This week, after some “normal” pitfalls, I obtained the receipt for my Russian Business Visa thanks to help from a number of people.
There may even be time to acquire the Kazakh Double Entry Tourist Visa, too.
The Russian Business Visa allows for up to 180 days in one journey within Russia. The Tourist Visa permits just 30 and that’s not enough for my goals. The penalty for overstaying a Russian Visa is severe – deportation, heavy fine, 5-year ban on any new Visa.
Once in UB (10 July) I’ll rebuild the forks (new seals and bushings), permanently install a new, larger GPS, install the new Tubliss in the front wheel, and change out my riding luggage for some that is completely waterproof and further lighten my load – 20kgs, max. This year means an iPad instead of a MacBook Air, a 9oz vs 28oz bead breaker, a micro 4/3s camera instead of a DSLR and considerably less and lighter tools and leaving some things and parts in UB. My weight is currently 99kg and I expect to see London at closer to 90kg. 🙂
Goals include riding to Magadan via the Western BAM and the infamous Vitim River Bridge and then from Tynda heading up the M56 Federal Highway to Yakutsk. From there I’ll make for Magadan and if water levels permit exit the M56 on the OSR (Old Summer Road) to Susuman and then finish at Magadan.
The plan is to refresh in Magadan briefly and then turnaround and take the Trinksy Trackt back to the OSR. Again, water levels will be monitored as I’ll be alone. Failing that I’ll ride the RoB (Road of Bones back to Yakutsk. From there, it’s on to Mirny on the way to Udachny, the only road above the Arctic Circle in Asia.
Returning to Mirny I’ll make for Lensk and a ferry to Ust Kut. From there it’s back to Ulaan Bator. At this point (about 10000km (6000 miles) I’ll check the bike over and rest a bit. I’ll have gone through at least one front tire.
The plan is then to ride quickly across the steppe to Tsaganuur in western Mongolia and exit where I entered in 2011. More spirited riding, though avoiding main roads unless necessary due to weather or lateness of season back to Kazakhstan.
Entering Kyrgyzstan for some sightseeing (time permitting) and more visas (Uzbek, Tajik and Afghan) and visiting some folks I met in Astrakhan in 2011 who live in Bishkek. Tajikistan will reverse the ride of 2011 and hopefully provide a little more time in the incredible Wakhan Valley. Here, at Ishkashim I’ll enter Afghanistan for a blast to Mazar-i-Sharif where, among other things, sits a hauntingly beautiful mosque. There is an option to enter Afghanistan from Uzbekistan if visa paperwork or other “things” intercede.
Hopefully, I can at least re-visit the Ferghana Valley in UZ. A stop in Tashkent is on the schedule to visit Rustam Muratov who provided TREMENDOUS assistance when my Shorai battery failed in ’11. I have some small gifts for him and the folks at the ‘Biker Bar’ opposite the old Taj hotel.
Then off to the temple cities (Samarkand, Bukhara & Khiva for quick visits and gift deposits and that amazing plov in Bukhara. A small village, Urus Krishlak is on the agenda to see the wonderful Muslim family that provided me with food, shelter and lots of smiles where the nuked Shorai was replaced with a Chinese clone of an ancient Russian battery that would not start the bike but did keep it running. Nukus will mean another visit to the Savitsky Museum which was an unprecedented surprise in ’11. Then toward Beyneu and Lyoka along with the boots I’ll be carrying for him.
From Beyneu it’s up to Russia again and a short visit with some very professional people I’ve enjoying working with remotely for the last 10 months.
Then a very fast descent toward Sochi and exiting Russia into Georgia, into Turkey and . . .
Yes . . . it’s ALOT of kms/miles by someone who really hates the idea of “country counting” and visits which are barely whisks of time. But there’s simply no choice so I’ve embraced the idea of riding this whole thing for what it is and will be – a very long endurance ride across large stretches of relative nothingness at a pace that borders on the imprudent.
The goal is London by 1 October. I’ll need considerably better fortune against interruptions than I had in 2011. But the bike is ready (or nearly so) and so am I.