Russia, Chita to Skovorodino to Belogorsk to Khabarovsk to Vladivostok, 09 – 13 August 2016

Russia 2016

Chita to Skovorodino – From Chita to Khabarovsk is the most isolated part of this trip, mainly small towns and villages, cannot book accommodation online and fuel stops are not frequent. For this leg my GPS and Google maps said the distance was over 900 kms and it would take over 12 hours to cover it, a marathon, it had me a little worried. I left Chita at 0605, cool and misty, no traffic at that hour, 15 min to get out of the city, then Police stopped me as I was turning onto the highway, one guy spoke some English, he had a look at my Passport with the usual amazement going through the pages and bike docs, looked more like they were doing it out of curiosity. Neither of the two times I have been stopped by the police have they asked to see my Drivers licence or my International Drivers Permit which I got especially for this trip. Good roads after that always winding through the mountains, sometime a roller coaster with frost heaves, scraped bash plate a few times on the more severe whoops, cars and trucks struggling, sat on 110-120 kph easy riding, no wind, did not feel tired, stopped every 200 km for petrol, on the last stop met two Chinese riders from Beijing, spoke to one guy very good English, sounded like he had lived in AU, riding 2 x BMW F700’s with tons of gear including a spare rear tyre, decked out in BMW fashion as well, heading for Magadan. Cold ride, altitude between 500-800 meters going up to 1100 meters at one point, arrived in Skovorodino at 1535, 925 kms, 9:45 hrs, a very fast ride, what was I worrying about hahaha, poor fuel consumption due to cold, altitude and speed. Rode around looking for a Hotel sign, saw none so stopped and asked a guy and he said follow me and drove me to a hotel, very kind, second time this has happened, fairly basic but a place to sleep.

Skovorodino to Belogorsk – Left at 0800, cool and overcast, some rough bits upto the first fuel stop including road works after that just the usual roller coaster, a bit more traffic after Ulegorsk, a few light drizzles hardly noticeable. Felt something flapping across my chest and tried to swat it away then looked down and saw my camera wedged between the tank and my left leg, the strap had come undone from the camera HOW?, stopped and put the camera in my pocket then tied a knot in the strap at the next fuel stop. It warmed up as I descended down to 150 m closer to Belogorsk, Garmin maps totally confused when I turned off the highway but found my way to the town over some rough country roads, filled up just before the hotel, had to ask 3 people for directions to find the place, it is tucked away in no-mans land, arrived at 1425, 554 km, 6:25 hrs.

Belogorsk to Khabarovsk – Left at 0745, got lost in Belogorsk, Garmin taking me down dead ends, changed orientation to North up and found my way out of the place and again further out Garmin telling me to turn left to the highway and there was no road so backtracked went down a new road that I saw trucks coming out of, turned out to be right and finally on the highway 35 min later. Warmer today 21c and cloudy, feeling groggy, stopped for fuel and swapped gloves to cool off, had a Snickers, second leg went through some hills good road so far, a few short roadworks and roller coasters, saw another of the squirrels crossing the road, not much traffic. Stopped in the mountains for fuel dodgy place just my luck, no 95 octane while filling up I was watching the meter tick over as usual and suddenly heard splashing and turned my head and saw fuel overflowing everywhere the pump had not cut off when it was full, must have lost about a litre, its one of those pumps that is either full on or off, waited 10 min to let the fuel evaporate. Opened up jacket to let more air in, hotter now and altitude down to 150m, back on the road and it started to get busier about 150km out of Khabarovsk, villages and towns and more traffic and the road deteriorated, more road works. Arrived in the city stopped and filled up, not much traffic, found the hotel no problem pouring with sweat 29c, arrived at 1515, 678 km, 7:30 hrs, local time 1615 lost another hour. This place is one hour ahead of Japan and Korea  and they are further East. The majority of the cars here are right hand drive, cheap used imports from Japan and many still have the Japanese stickers on them.

Khabarovsk to Vladivostok – Left  Khabarovsk at 0720, wet roads and light drizzle, no traffic, onto the highway and built up for a while, hilly countryside. Dry roads after 2 hours and stayed that way the whole distance, roads more rough than smooth but maintained 100-110 kph, more traffic than the last few days, long stretch of dirt road, constant overtaking a chore. Just after the first fuel stop at 1045 I was overtaking a truck over some white lines and there was a cop in a parking area and he started walking towards the road and waving his stick, pretended I didn’t see him and kept going increased speed to 120, saw another cop car watching traffic by the side of the road about 30 min later and he ignored me, so I guessed that an STK order had not been issued for me hahaha. Many stalls setup along the highway some in groups to form a market. Continuous winding roads, overcast, swapped gloves at first fuel stop, opened jacket up at second fuel stop, warm 30c and very humid, black clouds ahead but it did not rain, about 150km out of Vladivostok a new 4 lane freeway for 25 km then 2 lane good road and then back to 4 lanes but rough still made overtaking a non issue, traffic a lot more disciplined here than in the west most people actually sticking to the speed limit, arrived at the hotel no problems at 1545, 762kms, 8:25, good ride, very humid and actually foggy. The end of my Russia ride, now to organise shipping my bike back to Europe.

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