The (mud and gravel) road less traveled
|Travel From||–||Kazan, Russia|
|Ending Location||–||Izhevsk, Russia|
|Miles Driven Today||–||233 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||6041 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia|
I’ve logged just over 6000 miles so far on the bike, and I’ve got another 10,000 or so more to go. I’ve also got 5 more countries to visit, and I can expect to travel long distances on very narrow mountain roads. I can’t wait.
We were scheduled to depart at 8:10, but we didn’t leave until at least 8:20, but we finally got started, and the sun was shining as we made our way out of Kazan.
Before too long, we lost Ralph through a mix-up that happened when he passed a truck on the left, with the group turning right, in his blind spot. It took us about an our to resole this issue, and also the issue with my shift lever. Eventually, we made it out of Kazan, and in about an hour, we were firmly and squarely on the secondary roads.
You’ve heard me say that we had planned on taking the Northern route, not the Southern route. Looking at the map below, you’ll see that Southern route, in Red, traveling mostly on main roads, while the Northern Route, the Blue route, travels on back roads, gravel roads, and other obstacles, while also including the gravel section.
Report from the road
Meeting new friends
Just before we stopped for lunch, we passed a guy on a Yamaha, who I believe was actually headed in the other direction, although I’m not sure. Our group has split up as we needed to stop for a bio break, and when we stopped, this guy on a Yamaha came up along side me, and we started to talk. After 3 minutes, we started the bikes, and proceeded towards lunch. As we continued to lunch, we also saw another guy on the left-hand side of the road. He was riding a Ural, with a sidecar.
Just before the lunch stop, we came upon 2 more guys, who were riding BMW GS motorcycles. All of us eventually made it to the lunch stop, and it seemed to me that the guy on the Yamaha was really nice, and very friendly, so I thought I’d interview him.
His name is Mikael, and the other guy on the Ural us Ruslov. I might not be spelling these names correct, but perhaps these two will comment, and make any corrections necessary, through the comments. Here is the video of our quick interview
As we prepared to depart the restaurant after lunch, much of the staff came out to take pictures, and see us off. As it turns out, a blond woman, who we believe might be the owner, seemed to enjoy the bikes, and loved that we stopped at her restaurant for lunch. So, we took a few pictures of her, on the bikes.
The Gravel/Mud road
After departing the lunch stop, and within 3 or 4 minutes, we started to deal with lots of pot holes in the road. This lasted for about 3 or 4 miles, and then the roads briefly became civilized. But, moments later, we came to a turn, and this turn began the 19 Kilometers of gravel road that we had been told about.
As it turns out, the road was much more like mud and hard-packed dirt, with very little gravel, but the mud was fresh, and we’d occasionally hit some slippery stuff, and have to course-correct the bikes. A few of the riders had not ridden much mud or gravel before, but everyone did a great job, no one fell, and we made great time. Enjoy the video…
Arriving at the hotel
We were staying at a Ramada Parc Inn hotel, and considering that we’re in Russia, and this is a motorcycle tour, the hotel is excellent. The rooms are big, clean, and very well equipped. The elevators are fast, and the lobby is nicely appointed, with helpful staff.
The internet is fast and reliable, but… This hotel, like many others in Russia makes many assumptions about the guests. The first assumption is that you’ll be using a cell phone or tablet to get on the Internet. I say this because in order to get on the Internet, you need to take your phone with you to the front desk. Access WiFi, enable it, and then let the staff enter the phone umber of a local cell phone. The cell phone receives a test message, which they enter into the network security validation field, and just like that, you’re on the Internet.
This process virtually ensures that you cannot get on the Internet without the front desk staff being involved. It clearly wastes time and money, but that might just be the point of it all. In any case, it works, and I’m thankful for that.
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day. We expect to have to travel about 250 miles, and it’s expected to be cold and rainy. The good news is that we’ll be traveling mostly on the interstate highway,
We’ll also be crossing another time zone, losing another hour of time tomorrow. So, we’ll start at 8:30, and try to make it there by 5:00 PM, after which time we’ll have a group dinner, and we’ve been promised a special treat.