Friday, July 9, 2010
Novokuznetsk to Chelyabinsk
Well, its a day for a mission, we are up early and Irina had breakfast made, then its on to the tram followed by a short walk to Alexanders place to pick up the bikes. I give my baby a quick wash so she looks abit more respectable for her new tyres :)))
The temperature dropped as we ride to Novosibirsk and before we get 100k on the clock its change of gloves time and not forgetting a quick bite to eat. Our only other unplanned stop is for wet weather gear, I think it rained hardest as we put it on.
On the outskirts of Novosibirsk we stop to make a call to our contact, Stanislav, for the tyres and get directions. Our goal ul. Lenina - Shock me! - Now to find it. Following the flow of traffic is generally a good start and the closer we get to the centre the busy it gets. It's while stopped at one point to get street names look at the surrounding buildings to get an idea of where we are that a guy walks up and asks "Do you need tyres?" Stanislav, who else would know? We had stopped not 500 meters around a bend from the Lenin statue on ul. Lenina. We follow him to a tyre shop to get the tyres fitted ( Had to give the shop guys a bit of guidence on how to fit motorcycle tyres, it didn't make the bill any cheaper) For me its a small load off my mind to have new rubber on the road. J'ean opted to only have a front tyre fitted and carry my old rear as a spare.
To make for even a better deal, when asked if he knew of a cheap motel, Stanislav offers us to stay at his place. Smiles all round from us. It's no wonder that Stanislav's number is in the posts on Horizons Unlimited. If you are riding in Russia and are in the Siberian area of Novosibirsk, requiring parts for your bike, it's likely Stanislav can help, just call +7 9139172953.
The front tyres lasted 7500km, the rears have more life in them and would probably do 10,000km. Would we use these tyres again? Yes, at half the price of Continental TKC80's (the benchmark tyre for adventure riding) they are great value, work well on gravel roads and perform better than we thought on tar seal.
24 June Thursday Novosibirsk to Road Motel
The view from Stanislavs central city apartment gives you a good idea how spread out and how big Novosibirsk is. To be honest I was a little apprehensive to come this city, nothing I had read about the place said anything very nice, however contrary to this Novosibirsk is a city under development and upgrade. The streets are clean (Russian standards) and are well maintained in the city area. It may not be every sightseers dream but there is still plenty to see and do. There is no shortage of choice for bars and restaurants and most are easy to find.
So...... our leaving Novosibirsk was a slow affair, 1.00pm saw us riding out. It took about an hour to clear the city and once on the open road we just cruise along enjoying the afternoon sun.
Bikes and planes...... must be a thing with us two, about 100k out of Novosibirsk we spot a huge helicopter, no guards, no fences, no dogs, just sitting off to one side of the main road. Damn it's big! Cant for the life of me think of its model or name.... good job for Google later. The 6 rotor blades are 29 feet long. No I didnt measure them they have the measurement on them.
Have I mentioned straight roads are boring...... cant even test the new tyres out. Why we stop where we do is never a plan, its usaully because the bums need a rest or the body needs food and drink. On one such stop late in the afternoon another motorcyclist rides by tooting his horn, we wave back, he hits the brakes does a U turn and pulls in beside us.
Meet Vladimir, Russian adventure rider, on his way to Vladivostok and over to Japan on a Honda Transalp. One thing we have noticed when we meet other motorcyclists on the road most can speak some english. For Vladimir to reach his destination in time he puts in 1000km a day..... I dont envy his backside. After exchanging contact information and wishing all safe travels we head in our respective directions. I know we are going the right way even without the use of a map because overhead are the jet stream trails from the aircraft going to and from Mosco.
25 June Friday Road Motel to Camp 9
It was by chance and good luck that we pulled off the road into a gas station that had a motel behind it the previous night. These motels mostly cater for the truck drivers and have restaurants attached to them to. The room we are given is the biggest room we have had and a double bonus, it has hot water.
It seems we have fallen in the routine of starting late and finishing late something that is completely opposite to what both of us are used to back home..... what ever works I say! With a breakfast of pancakes and coffee to start the day right we load up the bikes and continue in the direction of Omsk.
We do have one important job to do today other than make a destination on a map. Change the oil and filters in the bikes, they a little overdue. I know we got oil in Novokuznetsk but just had not made the time to change it. Roadside servicing is never much fun but with new oil and filters fitted, air filters cleaned and chain oilers topped up we are good for another few thousand kilometers.
An afternoon wind made riding a little more interesting, even the local crows had a job of it, if they stopped flapping their wings for a second they got blown back to where they came from. I think other drivers on the road found us a bit humerous as the cross winds had us leaning into them just to stay upright and on the road. The smiles and waves we get you have to see the funny side from there point of view.
Omsk - one word to describe it - YUK!
It is not an unattractive city but if you are on a motorcycle this is not a good place to be. It is very busy and not easy to navigate around because of this. Stopping only for fuel we leave Omsk behind and head up the M51 in search of a place to camp. The nights camp site would the best to date, the mosquitos more or less left us alone, maybe we need a shower.
26 June Saturday Camp 9 to Camp 10
During the night the temperature dropped and it got cold enough to make me put socks on. The morning however is warm and sunny and it is with no problem we sit around drinking coffee and tea waiting for the dew to dry off the tents and plan the route to our destination of Chelyabinsk.
The road is quiet and a complete contrast to the previous days from Novosibirsk to Omsk where it was almost bumper to bumper trucks. The reason for this soon becomes obvious, the road up ahead is closed by a gate with the un mistakeable sign of 'STOP' on it. As we approach a soldier steps out to meet us and asks where we are going and where we have come from. We inform him we are going to Chelyabinsk via Petropavlovsk. What we failed to notice on the map is Petropavlovsk is in Kazakhstan - Duh! Our boarder soldier is a friendly guy and shows us the road to take, detouring around Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk.
With the road being so quiet as we head back away from the boader its time for a little fun and testing the top speed of the bikes fully loaded, without the worry of the traffic police, is a perfect idea. Result.... 148km/h, with a tail wind we might get 150.
The detour through Nazivaevsk and onto Krutinka puts us back on the E30 . We know we are on the right road, the trucks are back! Ishim was our pick of places to stop for the night but as it would seem, this is not to be.We can not find a motel even after getting directions. Being found by the local police is a bit of a relief (in this case). We follow them to the local motel but there is no safe parking for the bikes, so taking there advice, we head on down the road to a place that is good for camping.
27 June Sunday Camp 10 to Chelyabinsk
The Ishim police are right the camping is great. No mosquitos at all, just a few ants and a couple of mole holes. Another leisurely departure, waiting for the dew to dry off the tents. Its going to be a cracker of a day, the breeze is already warm and the sun is bright and glarey.
As we ride I notice something with the roading crews, they are not working. Maybe the western side of Russia has Sundays off, pity the truck drivers dont have the same point of view. Yes I will moan and moan and moan about the trucks - Why? 'cause I can!
With an hour to go to get to Chelyabinsk our bums and brains needs rest. The road is monotonous, the temperature is well into the mid 30's and even the breeze feels like a fan bake oven. Chocolate bars dont stand a show, anywhere you pack them they melt and we have more hot water in our drink bottles than some of the hotels we have stayed at.
Chelyabinsk is a pleasant place to ride into and maybe because its Sunday the traffic is light. Having some more of that good luck we get, the motel we are looking for is not more than 200 meters from the place we stop :)))
There is loud, very loud, music playing from the central square beside our friend Lenin across from our motel. We can feel the thump of the bass through the 600+ mm thick walls and double glazing. Actually we dont mind the music it gives the place a feel of being alive and alot of the songs being played are chart toppers in the US. Yes they are in english.
The Yuzhny Ural motel, as stated in the Lonely Planet book, is a Soviet dinasaur, with is super wide corridors, worn concrete stairs and sloping uneven floors, well worth the stay.
We do have a small problem, again. We have not registered for over a week. After a bit of discussion and a few phone calls this can be fixed by paying a fine and visiting a 'specialist' who can take care of it all - but on Monday.