Coming up, our first “real” border crossing
|Ending Location||–||Kurgan, Russia|
|Miles Driven Today||–||239 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||6707 Miles|
|New Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia|
Today we rode an average distance, which turned out to be abbot 240 miles. The day was nice, without rain until the very end of the day, where we had a few showers.
How to think about today…
I’ve had many days on this planet, not as many as I plan on having, but a good number of them, nonetheless. And, with all of these days, I have found that some are rarer, and more special than others. To me, the days that the most rare, and the most special, are the days when I meet new people, who have their own way of impacting me, my life, the moment, and perhaps the future. Today was one of those days.
3 chance meetings
Over the course of the day, there were three chance meetings, that turned out to be magnificent, in the bigger scheme of things. Let’s see if I can share what happened, in a way that you’ll feel what I felt, and see what I saw.
Lunch stop – A little boy makes an impact
First of all, there was our lunch stop. A simple lunch stop, at a Russian pizza joint. I ordered my food, ate it, and wandered back outside, to tinker with the bike. As I stood by my bike, I found a Russian man, perhaps 40 years old, with a small boy of perhaps 5 or 6 years. As is the case with many small boys, he had that look in his eye. It was the look of a biker, who can’t yet reach the foot pegs. And so, as I often do, I thought about my own son Christopher, and my granddaughter Isabella, and I wondered what I could do for this little boy, to make his life just a little bit more special. And so, I asked the man if he would like to have his son sit on the bike. Let me tell you, this kid jumped at the chance, and within 15 seconds, I had removed a bunch of gear from the bike and hoisted him up on the seat.
He was making a vroom, vroom sound, and I thought, he’s hooked. So, I went to stage two. I turned on the bike, lit up the helmet, and started a soundtrack from Sting. I let him listen to Sting, while sitting on the bike, and he was in heaven. You could see the joy in the father’s face as he looked at his son, and the fun that he was having. I almost had tears in my eyes as I thought about my own son, and how I’d do anything to make his life better, in any way, and I used that to make this little boy’s life just a little bit better. But then, everything changed again, as the man’s friend started to take pictures of the father and I, the son on the bike, etc. And so, after just a few minutes, we parted, having created a moment for this little boy.
The Russian in the Toyota SUV
And then, later in the day, we had an incident with a car. These Russian drivers can be very aggressive, and there was a guy driving a Toyota SUV very aggressively. I was riding in the rear, and he came upon me fast, and he made it known that he wanted to get by me. All day long, I’ve witnessed these drivers, who become impatient, and when that happens, they take chances. And, the chances that they take, are usually with the lives of motorcyclists. But, my strategy is always different.
When a car comes up behind me, I put myself at the top of the decision pyramid, and I let him know that I’ll let him by, at the first opportunity. When I do that, they calm down, and then at the first chance, I put on my right blinker, giving permission, I relax the throttle, and let them by. When I do this, instead of being aggressive, they are still relaxed, and the usually blink their lights to thank me. But this driver came upon the next group of riders, and it did not take long for him to become anxious again. And so, he really wanted to pass Feroz and Martin, the next two in line. He eventually got by both, but in doing so, I was not happy with the level of risk that he took. So, I simply took note, and continued riding. Before long, we came upon some road construction, and were stopped at a red light, as they metered traffic in one direction, then the next. And so, since I was behind the SUV, and my buddies were in front of him again, I walked the bike along side of the SUV, and got back in line behind my buddies. We traveled for another couple of miles, and then hit another one of these construction zones. This time, I was behind Feroz and Martin, and in front of the SUV. I stopped the bike, put down the kickstand, and got off the bike. I walked over to the SUV, and with a big smile, I began to talk to him, in a way that a clumsy American might, when they don’t speak Russian. But, my point was made. I had gotten off the bike, and welcomed him into our group. At hear, it seems that all Russians love the ride of motorcycle tours riding across their country, so he warmed up quickly and we talked. I said my name is Cliff and he said that his was Andre. I asked about his wife, and he said her name was Tatiana, and within seconds, he got out of the truck, and Tatiana took a picture of us. With huge smiles on our faces, it seemed that the two of us, were trying to break the back of the tension between Russia and the US. We did not care about, or talk about politics, or our respective leaders. We were simply two guys, who were loving the moment of meeting someone new, from a different place, and we enjoyed it immensely. Being able to meet a guy like Andre, and cause him to immediately have respect for our group gave me immense pleasure, but ultimately, simply meeting Andre and Tatiana was a joy in and of itself. And then, it happened again.
Gennady Sekisov – Museum Director
At 4:00 PM, we arrived at the Air museum, on the outskirts of Kurgan, Russia. This museum houses a number of Russian jets, and propeller aircraft, and some other equipment. I wandered inside, started taking video, and came upon a guy who seemed to want to talk to me. As it turns out, he was the director of the museum, and his name is Gennady Sekisov. It turns out that he figured out that I’m an American, and he wanted to get a video of me, and post it in Instagram. And so, we talked briefly, and I gave him a 1-minute video. But, given my propensity of getting to give me videos, I asked him if he would answer a few questions, in English. His English is much better than my Russian, but he said that he’d prefer to do it in Russian. So, respecting his wish, I filmed him, talking about the museum, all the while, speaking in Russian.
All the while, I was laughing because virtually none of my friends, those of you reading this, speak Russian. So, I was thinking, this is hilarious. He’s Russian, I’m an American, and no one has any idea what he’s saying. But, as we had prepared the questions, I would ask him, I’m pretty confident that he answered the questions as expected. I gave a quick recap of what he said, and moved on to filming the planes again. But, Gennady was not done. He and I had bonded, and he really wanted me to enjoy his museum, so he made some suggestions, and offered information to help me better understand the situation. So, he directed me to the Elution 22, and sky jumping aircraft, that I’ll be Scott Russell can better explain than I could Scott????
In any case, I did a quick tour of the E22, and recorded it on video. I asked Gannady a few more questions, and then got ready to go. But the hospitality was not done. Oh no, not at all. Gennady asked me to stay put while he went into another building, and when he came back, he had a book about the museum, written in Russian. I promised him that I’d need to learn Russian, and I’ll more likely use Google Translate to read the book.
In any case, three times in one day, I’ve been able to meet people that caused me to experience great joy, and I’ve been able to offer the same back to them in return. All three of these meetings were happenstance, and I don’t know if I’ll ever seem any of them again, but to know that my life is better, and hopefully, so is theirs, causes me to think about this day, and to always remember the joy that I had on this day. So, let’s take a look at what else happened….
Gennady Sekisov, director of the museum shares his thoughts, in Russian. We had a ball interviewing him.
The air museum
There are about 20 planes located within the walls of the museum. I’ve created a video
Cliff in a Mig 21
Report from the road
Arriving at the hotel
The hotel in Kurgon was really comfortable, but the internet was really intermittent. I had a fantastic night’s sleep, and we had a dinner, for which Edelweiss paid, so the evening was a success, with good food, and some stern words from the Tour Leader.
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow’s ride will take us to the Kazakhstan border, where we’ll exit into no-man’s land from the Russia customs division, after having passed their immigration hurdles. A short drive across no-man’s land, will have us arriving at the Kazak border, where we’ll get ourselves processed, and purchase some “much needed” insurance. With insurance in hand, we’ll travel a short distance of about 40 miles to our hotel.
That is, if everything goes as planned.