Cheboksary to Ufa – I left Cheboksary at 0705, 23c and cool, 4 lane road at first then rough 3 lane varied after that from 2 to 3 to 4, good and bad surfaces with tons of stops and slow downs for roadworks, many more cops today as well and traffic going much slower not so many lunatics, and open countryside with less traffic. Only getting stuck behind trucks on the two lane bits, sometimes the road was deserted and got busy near the cities, fewer villages as well, so made good time overall and arrived at my hotel in Ufa at 1530 or 1730 local time lost 2 hours, 700 km in 8:25 hrs, would have been quicker if not for the roadworks, only one fill up, thought there would be a fuel station near the hotel but no, so have to fill up first thing in the morning.
Ufa to Kurgan – I left Ufa at 0730, filled up and carried on at 0745, first half of the ride was through mountains 2 lane road only with the occasional overtaking lane, good ride not many trucks, then there was a short bit of freeway around Chelyabinsk with more traffic, roads overall today are the worst so far, rough and sometimes a roller coaster, I could see the trucks bucking and bouncing around the road, scary when overtaking them. Again many sections of road works, rode down the dirt shoulder to get to the head of the queue for one of them and there was a 10-15 cm of new laid soft bitumen cliff I had to get over, front wheel slid sideways and the whole bike wobbled nearly fell off, a very close thing, have to be more careful. Stopped for fuel and again picked a dodgy place with a primitive toilet and there was a sudden thunderstorm, huge drops, thunder and lightning, it stopped in 15 min. Countryside flatter and farmland, no more rain after that but saw some wet roads, stopped again for fuel about 60 km before Kurgan, some guys asked me where I was going and where I was from and shook my hand, very friendly people, arrived at the hotel at 1610, 693 km, 8:40 hrs.
Apparently all the road works are due to the World Cup Soccer being held in Russia in 2018. So if you are planning a road trip here and don’t like rough roads that’s the time to come.
Overtaking in Russia is a sacred right, other vehicles will go to extraordinary lengths to get out of your way and let you overtake, even on-coming traffic will move over. So if someone wants to overtake you, get out of their way as quickly as possible and let them go and if you see a car heading straight at you on the wrong side of the road, slow down and move to the edge of the pavement to let them get through, remember you are a motorcycle and they move over to let you through. Sometimes the vehicle in front of you will let you know its safe to overtake by using their right indicator.
Police wait at pedestrian crossings, in towns and at road works to make sure people are slowing down and if you are more than 20 km over the limit you will probably get pulled over. They do not have radar guns so it must be quite obvious that you are speeding for them to notice. Even if you only see them at the last minute slam your brakes on as a sign of respect and they will not stop you, I saw this happen many times hahaha. Once a late model white Mercedes came flying past me and slowed down a bit when he saw the cops but obviously not enough and was pulled over. People flash their lights here as well to warn you of police up ahead. Police are also continuously stopping cars and trucks at random to check documents. There are also heaps of fake speeding cameras.
Kurgan to Omsk – Left Kurgan at 0720 with full gear on, cool and cloudy first 200 km rough roads, then good roads, filled up changed to short gloves and carried on saw black clouds soon after, stopped and put on full gloves again and zipped up jacket, wet roads but light rain started at 1100, long horror stretch of road works muddy, rain finally let up at 1300 and the sun came out temp went from 16 to 26c stopped at roadworks and swapped gloves again, roads are overall better than yesterday finally arrived in Omsk and it has been raining, wet with puddles, accident closed one lane got stuck for a while finally got near the hotel and road was blocked, kept trying to go around the blockage but no go as it was a railway line, went down one muddy street with my feet out at a walking pace, unbelievable, finally saw a way around and that was blocked as well so parked and was about to ask for help and a young guy came up and said he was a Russian motorcyclist, the only words of English he knew and I explained my predicament to him using Google translate, he invited me to stay at their clubhouse but I told him I had already booked, so eventually he drove and I followed a convoluted route to the hotel, never would have got there without his help, drizzling all the time, arrived at 1730 after an hour of going around in circles all the while coping with the rain and puddles and pot holes and lunatic drivers hahaha, local time 1830, 702 km, 10:10 hrs. He went and brought the lady from reception down she could speak some English, thank you, good luck and goodbyes, parked bike absolutely filthy, headlights and windscreen covered with mud, cleaned headlights, indicators, screen and number plate, not a day I will forget in a hurry.
Omsk to Novosibirsk – Left at 0700 followed the track from yesterday, the only way I was going to get out of the maze, easy ride out no traffic and no rain, cool and I had all my gear on, rain predicted. Good road all the way to Novosibirsk, best so far, no police anymore and no towns or villages just vast open spaces, very little traffic, though overtaking trucks is a constant chore, a few very short road works. First stop for fuel ran low because missed one station and then the next two did not have petrol, finally filled up, fuel stations are not so frequent any longer. Intermittent showers all day one or two heavy then fine for a while until I reached Novosibirsk and it had been raining and all the ruts were filled with water, so when a car went past I would get a deluge of water totally blinding me, same creative driving, the highways are paradise compared to the roads in the urban areas, there is absolutely no maintenance at all and mostly they are dirt roads which turn to mud when it rains. Arrived at the hotel at 1425, 648 km, 7:25 hrs, lost another hour, cold ride have to put the liner back into my pants never got over 19c, had the heated grips on full at one point to get warm. Saw hundreds of motorcyclists coming from the opposite direction in ones and twos, either going to or returning from an event.
First job is to get some oil for my bike, its oil change time, asked at reception and they sent me to a Fuel station, no luck there so back and this time a guy who knew about bikes did some research and found an auto parts shop about 1 km down the road, went there and got the oil, they only had Full synthetic for 12 Euro a litre, not a bad price.
Filling Up – This has to be the most difficult place to fill up with Petrol/Gasoline/Benzine in the world. You can’t just stop and fill up and pay after you have finished or even pay at the pump. Everyone who stops to fill up is first and foremost treated as a criminal. The first couple of times between St.Petersburg and Moscow, I stopped and tried to fill up and nothing happened so I walked to the KACCA, it means Ticket Office not the other thing. The Kacca is behind tinted glass with a sliding one way payment drawer, so you can’t even see who you are talking to most of the time and waved my hands and Credit card around and they shouted something back in Greek and I walked back to my bike and tried again and it worked, back to the Kacca and paid using my credit card, little did I know that this was easy hahaha.
After a lot of trial and error and people looking at me like I was a criminal and you can’t fool me, naughty, naughty, I worked out a system. I wrote 20 and 95 on a piece of paper and showed it to the Kacca and gave them my credit card and paid for 20 litres of 95 octane fuel, can’t leave just yet have to enter your pin number, sometimes I would forget and they would yell something over the loudspeaker and I would run back before they opened fire, they have a separate miniature PIN number terminal that can be passed through the payment drawer. Then I would fill up usually around 17-18 litres and go back and one of three things would happen, the Kacca would create a credit transaction for the balance owing to me or they would cancel the first transaction and create a whole new one or they would give me a cash refund. Reminiscent of certain parts of southern California but there the refund happens automatically.
Note: the 95 octane fuel here is good quality, in other words unadulterated and costs around 50 euro cents a litre.
Four long days of continuous riding is not my usual style but with the limited time I have in Russia I have to keep moving. Plus its time for an oil change so I stopped in Novosibirsk for two nights. This is the halfway point, still another 6000 kms to Vladivostok.