TLRJ – Day 7 – Downs and ups
This morning, the sky was grey and rainy. I had the luxury of a proper breakfast again. I advised that I wanted to remove the bike and that they should take care of the “Sabaka” (dog), I wanted to come out of the parking alive. The guy walked with me to the yard, but then walked away. So it was me against the dog. What can I say, I outpaced him. But it was a close shave.
I hit the road at 7:45 a.m., in full gear, including long johns this time. The weather was dull, occasional rain kept the road surface wet. After an hour, I was passed by the three Russian riders while waiting at some long roadworks! I catched up with them when they were having a break. I may ride slow, but constant. In Makuschino, I had to leave the main road, as it would lead into Kasachstan. The shortest way to Omsk cuts through there. As I have only a single-entry visa, this was not an option. So I had to go around and do some extra 150 km. When I turned, a nightmare started to evolve. It seemed to me that this was the worst road I ever rode on and that can still claim to be a “tarmac” road! Cracks, potholes, bumps and above, in wet conditions! It was so bad that I only could go at 70 km/h, or even 60 km/h. And then the temperature was 6 degrees with strong, icy gusts from the side.
What a ride! I spotted a petrol station and decided to fill up after only 185 km! I needed a break. Then I was at the pump, the other three Russian riders showed up as well. I “chatted” a while with the Gold Wing rider. Lots of petrol talk with little common words..
And on I went. How long would this road take? All the missing 350 km? This can’t be. I tried to ride as careful as possible, but I couldn’t avoid all the bumps the bike had to take. Morale was at a low. Why, why why am I doing this in spring? In the icy rain? Why????? Why Siberia in June?
Then, in Berdjuschje, I had to turn and the road got slightly better, but I still had to be very careful. Only when I finally reached the main road from Tjumen, the things changed. I rarely welcomed a proper road so much! But a doubt started to haunt me….could it be that my shocks were starting to fail me??? On the good road, nothing was noticeable, but with bumps I could feel the hard bump. My lower back started to ache….What if I was losing the shocks? I needed to act. I would stop at the next station and contacted Johannes by Whatsapp. This took a while….50 km and no petrol station in sight! Finally, one turned up. It was pretty old school, mainly for locals who needed Diesel. There was even no 95 octane petrol. I filled up with 92 (actually I was served) and was returned the surplus as I had erroneously asked for 16 instead 13 Liters at the pre-pay.
The vehicles that left the station seemed to like blue smoke, this was incredible! A tractor and a two-stroke motorbike left the station in a blue haze. In the meantime Johannes had provided some options: No chance to send new shocks, no much time, too risky with customs. But apparently some Harley models have the same shocks! There are HD dealers in Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk! I decided to look at this option later in the hotel. This problem troubled me the whole afternoon.
Slowly the temperature went up. Sunny with heavy rainfall in between. No reason to get out of the rain gear. I passed a strange landscape – grassland and trees, but whole birch forests standing in water with no leaves. A bizarre sight. I had to empty my bladder at a certain point and stopped next to the road. Only a small part of my body (ok, not THAT small) was exposed to the air in this process, but immediately many blood-thirsty monster mosquitos tried to have a picnic! What a mess! I tried to flush away some of them, but rather opted for retreat and fled this place!
I got closer and closer to Omsk. It was still early and I congratulated myself for changing the plan yesterday. These distances were feasible and give me enough time to rest. Some 20 km before Omsk, I was stopped by the police again. But….did I do something wrong? I wasn’t aware of…Ok, documents….I reached for my licence….and could not find it! Panic!!! Where was it? Then I remembered I showed it yesterday to the policeman….maybe in the fake wallet? Yes, there it was! Oufffffffff!!!! The policeman looked at it, showed it to his colleague and gave it back to me. Go!
In Omsk, it was sunny and warm now and i got slowly cooked in my “Banana Man” gear. I could still feel the strange effect when the shocks had to work. I had changed the setting to the max and this seemed to improve things a bit, but this was strange…I had the feeling that I was sitting on a board….and then I had an epiphany! What if the saddle was worn out? It’s a Russell Day-Long saddle, but…..what if? I had to stop for petrol again and checked the saddle….this was a possibility! I had noticed earlier that the shape had changed….I had bought the saddle in 2013 when I was a lot lighter…in a non-heavy duty version…I was sitting very much in front, due to the wheels in my back. When pressing the saddle, I could feel the hard plastic below. Can it really be? I called Johannes and told him the good news. He suggested to put something on the saddle if the feeling would change. So I rode the last 3 km to the hotel on my gloves and my fleece….and it felt great! Really? Well, this is definitely the smaller problem! Thanks Johannes anyway for the great help I hope I don’t need it and it’s only the saddle.
I arrived at the Hotel 41 with its iconic helicopter in front. At 6 p.m., although the clock had turned forward one hour. A relaxed evening? It was about time! And tomorrow the same distance like today! I really like my cunning plan.
My soup of the day was a classic Borshtsh, followed by some mixed meat platter. I’m sufficiently far from home to apply the “no fresh vegetables” rule now. No risks taken. Tomorrow I head for Novosibirsk!