The first of two big cities in Kazakhstan
|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, Kazakhstan
We continue to pile on the miles, with the total now reaching over 7200 miles, or 11,590 KM (give or take). I had estimated that this trip would end up at 15,500 miles, and so far, I’m running about 300 miles short of that estimate. In any case, I’m close to the halfway point.
Report from the road
Today’s ride was mostly uneventful. We opted for a late start, approximately 10:00 AM, and then headed south towards Astana. There was no mud, no displaced pavement, no arbitrary traffic lights, no accidents, no construction, virtually nothing. I mean to say that there was not much going on with these roads, on this day.
But, that’s OK with all of us. We’ve had enough of “minor road construction” to satisfy even the most ardent and enthusiasts of road mongers. But, for today, we had none of it, and we simply rode along. The biggest obstruction was the fear that the Kazakhstan police would arrest us for speeding or a moving violation, so we strictly adhered to the speed limits, which slowed us down for several miles, as we entered and exited the various towns along the way. The good news… Not many towns along the way.
Imagine that the guides, and the planners had researched the roads, finding just the right kind of coffee stops, at just the right intervals, to give the travelers just the right experience. Then, try to imagine that these places seem to close down with alarming regularity. About 50% of all of our scheduled rest stops so far, have been planned at buildings that are no longer in service. And so, we press on, and find the next place, whatever that means. But, the result is that sometimes you have to travel further than you’d like, between coffee, bio, or gas stops. No big deal, right?
A particular coffee stop
Along the road, and referenced by Charles in his report from the road, is a wonderful little coffee shop. The building looks to be brand new, and they offer WiFi, Bathroom, Coffee, Snacks, and other things. It’s like a little oasis on the A-1 highway, about 1000 miles or so from Astana.
The woman who owned the place did not speak any English or German, but she handled our requests for coffee, tea, and pastries like a pro. Karin and Stephan got potato pastries, which was a surprise for two reasons. First of all, they had potato in them, and secondly, they were warm, and fresh-baked. The report was that they were delicious.
Getting to know the riders
Well, maybe this isn’t the best way to get to know the riders, but it started as an experiment that Ralf laid out. He took out his Go-pro, and started the video, while riding. He set the cruise control at a speed, and then aimed the camera at all of the bikes, as he was passing. I thought it was such a great idea that I tried to do something similar, but in my case, I used a Canon Power-shot camera, which is a25 Megapixel camera, but does not have image stabilization. The result was disastrous. So, I tried again. This time, I used the Innov K2 cameras mounted front and rear on the bike, and decided to pass all of the riders, and then built this video. Have fun, but if you get bored, you have my permission to abort, and move on.
But then, I received full editing rights from Ralf, and used his video, from the new Go-pro cube to produce this video. Comments on both are welcomed.
Between you and me, I think Ralf’s video turned out much better than the video from my Innov K2 cameras. His had heart…
The road into Astana
The road and the houses
The road into Astana is supported on both sides by poor, low-income housing, as well as more modern housing, which looks like it’s been built very recently. As you turn off of the main road, you’ll start to find row after row of houses, which remind me of the houses on the Baha Peninsula of California. These houses are made of whatever scrap materials are around, and I’m sure they were not built to code.
In any case, the city is taking on a much more modern look, but it’s clear that there is never enough money to go around.
Schools out for summer…
Well, to be honest, school’s not out, and its not summer. But, the Alice Cooper song was playing in my head as I rode through the streets of Astana. As we rode in, it was about 2:30 PM, and most of the younger children were getting out of school for the day.
Marc had let us know that, as we go deeper and deeper into Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, we’ll be viewed like space aliens. Many of these kids, and also the adults have just never seen a dozen of these big bikes, covered in lights, gadgets, and gear, rolling down the main street, in a tight formation, weaving through traffic with an assertive, yet respectful bent. And so it was…
Hundreds of little kids were waving at us, some screaming with excitement. When we’d flash the lights, or beep the horn, they loved the attention they got. I’m afraid that flash and glitz go the best of me, and so I was riding standing up, one-handed, waving with the other hand, and sometimes even pointing at them. But, I couldn’t help it. I had a big smile under the helmet, and I wanted to share it, without taking the helmet off of my head. You know, All The Gear, All The Time, doesn’t permit me to get flashy, without a helmet.
So, what will tomorrow bring
I’m hoping to be able to do some sightseeing, but instead of needing to visit the BMW dealer, I need to kick this cold’s ass. So, I’ll sleep a little later, and probably enjoy the sauna and a massage later in the day. But, with any luck, I’ll do some sightseeing tomorrow. This is supposed to be a city packed with things to see.