Edit Blog Post
Published: September 18th 2006
Adolph and Friends...
After a rainy days cycling, Adolph and his friends who were working on the nearby Cafe Alan, let us stay in their caravan. Thanks Guys!
Day 106, 14th September
Berezovka - Ujar - Borodino
Cycling today was the hardest yet. There was a headwind, it was freezing cold, and it rained on and off all day. This, and all the hills, made very miserable going. So many cars and trucks tooted at us, the drivers smiling and waving. They had obviously seen us on the TV, I don’t know what they actually saw, though? One truck driver stopped, “Bare-Foot Truck-Driver” we called him. He was bare-footed, in this cold! And he gave us a big bag of ‘cakey-things’, a typically Russian after dinner treat full of sugar and covered in sugar. Much better than the chocolates with a piece of rancid
Rory and Tobes were making other arrangents due to illnesses. We would se them in Irkutsk.
bacon in the centre!
We carried on 40 miles after the last café stop, nothing was in sight, only wet roads and trees. We were about to give up after 80 miles cycling, we decided to do one more hill and to see what was on the other side. And there it was - the “KAФЕ AЛAH” , Café Alan. However, it was being constructed by three builders. We were welcomed in when they saw our bedraggled state and gave us hot coffee and borsch soup which warmed us up. The oldest guy introduced himself as Adolph, he could speak fluent German, so I could communicate a bit with him. They ended up letting us stay in their caravan which was parked around the back. It had a log fire burning inside which helped to dry us out.
Total Miles: 5997.30 Todays Miles: 82.02 Average speed: 11.1 Time on bike: 7:22
Day 107, 15th September
Borodino - Kansk
For breakfast, the guys bought us some noodle soup with coffee. Adolph told us that they only earn about $30 a month in Siberia, and that they lived in Kyrgistan before the breakup of the USSR.
Any idea what kind of an industry or service this guy represents? The signs just became more bizarre as we went east...
He also told us news that the US military had shot down two planes in the last days; a small Cessna over LA, and one over Chicago! Scott and I became frustrated that it was impossible to get any proper news out here.
We set out at 11am in drizzly rain. The roads were becoming much hillier, and forest was giving way to steppe in parts. I was beginning to feel a long way from home now. Villages were just wooden log-shacks with muddy streets. These are the forgotten places that the Transsib line doesn’t visit. I wonder how different my impressions of this land would have been if I had only seen railway stations and hawkers - not as good I reckon! The people have been so genuinely friendly and very warm, why did we ever believe our governments during the cold war that these people were evil?
Before we arrived in the town of Kansk, the freezing drizzle stopped. The sign for the town was a huge hammer and sickle. As we sat in the nearby café drinking coffees, we could see newly weds being driven up to the sign to smash bottles of champagne on
Emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, the sign for the city of Kansk. Behind it, ominous mobile radar installations, just days after the WTC attacks in New York.
it - obviously some kind of local ritual? Behind this sign in a field were a row of sinister-looking mobile early warning type radars, listening for what - we wondered?
The town was large, and, as usual for Siberian towns, was a nightmare to negotiate due to its lack of signposts. On the other side of town, there was a huge hill, and in the forest at the top of this hill, we decided to camp early (6pm). I cooked again and Scott tried to light a fire with no luck. The tents dried out a bit, it was going to be a cold night…
Total Miles: 6054.09 Todays Miles: 56.28 Average speed: 11.1 Time on bike: 5:02
Day 108, 16th September
Kansk - Ni Pojma - Tajšet
We awoke to a clear day, which would remain like that to give us a perfect days cycling. At our first café stop we were treated as honoured guests; given a free coffee, a free salad, and a big shot of vodka each… after only eight miles!
Shortly after leaving the café, a truck driver stopped to give us a can of Sprite. Then, a
The heat in On!
Mother and child on a typical Siberian city suburban street east of Krasnojarsk. Getting warm from the steam out of an open manhole cover. The nights are getting colder - the days, not much better!
Dutch guy named Chris stopped his Land Rover and chatted with us giving us some good advice for the roads ahead. He was returning from Mongolia, and gave us some good contacts there. He also brewed up a strong coffee… yip!
The road eastwards plateaued out with beautifully coloured autumn forest and traversed lovely picturesque Siberian villages. In one village, Nizh Ingas, we observed a funeral procession of what seemed to be for two dead firemen, then we were swarmed by kids when we found a place to sit down to eat.
After the village, the road deteriorated somewhat. It became gravelly and unmade in places and pretty rough in parts. Then there was a café that had only two types of food on the men, empty shelves, and thousands of flies. That was the protein-fix !
Shortly after Nizh Pojma we entered a new time-zone. It was mow GMT+8 and were directly north of Yangon in Myanmar (Rangoon in Burma if you still want that colonial feeling). The roads had got better too. The sun was going down and we had the last café stop for the day before finding a place to camp in the
Toby and friend
Many Russians just wanted to try out our bikes now and then. Babushkas not allowed though! (see previous journal entry - "Cafe Babushka".
forest on the edge of an eastward facing field, ready for tomorrows sunrise.
Total Miles: 6132.94 Todays Miles: 78.85 Average speed: 13.0 Time on bike: 6:02
Day 109, 17th September
Tajšet - Alzamaj - Zamzor
What do cyclists talk about in the morning? Do you really was to know… Basically, conversation is on the lines of, “I had a really awful shit this morning, and you”? “Yeah, it had the consistency of porridge and smelt vile”. “What colour was it? Mine was almost orange, must have been that curried gretchka I cooked up last night cos me ring’s burning”! “Mine too. Yeah, and it was orangy coloured. Did you put sweetcorn in the curry? I was wondering because….” Etc, etc. Do women cyclists have the same conversations I wonder???
It was a cold night last night, but not freezing. After packing up our tents and disappearing into the forest to lose weight, we asked each other, “How are your bowels this morning”? then set out. Our route took us once again through villages, along rough, and good, roads to Tajset, the town where the railway splits. The transsib forks south easterly and the BAM
Sahid from Tadjikistan
Thank You Sahid for the food and water, we really needed it that day!
railway forks to the north east and skirts part of the northern shore of Lake Baikal. There was nothing much to the town except for a collection of brightly coloured painted wooden buildings. The predominant colour being light-blue, which led us to believe that the paint factory which produces light-blue paint for the whole of Russia must be somewhere nearby.
It was another glorious day in Siberia with clear blue skies. The roads became very rough in parts and were incredibly corrugated with loose gravel which was hard on the bike and painful on the bum! Shortly, we entered “Village of the Goat People”. The first person we saw had a stangely shaped head. Broad at the top and pointy at the bottom - like an inverted pyramid. The weirdest thing was the eyes, though. They were where your temples normally are, on the side of the head almost, about 3-4 inches apart. We assumed, at first, that this was some kind of cruel birth defect or even exposure to nuclear materials when a child - then, we saw the second, then third, and fourth person who looked the same. When we entered the local shop, they all looked this way! Old men down to young kids!!!! ‘Gene-pool Alert’ - we made our excuses, got on our bikes, and raced off not wanting a repeat of the “Café Babushka” experience in Kazakhstan”!
As we left, we noticed loads of wild goats roaming around, thus the name we gave it. The Transsib line was next to us most of the time with the trains hauling huge loads; most passenger trains had 24 carriages, and the oil trains - well, I counted 80 wagons on one of them!
The place was heavily forested, but we found a cut swathe of forest up in the trees, it was the trans-siberian gas pipeline. We camped on that! During the night, the trains could be heard rumbling past in the near distance, quite comforting actually. And, between the noise of the trains, complete silence - and ever increasing coldness…
Total Miles: 6211.31 Todays Miles: 78.36 Average speed: 10.9 Time on bike: 7:11
Tot: 0.709s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 24; qc: 105; dbt: 0.0189s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb