TLRJ – Day 6 – Europe to Asia (“Doing more with less”)
Before going to bed last night, I had a brilliant idea….what if…I would consider the idea I had the first morning after our border disaster? Instead of desperately catching up the lost half day – what about falling back a half day and be in accordance with the initial plan, only one day late. It would make things so much easier – no monster rides, no desperate search for accommodation in the middle of nowhere, staying in nice hotels in the bigger cities….Instead riding like a berserk in three days to Krasnoyarsk, I could do it in four… But would I really be behind one day? I had had planned a short day between Kemerovo and Krasnoyarsk, and a very short day when getting to the Lake Baikal where I had planned us to pass a quiet day after 10 days of hard riding. If….I would skip the stay at the shore in Listvyanka (that includes going there and back from Irkutsk) and ride directly via Irkutsk to Ulan Ude??? This could work! I would be back on plan! What a cunning plan! It also leaves me one option: I could stay at the Eastern shore of Lake Baikal instead ot going to Ulan Ude, falling only 200 km behind the plan. With 3600 km to go and 8 days left, this should be no problem at all!
This meant that I could have proper breakfast this morning. No rushing in the early morning. It does not mean that the daily rides will be a piece of cake, but there is no need for monster rides of 1000 km or more per day. Not very appealing nor safe under these road conditions.
Finally I hit the road at 9 a.m. and first got lost, riding north instead east. Lost 20 km. But no need to worry, my daily plan was to get to Kurgan, only 720 km away. It was cool and cloudy. After half an hour, I got stopped by the police again! I was sure not to have crossed the white line…but maybe I overtook a car within the lane. Same game game again…do not understand…showed my licence…but the policeman also wanted to see the bike papers. I opened the left pannier and sighed loudly…the registration paper was buried somewhere in there….the policeman showed some mercy and said it was ok. But, I had to pay a “Straf”. Oh, this was different! He typed something on his phone…70? Oh, that’s cheap! Oh wait….Euro???? Ok, if he tries to play foul, I play foul. How much in Rubel? 5000! I grabbed for my fake “hold-up purse”…..look, I only have 4000 Rubel left…..He accepted and sent me away. Without a receipt, of course….Mental note: next time, put only 2000 Rubel in the fake purse…
This time I was wearing all my proper gear. But on the way to Chelyabinsk, I noticed that it got colder and
colder….chilling! I checked the altitude…oh! 440 m! I was riding up the Ural mountains. And then it started to rain lightly. This was the weather for most of the day. Dry, but with patches of rain that made the riding….interesting. I crossed the border between Europe and Asia without knowing where it was; unlike the route further north between Perm and Jekaterinenburg, there was no monument. This was touch, mountain roads, drizzle, and a gusty, icy wind from the west. Luckily, for the whole day it was blowing from the back, but when I had it from the side, the bike shook like a leave in the wind. I crossed several passes, the highest at 823 m altitude. This does not seem much, but the temperature was already low in the lowlands. Up there it was 7-8 degrees, but the strong icy wind made it feels 5 degrees less. And the XBR is not a spoiling bike, no fairing, no heated grips, no heated seat….I started to shiver….this was f*cking cold! When I had to fill up (Lukoil), I spent some time in the interior to warm up. I had another “Grill Dog” (LOL) and decided to put on the rain suit, not because of the rain, no! It keeps the wind out. Slowly it got warmer when I decended from the mountains…I saw some “working” ladies next to the road…in hot pants! And I was freezing inside my gear…two shirts, fleece, jacket, rain suit….brrrrr.
Down in the plain, it was less icy, but the wind still blew strongly from the back. The road turned into a dual carriageway and I took the long ring road around Chelyabinsk. When I got the wind from the side, I noticed how strong it was. I had to remove one ear plug, as the wind pressed so hard against the helmet that the ear plug got pressed into the ear…that did hurt! Without the ear plug, it was ok again.
The long road to Kurgan was filled with trucks that had to be overtaken…endlessly! I stopped for petrol again….warming up again. It was less cold, but still chilly. I got into a conversation with a guy from the station…without understanding all the words, we managed to get the message across….bike talk! From where, to where, he had a Honda as well, very good, etc etc. A nice guy!
The landscape had changed.Less forest, more grass land. But also some swamps. And mostly birch trees. Slowly the clouds vanished and the last hour I rode in sunshine. Interrupted by enormous road works. But at least I could pass to the front easily.
Just before Kurgan, I filled up again. When I returned to the bike, I was shocked: I found a puddle of liquid right under the bike! It took a while until I realised that it did not come from my bike and was probably water. I checked the oil level….a lot was missing! I filled up 0.6 L, quite a lot! On the other hand, I was riding hard yesterday, and in 1200 km, this is possible. I left most of my oil at home. But, in the worst case I buy some car oil, there’s plenty of it. No worries.
I arrived at my hotel, the “Cosmos Business Hotel” on Gagarin Street, next to the “enormous” airport. Four stars, haha. But clean and with everything you need. I parked my bike behind the hotel, guarded by a barking dog, gulp!
I had dinner with another soup, Solyanka this time. Not very local, but delicious. And some sizzling lamb meat, with some Russian red wine. Tomorrow will be a relaxing 650 km ride to Omsk, around the Kasachstan border. I did a check today, I have ridden a 4800 km so far. I only have 7000 km left to Vladivostok!