In the morning, I had breakfast at seven and started the day with sunshine. I could not leave before it was checked that everything was ok with my room. This was the case so I entered the Omskii morning rush hour. I had to cross the whole city and slowly, very slowly it occurred to me that I had made a mistake. As usual in the morning, the sat nav did not indicate the exact routing, but only the general direction. The road leading out of the city was very bumby. This should be the road to Novosibirsk? Probably I was doing a “shortcut”? And so it was. The roads was very bumpy, with lots of cracks and potholes, but in contrast to one day earlier, there were no huge bumps and it was sunny! So I went hopping for about 50 km, crossing a small town before I finally reached the Transsiberian Highway again.
What a relief! I rode again through the Siberian grasslands with lots of birch trees. After two hours, as predicted, the sunny weather ended and for the rest of the day, Banana Man was back. I noticed that the cover of the sprocket (where I had lost a bolt some days ago) was very l loose – the second bolt was almost gone. I tightened it, making this the first “repair” on this trip. Soon the rain welcomed me. For the rest of the day, short sunny periods alternated with light rain or even heavy rain. No reason to remove the rain suit.
After I while, I passed a Russian rider at the side of the road, exchanging friendly waves. Some time later, when I was (as usual) singing anything that comes to my mind (they had a 80’s Greatest Hits tape in the breakfast room this morning, soooo…), I saw the Russian biker with his ST1300 behind me. He made no sign to pass me, so we rode together for a while.
After half an hour, I needed to fill up and stopped at a rather shady station. The cashier was hidden behind a blackened, secured window, spooky. I had a chat with the friendly biker who spoke English. This makes communication so much easier than usual. His name is Alexander from Moscow and he said he was going to Vladivostok as well! We chatted a bit about our plans and continued our ride. It was strongly raining again and this time he was in the lead. When I followed him overtaking a truck, I noticed that the surface in front of me was cut away, leaving a myriad of little groves! There was no chance to stop the overtaking due to oncoming traffic, so I had to move back to the right lane! WOOOOOOAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!
The XBR turned into a Rodeo horse, kicking out with its back wheel. The front wheel was more of my concern, because this definitely mean touchdown. With adrenalin up to the eyeballs, I managed to keep everything under control. I had to reduce speed considerably and was soon overtaken by the truck again. Rule number one during all trips: keep the shiny side up! Don’t fall down!
A while later, we decided to stop for lunch and so I had my first typical road restaurant in Russia.
A pork chop with mashed potato and cabbage. Very good. Alexander told me that he has two months for his trip and that he spends the nights in ‘Biker Posts”, some hostels for bikers. He told me that the road would be fine, except between Ulan Ude and Chita. This I also read in other places, and Google Maps confirms this. We might ride together these days, although I have a series of pre-booked hotel rooms that I do not want to cancel. We’ll see how it goes. In any case, it is an advantage to have someone speaking the language and riding in front with a big bike.
We continued after filling up and the weather was the same mix as before. However, close to Novosibirsk, we got into heavy rain! Shortly after, our ways parted, but we’ll stay in contact. I headed to the local Honda dealer, Johannes had sent me the address yesterday. Much to my surprise, it was a combined Honda/Triumph dealer! Very shiny and modern!
I asked for a bolt to fix the sprocket cover, and please use some Locktite as well. Done! I chatted with the manager and bought two litres of oil. Yes, like the ones I left at home. They only had the modern stuff, like synthetic and 10W50. But ok, this will do; I’m using tractor oil now: mineral 20W50, haha!
I was disappointed with my new BMW rain suit. !49 Euros and I have wet pants??? Really? Grrrrrr……It was very warm now and I got cooked in my Banana suit. And I still had to survive the Novosibirskii rush hour as well! Lots of filtering through the traffic, one more petrol stop and then I was at the Ramada, where I left a little puddle of petrol in front of the entrance….it seems the carburettor float valve is not closing well, hmmmm. Closing the tap helps. One bolt of the pannier rack is a bit loose, I can’t tighten it…but with some of my monster zip ties, at least the tyre rack does not move anymore. Another oil check in the big parking garage…and finally I could strip my clothes in the room, I felt like a boiled egg! I have a whole appartment suite, not that I need it, but it is spacious. And for the price of a shabby pension in Western Europe.
In the restaurant, I wanted to order a beer from Andechs in my home area (haha), but there was nothing left. So finally it’s a local beer.
Today, I have ridden 6100 km since I left. Half time! Only 5800 km left to Vladivostok. And these will be the tougher part. But I have 11 days left, so this should be feasible if no technical problems occur.