TLRJ – Day 14 – איפה אני כאן?
In the morning, I had my bike ready at 7 a.m. The cleaning lady asked for the keys, but I insisted that I first needed to bring down the luggage. As the restaurant was not open, I asked for the breakfast. With the help of the translator app, the receptionist asked: „did you order it yesterday?“ Er, no! „There is no cook“.
Excellent. No breakfast. A fantastic establishment. I left with the plan to get something on the highway. At the first „Café“: opens at eight….the mini market had the cashier behind the typical bullet-proof glass…OK, let’s try later down the road. After an hour, I gave up and ordered a heated coffee can and some biscuits from a cashier in some other bullet-proof petrol station. OK, now let’s see….I had a booking only 430 km away, a dull hotel in probably a dull forest. I would arrive far too early at lunchtime. What to do the whole day? Wasn’t there an alternative?
When I arrived at the junction at 12:20, I made a decision. I filled up and reserved a hotel in Birobidzhan, some 590 km away. Sat Nav said arrival time 19:30, including the jump to the next time zone, so in principle six hours. This should be possible, the road was very good and I made good progress. I had the wind from the front now, but still I kept the speed at 110 – 120 km/h. Btw, I get passed by cars at 140 – 160 km/h, so I’m not going particularly fast. It was sunny with clouds now, the initial cool temperatures had risen to some nice 21 degrees.
I moved very quick, only very few road works slowed me down now. I was even considering to move even further to Khabarowsk, 170 km more, where I had my booking for the next night. In the end, I decided against this 1200 km monster trip, my 1030 km today were already a lot. When everything looked so rosy, I passed a sign….construction works for the next 320 km…..WHAT? And immediately, the road got bad, longitudinal groves that are not a problem for cars, but for bikes! And heaps of sand! Potholes, 15 cm deep! Huge missing parts of the surface, liquid asphalt all over the place….what was going on here?? This was dangerous! I needed to slow down. Focus! Luckily, it was dry….But I would have to do the rest of this road tomorrow in the rain! Ouch…I filled up again, Mars bar, Red Bull, juice. The magic mix to push for the last 130 km. I arrived at the hotel in Birobidzhan at 19:45 and was immediately involved in a chat about the bike. I had already noticed that people got gradually friendlier again, the grumpiness had disappeared. The climate? I checked in, parked the bike, filled up oil and was surprised how nice my room was. After a shower, I entered the restaurant and with the help of a friendly waitress I ordered dinner, some very good 97-98 degree celcius hot soup covered with yeast bread and some kind of very good Cordon Bleu variation. And a Bavarian Wheat beer! During dinner, I read about the history of this town. It is the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region here. Started as a project some 100 years ago, it was a safe haven for Jews before the founding of the state of Israel. First the settling was voluntary, later forced under Stalin. Due to emigration, the share of Jewish population decreased from 25 % in the 1950’s to about 1 % today.
Seeing the weather forecast for tomorrow, I considered leaving early tomorrow, banging towards Vladivostik, hopefully avoiding the rain front that will come in from the west. But on second thoughts, why the stress. I am on minus 1 days anyway, I don’t need to arrive at minus 2 days. And this would mean four days too early! So, I have ridden 11000 km in the last 14 days, have done some 1030 km against the wind today….why the hurry. Ok, I’ll have to ride two hours on this dangerous road tomorrow to Chabarowsk….take it easy. And a couple hours of rain during Friday, so what! I’ll arrive more relaxed on Friday in Vladivostok. So tomorrow it will definitely be a late departure, a short ride in the rain to a plush hotel where I can relax more. I’m glad I did these 600 km extra today so I don’t have to do them tomorrow in the rain.