. then ‘W179 ° 59.99… . While you wait for the trucks, you realize that they stopped a few hundred meters earlier. You join them. A panel “E180W” was placed a bit too early, but you take a break near the panel. Pavel took the opportunity to fix some mechanical problems. There are some even on these rustic Kamaz. But they are generally simple to fix.

The road is nice and wide for ten kilometers: you are close to a huge open-pit mine, and accesses to camps and to the mine are all extremely well maintained. There is even an airfield along the road. Until Egvekinot the road takes a normal form, without particularly difficult area, if not rivers.

The arrival in Egvekinot is in the fog and cold. You thought the weather would be warmer, tempered by the sea. You found Bilibino, which is located above the Arctic Circle, with a temperature greater than 30 °C. And now Egvekinot which is a few hundred kilometers to the south with a temperature of about 5 ° C. The weather does not always follow the logical geography.

You look at your odometer: 502km. A total of 1050km you will not have done half the journey by motorcycle. But you’re happy and a little surprised to be there. Leaving Grenoble, you thought the bike would not hold with all its load. Maybe it would have dropped in this last section, but you are there at the end of the road.

Pavel leaves Micha, Nadia and you downtown, near a church under construction. Sacha did not follow you. You’re surprised to leave them so quickly. You replaces your stuff on the bike. Micha and Nadia asked someone where you could find a gotsinitsa. The answer is “Niet.” You are surprised. But man has advised you to go to the city hall. Micha and Nadia are housed by friends of friends, but they want to help you to find housing.

Micha will therefore accompanied you. He explains your case to a secretary, and then you are welcomed by the Deputy Mayor and the Mayor. You are ashamed when Mayor tends your hand. Yours is dirt with earth. Micha leaves you and the secretary who had welcomed you comes back with you: she speaks English! She explains you that the gotsinitsa is full tonight, but some places will be released tomorrow. The phone calls continue. After a moment, a room is found in another gotsinitsa. Before leaving the City Hall, you need to wait for the border guards who want to check your documents.

You explain your trip to the border guards, your boat … They are worried about you. You told them you would like to find a fisherman who can accompany you on a part of the journey to Provideniya. But small vessels not yet able to leave the Egvekinot bay because of the ice. The debacle was late, and navigation remains dangerous. You were not expecting that. How long this blockage will it continue? They do not know. Last year at the same time, the debacle was over. However, the bay is open in Provideniya. What to do? You’ll have time to think about that.

Maria, the secretary, accompany you with the Deputy Mayor to the gotsinitsa. You can also take your meals there. You are then guided to a garage where you can leave the bike and its load. All your immediate issues have been resolved. Maria leaves you his phone number if necessary.

The lady who manages the gotsinitsa appears authoritarian, rigid. But once everyone left, she is caring. She takes your boots full of water, and offers you to use the washing machine. She also provides you with shampoo and soap … She guessed that you really needed.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If the trip from Egvekinot to Provideniya is too complicated, you should focus on the second part: the crossing of the Bering Strait. You’re now determined to take a ship who take along, then you will do the tests in the Bay of Provideniya rather than here. The last 350km offshore to Alaska will be already complicated enough.

You go to the City Hall to ask Maria for information about vessels from Egvekinot to Provideniya. You also proposed her to make a presentation of your journey to school, as you have already done in Bilibino. For school, a meeting is arranged for the next day. However, boats … they are not one every day, or even every week. Above all to Provideniya. You quickly understand that it would be better to take a boat to Anadyr, and there, to find another one to Provideniya. Anadyr is the capital of Chukotka, a sort of hub for navigation. You thought all the boats followed the coast and stopped at every port, but it is not.

The Deputy Mayor calls the port for you. There are currently two boats in the harbor. This is quite exceptional. They both leave tomorrow morning for Anadyr. The first, carrying containers can not take you because it is full. You think that there is no cab for you, because your bike is really small compare to this ship. So you go with Maria and the Deputy Mayor meet the Captain of the second boat: a small cruise ship that transports fifty tourists. Indeed, Maria announced you that there was at this time some Canadian tourists in town, which was just as unique as your passage.

On the way to the ship, you hear someone shouting your name. You recognize that voice: Pavel! You’re happy to see him even quickly. He told you to call him if you have a problem, and you leave him to join the ship.

The Deputy gets into the ship. While you are waiting on the dock with Maria, a school bus-truck arrives. It brings tourists. You recognize their guide: Mille, an American who lives in Alaska who was your way with the authorities of Chukotka. You saw her photo on the website of the association for which she works in Alaska. You think you remember that the purpose of this association is to provide help in eskimos schools. Mille had recently announced you that she was 10 days in Chukotka, but you did not think to meet her on a dock. She did not recognize you. You’re not dressed as a biker, and next to the elegant Maria, she probably thinks you are a Russian official.

Then down the Captain of the boat, a New Zealander, and the Deputy Mayor. Captain agrees to take you for a fee. You agree with his offer: you will bring the bike tonight at 7pm, and you’re getting tomorrow morning at 7am. Everything is decided in a few minutes.

You just have time to get your bike, to say goodbye to Maria, redo your load and take your dinner. The bike is hoisted using the ship’s crane. You start to get used to see it raised in the air. Captain shows you your cabin, and then you leave again to the gotsinitsa.

Last time you discuss with the manager of the gotsinitsa. Chukotka is not it too difficult to live? Cold, isolation, lack of winter sun? On the contrary! She is a native of Omsk, but the Chukotka is so beautiful. So, so beautiful. Before living in Egvekinot, she spent a few years in a village on the Arctic coast. She shows you pictures. Walruses, polar bears, flowers, everything is so beautiful in Chukotka … The fishing parties with Chuchi friends. She makes you think of French expatriates living in Africa and for nothing in the world would return to France.

You regret leaving Egvekinot so soon. You would have liked to spend more time. You have enjoyed the hospitality of the staff of the City Council, that of the gotsinitsa. You wanted to make this presentation to school. You walk further into the streets. Explore the road to Amguema and redo some river crossings for fun. There you kidding?



Monday, July 14, 2014

The Ministry of Sports and Tourism of Chukotka, with whom you are in contact asked you to register you to the authorities when arriving at Chukotka. You have chosen not to do in the city Aniusk because it seemed too small, little concerned with arrivals of foreign people. Anyway, you would have found the offices empty on a Sunday evening.
So you go to the police station on the other side of the town. If in Russia people speak only a few words of English, in Siberia, they do not speak at all. To avoid misunderstandings, you repeat at any sentence “Ya nie panemaïo pa Ruski” (I don’t understand Russian). After a few tries of discussion, they finally guide you to the Office of Migration. Surprise: this office is on the ground floor of the building next door to your hotel. Probably its only employee had already spotted your bike. You show him your passport and your permissions for the Chukotka. It seems upset. Problem? No, the documents are complete, everything is good, but he asks you several times when you leave Bilibino. You do not know, you’re stuck. You finally realize that you are allowed to stay only a week in the cities steps of your journey. Then you’d illegally if you stayed longer. You would have done better to wait before you go to this office. You try to ask him how to find information on the state of the road, but he ignores it. Nobody is going to Egvekinot since Bilibino by road. At least in summer. You leave him, telling you that you have a few days to get ready.
You need an internet connection. You go to a store to buy a second SIM card from another operator. With your current operator MTS, the phone works fine in Bilibino, but no internet. Last night, the receptionist advised you to take a SIM card from Megafon … You buy also a low cost phone for staying in touch by Nicolai. Return to the hotel, still no internet. You go back to the store. The lady explains that it is normal that the Internet does not work. There are times when it works, and other … where nothing works. It’s like roads, Siberia has its own definition of normality. Again, you ask the hotel reception if Internet works for them. Of course it works, but the receptionist of the day has a third operator. You walk into town. You get into the municipal library, the post office: no internet. Internet? “Nieto”. And still nothing on your phone. You decide to return to the store and take a third SIM card. On the phone of the saleswoman, Internet is available but not on yours. She spent several hours trying to understand. She tried several SIM cards, multiple phones … Your phone? You start to think that the unlocking of your phone done at Vladimir is the cause of the problem. Finally, do you decide to buy a second Smartphone. Finally Internet works… You’ll be able to retrieve your mail, take the weather, and update your sites. But you spent a day for that.
You spend the evening on the internet. You leave the television on to watch the news. Always a lot of pictures and comments on Ukraine. Often propaganda bottom floor: a Ukrainian politician is interviewed and the sequence is interrupted by images showing a chameleon, or a caricature where we added a crown on his head. You’re surprised by the baseness of the process. Otherwise, the images turn loop with “experts” to comment. Barack Obama seems to be the target of their remarks.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3am. You can not sleep because you think about the different solutions to continue. If you have to give up the road, you should you find a way to reach Anadyr to make trials in sea, and may be going further from there.
4 am. The phone rings: Bob from Irkutsk. You’re not really surprised by the hour. He asks you where you are, if you need help. Sure, you could make use of its qualities translators if needed. He also told you that he is drunk for three days, he drinks too much. A common issue in Russia. Your project impresses and makes him want to have itself projects out of alcohol. You should be happy if he stops. And proud if your project triggers this decision.
Since you’re in Russia you become aware gradually of the ravages of alcoholism. It is even more common here in Chukotka. The phenomenon exists in France, but here it is a hundred times worse, a hundred times more developed. A drama. People do not drink in the evening, but continuously.

You need to prepare your day … Some shopping, refueling, some tools in case of puncture, and you will leave in recognition of the Egvekinot road. You want to make the first two hundred kilometers to reach the first big river. To understand the track and to understand these rivers … Then you get back and will decide. This will allow you to also assess your fuel consumption. You do not know the impact of the transition to “80”. Your bike is made to ride in “95”.
10am. Your bag is ready. You go to the bank to withdraw cash before going to refuel. Your neighbor in the queue for the cash machine tells you “motorcycle” seeing your boots. “Da. KTM? Da.“. The town is small and your bike has been seen. He tells you he is also biker, he has a KLR 600. You had crossed a bike that had not stopped. It can be … You tell him your concerns about the road. He thinks that the road should open within a few weeks. It asks the question to another person in the queue, then returns to you: “Today.“. Trucks begin to make the journey Bilibino-Pevek today! He’ll explain that there are five deep rivers to the junction. That apart from rivers, the track is not particularly bad. For crossing rivers, wait before a truck arrives and put the bike on… This seems to be the normal procedure.
You go together to your bike. Vladik think you’re soon-to-end travel and offers you to buy it. You show him the video to explain to him that you would be only half … He understands your project. He asks you a copy of the video on a USB stick. You want to know if you could make an arrangement with a truck to bring you the essence. He has to leave but he will call you within an hour.
You go back in the room to write those words. In ten minutes a lot of things have changed. You do not know the details yet, but that’s very good news. Your guardian angel had a great idea to send you to the bank.
An hour later, Vladik calls you. He is at the entrance of the hotel building with a cyclist. You understand that the cyclist, Pavel, is a driver of a Kamaz who will go to Egvekinot. You do not understand much … Pavel call someone with your phone. Colleague? Five minutes pass and arrives Costa, who speaks very good English. Costa plays the role of interpreter. Pavel will go on Friday to Egvekinot and his truck can carry your luggage. He may even put the bike in his truck.
Pavel leaves you and you stay with Costa and Vladik. Costa explains he is travelling with his wife, a friend and a couple from Moscow. You go all together to meet them. They are housed in an apartment for travelers. A place that is now managed by some residents of Bilibino. You can join them but you just renew your room for two extra nights.
Continue the discussion. You learn a lot from that Vladik. He is gold prospector and biker. He knows the region very well. Costa also traveled a lot in Chukotka. He used to live in Pevek. For the road, there are a long series of rivers to cross before and after the junction, some deep. Bears? There are many along this road. Are they aggressive? No, except when they are injured, or they could be to defend a young. Costa, who was often in contact with the authorities of Chukotka think you will not succeed in negotiating a nearer departure to the strait than Provideniya. Lot of information.

Finally, Costa explains you that you have probably caused some misunderstandings: Costa is waiting for a French biker with the same KTM you as you… A guy from Brittany, named Philippe. He had mechanical problems during the trip and took several weeks late. You are therefore two bikers, almost twins, to get to Egvekinot this summer. Costa asked Pavel his support for the Egvekinot road. He also warned the shipping company of Kolyma, and he thinks you could have taken the place of Philippe who was expected when you arrived.

Philippe should bitching because he presents his project as the first ride motorcycle from France to Chukotka: “from Far West to Far East”. You hope to meet him, if you have not already left Egvekinot upon his arrival. For the moment, you call him to present yourself, and to inform him about the next steps of his trip.

Danila, Costa’s friend, explains you that several people had told them about the French biker who was on several places at the same time. Some knew your blog, and Danila had come to understand that you were two. Two following each other on the same road, each unaware of the existence of the other. Finally, you’re a little markdowns by the fact that you would like to go further with your boat. But it is still far from won.
Vladik has proposed you to make a presentation of your journey to children in school. Or rather to the children of the “summer camp” because classes are over, but the school always welcomes children by offering various activities.
So you find yourself face to fifty children and some teachers. Costa provides translations. At the end of the presentation, a sequence of questions. Virtually all children up his arm to ask questions, often very timely. You are surprised by their vivacity and by the quality, variety and also the freedom of their questions. Maybe it’s because it’s off the school context, but these kids seem to you particularly open.
You are then subjected to a test that you did not expect: autographs … Maybe the memory images of the World Cup football, but after signing an autograph first, there is a rush: all children want your signature. And some girls want their picture next to you. You have become all of a sudden a star in Bilibino.
You then go to the Museum. Only two rooms, but a variety of topics, mainly around paleontology and ethnology. Also a presentation of the local wildlife, and a series of objects and minerals associated with mineral exploration. Mainly gold. All museum staff welcomes you. The tour lasts long. It ends with the two sculptors workshop Chukchi. It’s not everyday that they see a tourist Bilibino.
An eventful day. Finally, Vladik offers you as well as Danila to go see his amphibious vehicles. They are old armored military transport newly acquired. The first works and the second is being repaired. You’re surprised that a young man has acquired such devices. But Vladik won the lottery: he found a nugget about 1.5 kg of gold. Something to help to launch a more industrial activity.

You remain surprised by the turn of the day. Instead 400km of bad roads, you have done meetings, learned a lot and found the solution to continue.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You visit Costa, Danila and friends in the early afternoon. They must attend the meeting of an association of indigenous peoples and invite you to come with them. The room is in the neighboring building. Jeima, Costa’s wife is herself native from a tribe in Sakhalin. They want to share their respective experiences and customs.
Bilibino is a new city created to serve as a basis for gold research. 90% of the population is European. Gold mines attracted many people, and the city became a center of life with its schools, shops, government, and even its nuclear power plant. It is known as being the most expensive city in Russia. Administration officers have a special bonus to compensate for the cost of living. Therefore, aborigines are a small minority in the city.

The area is at the intersection of two settlements: the Evenses at West and Chukchi at East. But there are more Chukchi. Chukchi tribes are themselves divided into two groups: fishermen whales, seals and walruses on the coast, and reindeer herders in the land. They are nomads and their lifestyle somewhat resembles that of the Mongols. But the different communities were in regular contact and exchange their products.
The Stalinist period was very hard for Aboriginal peoples: settlement and deportation. Traditional ways of life were abandoned, shamanism was condemned, and alcoholism often became the main occupation. You’ve seen before from a film Frederic Tonolli on the subject and also read books written by the Chukchi Yuri Rytkhèou.

Persons participating in the meeting are of various origins. A couple from a region located along the Kolyma where there are Yakut tribes, Evenses and also Chukchi. So this couple speaks several languages ​​in addition to Russian. As a teacher for the Chukchi language, and another teacher who works with nomadic tribes in a nomadic school itself.
Jeima reads poems she wrote. A lady in turn reads Chukchi poems. Costa shows films showing the life of the tribe of Jeima, as well as older movies about Sakhalin.

Sakhalin is only forty kilometers Hokkaido, and little distinguished the people of these two islands. Similarly, little would distinguish the peoples of Sakhalin and those in the region of Amour, the Amour river that is close to the Kolyma, which is close to Chukotka, which is itself near the Alaska … All these indigenous peoples were neighbors. Chukotka has long been interested in any empire, borders did not exist and America was then connected humanly Eurasia. Chukchi could then freely cross the Bering Strait, without any passport.

A lady teaches you a few words of Chukchi. You have already a lot to do with the Russian and you do not abide with. It also tells you that the principle of Aboriginal associations was launched there only twenty years by a French, Charles Weinstein. He is the linguist who has also worked on a Chukchi-French-English dictionary.
At the end of the meeting, you receive the gift of a DVD on the Chukotka. Yesterday, you already received a gift from the teachers at the school. A spoiled child.


From Zyrianka to Bilibino

Tuesday, July 10, 2014

You make your farewells to the crew and Captain accompany you to your new host boat. It is a long barge with 350 tons of coal pushed by a compact tug. The barge is almost full, but it will take several hours to complete loading.

At your arrival, you feel that the atmosphere is not the same it was in the previous boat. You could even feel that passengers are not necessarily welcome. Perhaps you’re too many? You try to start a conversation, but the answers are fast. You do not insist.

In early afternoon, the captain arrives. You know him: this is the man who had visited Anatole on the platform of dredging. Good news! This captain seemed debonair to you.

Once the coal loaded, you mention the bike. You do well because they would forget. The barge and tug then move to an accessible dock for motorcycle. You go to get it, and the bike is loaded with a crane onto the barge in the presence of Nicolaï, the former motorcycle champion.

The barge is then anchored in the middle of the river, and the tug joined the bank after going to refuel.

In the evening, while you’re in the cockpit with the captain, a former second on the ship which has since become captain on another boat comes to visit his former colleagues. You ask him what the sentence written on his shirt, with a big CCCP, means. You understand “Child of the USSR.” You throw the word “nostalgia”, and the man agrees. He will also talk about Ukraine, the fascist, war against Germany, Dachau … Captain reacts to his speech: “Propaganda, propaganda! “. The captain is Tatar. He seems more distrusting of official messages.

Gradually, you understand a little better Russia. Zyrianka is not the modern Russia. Rather a Soviet island remained despite changes. Here, boats, all built during the Soviet period sail in the same way that 30 years ago. The docks, the cranes, the organization, the sports club of the company, everything date of the Soviet period. Unlike the rest of Russia the system could be here sustained by mines. Remote towns, boats, cranes … everything remains in operation to serve the gold mines. If this were the ubiquitous cell phones, you would think be back in time.

While some people fleeing this remote place, others come to find jobs. You discuss with 4 or 5 dockers who are Armenians. The captain of the previous barge and his wife are Ukrainians, … one can work Zyrianka if seeking employment. Despite its difficulties, Zyrianka remains a rather small rich city in Russia.


Wednesday, July 11, 2014

The captain had told you that you’d go around 4 am, then 7-8 am;, but it is rather late morning. And again, a long break for refueling and you’re not actually start before 2 pm. You take advantage of the proximity of the city to try desperately to update your website in English, but internet is too capricious. You don’t succeed, despite hours of fruitless perseverance.

In the cockpit you find Nicolaï you met in Seymchan. You thought he would be on board because he was also going to Aniusk. And you understand that the crew think you’re a bit too many passengers because the captain also invited an old man, a Yakut fisherman.

The first hour of operation is complicated. The barge is long and heavy, and therefore not always controllable. It would be impossible to go further up Zyrianka, where the river is narrower. The upper half of the river is given over to smaller barges. For now, a break was made to strengthen the connection between the tug and barge. There was a gap, and all banged hard at every turn.

You move much more slowly than the previous barge. Between 10 and 15 km/h with the flow, while the previous barge sailed around 25 km/h. It will take a long time to reach Aniusk … At least 4 or 5 days if not more.

You spend your time between the cabin and the cockpit. Costa, the second, is often at the helm. But the Captain easily gives the helm to all members of the crew except Nelly, the cook. On the barge,there were few times when it was not the captain barred. And yet, he could leave Constantin only at a straight section. Here, even the young Dima is left alone at the helm, in the cockpit.

The organization of the boat is more anarchic, but everything works fine. The crew involved as soon as possible when a problem arises. And as for the barge, the problems are there.

The river is wider and wider, but the paths are not necessarily easier. Sometimes you have to zigzag from one bank to another, always following signs or routes marked on the map. Small outboard boats are not concerned and generally draw a straight line down the middle of the river. However, you still recorded GPS traces of the ship to keep a reference.

You discuss with Nicolai. You understand that he works in winter as a driver for a mining company in the Pevek region. He informs you about the state of the roads. Contrary to what Alek told you, road between Bilibino and Pevek does not exist. It is therefore a track that cross many rivers, often deep. Only big Kamaz go there, and often with difficulty. Bad news. You hoping to have three hundred kilometers quiet, but it will not be the case. He also told you that there are only few trucks that commute Bilibino to Egvekinot. Maybe one every 10 days .. So if something goes wrong, you need to be able to hold at least this time.

You do not know what to do. You will see in Bilibino. Nicolai tells you he will make some phone calls for you. Perhaps to other truck drivers … You do not understand what he wants to offer you, but you will see. A solution that would suit you well would make you wear, or at least carry your essence during the first joint portion with the road to Pevek. The famous three hundred kilometers for which you Nicolai confirmed that there were many rivers to cross . About 8 large rivers with depth and current.

End of the day, while you are in the cabin, Nicolai comes looking for you: there is a bear on the shore! Russians talk a lot about bears, but you didn’t see any until now. You’ll see it from very far with binoculars.

Again, Nicolaï calls you an hour later to see an elk. The preparation of battle: they put the outboard boat in the water, and two sailors armed with rifles swoop down on prey. Their engine is so loud, that the elk will flee before their arrival. You’re pretty satisfied with this conclusion.

Half an hour later, the boat stops. You go up to the cockpit. Nicolai says you they returned to kill the elk. Indeed, they will come back a little later with the body of a young elk. The animal is hoisted on deck and dismembered. You will not stay to attend the show. You’re too sensitive. You understand now why there is so much meat in the dishes cooked by Nelly.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

At 8am, everyone is asleep except Nelly and no trace of slaughter on the bridge. They had to work late into the night to cut the elk. Around 8:30, Costa and Dima recovering the boat running. Others arrive gradually, sometimes rubbing the skull. Captain will not be visible before noon.

You do not do much, but time passes. You feel a lack of sporting activity. Even walking is impossible on the boat. You eat, take a nap, a moment passes in the cockpit, go back and eat again.

Since Zyrianka, cabins hunters and fishermen are more numerous. We now see at least one every hour. It must be another story that the life of these fishermen. If isolation is weighing in cities along the river, it must be again worse for these people.

The river is wider, but there are still pitfalls. The map shows the islands that we can not see with the current level of the river water. It must then navigate between them by carefully following the route indicated to avoid grounding. During one of these maneuvers, boat rub and it is the current that pushes the barge that will take off the sandbar. The captain tells you that the depth of the barge is only 1m60, 1m70 for the tug. The river is not really deep in places. And these vessels are quite unstable.

You know better the crew. They don’t speak too much with you because your level of Russian is insufficient. You show your travel book to Nelly and you are again entitled with another “Romantik”. You show it also to Dima and Captain. You did well to take this book.

As you write your address, your e-mail and web on a paper for the captain and for the motorcycle champion who made the request, the captain down to his cabin. He goes with a passport, torn the page with his identity and gives it to you … The passport is no longer valid, but you remain surprised and touched by the act. You say that romantic must be rare here and you are entitled to special considerations.

In late afternoon, the ship is anchored in front of the small town of Srednekolinsk. You will spend the night there. The outboard boat is launching, and everyone will take a walk in town. You walk with Dima who guides you. Walking is good for you. You buy bottles of French wine for the crew, a bottle of Cognac for the Captain and a box of chocolates for Nelly. It took you a while to find the French Cognac … You did not know that so many countries were producing Cognac.

The town is small, dusty. You see girls, all with a mobile phone in hand. A new museum, hospital, office building … Many small shops. You also wanted to buy some fruits but every time Dima discourages you: these fruits are there for too long! And you come back without any fruit.

Back to the boat, you spend hours again to attempt a connection to the internet. You manage somehow to read once your emails, but it stops there. Only the phone works, and you can take news through SMS.

Nicolai is one of the last to come on board. He brings back some smoked fish for the crew. He leaves one fish for you in the cabin. The smell does not take long to invade the cabin and you will quickly lock the fish in a plastic bag. Alek did exactly the same time last week. Siberians are big fans of smoked fish. You’re not yet a Real Siberian.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Because a thick layer of fog immobilizes you, you leave in the early afternoon. You take each day as it comes.

You also discussed with Nikolai about the rest of your journey. The road between Bilibino is very complicated, and he thinks it is not possible by motorcycle. Polish riders have yet passed, but they were three. This changes things in deep rivers. You know that your only chance is to use your boat and your dry suit to pass these rivers. It will not be very simple, but you think it is feasible. However, there is still the problem of the fuel. You need to carry at least 60 liters. You would have 50 liters if you fill your tanks and your 3 bladers. Then you can easily insert in the boat 4 plastic bottles of 2-liter each. Thus carry 60 liters is feasible but you do not have any real margin. Finally, a third of the road is actually common with Pevek, and you should try to find a truck that could help you on that part of the road.

You left France knowing that you were not ready, but you had to take advantage of this summer window or wait for another year. Your target is primarily recognition. If you find one or two companions tempted by the project, you’ll travel again in the summer of 2016. For now, you are trying to going forward, not taking too many risks.

To follow the Kolyma on your boat, you know now that you absolutely must protect the belt. You also should be at least two boats because of the risk of punctures on the river. A second boat could help and tow the other if things go wrong. One boat alone with a flat airtight compartment in the river would be in big trouble. You hope to come back again, but for now, you just try to continue to learn. And if anyone among your readers are tempted by the adventure, he will let you know.

The boat will stop at night for a quick party of elk hunting. This time, Costa and Micha return empty-handed. You mean “night”, but it’s a long time since you have not seen the dark. The sun revolves around the boat, but never sets. You are now at 68 ° North latitude, which corresponds to the extreme north of Norway. Approaching the mouth of the Kolyma, in the Arctic Ocean. As for the longitude, you stand halfway between Australia and New Zealand. And the Bering strait is still far.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

You should arrive tomorrow in Aniusk. You take advantage of your last day to do some maintenance on the bike. You finally remove the fork tubes. You know the right tube is now empty, and it should remain half of what it should be in the left. The left had begun to leak the day after the right.

While you are about to simply clean, Nicolai tells you that you need oil in the right tube. You knew, but you had to give it up because you prefer to keep your engine oil for the engine. You try to explain … “No, no engine oil, diesel oil! “. He asks Micha for some oil of the tug engine. Micha goes down to the machine room and returned with a bucket full of oil. Then, they take the tubes, open them to add oil. They look both to know what they are doing. In any case better than you. You would have added randomly, so that they have specific benchmarks to determine the volume required. They will resume twice after circulating oil, and closing everything. As if they did that every day. In five minutes everything is over.

You would not think specifically add oil for diesel engine, but it is probably smoother than oil for gasoline engine, closest to the fork oil. Probably a local recipe. And oils used in Siberia should be also more fluid to adapt to the cold. Your friends Michel and Loïc both recommended to add engine oil in the absence of special fork oil.

Once the mechanical part is complete, you fix with Dima a sticker “*** I am Siberian ***”. He gave it to you yesterday. You are proud of the gift.

In the early afternoon, you go front of Kolinskoe, a very small town that you had marked on the map. You ask the Captain if there is a petrol station there … He laughs at the question, but yes, there is a petrol station. However, your phone provider has no antenna on site.

Every day the Kolyma becomes wider. There is always delicate passages in which you must follow precisely the route on the map. These difficulties do not apply to small boats. They can go on long straights without worry.

Stop for buying fish. The huts of the fishermen are numerous. Finally, there is one every 20 km approximately. Each fish weighs two or three pounds. The “Tchirr”.

You discuss again with your neighbor Nicolai. You now understand that he offers you to make phone calls son to find a truck that would go to Egvekinot or Pevek, and if not found, he could accompany you himself. He is probably not just the driver but the owner of his truck. You still have progress to make in Russian. Still, he offers you a well secure solution.

Another good news that comes from Nicolai: in Bilibino, Internet works! If you can put your webs update site, it would be really good.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Micha informs you that there is already an oil spill under your fork. It was to be expected. Maybe you should try the disassembly foremost, but you are afraid of being stopped by the lack of a special tool. In any case, this should not bother you when driving.

You left the Kolyma for a smaller river that leads to Aniusk. The river is deep, and navigation do not make any particular problem. The current is also a bit weaker than the Kolyma and you go at 8 km/h average when you were 15 on the Kolyma (but pushed by the stream). The current is lower on the river.

A new Nicolai you talking about difficulty getting Bilibino to Egvekinot. Today, he thinks it is impossible. No way! It seeks to achieve moral tone. The current heat must melt the snow mountains and raise the water level. Of course, the rain would not be better. In any case, you realize to Bilibino, and you will see well for the future. It may be that you are actually passes longer than expected, but you’d be very happy to be able to walk. You need space.

The last hours are long. You see Aniusk close, a few kilometers, but you move slowly, and the river is a series of switchbacks before arriving.

Nicolai has offered you to go with him to Bilibino. He will host you. You discover he lives in Bilibino. He tries to find a vehicle for Bilibino but there is not today. It’s probably too late. However, he confirms you that the roads to Egvekinot and Pevek are closed. This is not really a surprise.

Quickly, Dima asks “how to put the motorcycle down from the barge? “. While we finally approach the port, you realize that three barges, all full of coal, are waiting to be unloaded. With more than one day to unload each barge, your turn will not be before the end of the week. But quickly Costa and Captain find a solution: “No problem.” They put the barge close to the dock that consists of an old barge filled with sand. Barges are exactly at the same level. You are lucky. All the crew arrives then to lower the bike. And here you are on the dock!

As the barge has to leave the dock, the captain and crew will make their farewells. Nikolai quickly take your phone number and goes back on the barge. You have not had time to take his number. He did not find a vehicle for him to Bilibino.

Before leaving, the captain tells you that they will stay in Aniusk 7 days, so if you decide to return to Zyrianka, they will be here. But hopefully, you will find a solution to go further.

You left everyone. When you asked the captain of the barge in Seymchan to take you, you thought they will charge you for the transport, the accomodation… You quickly realize that you were invited and you do not dare talk about compensation. It was the same with Lidar, the captain of the tug. You have been housed, fed and transported for a week at the expense of these ships. Besides the loading and unloading. You have sought the assistance of many people. And you remain impressed by their generosity.

You had not really thought about what you would do once ashore. You thought Nicolai would be with you, and that you would follow. So what to do? It is past 5 pm. Now you are on a dock with all your stuff. Riding tonight to Bilibino? No real risk of getting caught by the night as it will not happen for several weeks. You know that there is a Gotsinitsia in Bilibino, and you want to ride. You need to move. So you start.

The road is beautiful. At the beginning a forest, but different from the ones you crossed until then: the trees are much further apart, you could pass through them on a motorcycle. And then, gradually, areas without trees. An early tundra. And finally, the mountain. A beautiful mountain, majestic, beautiful scenery. You enjoy the ride.

In the mountains, you see the shadow and hear the cries of a hawk that flies over you from behind, then picnic on you several times, taking care not to touch you. Fortunately, the sound of your exhaust should not particularly reassuring for it. You think it is a little aggressive and you accelerate to make even more noise and away you.

Siberians say it is a “normal” road. It is especially important to pay attention to holes. The addition of oil in the fork makes you feel more the bumps in the arms. No big difficulty but some very short sections with sand or gravel. You meet a total of ten vehicles. You rode quietly: 3 hours and half for 250 km.

Arrived in Bilibino, a cyclist guide you to a Gotsinitsa. A room at 100 euros is suggested first. It must be the luxury. Finally, the receptionist find you a room at half price. It is still very expensive, but with your luggage volume, you avoid shared rooms that would be cheaper. And you know that the towns close to gold mines are always very expensive. You remember Australia.

Bilibino and Aniusk know a great evil: mosquitoes. If the repellant disturb them, they do not give up and approach. Each person has a small cloud around him. At least you do not feel alone anymore: everybody attract mosquitoes. Now, you are neither more nor less embarrassed than others. You have learned to coexist with them.

The hotel is on the second floor of a residential building. The area has been rehabilitated. It is a popular area with a playground, a school… Buildings painted with many vivid colors. The ground floor of these buildings, often stores or government offices. Neighborhood youth approach with the usual questions. The majority drank too much vodka. The smell of vodka makes you more uncomfortable. The most drunk wants to take your hand to keep it. Complicated. A young punk who has a little less drunk gives you a helping hand by carrying a pannier. You know you are a distraction in a world that don’t have so many. The young punk then hit several times at your door but you also need a bit of peace.


From Seymchan to Zyrianka

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The rain wakes you up. You hoped to avoid it for your last day on the road but things looked difficult. Internet that works very episodic allows you to retrieve the weather file of the region: intermittent rain for at least a week. There is no reason to stay.

You take a good breakfast and fold your luggage. A policeman picks you as scheduled at 8 am. You ask him if you have to pay something. No, their help was free. Patrick thinks they have some sort of quota of tourists to help, but they do not even ask you your passport. You think they helped us by kindness.

While you load your bikes front of the building, ladies waiting vehicles that will take them to work. But where do they work? You do not see any factory, or farm … There are quite a few government offices, but they could get there on foot. Probably there are among them some secretaries who work in construction sites of the road, but what the others do remains a mystery.

Again, you’re intrigued by the dress care of all these ladies. All compete in elegance in a world abandoned. Contrasts of Siberia.

You leave the city in the rain after refueling. A mere 3 km away, Patrick stops. His rear tire is flat. He offers you to continue without him. He knows that you are worried about the state of the road you should take to Seymchan. You ask him if he has ever repaired a puncture: never, but he changed his tires once in Australia, following the instructions on the internet. It is better that you stay to help, just in case.

No problem for the repair. So Patrick has just to repack his luggage when two Norwegians bikers stop. You discuss about your journeys. They went fast and passed after the rain, the mud. They are impressed by your project. A beautiful project, but far from being completed. They leave after taking the addresses of your blogs. They might find Patrick tonight or tomorrow in Magadan.

Rain gradually ceases, and the state of the road improves as you progress to. You expected much worth. You find again the Norwegians at a restaurant close to the branch that you must take. After a quick meal, you say goodbye to Patrick and take the road to Seymchan. People told you a lot of contradictory things about this road, but it is finally as good as the main road. No worries.

Shortly before Seymchan two or three ancient cranes along the river. You come inside the ‘port’ which is nothing like a port. Rather a farm with lots of manure. You inquired at a farmer, and he shows you a building. You go there, looking for an office. A man comes to meet you. You try to ask him if there would be a boat Zyrianka. You’re not sure he understood, but the answer is tomorrow or after tomorrow, or after tomorrow after … In any case, this is encouraging. You heard that it could be a boat about every ten days, so in two days … this sounds like good news.

The man leads you to an office with a lady. You follow her into another small building to a bedroom! You thought you should go to Seymchan to find a gotsinitsa, but if there is one here it’s perfect. You put your stuff and go back to see the lady. You want to know if there is drinking water on the boat, and for how many days you have to buy food. Your questions are probably not clear, so the explanations are not clear, but she then takes you to a store that is in the same small building as the gotsinitsa, but at the opposite side. It seems there is everything in these two small buildings.

The place is strange. Close to a ghost town, 5 km before Seymchan. It seems that the dairy farm, the “port” activity and the store belong to a single small company. Can also be a road transport activity because there are 5 or 6 trucks and two mechanics who repair.

Once installed you go to Seymchan to do some additional shopping. The city looks like those you’ve last visited. Old buildings, some of which have been abandoned. A coal power plant in the center. Also a surprizing brand new brick church.

You stop to refuel. You know that gasoline will still be more expensive later. For the first time, you take octane 80. You had started the 98 in the Moscow region, then from 95 to Yakutsk. Then it was just 92, and you know that now you will not find but the 80.

You gave up the idea to go down the river on your boat if you find a houseboat who accepts you. Beginning with a 550km stage does not seem very reasonable. You are especially concerned by the pieces of wood floating on the river surface. You did not have time to build a protection for the belt, and you know it can quickly be destroyed if it gets solid objects when running.

You cheat? Certainly. You want to limit the risks. This trip is first a recognition. Recognition in a real environment. If you do not reach Alaska, you would have at least learn how to reach it.

You share your room with Igor who is also going to Zyrianka. Everything seems to work for the best. Igor speaks a few words of English. A boat should leave around 4am. One of his friends will come with a small boat. Small, but big enough to take you and the bike. From Zyrianka, you could then take a barge to Aniusk. The advantage of the small boat of his friend is that it is much faster: about 18 hours to reach Zyrianka instead of three days for the barge. Why not…


Thursday, July 3, 2014

At 4 p.m., no boat. Can be 7 p.m. .. At 7 p.m. Igor thinks it will be late morning. At 1 p.m., he finally gets a call from his friend who is already gone. He had not managed to reach him. The phone operates intermittently. Igor is disappointed because he must be before tomorrow in Zyrianka. He thinks now take an even smaller boat. So it will be without you. On your side you should wait for the next scheduled ship may be at the end of the day. You learn patience. You try to get information with the lady of the office: she confirms that it should be between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.. You follow the events, you know that there is nothing else to do but wait.

Igor turned on the television in the room. They talk a lot about Ukraine. The official position of Russia is strictly followed by the media. You constantly hear the word “Fascist” about the Ukrainian government. If you find the Russian position legitimate on the principle, the form appears to you biased and often heavy. But as soon as a country approaches a conflict situation, all the world’s media lose their objectivity. You remember how were treated Gulf wars in France.

TV also speaks a lot about France. Today’s indictment of the former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Last week they spoke of the hospital of Grenoble and piracy of medical records of Michael Schumacher, or the transport strikes. You are surprised that such a small country could focus the attention of other countries.

When there is no news, there are often war movies. You continuously hear gunshots, machine guns. You don’t appreciate this aggressive background noise.

You try this morning to access the Internet, but the network is definitely too slow. At least could you read your mails once and send two. But do not expect to update your blog and you wonder if you can do as you will be in Siberia. Can be Bilibino? Otherwise it would be Alaska if you succeed crossing. In any case, your blog will probably be not updated before long.

Igor is preparing to leave. Their boat is very small, but equipped with a 40 hp outboard engine. Longer than your own boat yard. You are happy to know that they often travel such distances on the Kolyma. They will have today 8 hours of navigation, will stop in a hunting cabin to sleep a few hours, and depart for the same term to Zyrianka. Your idea down the Kolyma on a small boat has nothing unrealistic, quite the contrary, it”s classic.

You stay however worried by the branches and trees brought down by the river. To make your system reliable, you should improve the protection of the belt. Even if you have two spare belts, prevention is much better than cure. You are now sure that the current mechanism is not adapted to such a river. You will also observe that their propeller is damaged. And branches also remain a concern for the inflatable frame. It would be much better to be two in this kind of adventure.

As you ask them how many liters of fuel they carry, the answer leaves you dreamer: 200 liters. Their steel boat is certainly heavier, less optimized their engine … but the shell is better profile and you should have gone with only 100 liters. Would you underestimated consumption? Or maybe they consider the way back as Igor told you that gasoline was much more expensive in Zyrianka.

In the late afternoon, a man knocks at your door. It looks like he is also going to Aniusk. His name is Nikolai and he leaves you on that. A good point anyway.

You await for the boat with impatience. At 7 p.m., it is not one but two boats arrived. One pushes a dredging barge with a huge crane. When crews down, you try to find out if any of them could take you. You do not understand their answers. You repeat your question to the guy who had welcomed you this morning at the port. He knows nothing. You understand that these are not good boats. Will there be others? He doesn’t know. The only thing you understand “I don”t know.” In any case, you understand that these boats will not take you. And that nothing will happen tonight. Frustration. An hour later, two other boats arrive. They cast anchor in the middle of the river. Hope is back.

You remove your bag from the motorcycle and you return to the room you thought definitely leave tonight. You fall asleep disappointed with your day. Someone wakes you up at midnight by hitting firmly at your door. The captain of the dredge platform, a balding guy. He asks you to follow him. His name: Anatole. You dressed again and you quickly executed. Once outside he asks you to give him a hug. He did not smelt particularly alcohol, but now you realize that he has been drinking. You let him hold you in his arms, and you go to his platform.

You go down into the hold. Under the platform, a corridor that serves pretty cabins. You find Nicolai with a young crew in the dining room. They want you to drink vodka and you’re determined not to follow. You’re not worried as a sweet old lady smile is also present. she serves food. Is she Anatole’s wife ? No, the cook. His wife is in Ukraine. Anatole makes you visit the barge, shows you a bedroom, a shower. You begin to understand: Nicolai knew you thought leaving tonight, and he probably told Anatole that you were not hosted on a boat. But even if gotsinitsas are very expensive, you prefer to go back. You thank everyone and go back to sleep quickly.



Friday, July 4, 2014

When the first barge docks to unload its coal, you go to meet his captain who talks with the port director. He quickly understands what you are asking for and accepts your request to take you to Aniusk. One good thing done.

While you come back to the gotsinitsa, you meet a young man. He offers you to come have breakfast with them. You accept, and find Anatole and the entire crew of the platform dredging. Anatole is Ukrainian. His wife is Russian. Their family lives in eastern Ukraine and you quickly understand that he is torn by television images. Ukraine is at 10,000 km from where we are, but it a central subject for the discussions you attend. You feel that most Russians have links with Ukraine.

Anatole is still warm. And at breakfast, he takes Vodka and Ukrainian alcohol. The young person who invited you is his son. Anton. He shows you the photos he has taken in recent weeks. Beautiful pictures. There are ten days, he photographed floods in Zyrianka. You did not even know that the city was flooded. You had often seen stories about Sarkozy, but never image of flooding. Zyrianka is forgotten by the Russian medias. Here are some pictures from Anton:
You quickly approaches your bike from the dock. But the captain tells you that there is no fire. Half a day to unload coal from the barge and then to load the containers, and then finish with your bike. So you attend unloading and loading … You are invited to get into the crane of the dock. With Anatole you will also visit the dredging platform. You have become good friends and he offers you a smoked sausage of elk and a Russian flag. These presents make you happy.

The coal is unloaded for the small power plant located in the center of Seymchan. Winter is harsh, and the plant is also used for heating. When the barges come back down the river, they will carry containers for the shops of the towns along the river. In winter, things are simpler because the river becomes a road on which trucks can circulate freely.

By mid afternoon, you find Nicolai near your bike. For a joke, you hand him the keys. Do you agree for him to do a short ride? Why not. He goes. You removed the boat and the panniers, and the bike is now easy to drive for someone tall enough. Nicolai happy returns. Zaïbiss … what you translate by enjoyable.

The bike is then loaded by crane. You had prepared some straps, and everything happens quickly. The barge is away from the dock to make room for the second barge… The same routine that will last late into the night. Youra, the crane operator, and his colleagues have worked in the port
from 9a.m. to 11p.m..

Both barges will leave tomorrow morning together with you and your motorcycle.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

You have a cabin, a bed, access to the shower … Great comfort. The crew of the barge is composed of 6 persons: the captain, the engineer, the cook, and three young people who attend them. The boat is not very big, but you never see all together. They must each spend most of their time in their jobs or in their cabin.

You are two passengers: Alek and you. Alek is trader in Zyrianka and he brings a container of goods. Before (understanding at the time of the USSR) there was a rapid passenger boat linking Seymchan to Zyrianka. Today there are barges that replace accepting one or two passengers.
Otherwise, there is an airline from Yakutsk.

You collect information on the river. You now know that the navigation would be possible for your motorcycle boat from early June to mid September. The velocity of the stream is between 5 and 10 km / h depending on location. There is a little traffic: today we saw a small outboard and
a barge on their way to Seymchan.

Follow the river is not easy. The Kolyma is much narrower than the Lena. Much shallower too. A permanent slalom between the sandbanks. In some areas, there are dozens of islands between which one must pass. Sometimes a single narrow channel that barges must follow precisely. Sometimes, the channel is now only ten meters from the shore. You do not expect it, but signaling help: large white signs often indicate the direction to follow, changes in direction. But you do not always see them.

The water is always muddy, opaque. Is it a due to the incessant rain? Very often stuck in the soil branches protrude from the surface. Definitely, the wood would have been your first concern if you went down on your inflatable boat. You know now that it is essential to better protect the belt from the water.

The ship is old: early 80s. A pure product of the Soviet era.. The engines come from East Germany. GPS Marine was added to guide, but it no longer works. Captain turns the pages of an old map of the river, although he seems to know it very well. Barely an hour after the start, a stop was
necessary to repair a water pump. A routine repair as there must have on every trip.

You spend most of your time in the cockpit. The view is beautiful, and there is sometimes some action. Sometimes music, mostly American, background music. Otherwise Captain sings Russian songs. It seems you recognize some tunes. At the end of the day, you recognize perfectly one music: the Marseillaise. While you smile and applaud, the mechanic tells “Marseillaise.” You are surprised by their knowledge of the French culture. They have quoted you in the day several French singers and actors, and that they even know the name of our national anthem. On your side, you do not know any name of Russian singer or actor, and have no idea what may be the Russian national anthem. Why France does so interested other European countries, and why the French have so little knowledge of the other European countries? A mystery or the Voltaire’s fault ?

The boat stops at 10pm for the night. Captain invites you to look at his photos. Most were recorded with the date in the corner. You see the seasons. The freeze by to 10 October, the winter road on the river, then the debacle by May 20th and the first ascent of the river at the end of May.

He also shows you some more personal pictures of some parties of hunting and fishing. Both fishes out of the ice and animal are enormous.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

You are awakened by the noise of the engine. We stopped at 10pm at night, and start again at 6am. Permanently Captain at the helm. Yesterday, he came down to have lunch during the repair of the water pump. Long days, but also dense and stressful because the steering requires a lot of attention. The season lasts 6 months. Six months working with the only breaks unloading and loading of goods on the docks.

This morning an oil pump which concentrates efforts of Constantine, the mechanic. But a stop was not necessary for repair. By contrast, a bank of fog driving bar over the entire width of the river. Both barges dropped anchor again after having turned around to be facing the current. You will leave as soon as the sun has cleared the wall, but a quarter of an hour later, a new break is needed again for the same reason. It is nature that orders.

The sun made appearances. A beautiful light that plays with fog. You take some pictures. You have not done a lot of pictures during this trip. From the beginning, you have not often had the spirit to the photos. Too many things to think about, anticipate … When you’ll pass in boat mode, it will probably be worse.

In the afternoon we see a small port with two houses and an important fuel depot. Port access to gold mines.

Captain announced you that first Sunday of July is a bank holiday. The annual event for the crews. You understand that the end of the Gulag is commemorated. The Kolyma was the place where the Gulags were concentrated.
The two barges are stopped at 6p.m. Shorter day due to holiday. The two barges are placed side by side and you discover the crew of the second boat. You also have the impression that some young guys did not know each other. The twin barges spend the summer together, but their crews often do not have the opportunity to meet, if not this feast day.

Organizing a barbecue, a large table on the deck of the other boat. The two cooks have prepared an impressive number of dishes. And liquor bottles parade. You accept the first two or three glasses, and then you try to refuse. You’re sitting next to the cook who fills your plate. Since you are on the boat, you eat twice as much as usual.

You are close to the shore and mosquitoes are also there. You’re now used to their presence. The Russian mosquito repellant is effective, and you are not bothered anymore.

While you progress the last few days, your level of Russian is still too low to have real conversations. Especially when people telling jokes. You still have much to learn.


Monday, July 7, 2014

As yesterday, the engines are started at 6am. Everyone is at his post. Everyone is concerned about your headache, but you’re fine. You stopped to drink at the right time.

Yesterday you learned that the program two barges had changed: they do not go to Aniusk, but will return to Seymchan after the break Zyrianka. Too bad: you appreciate this crew. But this is an opportunity to meet another one.

You take advantage of free time to prepare your future routes, on both track and sea. Yesterday, Alek told you that the road between Bilibino and Pevek was brand new. There are probably two or three hundred kilometers in common with the track to Egvekinot, which is not really a road. Two or
three hundred easy miles during which you could then overload the bike with gasoline without taking too many risks.
You reach Zyrianka as expected in the late morning. Captain found you a boat to Aniusk before arrival. It should leave tomorrow.

You expected a new semi-ghost town, but Zyrianka is alive. Many old buildings but also modern buildings that you had not seen in a small town for a long time. The port is therefore much larger than Seymchan. A dozen boats are either docks or placed on the bank, or for larger anchored in the river. Your arrival is not the event of the week as for Seymchan.

Just arrived, the captain present you a man in uniform who asks you to follow him. You think first of all that you do some paperwork, but not … Nicolai is a former USSR champion for motorcycle on ice and remains passionate by everything regarding motorcycles. It makes you visited his office, shows you old photos and medals that recall this period. You also visits offices, the gyms and rest places for the employees of the port and the river company. The atmosphere is still very Soviet.

You return to the boat to attend the landing of containers and your motorcycle. The barge then leaves the dock to be placed a little further down some free bank. Time seems spent a lot slower here that in Seymchan. Crane made a lunch break. People appear less effective, less stressed than in Seymchan. The “boss” of the Seymchan port was always present and constantly controlling the workflow. Here everything looks quieter.

You have dinner in the evening on the boat with the captain, his wife and a friend of his wife. You ask questions about their life. The year is still divided into two parts: winter four hundred kilometers south of Moscow, and summer here in Zyrianka for her and for him on the boat.
Captain asks you about your salary, gives you his. The subject is not rude in Russia and you get often the question. There must be at least a factor of 5 between a French and a Russian wage salary. Russians often think only a millionaire could travel as you do. If your income is above the average, you have also met with French travelers whose salaries were below this average. Anyway, a Russian Captain does not earn fortunes and doesn’t get the French average wage..

By late evening, Nicolai, the former champion of motorcycle on ice, pick you up for a tour of the city. You seem to be on an island. To get there only by plane or boat. You are surprised by the number of monuments. You stop in front of several of them to make the photo.

You’re going back to the boat. Youra and Alexis are in the cockpit. Youra asks you to show him some pictures of your past trip.

You will leave them tomorrow with regret.


The Kolyma Highway

Friday, June 27, 2014

The rain fell hard that night. In the morning, large puddles everywhere. You look at the weather that appears quite favorable. So you can go without great concern. You say that the rain has had the advantage of pasting down the dust. Andrei wants to accompany you to the ferry. You also meet Ruslan there. He wants to do an interview for the Yakut television chain and you accept.

You really start the road to Magadan at 2pm. Quickly a hailstorm. An impressive amount of water. You had not put your rain jacket and you’re soaked before taking it out. You realize quickly that this dirt road is going to be complicated. You remember the Carretera Austral. The rain was continuous but not really annoying for driving. Here, the water drainage is not so efficient. The soil quickly turns into mud. You experience big difficulties. You know you mustn’t fall, and if you can prevent falls, it is often by chance or great effort. You become exhausted both nervously and physically. You start thinking that you won’t do it. While other vehicles do not raise dust, they do send spurts of mud or muddy water. Your visor is too dirty. Soon, you have to open it and then you get everything in your face. You have mud in your eyes. It reminds you of playing rugby. You learn quickly to turn your head at each crossing of vehicles. But the mud comes in anyway … Most of the time, you advance very slowly. Your average must be 20 km. The mud has never been your strength. What if the remaining 2000km were all in these conditions? No, you must remain optimistic.

After 50 painful kilometers, you stop in the first village to take a hot coffee. Right after leaving, the mud makes you swerve several times, you really have a bad control. It is only 4PM, but you choose to stay there. Half turn after two kilometers. You look for a place to sleep. Many people confirm that there is nothing in the village. You have to go 200 km further… You are leaving knowing that you will not do 200 km like this. You don’t care about where you will sleep. You just want to leave this mud.

Gradually, you get used a little bit to the road conditions. Even though there are sections where you still really don’t feel confident. There are sometimes fields full of slippery clay bumps, probably carved by the herds. Sometimes corrugation that you are forced to drive very slowly. Everyone overpass you. In the dust, you drove faster than cars, but in the mud 4 wheels seem to be much better than 2. At least with your load. However you see several vehicles, including two trucks that are in the ravine. After 160 km, you arrive in a small town. You ask for a gotsinitsa (hotel) at a gas station You go there with difficulties because of the mud.

The hotel is occupied by a group of young girls who speak English. A pleasant surprise. Except that the hotel is full … There is another and it is proposed to guide you there. A new field of mud. Your guide stops above a hole. It shows you a roof … It is 10 meters down against the rest of the village. You’re grateful for their having guided you, but you remain thoughtful about the position of the hotel. Tired, you decide to go. Going down is easy. Fortunately, the bike sinks into the mud, and you can accompany the descent with your feet on each side. Downstairs, you need to turn in the middle of ruts filled with water to reach the hotel. You’ll get there by heating your clutch and stalling a few times. You do not like the mud. You’ve already said … You stop, or rather mud immobilizes you few meters from the entrance.

You know you can not go back, and you decide to drop the bag, boat and bags. Your only chance would be to go up without your stuff, if by chance the sun dries a little the street. A gotsinitsa is not a hotel but a place to stay. All gotsinitsas are different. You share a room with two young men who build towers for GSM antennas. Alexander takes care to explain to you how the place works. Russian toilets and shower outside. It also offers you dining. The quiet kindness. You’re worried for the ascent. You will have to remain at the bottom of this hole as the bad weather continue. You saw two 4×4 succeeding the ascent. They launch the engine into the slope with maximum speed. For now, you do not see yourself doing the same.

You discuss with your roommates. You understand that they are like you, stuck … It rained for three days and two days ago they could not go up, so they stay in their beds. Their vehicle has four-wheel drive but is not powerful enough. They are philosophers and enjoy rest … As you fall asleep, you tell yourself that you could ask for some help to exit the bike if you can not do it alone. Once everything unloaded, and your bike is rather light. Too bad that you have had your fill of petrol just before the descent … But they’re right: you will leave when you can. Good night. DSC00766DSC00769DSC00772


Saturday, June 28, 2014

A miracle : a great sun. Everything dries quickly. By late morning, you decide to go. The owner of the hotel stops a 4×4 to ask to get your bags. You’re not comfortable, but you climb without much difficulty. The sun has already done its work. Above, everything has dried … Once your bags and panniers ready, you walk back down to say goodbye to everyone, and you start.

Finally good condition. Not too much dust nor mud You take a heavy rain in the early afternoon, but in a rather easy area. You’re in luck today. The only difficulties are a few areas of sand and gravel. A small bridge partly collapsed. Truck drivers stopped to put pieces of wood, fill with sand. The cars start to pass and you do the same.

You arrive a little before 5pm to a river where you have to take a ferry. The platform is empty. You expect a car arrives to go on. You go around the bike. You see a big oil leakage on the right fork tube. It was not there 30km ago and saw everything that was projected onto the skid plate, it should not be a lot of oil in the tube. You had leaked fork in 2010, but not as important. You’ll see. Yet you did not feel anything abnormal during these last kilometers, driving seemed normal.

The ferry fills. But slowly. The departure time is scheduled for 8pm. You discuss with Uzbeks working for an electricity company. They also install pylons. You show them on your phone your photos of Uzbekistan. They come from a small town in the Samarkand region. Nice place… The ferry leaves. During the crossing, you discuss with other people. You ask them if there will be a hotel on the other side. There is one at 30km and they offer you to guide you there.

They drive very fast, but they will wait for you at the entrance of the city. On these 30km, you will not have again felt no discomfort in driving. The left tube must compensate for the lack of damping of the right tube. Good news. The hotel occupies the ground floor of an old building. But everything is clean, spotless. There is a real hot shower, and a kitchen. Only a couple occupies another room. They invite you to share their meal. You did some shopping, but you accept. A pleasant evening.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

You lose an hour to find the petrol station. You wanted to start earlier than the day before, but it is already 11am. Weather is nice, the road is good. Everything is nice today. A cyclist. You stop. A Russian who goes from Moscow to Kamchatka. From Magadan, he will continue on a winter road and go canoeing through the rivers. He carries an inflatable canoe… You are kidding have had the same idea and you congratulate each other. But you find him braver than you. He says you also having seen a motorcycle 30 minutes earlier. Maybe you’ll find it later.

Distant mountains. They approach. You leave the plain to the mountains. Great happiness. Beautiful scenery, a blue sky and an easy trail. What fun. You do see almost anyone, so almost no dust. After an hour or two in the mountains, a biker stopped on the low side. Probably one that told you the cyclist. Patrick is Australian. 26 years. Now you remember seeing him on a Yakutsk avenue when Valera was giving you your Visa card. You had told Valera “an Australian plate.” And girls of Gotsinitsia before yesterday … they had hosted the previous night an Australian. Each time the same person.

You ride together. You are both glad to have some company. Patrick is a kind boy, calm. A huge road construction. Parking with hundreds of vehicles, dump truck, … You’ve never seen so many. Work on a road here is pharaonic. Several bridges are being built in this area, and it makes you surprising deviations with a high slope, narrow and the state of the track. You stop to take a picture. While you are ready to go, you see … your bike falling. First time since the day of departure. Not too bad. Fortunately, Patrick is there to give you a hand. You will not know if you are able to stand it up by yourself, but it is better not to know.

You and Patrick drive first alternatively for sharing the inconvenience of dust. A small river, Patrick awaits you. The first river. Not very deep, but your rear wheel is blocked in a hole. Your bike is too heavy to go out. Patrick comes to help you. He has now water in his boots. Yours are waterproof, but one of them is also filled with water. You made a mistake. You would have been more concentrated and nothing would have happened.

The road is still beautiful. It is 6pm when you get to the next petrol station. A rather dismal place and for the first time, the waitress will not seem particularly friendly. This is a real road station. A family lives here, away from everything. At 200km from the nearest town, in a place infested with mosquitoes, where the temperature drops to -50 ° in the winter. You understand the waitress to not being particularly welcoming.

You leave for about ten kilometers to the first place where you could plant your tent. The soil is stony. You need to get off your boat to get the tarp. Patrick offers you to share his tent. A big Russian model for three people. This will save you much time.

You are also attacked from all sides by mosquitoes. You spray yourself with your repellant, but you are still surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes. Stressful. You fill you are attractive for mosquitoes. A good skin for them, or are you dirtier, or may be cleaner … You do not understand why! On the other hand, it would be useless to share the hundreds of mosquitoes with Patrick. Better to keep them all for you. Once in the tent, happiness … You can write these lines safely. You hear the sound of mosquitoes on the other side of the tent, but you stay calm.


Monday, June 30, 2014

The road is still as beautiful and good. A kind of highway … Nothing to do with the first part in the vicinity of Yakutsk. Driving in these conditions is a great pleasure. You can drive fast on the straights, and you just beware of turns. Few vehicles, but still sometimes a few surprises. Cities are rare. You’re on a new section of the Magadan road without any inhabited area.

You arrive in the first city in the middle of the afternoon. A good meal in an unexpected Chinese restaurant.

You ride quietly. Patrick drove faster before your meeting, but he had two bad falls. One of these falls at 80km/h when passing a vehicle in the road works close to Yakutsk. The same area where you were afraid to know the same fate. And a second crash yesterday before you meet him, arriving on a bridge. He was twice lucky to get away with minimal damage.

You arrive in an area where cities succeed almost every 50 or 100 km. These are often ghost towns. Abandoned cities. Time of the USSR, planning had considered it necessary to connect the eastern Russia to the west by a link of settlement areas. It was thus built complete cities with school, police station,… All were supposed to look like any other Soviet city. There were factories for people to work, everything… After the fall of the Berlin wall, factories closed as too remote to be profitable. The majority of people then left, if not all. The road is not generally through these ghost towns but it pass near them. A strange landscape. All cities have not been abandoned. Sometimes there is a small part of the people still living there. You would expect to find old people who do not want to leave the place where they lived, but you see mostly young people in these half-ghosts cities. Young elegant women with strollers, kids on bikes .. You do not understand why these young people are there. A challenge?

In the evening, you reach Artik. The town has less than 10% of its population of before. Patrick asked two teenage girls, 15 years, if there is a gotsinitsa. Girls like all teenagers in Europe. But you remain confused about their living conditions. Artik was the house a few hundred people, but there remain a few dozen today. Lack of accommodation, you still ride fifty miles before camping.

The camp is infested with mosquitoes again. You would have expected a dry place, but it would be for another time.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

You meet two Polish bikers on BMW. A GS 800 and 1200. The guy with the GS 1200 fell several times. He seems to have broken ribs. His bike is heavy, but yours is also much too heavy. You have nothing to say about that. Road Magadan is famous for bikers. You are on a new section, but some bikers take the old part : old destroyed bridges, river crossings… a kind of challenge for unwary bikers. You prefer to have a good comfortable road. And you found a way to stuck your wheel in the only river that you met! As for Patrick, he initially wanted to do the loop, but its falls made ​​him change his mind. He thinks now returning by the same safe “highway”. Noon lunch in Ost Nera, one of the largest cities along the route. Again a half-ghost town. A building on two abandoned. The restaurant is chic. Proof: you pay after eating, what do not happen for a long time. The lady who takes orders is smiling and considerate. You have only 100km to Yagodnoye. Patrick spotted it on his GPS a gotsinitsa. You reach it on mid afternoon. The building of the Gotsinitsa is a bit away from the road. A creepy building, half the windows are bricked up. Patrick goes in and comes back with two policemen. The building is no longer a hotel, but a federal office. The police are friendly. They spend making phone calls to find a solution. You do not understand everything, but you follow. They lead you to a building that seems half lived. A furnished apartment on the fourth floor. You leave your luggage, then go to the police station. Where the boss gets you in his big office. TV evokes the events in Ukraine. As always, you feel that the sensitivity of the subject is great. The boss speaks pretty good English and gives you information about your roads for tomorrow. Patrick wants to reach Magadan and you Seymchan, a port on the Kolyma River. You will then park the bikes in a garage. While chatting with the owner of the garage, he notes that you attract clouds of mosquitoes. He offers you a mosquito repellant thinking that you do not have one. You spray on your clothes, your head and …. and then … the mosquitoes are gone. Patrick had told you: it’s your French repellant which attracts Siberians mosquitoes. New horizons open before you. You understand now why the inhabitants of these cities do not have your little swirling cloud above their heads. Finally, officers left you at the apartment. You did not understand what was happening, but you’re lucky, and it should not be asking too many questions. Shopping at the grocery store. You see a Visa terminal. Can you use it? Of course! So you pay 4 chicken thighs, two oranges, a hunk of bread, two glasses, a liter of beer and a few trifles with your beautiful brand new Visa card. All for 15 euros. A shower, a good meal and quite good internet. Life is nice.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

The boat docks on a simple bank of sand. You expected to land downtown, but you see on your GPS that you are a few kilometers north of Yakutsk. You follow the stream of cars.
Yakutsk seems built on sand. You didn’t expect this atmosphere. You had in mind a town with a winter temperature of -50 °C. And now you find 30°C with sand everywhere, a hot, dry air. It looks more like a North African city than Siberian.
Arrived in the city center, you park near a place where the classic tank of the Second World War is exposed. You think that if Valera should join you, it will be easier to explain the place. On the boat, you had sent him an SMS. You want to know if he received your Visa card. You just receive the answer: no Visa card. Valera also writes that you will find hotels from 150 euros or hostels from 50 euros. Life here is rather expensive for someone who has no credit card.. You try to call him, but your phone turns off. The battery is discharged. You unpacked your stuff looking for your auxiliary battery or the connector to plug on the bike. A bike, Yamaha TT 250, parks near you. The man asks where you’re from, where you go… You answer while continuing your research. You tell him he has a good bike thinking about the Australians you met a few days earlier.
The man speaks to you with hands. You understand that he wonders if you know where to sleep. He invites you otherwise. His name is Andreï. You are still trying to get news of your Visa card, but still no battery. Ok, you decide to follow Andreï.

You leave the bikes in a guarded garage, then get into a building. His flat looks under construction; but it is a rather tidy site. You put your bags in a corner. Andrei present you his apartment and offers you coffee.
You understand that he lives there for only two weeks. He and his wife recently separated after 30 years together. He looks affected. A difficult time for him. It shows you pictures of his family, his wife, who was world champion in super-marathon.

You were hesitant, but you’re finally glad with the decision of following him. You tell him your travel, show him your maps, your book, photos and video. You feel that all this interest, entertains.
After a shower and laundry, you continue your presentations. You’ll quickly progress in Russian. You use Google Translate on your phone when some words miss you.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The summer solstice. You ‘re lying when it was day, you woke up in the night but still the day light, you wake up when the sun is already high. Yakutsk is a northern city.
It is Sunday. No way to get news for your Visa card. DHL website says it is still in the Moscow region. So you spend time on the internet to update your blog. You risk to spend some time in Yakutsk but you have a lot to do to prepare for the rest of the trip.
Klim, a friend of Andrei pick you up by car. Andrei and Klim are associates. They have in common a small transport company. Five trucks in a large parking sand. Their business idle during the summer: they work mainly on winter roads. Their trucks are old. Old Russian trucks, two Kamaz, a Urals. Also a MAN and a newer Volvo.
Klim leaves his car to Andrei to show you around the city. The city is not very big, it is actually faster around. You start by the rich suburb, the “haciendas”. On a wall, a tag says “Gangster Zone.” As for the rest of Russia, Yakutsk knows great inequalities. Great wealth and great poverty. But not extreme wealth or extreme poverty. It seems that there is some work for everyone here.
The roads are also very uneven. But most are in a poor state. Apart from two or three beautiful central avenues, streets are often full of holes.
Urbanism is very heterogeneous: old wooden buildings, newer concrete buildings. Everything is mixed haphazardly. A common point that you plot: all buildings are mounted on poles that hoisted at least one meter above the ground. Nothing touches the ground. Similarly, all pipes, pipelines, power grids are suspended. We go permanently under “bridges” of pipes. You had often seen these air ducts in the rest of Russia, but never so consistently. The ground seems to be the enemy .. The permafrost? But when winter comes, it should not be good either in air at -50 °.
You go with Klim to a restaurant. The manager of the place leaving his party of pool to join. He is in business with Andrei and Klim. But it is time to relax. You all take a big bowl of soup. Korean food, very refined. Klim is Korean. Since you’re in Yakutsk, you know that the city and the mines of the region attract many people from all backgrounds, even if the Yakuts still largely predominate. A Far East which is very close to the Wild West. Nationalities seem to coexist in good composition.
You return to the apartment and you will leave it to your literary activities. You also discussed with the Andrei rest of your journey, your route. When Andreï wonders how you plan to protect yourself from bears, you show him your mini-rockets. He thinks it is a good solution, even though he would have preferred a firearm. It shows you the gun he has in the small bag he always carries with him. You’re surprised. Still the Far West … It also shows you the Kalashnikov he has in his cabinet. He has the permits for these weapons, but as a European, you remain amazed that we can possess.
At each meal, Andrei cooks for four. Yet he does not eat. You guess his diet is due to his recent separation. However, you eat like two.
You often eat fish and meats. Many proteins. There are few vegetables in stores, only potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Some fruits are present but appear as luxury goods. Probably they arrive by plane. In any case, Andrei really takes care of you.


Monday, June 23, 2014

You contact Bob, your English spoken friend in Irkutsk. You ask him if he could get news about your Visa card from DHL. He calls you back an hour later with reassuring news. The card should arrive in the day in Yakutsk. It also calls Valera to prevent it.

Andreï went to the garage to work. At your side, you prepare the GPS routes that you need to follow the Kolyma, then when your crossing of Chukotka. Many things that you have not had time to do before your departure.
Around noon, you see on the website of DHL that your card has been delivered. An appointment is agreed front of the tank with Valera to late evening. You began to despair of recovering a Visa card.

Valera is accompanied by two of his friends, more at ease in English. All follow you to see where you live. In your discussions, you show them a spring pin. You never know … but they have never seen such things. However, Valera expects to find a solution. He gives you an appointment the next morning at 8:30 a.m.
Andrei will return later. He was invited by Klim at the birthday or baptism of his grand child.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You leave early the flat to find Valera. You cross the city to a huge Yamaha center. There are motorcycles, but also boats, Jet Skis, snow scooters … A large modern facility. You had tried to explain to Valera that your pin was not a spare part of a motorcycle or boat, and you’re first disappointed. In the shop Valera, seems to know everyone. You finally get into a reception room, then in the office of Oleg, the director. Oleg was part of the group that crossed the Bering Strait in 2012 on Jet Skis. You’re surprised by the situation. Known Bering crossings are so rare. Maybe 5 or 6 since the end of World War II. You are of course aware of this Jet Ski crossing., And happy to talk, to acquire information on the state of the sea routes, relationships with administrations.. Oleg also learn you the impossibility of finding other than gasoline octane 80. That could be a concern.

Oleg inspires you trust. He quickly made a good status of your mechanical issue. For him, the best solution would be to replace the spring pins with solid pins with a greater diameter. So you let him your lower unit for the change is made.
Upon returning, you write Loïc asking if your bike bear several days of gasoline index 80. Loïc, with whom you rode in Bolivia and Peru, is working in the injectors for motorcycles. He quickly answers: he thinks he should not have other concerns that an increase of the consumption. Especially in “boat” mode, when your engine never gets high revs. You are reassured.

For a few days, you were in contact with friends in France and you asked them to ship these famous spring pins that are not found in Russia. New regulations for the shipment of goods to individuals in Russia that the shipment has been delayed. Now, you ask to cancel.

You feel to many people involved. But you think that sharing this journey is important. And you know that you would be unable to succeed by yourself. You are here thanks the help of the IUT of Grenoble, thanks to all the friends who gave you a hand. And now thanks to all those people who help you during the trip. There are many.

In the afternoon, you go to the garage with Andreî. You want to recheck motorcycle and boat after 1000km of track. Also clean your air filter.
Again, everyone helps you. There are around you Philip, the Armenian mechanic. Andrey, Klim Klim father and junior. The garage is a kind of Tower of Babel. There are still a Kyrgyz driver and a carpenter you think Yakut. No two identical nationalities. The atmosphere is family. You feel that all will enjoy, all are related. A great complicity. Yet they are all quite different.

As you felt some tension between Buryats and Russians in Irkutsk, as you have the impression that the people of Yakutsk are insensitive to the origins. In the street, everyone just sharing with everyone without racial distinction. You also see frequently mixed couples.

While they having fun tone horn pear, you say as a joke it is to replace your electric horn that no longer works. Philip and Klim junior then set to work to repair it. They finally repair the two, the one from the Kawasaki recovered Irkutsk, and the original one. From what you know, there was a series of problems, bad contacts, mechanical blockages that caused nothing worked.

Senior Klim also helps you to check your boat. Again, it is in very good state.

You spend time checking the structure of the bike, to control tightening. Everything look normal but you have the impression that the tank would be a little down compared to the luggage rack. There is slack in the screws that connect the two. Maybe the plastic spacers that hold the bottom of the tank they are a bit overwritten. But the tank bears no trace of distortion. So far nothing to worry about, but you will have to keep an eye.

As you still have to pack the boat, Andrei asks Klim Junior drive you back.


Wednesday, June 24, 2014

The temperature has fallen since the beginning of the week. After the 30°C of the weekend, there is now around fifteen degrees. Wind and at times a little rain that does not last. You like it because it sticks a little dust on the ground.

At the garage, Andreï helps you to pack the boat again, reinstall everything. Andrei and junior Klim takes you then see a museum of ice sculpture. A permanent exhibition that kept cool in burrows in the hills on the edge of the city, near the garage. Beautiful sculptures.
The ambient temperature is below 0° C. You begin to understand why the lines are never buried …
You then return to the flat where Valera will join you. He has your lower unit. Nice work. Valera explained you that the new pins are made from highly resistant parts from Mercedes. They were cooled before being entered. They also prepared spare pins with a diameter slightly larger. In case where it would eventually move. You are reassured.


Thursday, June 25, 2014

Your last day in Yakutsk. You write an email to Chukotka to inform them of your progress. You also give them a link to a map where they can follow your route in Chukotka through a SPOT device that you bought in Australia. Chukotka is a region for which you need special permissions. You provided this link because the administration wants to know where you are, but it could also be a security for you.
You invited Valera, Ruslan and Andrei to a restaurant for lunch. A restaurant that offers traditional Yakut cuisine. The national meal consists in slices of frozen fish. Delicious.
Ruslan takes a lot of pictures and movies. He is a photographer and journalist and would like to publish an interview about your travel. When paying, everyone wants to pay the bill. Once more, Andreï wins. You are disappointed.
You were afraid of having too much time to spend in Yakutsk and finally get busy. You will have done everything you wanted to prepare the rest of the trip. A pleasant and effective break.

Your web site is updated, and you don’t know when will be the next time you will have an internet access.


On the way to Yakutsk

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Finally the road. It missed you. Bob guides you to the exit of the city. For four days, he has spent half his time with you. He is an entrepreneur and you appreciate all this time for you.
When you packed your luggage, you tried to put the boat slightly more to the rear. Can be 5 to 10 cm behind. This increases the effort on the rear tank, but as it seems to resist well… You enjoy the difference. You’re much more comfortable in the sections of dirt. Finally you get to keep the bike between the knees, and release the stress on the forearm. Everything seems easier. The new space also allows you to change slightly your position.

Since you left, you got well accustomed to the load. If the positioning of the stand during stops remains a concern, you have learned how to recognize good positions. In any case, you do not hesitate to stop. And now you no longer fear either the dirt roads. Desert brand new tire also helps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The landscapes are beautiful. Green steppe with wooded hills half. It reminds you landscapes of Mongolia. In 2010, when you came from Mongolia, you had not been sensitive to the beauty of this region. You must have been bored. But it is really very beautiful.

200 km before Chita, a couple of bikers stopped on the low side. You park near them. Australians. They do the reverse trip to one that was yours in 2010: Vladivostok – Ulan Ude – Mongolia – Central Asia – Iran – Turkey … They have two 250 TT. You remember the Canadians who had the same bikes. They marvel at the steppes. Melissa has never seen anything so beautiful. It is true that these landscapes do not exist in Australia. But you think they will find better soon in Mongolia. You would have rode a few days with them, but your directions are opposite.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

You slept in a small hotel 20km before Chita. In the morning, when you take your breakfast in the restaurant, television transmits a match of the football (soccer) World Cup. Russia plays against Korea, but few people seem interested in the progress of the match. You watch five minutes and go back to pack your stuff.
You leave Chita around 8am. The signs just indicate the next big town: Khabarosk to 2113 km. The differences between cities are growing … Chita to Khabarosk is the most desertic section between Moscow and Vlasdivostok. Few vehicles. However, this road is in excellent condition.
You put your GPS in “routing” mode, and it tells you: “Continue on Amour” (Amour means Love in French). A nice slogan. Amour must be the name of this highway. A nice name that inspires you. It is great beautiful, the scenery is beautiful, and you find yourself driving pleasure. You can think of the people who are dear. You feel with them. This is partly the availability that made you so enjoy the bike in your world tour.

You’re always on the Amour in the afternoon, but the greatest happiness does not last: it rains. Showers almost continuously. There is no one on the road, no trucks to splash you, so it’s no big deal.

You stop at almost every service station. You recognize all of them. Must not play too much with your range, and you prefer refuel your tank before as often as possible. To Irkutsk, before you filled the tank and waiting for gasoline is transferred to the rear tank to add two or three liters. But in small stations, pumps are often traditional and they will not let you wait. They prefer you get your money back rather than let the pump run dry. You do not insist. Because it remains a few liters in the rear tank, you think you have a range of 400km with the full of your front tank only. About half would be enough.

You finished your day around 7pm. The first hotel for very long. Prices are 2-3 times more expensive than elsewhere. It reminds you the “Road Stations” in the Australian bush. This is the law of the market. When you ask a garage for the bike, there is always a solution now. Since you left Irkutsk, you can leave the boat in place during the night and take only your bag.

Friday, June 20, 2014

You still have 200 km on Amour before taking the road to Yakutsk. The road is always excellent and you enjoy.

The intersection of the roads of Amour and Kolyma is modeled on the great American highway interchanges. A complete rosette with several hundred meter radius of curvature. The road from Yakutsk is a dual carriageway for 500 meters. They quickly move to a three-lane, then another 500 meters before a two-lane to finish just as quickly by a very basic dirt road. But the intersection was great.

On the first 50 kilometers, a new road is under construction. The available road is in very poor condition. The main discomfort comes from trucks. They are ubiquitous and raise a lot of dust. Fortunately, after the first small town you will be entitled to twenty kilometers of paved road. And any result will be as follows: a succession of bad dirt roads, good dirt roads, old asphalt, or beautiful roads where asphalt has been laid roads. Russian continuous change.

The case of the most common figure is good dirt road. You can then run fast enough to prevent vibration due to the corregation. However, when it comes to old asphalt sections, you need drive slowly enough to avoid shocks in the holes. But of course, you are often trapped : when you think you can speed up, inevitably you encounter a big hole that freezes your enthusiasm. And your forearms.

The good news: while you feared much driving your load, you realize quickly the good handling of the whole. Of course, you fear sandy areas, but you each time passes without any real difficulty. There are only going downhill you’re uncomfortable.

You stop at noon in Tinda, the main town before Yakutsk. Firstly a service station. You also ask if they have a compressor to pressure your tires. Negative. You observe so your front tire, and you realize that it is actually deflated. You estimate about 0.5 bar. Quarter of what it should be. This explains your difficulties when going down… You feel stupid. You could get punctures and seriously damaging your tube with all these holes, all the stones … Moreover, you have a spare tube for the rear, but not for the front!

You decide to go gently until the first vulcanizer. There are several in each city. You redo the pressure, but it seems not to hold. You check the valve and realize it probably was not tight enough. You leave the bike at the vulcanizer who was willing to help you to remove the wheel and you go for a lunch in a small restaurant. Back to the bike, you measure the pressure again. It seems to be stabilized. You decide to leave as it is. Dismantles all take too long. If there really was a flat tire, you will fix it either on the road or in the next town. But the leak is certainly minimal.

The afternoon is always the same succession of road sections in the state so variable. You try to ride enough to have less distance to do for tomorow. How you feel dirty, you want to find a hotel for a shower. You waiting for the next town, but it does not come. Instead, you find yourself again on a construction road for nearly 100 km. The sun is shaving and dazzles you. The shadows of the trees, the permanent dust make the situation more and more complicated. Often, a truck that you would like to pass. But when you approach, the dust cloud is so dense that there is an long time during which you will see absolutely nothing. Driving becomes really dangerous.

Finally, the expected small town. You stop in the first “Gostinitsa” you find. This is not really a hotel, but a small building dated of the Soviet time in which most customers are permanent residents. The price is high for a single night, but you do not care: you want to shower you, be clean, lose the layer of dust impregnated into your skin, your hair.

The receptionist was surprised by your arrival. She does things the old: copying all your documents, calling someone to know how to deal with a foreigner. It lasts, but you ultimately have the right to your shower. Cold, but so nice.

You get your emails of the last two days with difficulty. You learn that the spring pins could not leave. DHL shipments now limited only to firms … Quickly, you ask Bob to find a professional destination in Yakutsk. Unfortunately, it’s already too late. The shipment will be done only on Monday. You do definitely have no luck with the issues of shipments.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The route starts with a paved section of 100km. Incredible … You do not seek to understand. Especially do not go too fast to enjoy. Following will be as the day before: a heterogeneous succession of good, bad, very bad unpaved roads.
Often trucks down. The life of the truck drivers is tough in the region. They cover you with dust, but you respect these men. You greet them.

You stop often for coffee and to clean your visor. Each time, waitresses, drivers come to you to ask you. Magadan? Niet v’Chukotkou .. These drivers are well placed to know that the road to Chukotka does not exist in summer. Then you explain to them: “The boat on the bike, then the bike on the boat. Lodka na motorcycle, motorcycle potom na lodke. “ Sometimes you show them the video on your phone. Because your Russian is too limited to say “I am trying to go as far as to Alaska”, you simplified: “I am going to Alaska.” You think that the rumor will spread .. All those people who thought they were on the road to Magadan discover that they are actually on the road from Paris to New York. The proof: they saw a French who passed by on their way to America. On their road. No matter how far you go.

The good news of the day: many people have confirmed that the road to Magadan showed no particular difficulty. Not really worse than this one… in any case, it is used everyday by the 4×4 or motorcycles. And you will find gasoline regularly. At Vladimir near Moscow, Alex told you that this road was not useable in summer, and that you would not find fuel, or when a crazy price. Russia is so big that no one can be well informed of the state of the roads on the other side of the country.

The last 100 kilometers, like yesterday, are very difficult. Low sun, shade trees, and especially the work on the road without interruption. You see nothing, you’re exhausted. You have kept your rain pants to protect your road pants from the dust: a sauna.

30km before arrival, you decide you stop, still in a work zone. Since half an hour you expected a more welcoming place to stop, but you should clean your visor. Everything becomes too dangerous. A man on a big machine for the road stops its engine and offer you a dust mask. Trucks follow, and the sand turns to dust. More you approach the end, more sandy areas are frequent. You were happy to be on a dirt road, but now you would like to find the asphalt as soon as possible.

The road does not lead to Yakutsk but a small town on the other side of the Lena River. A river as we do not know in Europe. Miles wide … An inland sea. In winter, the road runs on the river. In summer, the drivers take ferries. The crossing takes a good half hour. Before you leave France you wondering if you would use your own boat for the crossing, but you’re so tired that you will not envisaged this solution a second.

On the ferry, Russians from Latvia come talk to you. They already abused vodka. You also explain your project to several drivers. Nobody will say “impossible”. You know also that it is possible. Just quite complicated for a single biker.

You observe the water of the river. Near the banks, the river carries many pieces of wood. It would not be very good for your inflatable boat nor to your timing belt … Besides, you do not see any inflatable boat on the river. There are many small “outboard”, but never inflatable. You think about the Kolyma. These two huge rivers should look the same. You think that if you find a boat on the Kolyma which descends to Zyrianka and Aniusk then, you will try to take it.



 Thursday, June 12, 2014

You now understand what they tried to explain. You’re not in Maxim’s garage, but in the moto-club. A large room of 150 m² which is the gathering place of the “Black Bears” of Irkutsk. A place proudly decorated by dozens of objects, often related to Harley Davidson.
Maxim offers you to leave your bags, and go with them to a sauna. You’re exhausted, but the idea is appealing. You sweating a lot, and remember the benefits of sauna.
So you go together. Harleys backfire almost as much as your motorcycle. Driving is easy. You’re surprised to rediscover your bike lighter.
The sauna is in an old building dating back to the Soviet time. It can be belonged to a union, and the decorations are all in the Soviet style. We’ll explain that the group rents weekly for a few hours the place. Sauna, reception, changing rooms .. Other riders have joined you and you are between 6 or 8 outfits are neat, always in the dark biker style “Harley.” A style to fear as we all look so kind…
After the sauna, all meet in the garage which is also your room during your stay in Irkutsk. We will explain how the place. You’re exhausted and dost not lie down in your sleeping bag. Discussions continue, but you will hear more.

Friday, June 13, 2014

You wake up at 10 o’clock. It must be years since you had not slept so much.
You should not have your tires before Monday. Enjoy with you to start your checking. You first unpack and inflate the boat. You were afraid that the vibrations have caused fatal friction, but it is not. As the bag has suffered, as the boat is impeccable. Good news: carrying a boat on a motorcycle without damaging it did not seem you win in advance.

You also are looking to repair your horn, and for the cause of the error on the air sensor. A priori, the problem seems related to the oil used in the foam air filter. When you bought the bike, you asked the dealer to replace the paper filter with a foam filter that must be wet of oil. There was probably too much oil. You find small puddles at the bottom of the air box. You clean them, and also clean your filter that needed it.
For the horn, you do not understand and you give up. An accessory that you rarely use. You do not have actually need.
Upon inspection, you realize that you lost the cap of the rear brake. It must have happened shortly before your arrival as there is still a quarter of a liquid rather clean. You do not hope to find a cap that matches, but you will have to find a solution.
Noon, Bob comes back to you. He invites you to a fancy restaurant downtown. The food is refined, delicious. Bob speaks very good English, and he tries to help you by all means at its disposal. For your worries with your Visa card, he wants to give you money, but you do not need it. It makes you see the city. You’re sitting in the back of his Harley, and you’ll benefit from the visit, while music.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bob pick you up for some shopping. You’re still sitting on the back of his Harley. A mere 5 minutes after leaving the garage, you get stopped by the police. Bob is neither drunk nor thief motorcycle. It should not be a concern. Except he does not have a driving license for motorcycles. Often, the police let him leave. But this time an officer is present, and it must be verbalized. Bob explains you that half of the members of the club drive without a license. Bob has two motorcycles. He drive them for 5 years, and was fined only twice. You’re surprised.
As you have your license, police ask first what you leave as conductor. Why not, but you never rode such a motorcycle. You make a few meters in search of balance and neutral, and the officer understands that it is more prudent than it is Bob who resumes the handlebars. Very pragmatic these officers.
The first purchases are going well. You recover money from a Western Union office, buy a map of Russia from Garmin for your GPS, and you find in an armory some small rockets to scare bears. You were looking for a big pepper spray as they sell in Canada or the United States, but here it is unknown: they scared the bears with the noise, or a firearm. The seller makes you a demonstration of the rocket. You’re convinced, and it will take less space than the pepper spray.
You’ve got to find your spring pins for your propeller shaft. Foolishly, you didn’t buy these spare parts thinking that you can find them easily on the road. You thought it was a universal object such as a ball bearing, you’d find anywhere. There is nothing. You make many shops, but each time, the seller seems to discover what a spring pin is.
These pins are used to attach the pulley on your propeller shaft. You know they crash quickly, they do not last. Whether you need replacement parts. Especially since you got your boat planing. You can not consider navigate over long distances without these parts.
Bob thinks he should wait until Monday, and that will be found without difficulty. You go to the garage. Maxim awaits you with your tires and oil you thought recovering by Monday.
There are many people in the garage this Saturday evening. A club meeting. Maxim came with Diana, his daughter. She plays in the boat, imagining the ocean. All club members leather clothing, impressive looks. But you quickly realize they are not at all antisocial. They have a job, a family, children, and their membership in the club, their commitment to Harleys is mostly a hobby. Also wish to belong to a fraternal group.
Everyone wants to help you. One of them that takes all the caps to try on your brake tank. Finally he finds one that seems to fit: that of sunflower oil bottle. Indeed, it is not screwed because not do not match, but pressing strongly, we manage to snap reliably. Why not … In any case, it will be a good temporary solution.
In the evening newcomers. First two bikers remain sleep that night in the garage. They just spent a month in the United States where they bought their Harleys. They come from the port of Vladivostok and return home in the Moscow region. They tell their North American tour. Their encounters with immigrants, former “Soviet”, their life, their jobs. The audience is attentive. One of them is fluent in English, and translates what said.
You also have the visit of Julia and her husband Dima. Julia was English teacher. Dima tries to learn English under the authority of Julia. They invite you to dinner. You go on foot, in a pizzeria. They will also offer to go to Lake Baikal in the morning, and you agree. Now that your tires are there, you have work, but you accept. It’s nice sharing time with your new friends.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

You take your breakfast in the company of your companions from Moscow. You tell stories of travelers. They will also talk about the Ukraine. Like most Russians you meet, they have family in the eastern part of Ukraine. For them, the Ukraine is historically Russian. The message is often the same: Russia is constructed from Ukraine. It is its historical heart.
You getting close to their position. You might object that when the wish to become independent Chechnya, Russia sends tanks. If the Buryats wanted to become Mongols, Moscow will stifle their claim. It is the same for many minorities. You dare not expand the subject.
Republics borders of the former USSR borders were drawn by Stalin, often without historical logic or human logic. You had met and Uzbeks in all countries bordering Uzbekistan. Stalin shrinked Uzbekistan. Ukraine is talking about it because it is on the border of two blocks, but many other countries could also face some problems.
Julia and Dima arrive to pick you up, direction to Baïkal. You say bye to your friends who will head to Moscow.

Lake Baikal is less than an hour from Irkutsk. You left early because the road might be charged in the afternoon.
The lake is calm, perfectly flat. You think your trials … an ideal place.
You do know Baikal as the “largest freshwater reservoir in the world.” It is for the Russians a resort, but still a bit chilly. Even in the summer the water is too cold for swimming. The main activity seems to be eating smoked fish. You try.
You talk about Australia. Julia and Dima will go there in September for their holidays. Everyone also talks about his work: Dima is in the computer, and Julia is a television journalist. They are young, they have many projects. They love to travel, above all on their bike, and are not particularly attached to their region: winter is too long for bikers!
They leave you at the garage in the middle of the afternoon after spending time in vain search for your spring pins. You finish the installation of your tires, preparations of the bike. You hope to hit the road tomorrow afternoon.
You can also get some time for your blog. Since you left, you’re always late in your writing. You’re too busy.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Bob gets you to go again in search of spring pins. It will be as unsuccessful in previous attempts. First, you make a series of shops selling all boat engines, inflatable boats, Chinese motorcycles, bicycles and car batteries. The mixture is particular, but all these stores offer the same. You explain to Bob that you should find a shop for generic mechanical parts. There are few if not the sellers of detached car parts. But the few that might interest you, who sell fasteners, mechanical parts including pins, do not know the spring pins.
Since your arrival in Russia, you see factories rarely. Buildings that look like plants are often abandoned. It is the same along the roads of former kolkhozes. Russia is no longer a country of production. Except perhaps for weapons and raw materials.
In a workshop where motorcycles are prepared, you think to ask if they do not have tanks brake spares. They are looking for, but don’t find any. Finally, they dismount one from a new Chinese bike, and offer it to you. Russia is generous. Bob told you it would be the same in all countries of the world. You do not agree. If a Russian biker needs a brake tank in France, they will be offered to order, to pay and wait.
However, the search is still unsuccessful for spring pins. Back to the garage, you will resolve to ask friends French if they can send you from France, or if any other solutions exist. You quickly have complete answers, detailed. Your concern pins does not seem surprising. These parts are not really made to transmit torque. They are doing to lock assembly. They suggest you alternatives, but it is too late to implement them. You should have work on this earlier. Now, you need enough pins for the trip. You will check them regularly and you will replace them when you find them too weak.
So you ask a friend to ship some to you by DHL. With a little luck, they will be Yakutsk same time as you.

On the way to Irkutsk

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Still rain and the total flatness. You understand why Pascale and Michel had bothered on this road. Go through the south, Iran and Central Asia is much more interesting, so much more varied. So much richer.
You try to have a break every two hours. You’re tired, and lack of flexibility in your position that you quickly sore buttocks. You lack space. On the dirt, you’ll have to draw back the boat, even if it amplifies the imbalance. Otherwise, you will not succeed to drive. But on paved roads, you estimate that it is better to concentrate the weight to reduce the effect of shocks.
You begin to cross bikers. Three or four times a days. Greet you every time. Near a bus stop, 4 BMW stopped. GS1100. You recognize on the German plates. You stop and you discuss your travel. You show them the video that explains your concept. They have fun.
You leave together. At the approach of Kemerovo, they turn, the direction of Marinsk. Until then, you followed the signs to Krasnoyarsk. You greet them and continue. Error: Marinsk is on the road to Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo is a big city, even if you had never heard its name. Congestion. A thunderstorm. Cars splashed you. You feel dirty. Your visor becomes opaque. You ask your way to drivers, and you’re well informed every time. Once you’re wrong again, find yourself on a small road. You ask a man who is waiting for a bus. He is drunk. Are you German? No, French. It tells you a road. You’re worried that the road depends on your nationality. You want to leave, but he tries to block you. You try the horn, but you realize that it no longer works. You already had the opportunity to try to honk without success, but you thought you pressed the wrong place. It is really “out of service”. You rales and forces the passage again. Alcohol is a concern in Russia.
Last week in a petrol station, a drunken man wanted to kiss you on the mouth. There was nothing aggressive, but …
You finally leave the city. The good weather returns, you dry, but you stay dirty. The bag of the boat is also well stained.
In the evening, you stop at the first hotel. You ask if there is a garage, a little security. The owner of the hotel is somewhat reassured to your bike, and advises you to restart. 50 km away, a hotel with secure parking. From Omsk, you have the impression that insecurity is a concern on this road. Often guards in petrol stations. Many times cars with open bonnets and men who are great signs for the vehicles stop. The cars do not stop, and neither you do. Not only should you an hour to get out and storing tools, but these situations feel the scam.
So you join the next hotel. Are you ashamed of your boat up in the hotel room. The floor is plastic and you hope it will not remain a trace.
Every time you explain your journey to people you meet at these hotels. You think they’re happy to hear such a project. Whenever the word “Chukotka” impresses. A bit like if you said “Adelie Land” in France. Chukotka is fully isolated from Russia.
You eat with a driver from Yakutsk. A gentle man, Asian style. He spends his time riding in a small Toyota pickup between Moscow and Yakutsk. May be 8000 km. You made him repeat: Moscow – Yakutsk, Yakutsk – Moscow, Moscow – Yakutsk … vrouuum vrouuum. He is smiling: Da vrooumm vroooummm!
It tells you that the road to Magadan is very difficult. You know … You’ll see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You bypassed Krasnoyarsk. Gradually, the landscape has changed. A little relief, turns, and less water. You may even see flowers on down the road. Dandelions, but flowers anyway. And mosquitoes are rare.
Nice small villages. Old wooden houses with carved and colored shutters. Often woodpile outside the house. Summer does not happen they are already preparing for next winter.
Sometimes an abandoned factory in the village. You recognize a small mill. Also the ruines of former Soviet collective farms.
You also see men on horses who keep herds of cows. We are in Northern Mongolia. The country of Buryats.
You end the Germans stopped to photograph stuffed bears that are sold on the side of the road. There are also wolves and other furbearers.
They are happy to see you. Bikers group are often closed on themselves. The Germans groups may be more. Certainly much more than the Italian riders. You talk again traveling. They have four weeks off to reach Vladivostok and back by train. A race against the clock. They left on May 31 in Germany. That long days.
You leave and drive together. In the evening, you find a hotel. Things are a bit complicated, but you get the rooms. The landlady knows what she wants. It has her own requirements and wants to be heard, even if you do not understand. Often, women who work in these places are well rude character. Must know how to defend themselves against the customers of any kind that are on the roads.
Further away from Moscow, plus room rates are low. The rooms are perfectly clean today. Hotels in Russia are not alike. There is the best and the worst. Every day a surprise. Russia ignores standards. Rather you enjoy surprises.
You dine together. Photos from previous trips, shared memories of Uzbekistan. You realize they do not have the same relationship with you waitresses, receptionists. They just want a service, and then exchange them in German. You are looking for a smile, a few words.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another long day. Your German friends leave the hotel before you. You need more time to ensure your load. And this morning you wanted to lubricate your chain.
You find them two hours later at a gas station. Suddenly, the distance between two stations had grown, and two of them were out of fuel. They are well organized, and one of them carries a jerry can. However, they were happy to join the station. The farther to the east, more the distance between petrol stations is important. After Ulan Ude must refuel every station you see.
The road is generally good, but with many areas of work. It is often the bridges are under repair, and small workarounds succeed.
Danila who hosted you in Nizli Novgorod gave you the contact information of one of his good friends in Irkutsk: Maxim. You know that he can find you a place to stay. Maxim sent you the GPS coordinates of the place you will meet him. For once you join the site safely. It is 19:30 and you are very tired.
The place is weird. Some houses, sheds .. You call Maxim who does not speak English. One of his friends call you in English. He explains that Maxim will arrive sson, and you’re close to the garage. Indeed, there is a little higher access to garages.
You wait for Maxim almost 2 hours. Every half hour, you call: he will be there soon…You do not understand and you are preparing to go in search of a hotel when you see it happen in a cloud of dust four Harleys. Four black biker jackets. A polished look. They will lead you to the “garage”.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Before starting, you look at the map. You do not do it often, because usually you just need to follow the road to the east. By chance, you realize that your road cross a part of Kazakhstan … The borders of the former USSR are sometimes complicated, and you remember the same story of enclave between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. However, a simple workaround exists and you can go to Omsk without entering Kazakhstan.

So you leave the main road up to the North just a few kilometers after hotel. The road is good, much better than the one you just left. The concern of the day is the return of the cold. An icy wind. Very soon, you stop for stacking your clothes and equipment.
After a hundred kilometers, you take away eastwards. The road is suddenly completely fucked. Worse than a Kazakh road. The cars and trucks go zigzaging. It is normally easier to find your way for a motorbike, but go into deep holes and out is not particularly easy with your luggage. Fortunately, you realize that your bike has become more maneuverable with time. You just hesitating to accelerate to avoid shocks. You have always in mind that the subframe could break, or the boat could get dammages.

After 45 minutes, when you believe that this bad road will be endless, it just changes to a perfect new road. Always surprises in Russia. One of the most beautiful road since your entry into Russia.
You had announced to Mikhaïl that you would arrive in the early afternoon. Detours and work make you join Omsk around 5 p.m. . You call him, and realize that he does not understand English. One of her friends call you ten minutes later, in English. Mikhail asks you to wait in the station where you are and whom you sent the GPS coordinates.

Fifteen minutes later, comes a Honda Valkyrie, loud music. Alexander is a friend of Mikhail. After a few calls, he asks you to follow him. 500 meters on the highway, you take a dirt road, you head sheds lost in the countryside. A sort of garage, but with motorcycles on front. As you enter one of the hangars, you realize that you find yourself in a standard KTM concession… The exhibition room, a series of helmets, equipments, stacks of good tires. You thought there was only one KTM shop in Moscow, and this place is a nice surprise.
They take your broken mirror. You discuss trip with Alexander. After a coffee, you go back to the bikes. Mikhail has arrived in a big 4×4. He is warm, smiling.
You return to your bike. You realize that there is a new mirror on your handlebar. It is clean, but did not look new. The boss of the concession smiled. Now you see the welding.. They fixed it! Nice job. Perfect! Russia remains a country where everything could be repaired.

Alexander asks you if you need anything in this store KTM done for you … In other circumstances, you would find shopping to do, but without your Visa card, you prefer not even ask you anymore.
You leave the shop. You have to follow Mikhail. It leads you home, on the other side of Omsk. Or rather his parents. A large house, away from the road that goes to Kazakhstan. It presents you his parents, his grandmother, his cousin. There is also a discreet young man, Andrei. You do not understand who he is, but you will realize later that it has a role as a driver.
Micha has to go downtown. It lets you rest, take a shower. You get to know his family. You show them your travel book. In exchange, they show you the photo albums of the family, their travels. You’re happy to share this moment with them. While you try to discuss with Vica, Micha’s cousin, her aunt explains that she is paratrooper in the army. You think pretty girls often have surprising job in Russia.
Micha’s mother makes you visit the garden. You like to visit the gardens. They grow vegetables they consume. You are trying to learn the names of vegetables in Russian, but your memory is still failing.
Andrei then drive you to find Micha (Russians almost always use a nickname). It will lead you into a large café-restaurant-nightclub that is a meeting place for bikers. Micha knows many people. Bikers, and also a lot of girls. Micha is a Don Juan.
Alexander (Sasha is the diminutive) arrives. You speak English with him. He offers to go with him tomorrow Sunday for a barbecue-sauna. Why not … Between appointments for your tires to Irkutsk, and one for your Visa card you must arrange to Yakutsk, you now have some time.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Money worries are going to be solved. Your mother sent you a link to the website of Western Union, a bank specialized in the rapid money transfers worldwide. They do have a good fifty representations in Omsk … The only problem is that they limit transfers up to 500 euros, and each transfer costs more than 40 euros. But it should work, and you ask your family to transfer you twice 500 euros. You could retrieve the first part tomorrow morning in Omsk, and the following somewhere in the next cities.

Again, it is Andrei that drives you to Omsk to find Micha. From there, you go with Micha to the country house of Sacha. It is a bit remote, but Micha drives fast, very fast.
The house is brand new. Again, the whole family met: Sacha, his parents, and also an aunt. Many Russians live in family. The layout of the cottage is still in progress. Kitchen equipments are not unpacked, and the grass is freshly planted.
It’s cold. Around 10 °. Sacha’s father gives you a warm coat. You go for a short walk. The house sits on a hill on the banks of a river. There is thus several large cottages, grouped to form a “Eco-Village”. Sacha and Micha enjoy the view: the river is about twenty meters above the river level, and such an elevation is rare in the region.
Sacha is surgeon for children, and his mother was an engineer. She formerly worked in the electronics of missiles … A woman who looks so kind, so cool, … You’ll end up believing that the army is really everywhere, even if the job of Sacha’s mother belongs now to the past.
As for Sacha, you understand his passion for motorcycles. You must need to unwind after a day of intervention. It seems perfectionist, attached to details.

After lunch, you go into the hood to cut ends of branches. They will be part of the sauna ceremony.
Sacha prepares the sauna. Meanwhile, Micha does not separate its phones. He probably spends 80% of his time with a phone. To his friends, girls or bikers, while driving,… there is always a phone call or a text message to send. Telephone hyperactivity.
While you undress to get into the sauna, you realize that Micha’body is scarred. Two motorcycle accidents, two crashes with trucks. Micha always drive too fast, and he’s lucky to be alive. But he continues. He needs to go fast.

Your first feeling of the sauna is not very good: difficulty breathing, to withstand the heat and humidity, the smell of the leaves. But you appreciate gradually, and eventually you’ll end up finding this nice, relaxing. The leaves are used to scent the air, water … A decoction. Micha mass you also your back with them. At the exit, you are get some cold water, which is welcome. You go half naked in the rain. While you were frozen until the sauna, you now find the temperature pleasant. You feel rested, relaxed and warmed.
You leave Sacha projecting a meeting in Grenoble. You often received Australian bikers in your house, but never Russian. It will be next winter, so they can enjoy skiing.
On return, a break in Omsk. Micha has an appointment with a girl friend and you go to a cafe. You do not understand the topic of discussion, but you hear the word “sentimental” in the mouth of his friend. There is often a word from the French in discussions in Russian. This helps, even if you doubt the contents of the discussion.

Micha’s mother, Vica and Andrei come to pick you up, and you let Micha and his girlfriend. The road is much quieter: you stop at the pharmacy, do some shopping. You can enjoy the evening for you to update your blog.


Monday, June 9, 2014
All your business is ready at 8:30. Your objective is to go to a “Western Union” agency in Omsk, to withdraw the money that your family sent you, then heading to Krasnoyarsk. But Victoria’s mother, Micha did not hear it that way. You go together by car to the bank, you will find Micha, and then you come home. You feel the trap, but impossible to say no to Victoria. You’re off. Micha gave you an appointment at the headquarters of the “Alfabank.” You did not find it in the list of representatives of Western Union, but why not.
Since the AlfMicha does not represent Western Union, you go to another one with Micha.
Many papers. Russia has passed the age of the Internet, but it has not abandoned the paper. You sign 5 or 6 different papers. Everything takes time. Sometimes you find in France that certain procedures are not very effective, but in Russia, waiting is a fact of life.
You’re also intrigued by the employees of banks. All are young and beautiful girls. The cashier is an impressive beauty. You wonder what these women become after a few years of work. They stop their work for all to become housewives? Or do they spend in the office “behind”? You don’t feel very comfortable in this environment.
You end up getting the money, and go have a coffee in the bar which is located above the bank. Micha is there with a biker from Krasnoyarsk. There are more than 1400km between Krasnoyarsk and Omsk, and this guy comes in one day of 19 hours on his harley Davidson.
You leave. Return to the house through a few stops racing. You get to 13h. You have lost a half day, but you remain fatalistic. It’s not wasted time, even if you wanted to optimized your day differently. Should you get rid of your habits you time optimization.
Tired, you do not drive long. The road is monotonous, flat. On both sides of the road, a water-soaked earth. You think you do not even would arrive to find a place for your tent if you had to stop in the countryside.


First days in Russia

Sunday, June 1, 2014
Riga you seems empty on Sunday morning. You can cross the city quite quickly.
You are driving in the rain. You do not have much luck since you left. Rain, cold, wind … It brings out three.
You observe many stork nests. You also see the remains of foxes hit by cars. Wildlife seems dense in the region.
For several tens of kilometers, the road follows a very wide river. May be a kilometer wide. Three or four times the Loire in France… You understand that all this rain must flow somewhere. There are also many lakes or ponds. Water everywhere. Fishermen often installed on the riverbank. Sometimes on a boat.
Rain. This journey begins under the sign of trouble. May be a way to prepare you for the future. You smile when you think back to your world tour. You’d have been only a few days of rain and cold for a fulll year, but it never lasted long.

You arrive at the border in the early afternoon. Here’s a long time since you no longer have to spend actual land border. You overpass the trucks. The police control. They help you by filling your forms in Russian. Someone asks you where you are going and you answer “Chukotka”. Police laugh, and you understand why.
Then customs. Customs helps you too. At the time of inspection, they ask you just drop the bag above. She wonders about the boat and you show a picture on your brochure. Lodka? Da! You were afraid that your boat could be a problem, but it is not.
She finished you fill the papers, makes you sign, and you can go. Everything happened in less than an hour. You tidy and starts. As usual, you forgot the last control, the output of the border where they check that your passport is stamped. You need to reopen your backpack. At the gate, you try to place the motorcycle on its side stand but you feel the fall awaits you again. Finally, the policeman comes out, in the rain, to examine your documents.
Shortly after the border, you stop to fill your tank before, and go back in the rain. After an hour, the rain stopped. It”s also warmer. You’re surprised by this change. While you only 150 km, that you fall out of gas. It must, however, remain you more than 8 liters. You think back to your previous trip. During the first two months, you could not use your last 5 liters. This time it is the last 8. After waiting 5 minutes, restart the engine accepts. And you drive at 60km / h to the next petrol station, about ten kilometers. You must fix this issue, probably by improving the path of the petrol hoses.

Then you stop at the first hotel. The receptionist wants to give you a room, but without filling the form for the visitors. No worries! The lack of these small papers irritates border police but they actually don’t care anymore, except in Vladivostok..

Before you go to bed, you notice the many mosquitoes in the heights of the ceiling. Since a few days, you face the first mosquitoes of your trip. They came annoy you when stopped at service stations, customs …

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wheater is nice. Amazing …
The road is good and traffic reduced. As you approach as Moscow traffic becomes denser, and the temperature continues to rise … You remove your clothes then your rain jacket.
You’re a few days in contact with Mikhail, a biker from Moscow who is active on the Advrider website. Lloyd, in Melbourne, who told you about this site and you registered to learn more about your bike defects.
Mikhail has a motorcycle parts store and you offered to deliver you a Michelin Desert in Irkutsk. A miraculous solution for you because your current tire is already dying. You have its GPS coordinates. He is itself travelling abroad, but his associate can help you. You are also going to find a tire cheaper than a Desert to take safely to Irkutsk.
The arrival in Moscow is complicated. If there had not been this history of tires, you’d bypassed by the outermost ring. Congestion, and the heat just keeps rising. Bikers are never happy!
Your bike with its load is difficult to maneuver. You are tired. The time would be favorable due to fluid traffic, but summer works complicate things. The last few kilometers are endless when you’re still more than 15 miles from the store, which is located in the southern suburbs.

You do not have a GPS map of Russia and you use the “Compass mode”. You do not know when to leave the ExpressWay to head South. You decide to take an exit but you are wrong: going North now! You try different streets to come back… You stop at the first station for a status and cool your engine. Finally, you decide to give up and you prefer to stay on the ring road, the A104 (as in Paris), to join the M7, “Highway East.” Again, traffic jams, but you finally get there. Unfortunately, the M7 is not really a highway, and it will take you a good hour to see the traffic become almost “normal.”

Tired, cooked, you stop at the first hotel after 18 hours. You are welcomed by Galina, the happy receptionist. She asks you about your trip. You explain and show your brochure, the book of the previous trip. She enthuses: “Romantik! “. You smile. You like that word.

You’re even in urban areas, and Galina find you a room for storing your boat. On the other hand you let the metal panniers on the bike. The car park is closed at night.

You go to refueling. You stop at a small station, deserted. As usual, the woman asks you to pay first and you try to negotiate. You would prefer a full refuel to measure consumption, you insist. Usually, things always manage, and they let you refuel. But the cashier is not Galina, and cry sometimes you process through his armored window, sometimes through the loudspeaker. You should say how many liters! You left her your Visa card, but she wants to charge it immediately. She can not charge the card because she is always speaking. You abdicated, give her 1000 rubles for 18 liters, normally 600 rubles … You think you need about 17 liters … She keeps 500 rubles, and starts the counter for 15 liters. Of course, you will not have full refueling, but finally she cuts off her speaker. It is good to hear the traffic noise from the highway. You are eager to come back to Galina!
Galina awaits you with a gift: a magnet that attaches to fridges representing Russian dolls. You thank her, and she shows you as she photocopied and framed your picture which she found in your book. One where you are with a giant Australian. You just feel like a charlatan. All romantics may be charlatans.
Later, at the restaurant, you get a call from Mikhail. He has a friend, Serguey, in Vladimir, the neighboring town, where you can leave the amount for the Desert tire and two liters of oil. You will try to find it tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You do not leave by early and traffic difficulties make you arrive at 10am only to Vladimir. Sergey waiting for you. You go first in a supermarket to find an ATM. You also buy a Russian SIM card that will allow you easier access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the card does not work: you thought wrongly that your phone was unlocked. Never mind: Sergey embarks your phone and return shortly after. Everything works out quickly here.
While you wait Sergei, a man with a small pot of tar and a brush approaches you. You think he should be mender. The man has a nice smile. As usual, you tell him you’re French, you do not understand Russian. It does not matter: it tells you something. You do not understand much except the middle of the sentence the words “Saint Exupery”, the French poet. Maybe he spoke about roses, sheep, aircraft or baobabs … The words “Saint Exupery” make him talking you in Russian and you in French. He does not loose his smile.

Sergey is back, and you leave the place go in search of a rear tire. You find Alex, another biker in a motorcycle parts dealer. Alex speaks very good English. You’ll have a coffee. You understand that it is one of the famous Russian bikers. Famous by his travels. You tell him yours, he enjoys away, even if it is reasonably skeptical about its feasibility. Your approach is not to do, but trying to do. He likes as well.
It notes on your notebook a list of contacts, bikers who can help you on your way.
It also calls Danila, a biker in Nizi Novgorod, the next town to ask him to find you a tire. Shortly after, Danila calls to tell us that he found a used tire, but still in good state. Everything you need to reach Irkutsk.

Networks bikers are important in Russia. Fraternities. Every major city has its “motorcycle club” and mutual help to bikers travelers is a rule that you never met at this level outside Russia. There are several explanations for this fraternity, but a “practice” is the size of the country, and the difficulty of the journey. But the main reason is the role of “fraternity” in the Russian life.

A Vladimir, Sergei and Alex are doing everything they can to help you. They will then lead to the exit of the city. You’re impressed by their availability.

When you arrive at Nizi Novgorod, you call Danila and meet. His motorcycle, a GS1200 is out of order, because of the ABS system. Modern motorcycles are complicated to repair.

Danila lives with his grandmother and their two cats. He will leave you his room. His grandmother’s mission to make you gain a few pounds. After a shower, you find Vitalik, a biker friend. You will visit the city together, with Vitalik’s car. A city that has a long business history and industrial. It was at the time of the USSR prohibited to foreigners because of the production of secrete weapons.
You enjoy the low light to take pictures. After a while you realize that the message appears regularly on your screen indicates that you forgot to insert the memory card … So many days you take pictures without saving. You are frustrated…

You termineras the visit still shots, but with a memory card.

In the center of the old town, a castle, or rather strong: the Kremlin. A permanent exhibition of weapons of old tanks, artillery, … that were built during World War II in the city.

War or military equipment are still very present in Russia. You also noticed yesterday, while a man flicking through the TV with a restaurant that war movies were frequent. Danila justifies this obsession with the 20 million Russians died in World War II. You think about the Napoleon and German invasions. But you don’t completely share his opinion. You feel that the subject is grown. A component of nationalism.


You get the tire to 9 pm. Not too bad for a used tire! You’re tired and you would rather do the change in the morning. Danila insists and you start to change the tires… You’re not very effective despite getting help from Danila and Vitalik. But you end up getting there.

You’re impressed by the links of friendship that bind Danila and Vitalik. You know that more lives are difficult, more friendships are strong. In France, a friend is usually a person who shared moments of leisure. Here, we ask a lot to a friend, and also gives him a lot. Friendship requires mutual availability and sharing. You envie these relationships.
You come home until midnight. Danila’s Grandmother had prepared the dinner, but she went to bed. Too late… Everything is good, but too much.

You discuss with Danila. The topic is of the day is Ukraine. You do not really have an opinion, except that the Ukrainian people finds themselves hostage between two blocks. Danila fully supports the official Russian position. You understand: his grandmother herself was born in Ukraine and part of their family lives in the Donetz region.
You go to bed late. You know the next day will be difficult.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You wake up each morning as the sun. Too soon. When the grandmother gets up, you agree to. She is happy for your visit. You are both a Danila’s friend and a distraction. She speaks to you, but your progress in Russian are too limited.
You are happy to have shared this moment with Danila and his grandmother. Having understood how they live, see their difficulties and the nice sides of their lives. Danila working in the same field as you, he has equivalent skills. But your living standards are very differnt. Yet he would not leave Russia. Not only becauce it is his country, but he feels that here everything is possible, he may succeed .. The same American concept that the system gives everyone the opportunity to become a billionaire.
While storing your tools, you realize that you forgot the extension for your sockets. You speak Danila, thinking to tell him that you will just stop at a “hardware shop” you saw. The Castorama or Leroy Merlin found, as in France, just outside of big cities. But he gives you his extension, and insists that you keep it. You should not have to talk about it … You accept it and store with your tools.
Vitalik accompany you on his motorcycle to the exit of the city. Traffic is again dense.Tu does not advance quickly.


Russians roads often vary. You feel that the atomic unit is ten kilometers, or sometimes multiple. Never the less. Beautiful sections, then the oldest parts, a little bumpy. And often work areas. As winter must stop all they must enjoy sunny days and work twice.

Sometimes the road is completely blocked: the reduction from two to one lane, or a zone of alternating shift due to work.

Better you manage your essence, but sometimes you take a few risks with the reserve. After driving a little too long, you decide to go to a village a little aside to the full to empty. The cashier, customers are surprised and happy to see you. They ask you about your trip. Besides, the drivers of a tanker are busy filling a tank. You are accosted by one of them. She is a very beautiful girl. You fill lucky to have the attention of such a beautiful girl. You wanted to ask permission to take pictures, but you don’t. Intimidated …

You wait 6 p.m, and you stop at the first hotel. You will not have made much progress, but you’re exhausted and you feel that driving is dangerous.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You sleep well, you feel better than yesterday. The heat is still present, but you have to enjoy. You saw on television during a break in a restaurant that Kazan was the hottest place, but it will not be the same going east.
Good drive in the morning, but the afternoon is more complicated. More work areas … There are real works, and also those in preparation: the roads are grooved waiting to be covered. The grooves, you do not dare drive too fast, even if you’re more comfortable with your new tire.
Each day, your drive with you strange loading seems easier. The new suspension as the tire are for something.
Ural? Some passes, but nothing up nicely. While you’re in a work zone, you see before you a wall of black clouds: a big storm. Should you stop to put your rain gear, and just a “Kafe” on the right. You come to order a drink, and want to stand out on the terrace. But the storm falls one stroke: wind, hail, torrential rain … You’re very lucky to have been able to stop you here. At a minute … The kafes are many on the road, but it was at least half an hour you do not have not seen.
The storm has passed, but the rain continues. You decide to leave. The road is complicated: fucked by holes are filled with water. You come in without knowing their depth, happy every time it leaves. You do not see much and you have to keep your visor opened. The right strategy is to follow a truck to observe its behavior, the depth of the holes. But you must avoid to have a vehicle behind not getting crushed in a fall. You know that the main danger of the journey is in the road accident, and you’re really not comfortable.

When you leave the difficult area, you stop at a gas station. Already 7:30 p.m. … You go on again 45 minutes before a village. You wonder if there is a hotel … On the right, a road s shoves in the woods, to buildings. A hotel can be … A fence with a watchtower on the side. A man down. A room? Yes … It makes you go into a kind of fortress. You head to a house floor. The house is luxurious. On the ground floor, a room. The man makes you visit with an electric lamp with a sauna, a pool fed by water from the river, a luxury bathroom … You’re the only customer, and this room seems to be the only room… You do not understand where you are, but it’s late, you’re tired. You continue to visit the outside. In a second building, a games room: pool table, foosball, …

Several fish ponds with trout, and also a huge cage squirrels.
You go recording. The man asks you only 750 rubles. The day before, you paid double for a sordid room in which you have not dared to use or sheets or towel. You do not understand and you pay.
You realize that the power is restored. So there was a failure … and man, Andrei, can open the electric gate for you to enter your bike. He accompany you to the restaurant. The night you sleep well perplexed in fine linens. A strange place.


Friday, June 6, 2014

A good night. Restorative. You take advantage of the comfortable bed. At 8:30, you will decide to get up. You realize that all the clocks in the house have the same error: it is not for them 8:30, but 10:30 … During your previous trip, the time zone change was generally the countries borders. But then, it happened somewhere on the road.

A beautiful day for a biker: not too hot, not too cold … Every day that you walk away from Moscow, the traffic is a little more fluid. There has crossed cities, but nothing too complicated.
While you ride, now your left mirror falls. Fortunately, it gets stuck between your leg and the tank. Probably broken … vibrations, shocks in the works areas.The absence of mirror is a concern. You have to be tomorrow at Omsk and you remember you gave Alex a contact in this city. You send a text message announcing your arrival and explaining that you broke your mirror.
You take the road with this concern in mind. In the late afternoon, at a gas station, you decide to pay with your Visa card. You return your code once, but the cashier seems to say that you did it too early. Second time and a message in English that tells you that you have no more than one trial. You gently retyped, but another failure. Gradually you realize what just happened … That you sometimes forget your code, but usually, you never used the three trials, and wait a few hours that your memory has returned. You don’t have many rubles, and you left Sergei Vladimir most of your euros for the tires. Fortunately, you can reach Omsk without worry.

The night in a basic hotel, you call your bank. It is 5:45 p.m. in France. You understand that we are Friday and the agency closes in 10 minutes for three days because Monday is a bank holiday ..
At least you quickly have data in hands: there is nothing to do till Tuesday morning as Visa would need the agreement of the bank to act. Tuesday morning they will start customizing a new card, they will receive it next Friday (best case). You will not get it … before some time. In the meantime, you will have to find resources, and a mailing address to send them your card. You are now fatalistic, because you can not see anything else to do.

Advent of bed, you dig your stuff. In your paper, you find 350 euros you had placed there at the time of leave. You’d also forgotten, but this is a nice surprise. You should be able to continue the journey. May be traveling to the economy, but with 350 euros in Russia you can go far.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Thanks to Olaf and Andy, friends met in California, you could retrieve some “OpenStreetMap” maps for your GPS. But that does not prevent you from getting the wrong roads. Either you are not yet familiar with your GPS, or is that your view is too low. You enter Lithuania too by the South.
Trying to join Kaunas you follow a main road. But the road becomes narrower, then it ends on a small dirt road in the woods. U-Turn. You look at your GPS. Indeed, you left the main road 20 km earlier, but you can find it, not too far. For the first time, you follow an unpaved road with your load. After 10 minutes, you find the real road. Real roads are actually nice and wide in Lithuania.
Do a little dirt road is a good experience. You’re not very comfortable, but you say to yourself after a few hours, you will more confident. Anyway, you will not have a choice because what awaits you in Siberia is much more complicated.
You do not want to arrive too late to Riga because once recovered your new shock absorber, you have to find a mechanic who can make the replacement. You’re not sure you have all the tools. But if you’re too late, it will be necessary to attempt the operation by yourself on a hotel parking.
Such as Poland, Lithuania is not in the “Euro zone” and you stop where you are sure you can pay with your Visa card. You have almost forgotten what EU countries that have adopted the Euro, and those who did not. However you discover across the border that Latvia has just adopted the Euro. This will help your stay in Riga.
The roads are excellent, but there is no highways (even if they are called A8, …). Crossing 50km / h in urban areas are common, and you risk arriving too late.
Your shock absorber awaits in Jurmala, on the suburb of Riga. You can find easily with your GPS. Jurmala is a residential suburb and as a seaside resort. Its access requires a special toll for the visitors that you avoid unintentionally following the flow of cars residents.
Viktor, the brother in law of Diana, your Russian teacher, comes to greet you. He organized everything: found the mechanic, and the hotel right next to each other. Their twelve year old daughter speaks French very well. You’re impressed by her French. She often spends holidays in France with her aunt and her cousins.
You go quickly to the bike shop. The mechanic accepts the job. It will ready two hours later. It is close to 20h, and they worked late for you. You can retrieve the bike, and move in the nearby car park. All this will seem almost miraculous …
You just placed the bags but you realize the difference in suspension: harder and farther away from the stop. The bike is higher than before. You had planned to lower it by adjusting the shock absorber. You look in the manual. You understand that this tuning should be done before placing the damper … Ouch. You need to lower the height both increase maneuverability, especially at rest, but also to adapt the bike to its side stand and loading. You need to find the solution with the mechanic tomorrow, but you think he did not really want to work on Saturday.
By looking at the spring, you see its characteristics: 95 N / mm while you had clearly stated that you wanted 100 N / mm. The seller Rally Raid had told you that this value was available. You groans … but it’ll have to do with. We have just started the weekend, and you can not wait for next Tuesday. Try to stay philosopher …

Saturday, May 31, 2014

You start the day by sending your old shock absorber in France. There is a post office not far from the hotel and you can get there by walking.
Then you visit the mechanic. You afraid of being unpopular, but it is quite the opposite. He tries first of all to change the setting without removing the shock absorber from the bike, but he didn’t succeed. You must remove all tanks, the luggage rack …
You stay with him and took the opportunity to inspect areas that could crack under load. Everything seems normal.
Once the work is finished, you ask him how much you owe him, but he refuses you paid. Because you appreciate this double work really was not his fault.
You have difficulty in appreciating the difference in height. You’ll see tomorrow with the full load.

For the afternoon you go for a short visit to Riga. A commuter train station is near the hotel .
Riga impressed you by the beauty of the facades of its buildings. The city center is extensive, but oddly seems very sparsely populated. Traffic is also surprisingly fluid for a city of this size. In the center, the majority of cars you see are big models. Big German sedans or luxury 4wd. The motto here seems to be ” a big car, or nothing …” .
You enter a bar for a coffee. The waitress speaks surprisingly good English. Several customers arrive sequentially. All asked to be served in English. So far you did not have anybody to talk in English, and now suddenly you feel you find somewhere in London. In the neighborhood of your hotel, you understand that the local language is Russian. Yet , everything is written in Latvian , the only official language … Each district ‘s language.
Your walk leads you to the tourist district. The houses here seem better restored , and the tourist center is built around some churches and monuments. You are walking there half an hour, then you decide to change. Passing on the other side of the railway track, you get into a popular market. They sell everything, but you can not find a bicycle pump. You left home with a low cost pump and you want to replace,it before the first punctures. You will not find a good pump today.
You walk to a huge tower, probably built in the 60s. You imagine that it used to be the headquarter of the Communist Party. A tower that could have inspired Kafka.
You come home in the evening at the hotel. You are happy with this fortuitous visit to Riga.


To Riga

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It’s raining. You’re not too unhappy with your rain gear.
The rain also cools. You did install heated grips when purchasing the bike and you appreciate today. They help but you must still stop you every hour to take a big hot chocolate or cappuccino.
The bike is doing pretty well. Strangely, no LED flashes today. After 300km, you decide to do a full tank anticipating the lighting of the subject. You could do without, but you wanted to experience: untie your boat, push it forward to access the filler cap in the rear tank … It takes you more than 5 minutes to do, and much to put everything in place. But the bike did not fall!
Motorways in Poland are not free, and only few cars use them. At your first stop, you realize that Poland is outside the euro zone … you expected to pay in Euros to Russia, and you’re a little disappointed.
After Poznan, you go up to the North. You stop in Gniezno, the first city to find a hotel. You want to heat. You try the first hotel on your way. Its parking seems exposed and you’re asking if there is a garage. Negative answer. You keep and find a second hotel. No garage either, but they have a room on the ground floor where you can store your stuff. And parking seems less exposed.
Then you undo the straps holding the boat, the owner of the hotel arrived and said you may enter your bike in the lobby. It is a common practice in Central Asia or South America, but you did not think someone would propose you here.
The receptionist and the owner are nice. You talk to them about your trip, show them your book of photos from the previous trip. After a tough day, their warm welcome you.
You also learn that Gniezno is one of the first capitals of Poland. The receptionist gives you a tourist leaflet presenting the city. Five kings were crowned here. They all have good heads, not heads of warriors, or lazy kings.
The hotel is very good. From the window we see a stadium. As often in Poland, a Polish flag and European flag dominate, side by side. You are for the development of Europe, and happy to see that here the European sense is proudly displayed.
You order a pizza. The cost of living seems you two to three times lower than in France. You think you want to go back to Poland, with more time to visit.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

The rain stopped, even if you meet regularly showers. It’s cold.
The road you have chosen on the map was supposed to be a shortcut. You’re wrong: villages succeed and you do the 50 km/h average. At least it makes you discover the rural Poland. As everywhere, the campaign is the latest to evolve and sometimes you feel transported back in Soviet times. The only difference is the road where trucks and modern cars run. But there is still the old facades, old factories, and sometimes old tractors ageless.
You smile when you see signs prohibiting traffic to horse-drawn cars. The problem should be there another 20 years, but you do not think this is always the case.
At noon you stop at a restaurant road. You take a hot goulash and appreciate each spoonful.
You are now on a large cross road: the S16. It will lead you to the Lithuanian border. A funny way, very uneven, where some portions are large, and others look like a small country road. Many turns. You move a little faster, but barely. Fewer villages, but still crossed cities. Few bypasses.
You wanted to be entered in the evening Lithuania, but you give up. It’s late and you’re already tired.
You always fear the judgments because of the stand. You need to find a perfectly horizontal plane, or else seek the perfect orientation. Often, you think to have found, and you realize that balance is very unstable. Sometimes you open both side stands hoping they are complementary.
As for your electrical problems, they come less often even if the error is sometimes repeated. Often at low speed when the engine is very hot in the city. But when you cut the contact, it is usually forgotten at restart. You do not understand this error, but you will live with.
The early days, you had very large doubts about the ability of the bike to take you away with all that luggage. Doubts fade gradually, and you can enjoy the road to look at the scenery, to think about your family, your friends.
For the fuel, you have found the strategy: You need to fill the two tanks at the evening, once you have removed the boat, and fill the front tank only during the day. It means a first section without filling of 400-500 kilometers, then stops every two hundred kilometers.


Monday, May 26, 2014

You started at 8am. You don’t like the German motorways. Trucks traveling at 90 km/h and cars at undefined high speeds. You always worry about the speed of those coming behind when overpassing a truck.
Your first goal is to reach Amberg, after Nuremberg. Therein lies the site of WP for Germany, manufacturer of your shock absorber, and you hope to find there a harder spring.
The morning went well, despite a little rain. During a stop, LED lights on your dashboard to indicate a problem with the fuel injector. A long flash followed by three short. Everything had seemed to work well … Maybe an intermittent loose connection. You’re a little worried, but you will do with today.
You arrive at the office of WP in the early afternoon. The site must occupy twenty people. Especially a WP panel, but you feel a KTM site. Motorcycles in preparation. It leads you to Christian, the specialist for suspensions. You tell him your problem and he immediately looks for a solution.

But the springs they have in stock are only 80, 85 and 90 N/mm. And he did not stock other than 80, the stock one that is on your bike. Christian spends calls, searches the solution. There would be a spring in Holland at a third party. He also finds a place in Berlin to make the replacement, but he cannot reach the person. A spring must be replaced by a specialist because you have to be equipped with a press. As there is no immediate solution, he suggests you continue your way and leave you a message when it has the solution.
So you leave again towards Berlin. You take small roads. vAn impression of tranquility. You finally reach the highway because you do not want to arrive too late at your friends Berliners.
At one stop, you notice that you’ve lost the screw of one of your exhaust protections. You remove it completely before losing.
Berlin. You have the GPS coordinates of your friends and you go through the city with the compass. Reasonable traffic for a large city. The last kilometers are long.. Patrick and Jana live in one of these bars very long buildings. An old building dated of 1919. You met Patrick and Jana in Chile, while you were with your daughter Claire. They impressed you with their voluntarism. Patrick worked for a museum and Jana was a doctor. They had passed their motorcycle license just three months before leaving for a long trip through the Americas. No particular experience or motorcycle, or travel.
They have now returned to a sedentary life. You spend the evening talking travel. You do not lie too late as they begin their work early.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

You always wake up early. You have many things to do on your computer. The apartment is nice. At least the two main rooms are very large. The bathroom is tiny. An old building with very high ceilings. The apartment has charm.
Finally, Christian WP warns you that the solution he thought he had found did not work. On your side, you find that Rally Raid, an English company, sells complete replacement shock absorbers. You decide to order one. The concern is that Thursday is a public holiday, and you do not want to wait for Friday to get it. In addition, Patrick and Jana will be absent by Wednesday afternoon.
You think your Russian teacher in France is native from Latvia. You contact her. She tells you that you can do to deliver the package to her sister in the Riga region. So you order the shock absorber…
This solution is fine, but very expensive.You’ll have to sell one of your shock absorber when you’ll get back.

You should have prepared the bike before you leave, but you did not have time. You need resolving problems at these early stages, as it is still possible.

Patrick arrived in the late morning. Jana will not return until tomorrow as she has a night shift at the hospital for 24 hours. After a few hours during which Patrick has yet to work, you go out to explore the city. They live in the former “East Berlin”, but just outside the wall. You see the memorial. You go to the Parliament. Berlin seems to you very green compared to Paris. Large spaces, often green. Many cyclists and their rides seems much easier than in French cities.
Rain disrupts your walk. You stop for a coffee. You end up doing some shopping before finding a restaurant for dinner.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Again a bit of internet in the morning. You still have things to put in place for websites.
You eat breakfast when Jana arrives. Jana tells you about his work at the hospital. Germany has also financial problems that impact on the organization of the health system.
You found pictures of southern Chile, where you had met Patrick and Jana. The opportunity to revisit this period which was already wet.
You go in the early afternoon after refueling. You leave, promising you find yourself in Grenoble or here, with more time. Patrick guide you to the highway. You go in the rain.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Monday, you sent an invitation to friends, telling them that you would leave Thursday. They arrive, and you have to explain them that it will not be Thursday, but Friday. For the last ten days, you shifted the date by two days every two days. It’s a bit better now because you say “after tomorrow” instead of “tomorrow”. Meaning you get the end of the endless preparations.

You’re happy. Not yet to leave, but to finish this long stage. The “boat mode” now seems functional. For months you worked for this. You spent a lot of efforts. It was difficult to invest you both in this project and in your work. A double life. Since May 1st, you did more than you focus on the journey, and you’re confident.

Your friends ask you: “Where is the bike?” They all expected to see it in the garden, loaded, ready to start. You tell them your delay, the luggage still in the lounge, and the bike still in the garage, not yet fully lift … You just received the shims for your valve clearance this afternoon. And you come with Michel mount a reinforcement kit for the rear frame. You ordered it several weeks but didn’t find the time before for installing it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Once more, you have postponed by one day the D day.

Today, you cut your side stand and add an outer tube, telescopic, in order to make its height variable. You know that the original version of the side stand would not fit. You remember during your first RTW, you were often looking for the perfect angle to lay the bike. You think that by reducing a little height, its use will be easier .

The weight also makes you worry. Michel has advised you to replace the spring of the shock absorber with a harder. You are trying to find one, but you don’t succeed in this task. Seems to be very special for this bike.

You spent a lot more time than expected to organize the luggages. Some parts of the ship propulsion occupy to much space in the panniers. At the end, you bought a big bag to put your stuff , and you will have also added the lower unit of your mechanics, your tent , your sleeping bag … A bag of 65 liters while you initially thought that a small 25 liters bag would be sufficent. You also placed in the boat the paddles and the bladders for extra gas. All gained weight, overweight. But in the end , everything finds a place, even if you still need half an hour to fill the bag of boat parts. A puzzle.

Youdon’t have time to test your load. You must not go that Saturday . You take advantage of your evening to go for a last via ferrata . You change your mind and relax your back. You have a pinched nerve for the last two days. It is not painful but just annoying.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Martine and Joel are there to photograph you leaving the house, and shut the doors behind you. Leaving the bike in the garden, you feel for the first time the whole weight. There is a year you had driven the boat, but the load was only partial. The difference is huge. You’re not comfortable when riding and especially to turn. This is a surprise. You imagine the weight like a passenger, but it is much worse.


You make an appointment to Joêl to leave the village. You arrive before him, you stations on the lower side and looking for the right place to place the side stand. You descend slowly from the motorcycle. She leans side stand, continues to bend, sag … and revolves around the stand to find the ground. A big blow to morale . You try to raise it, but you can’t. Even without your back pain, it would be too heavy. The weight is too high. This is the first time in your life that you travel without being able to stand up your bike. A strange feeling. A driver stops, goes out his car and helps you to stand up the bike. The bike stays on its side stand, but it looks so unstable.

Joel comes. It takes some pictures. You tell him what just happened. You go, but if it drops three times a day, you will give up and come back in two days.

10am. You leave. Towards Grenoble. You don’t feel comfortable. You take the highway. Just after the entry toll, you stop and take time to analyse the situation. In the parking, avoid the fall.

You cannot go like this. It does not make sense. You look at your stand. You need another one, higher, based further. It could take on the plate that you used to hold the tubes in boat mode. What to do? You think Michel who lives on that side of Grenoble. Maybe he has tubes, perhaps it is equipped to weld ? You call him and Michel asks you to come.

Pascale and Michel did a world tour in a sidecar 5 years ago. Michel is now preparing for a year a new side car, for future trips. He named it Multipass. Supposed to pass everywhere. The side car do not need side stand, and he kept the side stand of the motorcycle, a Ducati.

It seems to be the useable. Michel takes his tools and his super drill. It adds a hole in the plate, and add metal-rubber buffer at the end of the side stand. You have now two stands in parallel.


Michel also tunes your shock absorber and lowers your fork tubes up. You will also look to rearrange your load, but there is nothing to do for this…

You’re going for a test-ride . You appreciate the changes. You are no longer afraid to leave the bike on the side stand. A huge progress. And driving is also more enjoyable. The load is always present, but it feels a lot less. You no longer need to place permanently on your weight forward. You find hope and smile …

The day passed quickly. Already 6 pm. The final of the European Rugby Cup will begin. You sit with Michel watching TV. You did not think you would have the opportunity to watch this game. In the evening, a new and beautiful meal. DSC00149

You talk about your respectives travel places that you have found each other. The customs at Apachetta (5000m), the border passings, the mosquitoes, … You spend the night at Pascale and Michel , and will leave tomorrow. But in better conditions.

Sunday, May 26, 2014

A Sunday breakfast. Some emails and it’s already 11:00. You feel better than yesterday.

You take the motorway to Strasbourg. A road that you know because you take it every year to go to Nuremberg at an exhibition. At first, you will holds 95 km/h , little by little, you decide to go at 100 .

While the sum of your two tanks is 26 liters, the reserve LED turns on every 190 km. Every time you add 8.5 liters to fill the front tank.

You note the numbers accurately to determine your consumption. Consumption is correct, but you fill uncomfortable you stop for a full after such a short distance . You only filled the tank before , the only available without asking the boat.

For the first day you decide to stop you after 7 pm. You reach Baden Baden. You know a hotel on the highway where you’ve already slept. This is fine. The bike has a garage and you enjoy to go fill both tanks. It remained close to 6 liters and the reserve had just come on, again after 190 km . Probably 2 liters in the rear and 4 in the front. The question is whether you can count on these 4 liters. Without a jerrycan easily accessible, you will struggle to know the answer, but to run out of gas. In any case, you need to fill the rear tank if you want to stay unstressed.

During the night, you resume your old habits of writing. You also prepared the first pictures, but you realize that you forgot to take the information for the FTP connection. Too bad, there will be no photos the first days on the site …