Hey!! I'm riding on dirt roads!! Now that I look back at this photo, what a nice dirt road that was! If I only knew what was ahead of me......
I must dob myself in...
A few months ago in the midst of my massive amounts of research planning this trip, I came across Walter Colebatch and his comments about adventure riding on a Horizon's Unlimited DVD.
He answered my email and gave heaps of much needed advice.. along the way he suggested I join him and his group on this Siberian journey as he mentioned I will be in the area around the same time of year.
I did have a look at his website www.sibirskyextreme.com, and thought it looked fascinating, so I said yes!
While I was still trying to get used to my KTM in Adelaide, I had gotten to a point that I did not think I was going to be able to do it, especially that Russia bit. I am an inexperienced dirt road rider, let alone adding all that adventure stuff.. plus I am just slow..
I planned this trip really quick and got on the road, since I'd have so much to do, I never really cancelled. At times I'd think, I can't do that, and a few moments later I'd think.. but what if you can? Like I said, this is not a holiday, it's adventure, and the greatest challenge I could set myself at this point, and I DO want to step outside my boundaries!
Then when Walter arrived, I found out that all of the other riders cancelled and it was just he and I!! Those guys must know something that I don't know, and I am the only nimwit to continue on the Sibirsky Extreme project.
So now that I am here in Magadan, I literally have no choice..
What I must admit, is that I didn't look too much into what I was about to do, because I knew I would talk myself out of it. That's either a good thing or a bad thing.
And I think that is what has got me through to this point. Walter has over 20 years experience in off-road riding.. I have had 2 x 1/2 days training with Sam in Adelaide. Which was brilliant and a huge help! But nowhere near enough training to do what I am about to do..
Walter was warned I am not good and I am slow, but he said we can work with that.. he would know, so I have to trust that.
So off we go, and I'm riding out of Magadan thinking there would be no bitumen.. but there was!
I'm riding along, and thinking the bitumen was a bit dodgy, but this ride isn't so bad after all! We stop for a couple of scenic pictures, and he says, "Bitumen ends in about 20 km's... enjoy!" And he rode off...
Sam taught me about riding standing up in dirt for more stability.. however I had never done so with all my gear loaded up before.
AND to be totally honest, I was worried about trying it out on my own going across the Nullabor.. I avoided any dirt like the plague.. out there - dirt alley Australia!!
Walter stopped me several times and gave me really good advice, a really good teacher.
By the time we got the bikes off the boat, packed up and hit the road, I think it was after 4:30..
Number 1, I don't wear a watch, haven't for years.. if I need to know I look at my mobile (which I can't while riding), or I could use my bike clock (which I have not reset on purpose).. Do I sound like a total ignorant moron yet?? Once I get more brave things will change, but these are the things I know work for me for now..
Ignorance is Bliss in my case!!
I have gotten the hang of motoring along as much as possible.. and we finally make it to a fuel stop.. my first Russian fuel!
And can you believe out here a really nice Toyota Landcruiser pulls in for fuel, and out jump these guys.. One just happens to be from Australia! They are geologists, and ride around in helicopters and 4WD's who say they thought was tough and long travel.. they gave me very sincere warnings about bears.. saying they couldn't even walk in to check one of their outposts until the bulldozer came in to pave a track for them to protect against the bears..
I yell over to the boss, "Walter! Did you know the bears are that bad out there?? They are asking me if I have a gun or spray!"
Oh well, we are in it now, let's just hope we don't break down anywhere.
Didn't take long!! That same dag gone pannier!!! I knew it would be an issue, when it popped off around Albany West Australia, on perfectly good bitumen.. The pegs vibrate loose, and I have been one to tighten them as much as possible every morning when I pack up.. I knew better, I was on bumpy dirt roads, and should have stopped to check. Wonderful to have Walter with his experience fix them up and we are using a couple shipping straps to hold them on for now. Sorry...No bears to report..
There aren't any towns out here.. we keep riding and riding.. and I remember the recommendations from other travelers not to do more than 200-300 km/day if you can.. Sometimes you just have to go far, but in general..
We've gone well beyond a long day, and the more tired I get, the slower I ride.
Walter's goal is to get to this Gulag. (more about that in the next post)
I'm clearly not going to make it down an unmaintained track at 11 pm, so we opt for a little settlement nearby. Our wonderful Ilya from Magadan suggested these stops.
We see this pack of deserted buildings... but it's our only choice.. Walter pulls in and finds a there are a couple of people moving around in there.
to be continued....