Blog 13, from Russia with love

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We are starting in with the odometer reading a total of 2087 miles ridden, and total road miles of approx. 2985 miles thus far. I had miscalculated and misquoted my friend Brian Kunic a few posts ago, my apologies. This is the calculation taken at Russian border entry station.Rolled out at 6am, sbowered and finished paaking. Had the morning oatmeal almost done by the time Pine showered so it worked out well. We hadhired a truck to run us bach up to Tashanta, rreally niceguy who actually drovewell to boot. Just before we got left we had a visit with about 6new arrivals at the yurt hostel.They were all on sub 800cc adventure bikes, all having a great time except for one who was having some issues with frame cracks and bad tires. He was asking us how/where to hire a truck, he wanted one to take him to Ulanbator. Gave him the best advice we could abnd got on the road.It has been raining in Olgii for 14 days, our yurt wss flooded twice, mattresses were wet, and it smelled………not so bad, zt least the lamp shade still had the plastic on it. I mention the rain because the tops of the hills going north had been dusted with snow. 3 creeks that 12 days previous were runing a lot of water, were all completely dry. This is really funny country to figure out for me,tons of rain, even added snow and creeks go dry?.

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Cross the Mongoliaan border, maybe 45 minutes, then 5 miles up hill to the Russian side. Ttwo guards, same little cabin on the prairies sort of house, they took a very brief look handed them back and told us to get going.pits a 10k run down the other side, 8% grade and blacktop. We rou nd the river bend to SURPRISE….. the reL border crossing. Done with that 3.5 hours later, and we took a few minutes to have a  hot bowl of Borst. Warm, with taste……it was great.After the border pass, we knew we had a huge depression to ride across before the mountains begin for real. We are now about 75 miles from where we started at Tashanta at 10.30am…….pretty good all in all.

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Thebssin is the primary headwater for a major river that flows north towards Novosibirsk. The sky is heavy with rain clouds, the horizon line in e ery direction is sno capped peaks. And we are blazing a trail right thru the middle of it hoping to avoid the collision of 2 storm cells. We make it, with town in site abou 3 miles ahead, we pitch camp, make supper and roll in dogged. Up early, made a cup of tea, and decided we would see if we could get brekkers in this Russian ttown. Finally found a Kape(cafe). Never have figgured out what we ordered but it was fine. Called my older brother Bill and his family…..just to let them know that unfortunately we were still alive. Right out of Kosh Agash the road begins to ferret its way into asnarled canyon lanscape. The canyon walls become overbearing, closing in on you like a folding envelope, what began as a mere 3 foot wide trickle soon takes on a raging personality. Trees are uprooted, boulders are reducecd to pea gravel, and you have a mountain stream like so many we see back home. Before we travel 30 miles, the canyon is over 1000 feet deep, and the river maybe 150 feet wide average. Not many towns or a more apt description may be villages dot the upper end of the Chuysky Trackt.

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We have a giving God folks, we are headed in the down stream direction,,, and I am not sure my old knees could handle the multiple miles long 10-13% grades if we were going in the opposite direction or slope. . Ours are equal in pitch, but much shorter in length. Camped on the river bank, made supper, read a little Tom Clancy and my Bible. It was a very good day.up too earluy, it was 5.15, no need for that early rise. Headed down the road, the canyon walls grow ever higher, and we snake our way right along the rocky edge of the river. I have to say, what a refreshing break from Mongolia, the scenery hear is just stunning. We finally hit a small village and are plesantly surprised to find how well equipped the little store is. The people are very friendly,so all is good. Another day, another camp on the river bank.

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Got up a tad early again, the tents were soaked with dew, we had to wait for the sun to come over the steep mountains so we could get them dried out.breakfast was crap, it was oatmeal but it sure sucked this morning. Got to it and began our way off the river and headed up Semeresky Pass, about 15 miles of climb, the last approx. 5 miles are mostly listed at 10% grades. I was sore by the time that we gotto the top and darned glad there was no more ofit. The road is two lane, good, but narrow with dirt shoulder. Most drivers ade pretty good, but zome others try tokill you with the mirror……extremelyclose several times today. Then there is the driving skills or habits, and they will leave you ashen faced and frozen in your tracks. Houname it, and we seen it on Ruszian roads. So we spend more time looking over our shoulder than at scenery. The biggest mountains are now behind us, we are in the mountains still, but thesnow capped fellows are behind us. This is some of the prettiest country I have been in, and it so beats the heck out of Mongolia, on any dimension or reason to come visit. Huge green mountain sides, with exposed granite spires, dense Tamarack and Larch forests, down along the river bottoms there Birch lining most of the banks along with Willows. I have never seen birch as big as these, 24 inch butts and trees reaching 50 to 60 feet tall. Live water runs e everywhere around here. We counted 10 individual creeks in one 5 mile stretch…….we didnt see 5 creeks in all Mongolia.

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There are a ton of horses Long the Chuysky Trackt, they are much more normal sized, pretty Morgan looking for the most part. Good to see normal sized horses for a change. I got so danged tired of those BS Mongolian ponies. And always dragging that 3 to 4 foot long piece of extention cord hanging out of thier butt. That danged sticker flapping in the wind out on the end of the cord……..says, if you find me please return me to the front of Walmart.To date, we have met about 60 adventure touring type motorcyclists, had great visits and learned much about smart choices on that type bike. Only seen and talked to 2 other pedalers, we seen 2 or 3 the other night but could not get them stopped. Today, we met 2 from Switzerland,real nice young couple. They began back inMarch, and were excited about finally getting to Mongolia…….you know me. I jist smiled and told them they would love it. The road will flatten out from this point north, it look like we are alongmajorrivers on much of our way north. And YES, THERE ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH MOSQUITOS TO GO ROUND…THANKS.

About Jeremiah Watt-saddlemaker

Jeremiah is a saddle maker, a silversmith. He runs a small company manufacturing bits and spurs as well as the manufacture of saddle hardware. An avid cyclist, especially the loaded solo tour type cycling.
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3 Responses to Blog 13, from Russia with love

  1. Hey Sam, i am covered in smiles. I just a auto-mustache lifter so that it shows. We beehappy, and haven a great trip

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  2. Sam says:

    Beautiful country…..Gotta smile a bit more Jeremiah…..like Pine. That way your viewers know that you are enjoying yourselves. Glad to see you are still vertical……Enjoy!

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  3. Ash and Misty Corlett says:

    Awesome! The scenery on that side of Russia is pretty spectacular looking – thanks for the pics. It is pretty on this side, just rolling hills and a lot of trees.

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