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Crossroads

Well this is Unreal Adventure at the crossroads. We literally parked the bikes at the crossroads between China, Chita, Vladivostok and Yakutsk to have a chat about our future (well our past now. This was first published in 2011 on our travel blog).

Kirill Ivoutin and John Dunn at the crossroads

We are having a great deal of difficulty working out what to do. Chita is 1000km west of here. That is where we have ridden from. Well we have ridden from Irkutsk which is 2300km west but Chita is the last big town we rode through. China is out of the question because apparently they don't allow motorbikes across the border and because a visa will cost an arm and a leg. Yakutsk (Яку́тск) is on the way to Magadan (Магада́н). Vladivostok, we had discovered some days earlier, was to be the location for big gathering of Russian bikers. So the choices are between Vladivostok and Yakutsk.

While we were stopped at the crossroads a pair of Ruski bikers rode up to us and stopped for a chat. They were from a Muscovite Motorcycle club called Dubaser and they were on their way to a Motorbike show in Vladivostok. One of them was named Kirill. They were headed for Vladivostok. Kirill was headed for Vladivostok. Was the Universe giving us a sign? Only if his riding partner was named John or Ryan could one find a surer sign that Vladivostok was where our destinies lay but finding a John or a Ryan in Siberia at such short notice might have been too difficult.

My view of Kirill's back. A sight I got very used to after 2 months.

On the other hand is the fact that our t-shirts read "Unreal Adventure - Moscow to Magadan". We set out to complete a particular journey and now we are on the brink of quitting that mission. Throwing in the towel and saying "it's all too hard". The idea did not sit well with any of us.

Then again these bikes really have had it. They have already done 10,000kms through Mongolia, Kazakistan and Russia. Each day we pour about as much oil into each bike as we do fuel. The black bike now only starts if it gets a push from the blue bike. Kirill has his hands deep in Ural parts for hours each day. He doesn't bother washing the grease off his hands anymore. It's a waste of soap and besides, the grease is now deep in the pours of his skin. His hands are black but stain no paper. Everyday there is a new struggle with these bikes.

My favorite photo from the whole trip. Represents the 2 months we spent in Siberia so well. Spectacular countryside but we were always taken up by trying to work out what to do with these stupid bikes that seized up every 10 minutes

Then on the other hand there is the fact that we knew these bikes would be in bad shape even before we left Australia. We knew what we were getting ourselves into and now apparently we have changed our minds about it. We meet many Russians on the road because every Russian we pass wants to shake hands with the 3 crazy Australians on Soviet bikes. Not one of them can understand why we want to make such a long arduous journey on motorbikes designed in 1950′s Russia. Because it makes the journey more interesting we try to explain. Because they are romantic bikes steeped in history and tradition. Because when we break down on the side of the road we get a chance to meet ordinary Russians. Because at 60kmph you really get time to enjoy the countryside you are riding through. Because if getting to Magadan were easy what sense of achievement would you feel at the end?

John Dunn and Ryan Albrey with some regular Russians we met

Still just how difficult should we make it for ourselves? Not only are we driving bikes designed over 50 years ago, but they are dying bikes that need repairs every second day. Not only are we talking about riding 3000kms over awful Russian roads, but we are looking like doing it at the start of autumn when the rains pour hard in Siberia turning everything to mud. Then there is the fact that we are not exactly flush with funds. The more problems you make for yourself, the more money you need to have for throwing at them.

Our John is not a religious man. He leaves the divination of signs to others. He admits that the odds are against us getting to Magadan but insists that is what we came to do and that is what we should attempt to do. He wants our documentary to be all about the day to day struggle of riding these bikes up dirt tracks where even truck drivers fear to tread.

Kirill Ivoutin goes for a swim in a lake just a few km's on the Russian side of the Russia/China border

There is lots we can do to make this trip difficult. We could do it without any clothes on. We could throw all our clothes on the side of the road and continue in our undies. Kirill is not ashamed of his birthday suit. He does most things in his undies anyway. I know that daily struggles are interesting fodder for the camera. The problem is that the things that make our adventure difficult (read: interesting) also make film making difficult. For me Siberia and the Russian Far East are difficult enough without placing additional handicaps into the saddle bags.

I feel like the things I want from this trip are all available in Vladivostok. In fact they are more plentiful in Vladivostok. In Vladivostok I can really spend some time learning Russian and taking interesting photos.

Kirill? Well Kirill is just sick of being up to his elbows in Ural parts. He wants to go to the bike show, drink some beer and have a good time.

So it is settled. We are going to Vladivostok. John will come round. There is always next year for Magadan and the Road of Bones. With more money, more summer and fitter bikes. Still something nags at the conscience of Kirill and I. A simple vote doesn't seem the right way to settle this. Kirill and I could easily swing the other way. John on the other hand is passionate in his arguments in favor of continuing with the original plan. Just to be sure we are giving up the dream for another year we flip a coin. It seems only fair. John calls it in the air but the coin has us going to Vladivostok. We ride on straight through the crossroads and on to Vladivostok.

Kirill Ivoutin and John Dunn stand beneath the sign that reads Chita, Vladivostok, Magadan. Johns only piece of proof of the closest he got to Madagan

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ryan Albrey published on February 13, 2013 10:12 AM.

Malaysia sama Indonesia. Patut jodoh lah! was the previous entry in this blog.

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