Bridging between two worlds
|Miles Driven Today
|Total Trip Mileage
|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 traveled 6500 miles so far in this journey, over a 7 week period of time. So, I’ve crossed the US twice, and then some, and have about the same distance yet to go before the trip ends.
Kungur Ice Caves
Less than 300 yards from our Soviet era hotel is the entrance to the Kungar Ice Cave. We’re told that they get 200,000 visitors to this hotel each year, but we’re the only folks at the cave, and it’s 9:00 AM, time to open up.
That said, and all kidding aside, the Ice cave is beautiful. I’ve put together a gallery of pictures that reflect what we saw inside.
A walk through the cave, showing how it is very restricted in size, and difficult to navigate at times.
Cave Lake – The true story
Throughout the cave, and since the late 60s, artists have come into the cave and carved various ice sculptures, which have stood for years and years. Here are a few examples.
Rocks and formations with lighting
Depart soviet hotel
And so, without much fanfare, we departed the Soviet era hotel, and hit the road. Within .5 miles of the hotel, we had to cross some muddy railroad tracks, and as I watched my fellow riders cross these obstacles, you can see the difference in skill level. I’m very comfortable on this type of terrain, but others are less so. In the same way that I don’t have the level of skill or confidence that some of the other riders do when riding the fast sweeping turns in the mountains.
Hotels – A study in contrast
Breakfast at the Soviet hotel had left all of us wanting something more, so we were all hungry. We had a late morning coffee stop, where we broke the rules, and ate pastries, and other things, in order to address the general disappointment with our breakfast. It was only an hour later, when we stopped for a proper lunch.
I opted for soup, with a piece of beef, a potato and broth. The soup was pretty good, and on a day of riding in the mountains, and in the cold, a bowl of soup is always welcome.
While sitting and waiting patiently for my soup, I saw this bear in the corner, and couldn’t resist the urge to ride the bull or the bear. I’m making an intentional pun, related to this bear, the bulls and the bears, and how many people describe the stock market as a ride, done by the bulls and the bears. And, I fear that when you have to explain a joke, it falls short. So, that may be the case with this joke. Hmmmmm
Europe/Asia line crossed
In the report from the road, below, I give a video report about crossing the border into another continent, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about it in more detail. First of all, Russia is so large, it is placed across two different continents. For those of you in the US, where we live our entire life on a single continent, sometimes never leaving it. For us, its interesting to travel so many miles, that we cross country borders, into new continents, through numerous temperature and climate zones, all of them in a single trip or vacation.
And so, just as I felt when I stood at the junction of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah, and took a video, turning 360 degrees to take in the 4 states, in this case, I placed my feet in both continents, and enjoyed the impact of knowing that I’m making miles, and I’m making progress. Big Progress…
Report from the road
Rain, temperature, enjoyment
It’s probably obvious to all of you, but on a motorcycle, when it rains, or when the temperature drops, or when road conditions become rough or dangerous, the risks of riding a motorcycle rise exponentially. All of these situations force the rider to focus, and to bring their A-Game. You simply can’t ride in any of these conditions unless you are 100% focused.
Also, as the temperature drops, and the rain starts, you are focused on your riding, but the cold and wetness affects your comfort level. Visors fog up, rain obstructs your view, wetness makes the turns more difficult, road spray makes passing more difficult. Each of these things affects your level of comfort, which causes a certain level of distress.
I’ve talked to my fellow riders about this many times now, and the feeling is generally the same. Even for those with well-insulated gear, that keeps them warm, the conditions reduce the level of fun, increase intensity, and cause a reduction in our average speed, which often causes us to arrive later than expected. Luckily, the folks that designed the tour seem to have taken this into account, and each day is a challenge, but there is always enough slack in the schedule to make up for challenges along the way.
My personal distress
I mentioned before that I had assumed that the temp’s would be higher, and it would not be as cold as its been. So, my riding gloves are perfectly designed for tropical climates, but not so much for cold, and rainy days. Put another way, my hands were freezing.
Ralf, has an extra set of gloves, which he planned on using when it rains. These over-gloves are Gortex, and they fit nicely over my Alpinstars tropical gloves. Ralf has let me borrow them for the past 2 days, and I cannot thank him enough for this generous act. It has to be said that while he is wearing warm gloves, which have Gortex, his gloves are feeling the stress of the rain, and yesterday he said to me that his gloves are also wet, inside and out.
And so on Saturday, I will, once again, head to the local BMW dealer, hoping to buy either cold-weather gloves, or over-gloves. If I cannot get what I need, then Ralf has offered to buy them from Touratech, and have his wife bring them to Almaty, in a “Just in time” move before we hit Kyrgyzstan and Northern China, where it is likely to also be quite chilly.
Status of the “Bush repair” of my shift lever
You’ll recall that we had to do a quick roadside fix of my shift lever a few days ago. And so tomorrow, I’ll once again look to buy a replacement part at the BMW dealer, but even if they do not have the part in stock, it seems that our bush fix is holding up perfectly, and the Loctite is working, just as we would have hoped. The shift lever is working perfectly, and I’m able to shift as needed, without any difficulty.
OK, I’ll bet you’re going to say, Oh No Cliff, not another parking garage video. But just hear me out…
I find it fascinating that one of the things that we do on a regular basis, in our everyday lives, with automobiles, is taken to a whole different level when it involves securing 12 motorcycles. Every aspect of “entering the garage” changes, and so I’ve been filming them, and sharing them with you.
In addition, I’ve been able to use the video from my two Innov K2 cameras, which are really great, and from which I’m getting pretty good quality video. And finally, I’ve been getting better and better with the editor, and I’m now able to render the video with Picture-in-a-picture, which offers another level of information. So, I’d love to hear whether you love or hate these videos. I can’t promise I’ll stop making them if you hate them, but I’d love to know your thoughts.
We’re staying at the Onegin hotel. This place is modern, clean, and it’s packed with features and amenities. In fact, this is the first hotel that has offered me a bed that I can actually fit in, coupled with a comforter, which is actually long enough. So, I expect to sleep like a baby tonight.
What will tomorrow bring
As noted, I’ll need to make a stop at the BMW dealer, to buy some gloves, and maybe a shift lever. In addition, I’ve offered to help Charles and Phil, as they also need some small things, which I might be able to buy for them. But, we’ll see how it all turns out tomorrow.
In addition, I’ve got a massage scheduled for 4PM, and I’ll hit the sauna prior to that. So, I’m taking all of the right steps to make sure that my back does not tighten up, and that I’m purging all of the toxins that come from beer, and vodka. And finally, I’m craving a burger, so I think i’ll head out for a burger for dinner tomorrow. But, every aspect of this trip requires flexibility, and so, we’ll have to play it by ear.