A winter on eBay, spring in the garage and I’m ready to go
Day 11: It’s strange riding with someone, it takes some getting used to. I take the lead and take photos as I pass. Always a good ice breaker I think, everyone likes a photo of them riding.
Day 11: After much frowning and flaunting of their authority, suddenly it occurs to them that for a small gift the whole incident could be overlooked
Corrupt cops are right down there with estate agents and health and safety officers. Fuck ‘em all.
Day 14: Andy pulls off the road into the dust.
‘I saw the bar, perhaps we should have a drink. It would make dealing with the city easier.’
I like this guy.
Day 14: Some girls are dressed like sexy cops and all with perfect figures. I think we may have peaked just right.
Day 15: I am approached by two topless girls with painted bodies who say ‘you have an interesting tattoo man’; my focus is torn between their pretty faces and their painted perky parts. It’s hard to know what to say.
Day 22: Alone on an unknown road heading for the ferry to take me to Russia, I can feel the angst in my back, in my tummy and in my head.
Day 22: . Ok we have trucks and sunflowers at home and even shadows too but it still feels so strange. I wonder if Russia will ever seem like familiar ground, perhaps after Mongolia.
Day 24 Sochi, 4 years before the Olympics
Day 28: . He indicates this is the right road but that it will turn to dirt. He is right but at least its level dirt
Day 28: , I point at my tank, I need petrol he points at a container, ‘no mate I don’t want to ship it home’ but sure enough inside the 20 foot container is a petrol pump.
Day 30: . I come to a long, narrow temporary toll bridge. It was a wobbly affair, but I’m used to them. At the other end was a choice of direction and no clue as to which one to take. Is this a road trip or a relationship analogy? It took 5 directions and asked 3 people before I got it right, and I got the hell out of there. It’s about relationships isn’t it?
Day 30: The heat is really oppressive now. The officials seem to get great pleasure in watching you bake in the queue when they could so easily let you into the shade of the inspection area.
Day 30: . I focus on the stationary car in front of me there is a Pink Floyd sticker on the bumper. How cool is that? And I sing: Learning to Fly in my head for the rest of the ride.
Day 30: There is a line of mud huts with painted window frames corrugated iron roofs and blue wooden doors. Power lines go the huts I bet it’s not to charge their iPhones.
Day 31: . I get a bear hug strangle hold, god they’re strong. But if there is a hostile bone in their bodies they’re buried beneath affable mussel.
Day 33: There is a bucket on a post and painted on it is the name of my destination. I suppose that’s all the confirmation I’m going to get
Day 33: There is a warm breeze as the red sun falls. The stars appear and the gentle wind keeps the mozzies away and I bravely sleep with my tent open.
Day 33: As I pass the endless steppe of parched grassland and infinite horizons, I think I shall cammmmmmmmmmmmp here.
Day 35: We are joined by 2 drunken guys who stop their Old Russian truck to come and say hello. They shake hands and pose for photos. Shirtless and gold toothed they breath there alcohol breath through their smiles.
Day 40: . I ride past the Bayterek monument, which looks a bit like the world cup trophy but is actually a symbol of Kazakh legend…
…the ball at the top is in fact an egg that contains happiness and desire, a bit like the inside of my helmet.
Day 41: The sun was going down and a storm was blowing in, no worries I could see it would pass. I got out my poncho and sit on my bike totally exposed on the side wall of a canyon.
Day 41: Then the wind changes direction 180 degrees and my poncho shelter turns into a sail and it blows me and my bike over. Bollocks.
Day 47: I instantly dubbed the Touratech twins.
They were fully sponsored, had brand new BMW’s which were fully loaded with every accessory in the Touratech catalogue.
Day 47: We were riding to Charyn canyon a mini grand canyon and probably Kazakhstan’s most famous natural beauty spot, well there is a picture of in on the cover of my map so it must be good.
Day 47: When the scenery gets dramatic we pull over for a photo shoot. We take it in turns to ride up and back being filmed and photographed professionally.
Day 47:I want to camp in the canyon but I’m a new and lone voice in the group…
…so we camp in the shade of some rocks on a bit of green under a beautiful sunset , it was perfectly acceptable but knowing there was a big orange canyon 300 feet down that track was a bit frustrating.
Day 48 Charyn Canyon, easy way up
Day 49: ? How come there was a suited and bearded old man passing on a donkey just as I passed?
…in Kazakhstan it’s what everyone is about, everyone wants to shake your hand, take your photo ask where you are from.
Day 49:We will be going back past that market the only one we have seen should we not stop to get supplies?’ I suggest, it is agreed and we ride straight past the market without stopping
Day 51: . We go through deep new puddles recklessly to bring up spray, so he can capture it with quick shutter speeds
Day 54: The girl wants a photo by my bike, another one for the album no doubt. It’s as if they have been told to make us feel special, but we know we are just part of the parade
Day 59: My front wheel hits a rock and I go down. Dropping my bike with the wheels facing up hill
The children of the Russian and Mongolian boarder guards.
The change is instant. Yaks and camels wonder the grasslands, eagles stand on the trail reluctant to move and when they do the wings span the track
Day 59: I’ve just ridden my bike to Mongolia and I’m scared and exhilarated, nervous and victorious, I’m unaware and aware of it
Day 60: Yak in the back.
Day 60: Sometimes it seems like I’ve been here before. It’s just how I imagined only more so. The scenery is distracting but the road is bad,
They just cut off the horse legs and leave them, surely you could make a nice soup with them.
Day 62: Out of the blue eagle territory sky a sea gull appears it’s so unexpected and puts a song in my head. I end up playing the whole Bad Company album on my iPod and listen to the lyrics of the songs like never before, it was written for this ride
One of magnolias more famous sites is the twin peaks of Kharhiraa Uul and Turgen Uul.
Every ingredient is present. It’s a rare experience in my high expectation life style. Often happy seldom content. Today right here right now I have both.
Day 62: He thanks me for taking his photo or may be the thanks are for showing it to his daughter and making her giggle. “Look your old man is in my camera, isn’t he cool?”
Day 62: but now we have mud flats, and camels loiter on the dry cracked land and the sky is bigger than ever.
Day 62: ‘We should go back past the camels and do a right.’ I say ‘That should take us in the right direction’
Day 63: Hoses meander through the camping area grazing for their breakfast feed.
Day 63: The Czech who is the mechanic of the crew and me spend the next three hours working on the bike. Despite no common language we respect and understand each other’s ability and work well together.
Day 63: I’m so hungry, getting impatient and then realize where I am. It feels so normal, relaxed and comfortable; sitting on the floor I lean back against the bed and appreciate the moment
Day 63: range.
There is a celebration on the horizon. My eyes are more focused on my milometer than the ruts bumps and puddles and at the moment it turns to 27217 miles I stop because I have just done my 10,000th mile.
Day 64: . I dig in my tank bag for bracelets like Santa looking through the sack on my sleigh. What a great reaction I get, I couldn’t take those beaming faces away with a dead kitten
Day 64: It’s nearly dark we opt for a track that takes us to a patch of pine trees. It’s not ideal but we need to get off the road we have both had enough of it for one day.
Day 65: . I’m riding hard and drifting on the corners in control and loving it. I would never have thought when I wallowed out of my driveway I would be riding in this style
Day 75: As I ride towards the toll booth which is the city limits, I can see the capital down there in its polluted valley and all the pre occupation in my mind is replaced with a rush of euphoria. I’ve just ridded my eBay bike to Ullan Baatar.
grassland a stainless steel head protrudes above the horizon and pierces the sky. It’s so big it’s hard to actually grasp the scale.
Day 77: The advantage of having a passenger is no tripod is needed; Jo takes a photo of me and my bike in front of Genghis and his horse
Day 87: and once again open planes with Ovoo and shrines positioned perfectly where the skies double in size and trees have autumnal colours. Photo time again
Day 93: When the daylight comes there is a sheet of ice on my seat and top box. Not frost, ice, god it was cold last night. Siberia, cold? Who would have thought it, you’d think someone would have said something.
Day 94: This could be my last night’s camping and I have so much food left, so extravagantly I make beans on toast for breakfast. Well beans on blackened bread eaten with burnt fingers.
Day 96: I ask the driver if he can take a photo of me, which would be great if he hadn’t have cut the ‘K’ off the side of the photo. It’s a sign; it just shows how Russia is ‘could be better’
Day 100: . I’m ready to go, I know there are better ways out of this city but I want a particular photo. My bike on the hill, looking down at the harbor with the unfinished mega bridge, which isn’t spanning across it yet, in the back ground.
Day 102: Out of the window I can see the ferry I’ve just got off of and the town I’m about to go into. Out on the street I can look around me without fear of falling down an open drain.
Day 103: It’s hard to find something that would sum up Korea in a photo, something to stand my bike in front to say ‘I rode it to Korea’
Day 104: . I want to take a photo before I part with my bike but I’m a tourist in a profession logistics operation and just taking one of my bike before I leave it causes busy men to impatiently stand around.