Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Old Road of Bones Russia - River Crossing Part 3

I wasn’t looking much forward to getting on the road from Tomtor, because the road into town was so gravelly.. I didn’t like it.

But I was pleasantly surprised that the road was good for a really long time!  There had been a bit of rain, gravel was gone, and it was more like compacted hard mud.

Very easy, and I was cruisin’!!

Walter stops at one point to check on me and he says, “I am really impressed with your riding today Sherri Jo”.. I said, “Don’t be impressed with me, it’s a really nice road for once!”

He mentioned we have a rather large water crossing ahead.. the biggest one of all.. Why did he have to tell me that???

We arrive the river, and the big broken wood bridge.. Then it dawns on me, that is the vision I had in my head that defines the Road of Bones for me. Big river crossings with broken bridges.  I got this from the “Long Way Round” series, and even though I just skimmed through that series before leaving on this trip, I did see this part and remembered it clearly.  Ewan and Charley got a big truck to carry them across.

My biggest fear about this trip was water crossings.. particularly deep water crossings.  And I knew to travel with the “boys”  I must be able to do it myself.  I envisioned the others would be watching, but if I fell over in deep water, and my bike pinned me down would they get to me in time before I drowned?!!!!  Crazy thoughts, I know… seen too many movies..

But it turned out they boys cancelled, and it was just me and Walter.

So I ask Walter if maybe we should go back to the village and at least get a back up “male” person with more strength than me to have on stand by??

Walter wants to walk the river first - too see what we are up against.

He checks several different spots.. quietly going here and there.. for literally an hour.

The water current is so strong.  Difficult yet do-able in the shallow, but the deep part is a problem, and there is always a deep part..  How to hold the bikes up in the deep current and if my bike stalls, how the 2 of us will be able to push it out ourselves through the boulders.

He finally comes back to shore and I mention my idea of going back to that deserted village we passed (you know the one in Long Way Round where Claudio the cameraman gave up on the boys and took his sleeping bag across and slept in a defunct house?)

I saw a man on a roof as we passed by earlier, maybe he could be the “back up man?”

Walter says no, he can do this..

Okey Dokey!!  I know he knows what he is doing!

We are very lucky with low water levels this year.. 

He makes a decision where we must cross.

Wouldn’t you know, my bike goes first!  ;-)

First job however, is to take off as much gear as we can walk across.  This is my first trip across and now I really get to feel how strong that current is..  I am carrying an armful of gear, and deary me.. I nearly fell over often.. so now I know it's not just the bike when I go down next time..  

I love my Rukka gear, it is Goretex, but the water is coming in anyway, under the pants leg and into my boots.

I have big supersize motorcross boots with the best protection that go to the top of my shins.

They filled up immediately with super cold mountain river water.  These would be ideal for leg workouts in the gym!

Okay, struggle back across to get the first bike.

Walter jumps right on, ready to go… I think he’s pretty hyped up.  I am huffing and puffing, and wishing we could just take a minute.. ;-)  I'm usually good with energy.. and I used to tease Walter that he was slow on foot.  But on a bike, that sucker has all the energy in the world!  And completely reversed as I am the slow one..  I best not tease him next time he is struggling to walk up a hill... ;-)

Lets go!

My job is to be on the opposite side of the current to push against the bike to keep it from going downstream while Walter motors through.

He goes in well, but there goes the back end downstream.  I focus on pushing there, and then he goes again as the front end takes a turn downstream.. So up to the front I go.  Back and forth until we make it across.. Good news, the bike didn’t stall!

Whew!  I am pooped!  That was hard work.

My camera is well protected on the other side..  but I said to Walter I would like to film this.  He said that it’s common for the best things to photograph or film get missed because it takes everyone to help do the job and no one to hold the camera!

So back across the river in heavy water logged boots we go.. and start his bike up. He’s had a think about this photo opportunity, and says, after I help him get past the deep part, we should be safe for me to go to shore to set up the camera and then come back to help with the rest.

Same deal, the front end wants to wash away, so I push there, and then to the rear.  Once out of the deepest bit, I trudge my way to shore, and he yells out.. “Hurry Up, my battery is underwater!!”

I set my camera quickly on a log to film and head back.

He starts going before I get to him, and throttles right through to the other side.  Easy Peasy!!

He’s a Master!!  And made it look so easy in the process!  We crossed the river, completely unassisted, no men behind the scenes as he puts it.

I did end up posting the little clip on Youtube.

We didn’t get to film the hard parts, but it got recorded none-the-less.

And one very proud Walter Colebatch, as he deserves to be!! 

Waterlogged and cold, but happy to be on the other side.

Just up the embankment is Kyubeme, which is only fuel stop, and the official end to the Old Road of Bones! (They do have very creative fuel stations here..)

So there we go!  We survived the craziest most hazardous road I have ever been on!!

Big marks to Walter who was brave enough to take on this unpredictable road with a completely inexperienced off-road female rider.  He must like to set up his challenges to greatest difficulty levels!

Now, you’d think this would be the hardest part of the day.. Niyet.

We rode 150 km from Tomtor, crossed the big river several times with gear and motorcycles.. and we are back onto the “main” road.   You'd think this would be enough for one day??

Nope, it’s just the beginning….  and it gets worse..

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Old Road of Bones (Old Summer Rd.) Part 2

I’m coming!!  That little spot headlight down the road, is slow Sherri Jo!

I’m slow, but I get there..  There are times where I can speed up, but I don’t get too crazy about it, as this road is completely un-maintained and unpredictable… There are serious hazards everywhere – and they love to surprise me!  Sometimes they have these little creeks, with wood laid out as a make shift bridge.  You don’t see it coming and when you pass over it, look down and it’s broken with this massive deep hole!  Plenty big enough for the bike forks to go down.

I was lucky to miss most of them.. I don’t know how honestly.. As each move I make on those roads is all over the place.  Trying to get the best traction on one side, or avoiding ruts on another side, etc etc.  The one big sink hole I did eventually hit, was an “Oh SH_ _” moment as it happened, but it was a rare moment in time that I was going rather fast, and bounced right over it.. Close call!!

Interestingly enough, they do have caution signs out there.  This road used to be maintained, but they built a new road around this stretch 3 years ago. It appears it’s been longer than that since they did any upkeep.

I am grateful for the little warning about the road taking a turn.. but why don’t they warn me about super size sink holes, or broken bridges!!

Walter says that once this last wooden bridge shown below goes, there won’t be anyone getting through the Old Road of Bones…  and it’s not looking too happy at the moment, it’s only a matter of time..  Only makes the trip and the struggle more special knowing that very few people in the world go there, particularly on a motorcycle.. and a kind of cool little knotch on the belt in personal history, knowing not many more will ever travel this road in the future…

I can not tell you how scared I was crossing this bridge. It was much farther down than it looks on film, and if there’s one thing I know, it hasn’t been checked by a safety officer recently!!  You can see from the icy blue/green color, that water is deep!  And moving seriously fast!!  I go slowly, having kiniptions all the way.. I think Walter is enjoying my panic.. In my mind, I wouldn’t dare speed up because like I said before, there could be broken bits and holes pop up, and if I fell over, I could go over the edge!!  This would look good in the movies, but we don’t have a camera crew and rescue helicopter on stand by….

Well I made it.. I was able to breathe again…

Along the road I came across a special treat, a little Road of Bones Reward..  Look at these gorgeous wild horses..!!

What I should’ve done was take a photo of their poo.. Traveling along, I saw these massive mounds of poo..  Looked like horse poo shapes, but little mountains of the stuff along the way..  I wondered, is that Elk poo?  Reindeer poo?  Moose poo?  I never considered it was horse poo due to the massive size of the mounds!  But then when we came across the horses and you see how fat and happy they are, I now understand..

In all of the wilderness we have been travelling, I have been surprised not to see any wildlife.. only birds.  I know our motorcycles make a noise enough to scare anything away, but when I have a little stop and look into a large valley, I have my eyes peeled out for any movement at all – nothing!!

So the horses made my day…

And then… to the next deep muddy puddle, Walter spots something..

Bear tracks!! So they ARE here!  Where??  Can I see one?  Everyone says, I don't want to see one.  But I do.  I can add that I don't want to see one up too close and ready to attack me, but that is just so unlikely... I think the sound of the motor as well as the horn would send it running.

Walter says he worries about bears all the time, particularly when he gets off the bike to take a photo.. He feels he is always looking over his shoulder.

I have to admit it is in my mind when I take a pit stop behind a bush, but in general, it’s not like a bear is going to be standing by the road waiting for a motorcycle to pass by so he can “SWAT!!” you down! 

We are seeing lots of interesting tracks now. Definitely large dog if not wolf tracks..  mud can be good for some things like seeing tracks, but I can’t say I like riding through it much..

We were even perplexed to see pushbike tracks!!  We saw them a couple times, but the road conditions change a lot and they were not consistent.

They looked fairly fresh, but we have definitely not passed any cyclists on this track, I think we would notice.

Road conditions start to improve considerably...  and then we start to see proper vehicle tracks. We’ve turned into such trackers, I think we could give Daniel Boone a run for his money!

Then we come up to a truck.. and people!!  What a sight it was to see people after all we had been through!  It hadn’t been but a day and a half  since we started the Old Road of Bones, but it felt like we had been on it for at least a week!

What a good looking family!  I was surprised at their appearance.  Walter explains to me later that these are Yakut people.. not completely sure of their origin, but theory suggests their ancestors were pushed north from the Genghis Khan era.

Walter has a good chat to them.. I notice the older boy is standing on 2 rifles, as if to hide them from us.  I ask Walter to ask them what they are hunting.  He said they denied they are hunting..

Hmmm, a family on a deserted road dressed in camoflauge.. just a weekend getaway??  Then we see Grandpa in the front seat, he has a large rifle too.  Maybe its protection to keep bears… away…??  ;-/

Car tracks become more and more frequent.  We must be getting closer to the village, the one and only village on the Old Road of Bones, Tomtor.

The road becomes pure loose gravel.  I’m not a fan of the slippery thick gravel.  And as cars begin to pass by, loose gravel coupled with not being able to see through the dust.. after such a long day, I am very ready to see a village, and hopefully we can stop.

Yes, first stop, fuel!  Then into town, we find a kind man who points us to a shop.  We wanted a café to get a nice cooked meal, but not going to happen.  Next to the shop was the café, but it has clearly been shut for quite a while.

The man comes into the shop with us, and is so friendly and curious!

Outside we are being watched by the local children..

They don’t get many visitors at all, let alone strange looking ones on motorcycles.  This village is the ONLY village on the Old Road of Bones.  Especially not visited since the new road goes around it.

We had no hope for hot food, but when Walter enquired about finding accommodation, the old man had the 2 boys on a bike take us to a house, where a lady had a key for another house we could stay in. 

And, wouldn’t you know, she was expecting us!!

She spoke of her call from Bolot, Walter’s friend in Yakutsk, hundreds of kilometres away.  He has been following the SPOT tracking service on my website and could tell we were getting close to Tomtor.

How amazing!!

And then for Bolot to know this lady and tell her to expect a couple motorcycles to pull into town soon.

We were so lucky, we have a large house to stay in with a kitchen and bathroom!  We bought some packet noodles, carrots and bread from the shop, I got an apple – an APPLE !!  In a northern Siberian village where there are no fruit trees to be found, and it was my favorite - Pink Lady!

The same kind man showed up at the front door, bearing fresh vegetables from his garden.: Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and chives. 

The first job however was to get clean before I could consider making a meal..

There is a bath tub here, but no hot water.  So I got every pot out of the cupboard I could find and filled them with water and started heating on the stove.  As well as the electric kettle. 

One by one, I filled a large bucket in the bathroom that I set in the tub.  Finally got enough hot water and another little pot with a handle to scoop it over my head.

This is my first wash since starting the Old Road of Bones after all the dirt from the bush fire, falling into mud puddles, long dusty roads…

I can tell you that bucket of water was very brown once I finished with it..  But I was clean (somewhat)!!  Hallelujah!!

Now, let’s make a meal!

My warmed the carrots and threw them into the packet noodle mix with fresh parsley, and chopped up the tomatoes and cucumbers onto my bread.

AND a nice big cup of tea.


Sorry not to be social, but all I want now is to go to bed.

I had a nice little bed in a girls room.

Fell asleep immediately as you can imagine.. but later on something woke me up.. 

The bed was shaking!!  Takes me a while to really wake up and determine it’s not a dream.. it kept shaking!  I started to get scared, then my brain started working and I figured out it was a small earthquake.  We are in quite a mountainous area, so when I worked all that out in my head, I just laid back down.  The shaking lasted quite a while, I was surprised.  But I did end up back to sleep.

Had a crazy dream.. I was in that room as is..  A young girl came in, and it was her shaking the bed!!  I remember she had short hair, glasses, and a cream covered childrens coat.  She said this was HER room and she had died here in 2001.  Hmmm, a ghost!

When I woke up the next morning, I had to think back and forth about that night.. Did I experience an earthquake or a ghost? Ha!  Doesn’t matter, either one is fine, I was just happy to have a bed and a wonderful home to stay in.

Walter says we have a big day ahead of us.. rest time is over.

He arranged to meet the lady who gave us the key at 9 AM. And they want to show us their town museum. 

No worries, it would be an honor to learn about the region I am travelling through!

Here’s a bear!!  They are a bit larger than I imagined…

This town holds a world record for lowest temperature recorded..  -71.2 degrees Celcius.

That’s pretty darn cold, but they say winter generally hangs around – 40 to -50..

So what surprised me was a list of people in the museum and the long lives they have here!  Sorry for the dreadfully dodgy photos, I was in a hallway and couldn’t get an angle..

I know that's a bit boring, but I just find it incredible that they have so many people in this little village that live in the Pole of Cold; who live off the land with very few modern conveniences, and they manage to live that long.  Whereas in our western world, we have so many amenities, making life warm and easy; as well as advanced modern medicine, and still most people struggle to get to their 70’s or 80’s.  I am really impressed with this culture!

We surely must hit the road.. but I do love this town!

It’s like no place I have ever seen.  I have never been this far north on the planet before, and a chance to experience how these people live is fascinating to me.  When I look at this village I imagine what it must look like in the deep snow..

On the way out of town, we take a quick photo opportunity by the monument of their very low record.

I just noticed that in relation to the globe on top, my bike is parked directly under Australia.. how did it know?? After a very nice morning, it is now time to begin the day…. And keep in mind, I am still not asking questions, and I have NO CLUE what sort of day is ahead of me…. it turned out to be one of the toughest days of my life…

Friday, 27 August 2010

Russia - Old Road of Bones (Old Summer Rd.) OFFICIAL START PART 1

After leaving the deserted town, it’s just a small hop to the turn off that officially begins the “Road of Bones” 

Walter pulls off for a quick photo and all he says is “Now the hard part..”

After the hundreds of kilometres on dirt roads, which is not particularly easy, as well as that gruelling test to the Gulag… I thought that was hard!  You mean it gets HARDER than that!! 

Oh dear.. he shouldn’t have said those words to me.. because we get to our first big muddy puddle/pond to ride through, and down I go.

Dag gone it!!  I was mad.. it didn’t look difficult. I know what I did, I got too worked up and gave it too much throttle.  You see why I don’t ask questions?  If he hadn’t said this is going to be the hard part, I maybe would have got through it with out getting completely drenched again.. It’s all Walters’ fault!!  ;-)

Just kidding..  after a few puddles, it actually turned into a fairly easy gravel/dirt road, well worn.  We had a big vehicle go past us full of people, so it was looking like this Road of Bones, isn’t as deserted as I expected.

We ended up riding along a gorgeous river.. with the road still being nice and easy, I was feeling good!

So grateful for Walter taking photos, because all I can do it pay attention to the road. I barely get to take in the scenery.  Sometimes I keep my head straight, but turn my eyes for a split second to try to take in at least something of this beautiful land other than looks of the road conditions.  ;-)

So far so good, granted there are the odd funky parts of road that are a bit dodgy,  but we steady along for a quite a while.

I see smoke in the distance.. which has been quite common along the way.  Several bush fires about… not sure if they are natural or deliberately set.

We come to the first large water crossing.

I jump ahead to take photos of Walter.

While I am taking photos, I see a large Toyota Landcruiser coming my way from down stream.  Quite a surprise for me, I was told not to expect anyone along this road.

Turns out this couple are hunting berries.  They had quite a beautiful bucket to share.

We had a couple handfuls each, but couldn’t take any on the bikes obviously.  We did fill our water bottles up on that gorgeous cold crytal clean water!!  I was ready for a drink, and that water was soo good!!  I put water in every container I could! This is the water that all those water bottling companies try to market, even though a lot of it is just tap water anyway..but I’ve never had any as refreshing as this.. the REAL DEAL!!

Sorry to digress.. moving on!

Smoke starts to get heavier, but I don’t think much of it.. Even though I live in
Australia (Bush Fire Central), I have never driven through one.

Walter rides ahead of me, and he’s not thinking twice about it, so as usual, I go with the flow, and trust the boss.

I know it’s destructive, but I do like the smell of burning pine wood.  At the same time, hoping no harm is coming to the animals..

It was a mystical looking fire alley..  I could see Walter ahead, and I wish I could take a photo of him..  but there is no way for me to tell him to stop for a moment.

Then we happen along our first major obstacle.  It was this huge road wash out, as well as several trees fallen over it..

Walter has a good look at it, and decides we should check out an alternate route we saw a few yards back.  The latest tire tracks went that way, so maybe they’ve found a way through.  We go down a terribly muddy hill, super deep ruts to the bottom, where it just turns to bumpy muddy dirt with no track.  Walter has me wait while he investigates.  He came back and said it’s not the way, we must turn around, and go back up that muddy hill.. It was easier going up thank goodness!

We go back to the obstacle, and he decides we will go through. I look at it and think… seriously??  Do we have a chainsaw and bridge building materials??

I didn’t think long about it, to be honest, because I know Walter is a very experienced off road rider, and if he says we can go through, well then we might as well get to work and forge a path.

We moved trees if we could.. sometimes pulling them out by the roots when possible.  The ones we couldn’t move, we pulled off the stray limbs so the tree would be more bare.  And the washed out parts, we found spare logs and tossed them in to fill the hole.

We are sweating and exhausted.. thank goodness for that extra river water!  There comes a time when there is nothing else we can do.. so Walter decides to take my bike through first.. He says it’s because my bike is lighter than his, but I think it’s because he just wants to test it out on mine so he doesn’t hurt his..  ha! ;-)

This ain’t gonna be pretty… Deep breathe!!  Here we go!!

Don’t look at me!!  You’re the one that said we can do this!!

Grunt!!  Come on, you can do it!!!

He made it!!  Over the river and through the woods… !

Now he knows what he can do, so  it’s time to get his bigger bike through.

Not the same grimace as before!  Someone is feeling very happy and confident – so he should!!

Oops!!  Didn’t make it across the first bit too well.  He says, “Bummer (using a different set of words), I’ve never dropped this bike before, Sherri Jo..”  (I wish I could say that!! )

We managed to pick it up.  Gee whiz it sure is heavy, and he made it over the remaining trees.

Whew!  That was kind of cool!  Hard work, but so rewarding!!  To look at it at first, there seemed no way.. But there was never a question from either of us, “Should we turn back?”  Never… It was only a matter of  “How do we get through this?”

Nice little life lesson there, hey?

Back onto our bikes, and nice to sit down and ride again.
Shortly after, we come across our next bushfire victim.  A rather large tree this time.  How do we get through this one?  Too large to ride over it, too high to pick the bike up and carry it over..

Walter decides to ride into the ash and go around it. 

We investigate the area, it is really really soft thick puffy ash..  and like snow you can step into a spot and go knee deep.. Lots of little water run off crevasses.

But he thinks he can get through, so all I can do it support him!

Again, he takes my bike first.  Do I have SUCKER or GUINEA PIG tattooed on my forehead??

It was such hard work.. The tires spinning and going nowhere.. when it did, I had to fill holes up with logs so he could get across.

This is my Pitiful Space Alien landing in bush fire look!!

This ones’ sort of going nowhere.. but we keep trying!!

I’d say we’ve been in this ash patch for at least an hour at this point.. Pushing, pulling, filling holes.. trying to get out as quick as possible so the embers don’t burn holes in my tires..  seriously hard work!!  But don’t give up, we can do it!!

Sometimes he would stop and get off the bike.. we would take a moment to step back and ponder or consider any other paths or ideas.  This ash is not like sand or mud.  It is so soft and really thick, literally nothing to give the tires any traction.

Ok, there’s a bit of progress…

Next challenge..


Struggle…..  my poor bike is just screaming in agony!!

When I wasn’t holding the camera.. I was pushing from behind and getting totally plastered with dust and ash.. sometimes to get a new grip we would lay the bike down,.. drag it over a few feet, pick it back up and start again.  Little by little, and I MEAN, little by little, we made it out of the fire..  You would think we had run a marathon.. breathing so hard, and can hardly stand up anymore.

I've never had a baby, but I made up for it here.. push!  push!  push!!   Gee whiz, when we finally got up to the road, the labor was over..  What a massive relief!

All that for the one bike, now we have to do another bike..  Completely and thoroughly exhausted, Walter decides we are not taking his bike through the ash.  Instead the job is to lift and drag his bike over the tree whichever way possible.

We pull off his panniers, and start with the front wheel.  It takes every little bit of already-been-spent energy to get his heavy bike over.. but mission accomplished..

So exhausted I collapse onto my luggage and know I have to wait a moment.. at least a moment, before I can continue on.

Thank goodness he felt the same this time.

Somehow, I lifted my leg over and we were back on the bikes.. Only a few more yards and we come up to our next obstacle.

Yep, this is the road.. if there was any question before, we can now confirm this is an UNMAINTAINED road!!  It was around midnight at this stage. We get through the water and trees with that little bit of remaining road you can see on the right. I have never been this physically tired in my life! I have done my share of challenges, the 21 km run last year; which was tiring, but it was finished in 2 hours.  Looking at all the fallen trees in the road ahead of us, Walter makes an executive decision to stop for the night. We have no idea how many more trees to get through, and even though I did not contribute to the decision, I was so glad when it was called!!

We set up camp in the road. There is obviously no traffic, and it’s at least somewhat flat and burning ember free.

I dragged the luggage off my bike once more, pulled my tent out, and just wished I could lay down without having to go through the work of setting up my house and my bed.  Even though I researched and bought this handy dandy easiest-in-the-world set up tent, I couldn’t be bothered..

But I had no choice. It is the wilderness. There is too much smoke around to have bears in theory, but it is probably best to keep working and get that tent up.

My state of the art Nemo Morpho air-beam technology tent freakin’ failed!!  After all that we did all day, I am struggling to get my stupid tent up!!  I was keeping my cool, but seriously ticked off and exhausted.

Walter came over to help after he was all set up… and he didn’t have any luck either.

I gave up and crawled into a half made tent, with the roof hanging on my head all night, because the pump failed to blow up the air beams.

I didn’t notice much though, it wasn’t going to be that hard to get to sleep! I layed on my air mattress, and knew I needed to get out of those sweaty dirty clothes.. I laid there for a while wondering how I was going to do this… I'm far too tired!!  I can’t move. I must move, I must change out of these nasty clothes and get to some much needed sleep. I managed to do so, barely..

I went to sleep around 1 AM, and I was up at 6:45.  I knew we had a big day ahead of us. No sleeping in as much as I’d like to.  With my tent still a mess, I knew it would take me a while to get sorted.  I wanted to have a wash so I went over to the little creek and washed my face. Whoa!! That water was SO COLD!!  It gave me a headache instantaneously!!

I looked at my hands and the fingernails are disgusting!  I started to try to get the black out.. that wasn’t going to happen, and why bother really.

Walter rustled about in his tent, and I yelled out to him.. Don’t get up yet!! I have plenty to do, I will let you know when it’s time!

He went back to sleep for 2 hours!!

This was good.. as he takes both bikes through the hardest parts, he has double duty.  I wanted him to have a good rest, in case we had a similar day ahead.

I managed to organize my packs and get my bike completely packed up and ready to go.  He’s not up yet.. Hmm.. I decided not to wake him, so I went ahead and prepared the next 5 downed trees. I moved the ones I could, and broke branches off the ones I couldn’t..

He's still not up and past 9 AM now. So I decided to walk past his tent to go and wash my hands in the creek below.. this does the trick. He hears me, finally wakes up and we get a move on.

So here’s our next set of trees..

and the next set..

and the next set!!

You can see in this photo, how close the last set of trees were.  Hardly a reason to start the motor up, just push the bikes to the next ones!

I remember only taking one challenge at a time.. Writing this now, I wonder why I didn’t worry about the bushfire being a problem for several hundred kilometres and how long it would take to get through..

Walter did bring it up a couple days later.. He said he wished he had planned for problems and packed more food.  I didn’t even consider we could starve out there!  Clearly nobody travels that road for help.  The odd adventurer takes the track, but not like you can count on a passing vehicle!

OOhh, have a look, there is a long stretch ahead without fallen trees..

We got to ride a short while without any tree challenges… and soon after, Walter noticed there was a green (not brown!) forest again.. we made it out of the bushfire!!  ;-)

Quite exciting!!  A real sense of accomplishment!!

Don’t get too comfortable, up comes the next challenge!!  This little trip is called “Sibirsky Extreme” for a reason!!

Walter rides through and it is a deep and nasty mud..

He gets off the bike and says, I better let him do this one. I am still new at this water crossing stuff, and one that is thick deep mud was going to be a lengthy challenge for me.  What we have learned is that my bike stalls easily under water.  If it stalls and doesn’t start back up, we are in a world of hurt to push it out.

This water hole was so bad, he thought to take my bike around through the grassy mud patches. They turn out to be just as difficult in a different way, so I was most grateful to him for doing this!

It’s not as easy as it looks.  There are deep muddy patches through the grass from many other trucks trying to get through that way as well.

However, another goal accomplished by the Master.

A little patch of riding to the NEXT obstacle!  So glad I didn’t know what I was getting into before I signed up for this trip..  ;-)

I most likely would have put it in the too hard basket. 

Another water crossing.

Apologies for the poor picture quality.. God only knows what buttons I have pressed in my quick madness of fumbling through the camera bag with wet cold motorcycle gloves on..

But I thought interesting enough to show how close Walter got before the bike got stuck.

The tires were just digging the biggest hole!  He tried and tried to get it out and the deeper and deeper the rear tired buried itself!

Eventually, he had me do an old trick for these challenges.  While he runs the throttle, I am to pull the front wheel into motion spoke by spoke.  It worked!  We should’ve have started doing that a bit earlier!!  Must have been a pocket of really soft sand under those rocks..

Another nice little stretch of road.  Every time we stop, within moments a bug discovers us and yells out to all the other bugs.. “We’ve got fresh meat here!!”.,, and we are swarmed.  Some are mosquitos and some are these other flying bugs, not sure what they are, but they sure can bite!  It was like torture to stop to get through a challenge which was hard enough without being swarmed to death!

I finally think to put my mosquito net over my helmet.  So glad it fits over the helmet and still goes down over my neck – good one!!  However, I laughed when I saw a picture of myself.. I had a few comments about the look, but I’ll let you make up your own.. ;-)

Walter has been getting increasingly grumpy, with many curse words flying to the bugs.. I tell him he should try his hat like me!!

He does, and he is instantly happy again!