“Bush mechanics and maintenance have become a daily routine as we push our jaded bikes closer to the finish and we've discovered that disaster goes hand in hand with fortune”
Yes, once again it has been a while since we 've updated the blog but believe it or not it's hard to find a few spare minutes in the day with a clear brain to sit down and write. Bush mechanics and maintenance have become a daily routine as we push our jaded bikes closer to the finish and we've discovered that disaster goes hand in hand with fortune.
We split from the Russian bike crew between Novosibirsk and Omsk, some mechanical issues with one of their bikes meant they were going to be delayed and conscious of our timeline they were happy for us to plow on. We were still some days riding outside of Moscow and the scenery had begun to flatten and repeat so we were expecting a low key run in. Driving in Russia is both tiring and dangerous, the heavy tucks that line the roads have embossed the tarmac leaving deep channels in the road. They also out-number other road vehicles by about 2 to 1 and seem to have to obey a reduced speed limit about 40kmph slower than other traffic. The end result is that all other road users are frantic to get around them and the entire day is spent overtaking lines of trucks. A number of times you'd be on the far side of the road overtaking and would enter into one of the channels, it could be so deep that moving back onto your side of the road would be impossible on a bike. You just have to sit tight and wait for it to flatten out or slow considerably and exit it at a good, sharp angle.
Anyway, we had just set out one morning outside of Ufa, the roads were a little wet from overnight rain but otherwise ok. Like I said, the scenery had few distinguishing features and so I was busying myself with some lovely maths as we drove along the unusually straight, smooth tarmac. I had decided to work out the number of times both my wheels had rotated as well as a whole heap of other useless stuff that I considered putting together. Anyway, I was disturbed as just in-front of me something rather unusual was happening. I saw Kieran's bike swerve, the back moved from left to right as the angle became sharper and the movement of the back wheel became more pronounced. Within 2 seconds it was beyond controllable, the back wheel slid sharply to the right then back left bringing the back wheel almost inline with the front before finding traction and vaulting Kieran off and in-front at almost 90kmph. The bike, now unmanned, was quick finding a more stable angle, it slid on it's left side as soft, broken, exterior pieces began to present themselves on the road. I broke hard and moved to the verge, completely unable to comprehend what was happening and entirely unsure as to whether or not Kieran was going to be conscious.
I was inline with the wreckage as I stepped off the bike. I turned around and saw Kieran standing, crouched and ready like an open-side flanker defending on his own line. He looked like a man of action and for a moment I feared that in a haze of confusion he was going to tackle me. I extended a halting hand and told him to sit down, afraid that he may worsen whatever injury he had suffered. But those Elliott bones held firm, his body was still neatly together and his limbs were all doing their job at the correct angle. I told him again to sit down but he wasn't having any of it, he was lifting his bike up and that was that. We righted the wreck and pushed it off the road and into the verge to asses the damage. The bike had taken a fair hit, a broken screen, indicator, barkbuster, mirror and pannier were the most notable. We picked up the debris and spent an hour or so double checking everything and repairing anything we could. A few days previously Kieran fitted a Shinco tire in Novosibirsk to replace the ruptured Heideneau we had on since Alaska. He had reported a loose feeling in the back wheel the day before but put it down to the tire not being scrubbed in. The same had happened as the bike went out of control. With this in mind getting the back tire off his bike was now a priority. We got back on the bikes and drove on for another hour or so bringing us to Komsomol'isky Rayon.
We had just entered the town when we saw a BMW dealership on the left. They didn't have a motorrad department but explained they were closing in 20 minutes and said that if we wanted to sit in the office, drink coffee and eat cake they would take us to a tire shop when they closed. We did just that however the tire shop had no tires suitable for our bikes. A phone call was made on our behalf and soon enough the owner of the BMW garage arrived down with a few friends on bikes, hands were shaken and the usual game of charades and Pictionary began. Before realising what was going on 4 tires were produced and offered to us, we asked where they came from, having just been told there were no suitable tires in the town. One of the guys turned and pointed into the workshop where his bike was sitting, now tireless. We stood like fools for a good 7 seconds before asking 'you took these off your bike?' 'Da', he replied. 'For us?' 'Da'. Many handshakes later we had two new tires on the bikes, we made our way to a hotel and settled in early, both very glad to be alive and both very aware that we're not home and dry just yet.
Some serious characters on your journey Paddy! Home stretch now! Stay safe xx
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