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.