The target for today is Chita about 400 miles away. The sat navs plot a route looping to the south but my Aussie mate’s google maps is bouncing about trying to put it’s hand up .. “please sir caplease sir … I’ve got a much better idea sir … come this way … follow me… follow me” Unfortunately I wasn’t close enough to the screen to see that it had it’s tongue in its cheek… even Google likes a laugh sometimes ..
Get out of the city and it all looks good. A lovely road through some rolling hills. Not another fecker anywhere to be seen. Just complete isolation for miles and miles and miles. We come to a small village and a petrol station. The ground starts to shake and one of these all trucks pulls in. I love these old things. You see loads of them out here and I think they are the worlds first indestructible vehicle. Christ knows how old it is .. it’s a dinosaur for sure though. Belching and farting, chewing the ground and spitting it out. The bloke gets a big starting handle to it and off it goes again up the road. I want one of these. I want to drive it though the middle of London. This thing demands respect. Fuck your Maybachs and G wagons, these things have a lot more style.
As we leave the village the tarmac disappears and turns to a good rough road. A tractor pulls up and ‘encourages’ us to turn around and go back but we ignore him. What the fuck does he know? He only lives here. Google knows best ..
The road gets rougher and rougher as we go, heavily corrugated and loose. Speed is the answer… My Aussie mate can’t go as quick and has to take a lot more care with his priceless blonde cargo. It’s all going well. Lovely scenery, lovely sunny day, a change from the relentless straights ..
We’re maybe 50 miles into the rough and it’s got to the point where I’m riding along just thinking of something else completely, just riding on auto-pilot. I’m in 5th doing about 60-70mph.. all good .. then for some unknown my consciousness decides to interrupt my thoughts … ‘excuse me… you know this is deep sand don’t you’. I’m on a big section of half graded road with lines of deep sand down the sides and the middle. I hate deep sand. The second I actually think rather than just ride then my ‘off’ is ‘on’. Away goes the tail, dancing left and right, swinging it’s bootie and heading for the deepest section it can find. I’m just about getting it under control again when the weight comes down on the front wheel and it all goes straight through my skill threshold… time to leave.. I know it’s going down and the last place I want to be is underneath it so I just push the bike away with hands and feet and let it skid along the sand in front of me. Fucky tits!
The bike skids to a halt really quickly in the sand and it’s fine.. apart from one of the panniers. I think I may have spilt the caviar in that one.. it’s bent the frame and pulled the inside of the pannier out of line. 15 stone of fucked off motorcyclist jumping on it straightens the pannier, and the frames are attended to with a big pair of Hyper-Pro tyre levers to get them back to something I can strap the pannier to.
My Aussie mates arrive and tell me they’ve been tracking the accident for the last 200m through the lines in the sand! Off we all go again… for another 90 miles of shitter and shitter roads that take hours and hours and leave google laughing it’s tits off. Get to the main road and get a groove on.
It’s getting late, we’ve crossed another time zone and it’s getting cold too. The perfect time for my bike to start fucking about again. The bitch has not been starting on the first press at all today and it’s getting worse. I’m doing everything I can to keep the number of starts to a minimum so I have a thought. I’ve ridden in Alaska when it’s cold and I’ve seen vehicles keeping their engines running at fuel stops. Siberia is a LOT colder than Canada and so they MUST do the same… so … I come into a petrol station, keep the engine running, open the fuel cap with the spare key and stick the pump in. I haven’t taken my helmet off yet but I can hear a barking and shouting coming from somewhere.. somewhere close … I take my helmet off and it’s getting louder and louder .. it’s coming from the kiosk… I think someone has trapped a wild animal, possibly 2, and put them in there… whatever it is .. it’s going properly MENTAL.. I know what the problem is… but I choose to ignore it… until the door flies open and a wild woman with eyes on stalks and spit flying off her forked tongue comes stamping over with her hands on her hips and makes it extra extra extra clear.. as if she hadn’t done already .. that I MUST turn my bike off. Cow… So I fill the bike and push it off the forecourt. Get my prayer mat out.. light some scented candles, get my tongue ready to try and get the bitch going … when this pulls up to the pumps ..
Bloody thing is shaking and shivering like all the bolts were only torqued to about 2Nm. It’s ‘ticking’ over at about 3k and sounding like a loud metal riot. The bloke jumps out and sticks the pump in… hang on mate .. shouldn’t you switch that off first? Did the bear/bitch come out and berate him? Did she reach out and stamp the big red ‘Strop ON’ button? Did she shout and thrash about and get her tits in a tangle? Did she FUCK!!
It’s another late run into another dilapidated city and again we arrive after closing time. I wander up and down the streets looking for something quick to eat but there’s nothing … so I go to my room, dismantle the pannier and put some cable ties behind the mounts so I can just zip it on in the morning.
We’re at the stage in the journey now when we’re trying to pace our days to get to Vladivostok at a particular date. My Aussie mate’s are catching the ferry to Japan and need a few days there to clear the bike and prepare it. Out here there really is sweet FA except run down service stations and a few little towns. Nowhere booked tonight but we aim for Yerofey Pavlovich where there are some truck stops. It’s taken a shit load of time to get out here but days like this make it worth it for me. It’s not that there is anything particular to see .. it’s not beautiful … it’s not outstanding in any way .. it’s nothing … and that’s it’s attraction. It just feels like you could walk 100yards off the road and you would be the first man on earth to tread on that spot … like humanity has just passed through on a 30ft strip of tarmac and that’s it… I wonder if places like this will ever be populated.. no matter how overrun the rest of the world will ever become I suspect this place will always be just the same.
I like the truck stops. I like all these people magnets. Pretty good too. Good honest cheap food and accommodation .. on tap ‘company’ if required .. red hot showers in a separate building – 200 Rubles for 20 minutes in shower big enough for ‘company’ … I got 100 off because I was only in there for 5 minutes .. best nights sleep on the trip so far…
When you’re this far into a journey and you’re chatting, you tend to quickly get involved in a race to the bottom … Australians. Australian men seem to stop maturing at about 12.. so what do they chat about at work? The usual… how you wipe your arse… I think one bloke in an unguarded moment admitted that he wiped his arse from the top to the bottom, the back to the front if you like.. and that quickly turned into a questionnaire/spreadsheet for the rest of the office to fill in.. yes really .. As well as the usual ‘fold or bunch’ question, and the new ‘direction of travel’ question, there was also ‘number of wipes’ and various other intimate details involved. Unbelievable! This got me thinking… always on the lookout for an opportunity to make a few quid … I thought I’d introduce a ‘Shitmus’ scale and I could sell Shitmus paper. It would be like the litmus test. A scale of 1 (very light tan) through 5 (dark pine) to 10 (dark coffee – possibly with lumps) could work well I think. I reckon I’d go for somewhere around a 3 (light pine) before the pants came up. I’ve definitely sat in stalls where I’ve heard people going for a completely unattainable zero, scrubbing away, turning their arsehole to a red burning ring of fire, and I’ve met people who are ‘off the scale’ and for whom even a 10 would be a wipe too far. As for the quiz, it turns out the back to front bloke was still alone, and one person even used a ‘3 wipe max’ rule no matter what their Shitmus score… Anyway, something to think about for a few hours when the wheels just go round and round and round…
Get out the truck stop and out again into the proper wilderness. What an achingly beautiful ride. Cool and fresh and bright. Lovely curvy roads through the rolling hills and not another bastard in sight all day. Fuck… another place I’d be happy to just hit the big OFF switch and leave the world. Places like this just make the hairs on my arms stand up on end and bring tears to my eyes. Fuck I love this place.
You know you’re properly out in the middle of nowhere when you come to Never where the summer road meets the Trans Siberian. I expected a big dusty junction with trucks crawling out of it but the tarmac monsters have found their way up here and they’re busy making their way north to Yakutsk… that’s a shame. Best get back here quick then.. .another excuse to come back .. Magadan is still over 3000km though .. just another indication of just how MASSIVE this place is.
My Aussie mate wants to visit Blagoveshchenk which is a city just across the border with China. It’s not on our route directly but it would be foolish to just ride past it so we take a 90 mile diversion off the main road so we end up chasing the sunset through the rain and get there quite late. We get stopped by the police on the way in. I’ve got my helmet on and I can barely see the copper through the swarms of mozzies. They’re coming right up to my visor and smiling at me… showing me their teeth .. laughing … they know… they just know I’m going to have to take my helmet off to talk to the copper.. they know they’re just about to parrrrrrrrttttteeeeeeeeee….
Off comes the helmet and I’m deafened as the swarm descends and dives into my hair to play. Fuckers… Put the helmet back on and I can feel the party is in full swing… everyone is gorging themselves on my scalp and some have also got inside my VIP area .. that’s not going to end well…
We’ve nowhere booked so we wander about at the mercy of the sat nav, riding past a few ‘is that open/occupied/derelict’ places before choosing a random place that last got decorated in 1850. Turns out a lot better than expected though as these places often do.
We take a quick trip to the riverside to stare at the Chinese…
And get back on with it… east east and more east ..
Vladivostok isn’t that far now… maybe less than 1000 miles. Maybe the bitch has decided that going home on a train is better than going to hell in a ball of flames in the middle of Siberia and she’s not given me any trouble at all today. It just fucks with my head.. beware of these orange bastards … and remember to read the small print before you buy one .. it says ‘do not mix Ktm ownership with any kind of anti-depressant drugs .. and if you are currently taking any kind of therapy then please seek the advice of a medical professional before purchase..’
Get to Khabarovsk and my dreams of making a ‘shitload’ out of my Shitmus paper all go to … you guessed .. shit.. I hadn’t considered this. A toilet that will wash, wipe, blow dry and I think this one even had a button for a ‘prostate test’ … I wasn’t brave enough to press that one, but I did get a nice perm
We take a day off to just wander about in the rain. A nice town with a friendly atmosphere. Bloody steep hills with old trams struggling up and down. People trapped at the arse end of a massive country but just getting on with life..
My old mate has managed to get to the grand old age of 74 without ever having a massage… that’s like still being a virgin … so we decide it’s time to pop his cherry/neck/back/knuckles and we ask the receptionist. We’re told there is one 10 minutes walk away in a big pink building just down the road so off we go. We get to the street … a street comprised soley of … yep .. big pink buildings.. fantastic. So we wander about for a while until we find a little door leading down a dark corridor to a travel agent… come sex shop… brochure .. dildo . brochure .. double dildo .. brochure … gimp suit … everything for your travel/pleasure needs all in one place. A really good idea I think. I’m going to go into my local Thompsons travel agent when I get home with a big box of anal intruders and nipple clamps… I think I may be able to find a few kicking about in my garage … and see if they’d put them on the shelves amongst all the SAGA brochures. Anyway… it takes us 30 minutes to get directions to three doors down where the massage place is..
In we go then. It’s a Chinese massage, these are always hard core, my favourites. My old mate is led away to a little stall and I get taken to another one at the other end of the room.. I’m a long way from him .. but I can still hear his screams. It sounds like he’s being slapped with a rolled up travel brochure then roughly ‘intruded’ … I knew I shouldn’t have left him alone in that shop… still, £10 later and we’re both happy. He can turn his neck more than 10 degrees for the first time in 20 years and he can do massive shits without anything touching the sides.. result…
We’re all together and having a laugh. We’re all happy in each others company. We all know what’s coming… Vladivostok .. the last chapter.. but nobody wants to turn the page.Next – The end of the line