Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Old Road of Bones Russia - River Crossing Part 3
I wasn’t looking much forward to getting on the road from Tomtor, because the road into town was so gravelly.. I didn’t like it.
But I was pleasantly surprised that the road was good for a really long time! There had been a bit of rain, gravel was gone, and it was more like compacted hard mud.
Very easy, and I was cruisin’!!
Walter stops at one point to check on me and he says, “I am really impressed with your riding today Sherri Jo”.. I said, “Don’t be impressed with me, it’s a really nice road for once!”
He mentioned we have a rather large water crossing ahead.. the biggest one of all.. Why did he have to tell me that???
We arrive the river, and the big broken wood bridge.. Then it dawns on me, that is the vision I had in my head that defines the Road of Bones for me. Big river crossings with broken bridges. I got this from the “Long Way Round” series, and even though I just skimmed through that series before leaving on this trip, I did see this part and remembered it clearly. Ewan and Charley got a big truck to carry them across.
My biggest fear about this trip was water crossings.. particularly deep water crossings. And I knew to travel with the “boys” I must be able to do it myself. I envisioned the others would be watching, but if I fell over in deep water, and my bike pinned me down would they get to me in time before I drowned?!!!! Crazy thoughts, I know… seen too many movies..
But it turned out they boys cancelled, and it was just me and Walter.
So I ask Walter if maybe we should go back to the village and at least get a back up “male” person with more strength than me to have on stand by??
Walter wants to walk the river first - too see what we are up against.
He checks several different spots.. quietly going here and there.. for literally an hour.
The water current is so strong. Difficult yet do-able in the shallow, but the deep part is a problem, and there is always a deep part.. How to hold the bikes up in the deep current and if my bike stalls, how the 2 of us will be able to push it out ourselves through the boulders.
He finally comes back to shore and I mention my idea of going back to that deserted village we passed (you know the one in Long Way Round where Claudio the cameraman gave up on the boys and took his sleeping bag across and slept in a defunct house?)
I saw a man on a roof as we passed by earlier, maybe he could be the “back up man?”
Walter says no, he can do this..
Okey Dokey!! I know he knows what he is doing!
We are very lucky with low water levels this year..
He makes a decision where we must cross.
Wouldn’t you know, my bike goes first! ;-)
First job however, is to take off as much gear as we can walk across. This is my first trip across and now I really get to feel how strong that current is.. I am carrying an armful of gear, and deary me.. I nearly fell over often.. so now I know it's not just the bike when I go down next time..
I love my Rukka gear, it is Goretex, but the water is coming in anyway, under the pants leg and into my boots.
I have big supersize motorcross boots with the best protection that go to the top of my shins.
They filled up immediately with super cold mountain river water. These would be ideal for leg workouts in the gym!
Okay, struggle back across to get the first bike.
Walter jumps right on, ready to go… I think he’s pretty hyped up. I am huffing and puffing, and wishing we could just take a minute.. ;-) I'm usually good with energy.. and I used to tease Walter that he was slow on foot. But on a bike, that sucker has all the energy in the world! And completely reversed as I am the slow one.. I best not tease him next time he is struggling to walk up a hill... ;-)
My job is to be on the opposite side of the current to push against the bike to keep it from going downstream while Walter motors through.
He goes in well, but there goes the back end downstream. I focus on pushing there, and then he goes again as the front end takes a turn downstream.. So up to the front I go. Back and forth until we make it across.. Good news, the bike didn’t stall!
Whew! I am pooped! That was hard work.
My camera is well protected on the other side.. but I said to Walter I would like to film this. He said that it’s common for the best things to photograph or film get missed because it takes everyone to help do the job and no one to hold the camera!
So back across the river in heavy water logged boots we go.. and start his bike up. He’s had a think about this photo opportunity, and says, after I help him get past the deep part, we should be safe for me to go to shore to set up the camera and then come back to help with the rest.
Same deal, the front end wants to wash away, so I push there, and then to the rear. Once out of the deepest bit, I trudge my way to shore, and he yells out.. “Hurry Up, my battery is underwater!!”
I set my camera quickly on a log to film and head back.
He starts going before I get to him, and throttles right through to the other side. Easy Peasy!!
He’s a Master!! And made it look so easy in the process! We crossed the river, completely unassisted, no men behind the scenes as he puts it.
I did end up posting the little clip on Youtube.
We didn’t get to film the hard parts, but it got recorded none-the-less.
And one very proud Walter Colebatch, as he deserves to be!!
Waterlogged and cold, but happy to be on the other side.
Just up the embankment is Kyubeme, which is only fuel stop, and the official end to the Old Road of Bones! (They do have very creative fuel stations here..)
So there we go! We survived the craziest most hazardous road I have ever been on!!
Big marks to Walter who was brave enough to take on this unpredictable road with a completely inexperienced off-road female rider. He must like to set up his challenges to greatest difficulty levels!
Now, you’d think this would be the hardest part of the day.. Niyet.
We rode 150 km from Tomtor, crossed the big river several times with gear and motorcycles.. and we are back onto the “main” road. You'd think this would be enough for one day??
Nope, it’s just the beginning…. and it gets worse..