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Week Seven Chapter: 20 Jun ~ 26 Jun 2006 - Russia, Ukraine

"You don't need a bigger hammer." - Helge Pedersen (sagely watching a GlobeRider attempting to remove a balky part on his motorcycle by applying more force).

“The fool wanders, a wise man travels.” - Thomas Fuller (British Clergyman and Writer, 1608-1661)

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” - Cesare Pavese (Italian Poet, Critic, Novelist and Translator, 1908-1950)

Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Viewed from a simulated altitude of 1,455 kilometers, the Black Sea. In the upper northwest corner, one of this week's stops on the World Tour 2006, the Black Sea resort of Odessa, Ukraine. (Image courtesy of  Google Earth)

Starting location for this week: Volgograd, Russia
Ending location for this week: Odessa, Ukraine, after a short ferry ride across the Black Sea.
Planned mileage for this week: 1,927 kilometers (1,205 miles)

Zdrastuy ("hello" in Russian)

Pryvit ("hello" in Russian - informal)

Dobri den ("hello" in Russian)

Zdorovenkni ("hello" in Ukrainian)

Vitae ("hello" in Ukrainian)

In terms of the Live!Journal, I'm almost back on track.  Today is 27 June, Day 50 of the World Tour 2006.  This Week Seven Chapter covers 20 through 26 Jun. I'm just one day late. - not bad as "road time" goes.

It's certainly been another week of change.  In the big world, Bill Gates has announced he plans to devote his remaining years to eradicate disease and ignorance.  Warren Buffet has announced he'll begin enriching the already prodigious coffers of the Gates Foundation. As our riders enjoy the sun and sights in Odessa, Ukraine has just won its match against Switzerland in the World Cup - the festivities here went on into the small hours of the morning.

Although Russia is a magnificent country, after 28 days of the pervasive lock and key mentality, general customer dis-service, police checkpoints, gas station frustrations, poorly-maintained roads and unreliable communications infrastructure, Ukraine feels like the land of milk and honey. It's a well-deserved rest for all. The journey is along one and there are still four border crossings to go.  But for now, the bikes are washed, the laundry is done, our rooms have air-conditioning and Wi-Fi, and the open borders of the EU lie ahead.

I'll take another beer please. . . .

Welcome to Week Seven of the World Tour 2006.

MikeP, Your Webmeister

* * * * * * * * * *

Unless otherwise noted, all photographic images on this page were taken by Helge Pedersen.

The many forms of "Hello" in over 800 languages and other useful words and phrases are courtesy of Jennifer's Language Page.

To find out what time it is there (or anywhere!), visit The World Clock.

For more information about the countries in southern Africa that the riders will travel through, please visit the resources listed below:

- The World Factbook, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States:

- The Consular Information Sheets, provided by the Department of State of the United States:

- The web-based, free-content encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia, maintained by "GlobeWriters" everywhere":

Day 43 - 20 Jun 2006 - Volgograd, Russia

In the opening paragraphs on this chapter, I noted the “pervasive lock and key” attitude throughout the Russia of today. It’s unclear whether it’s really necessary, or if people here continue to perpetuate the lockdown out of sheer habit.

As many have noted, even as simple an act as buying gas is fraught with frustration. First, you have to park your bike at the pump. Then if you’re smart, you’ll put the hose in your tank and check to make sure the nozzle is shut off. Next, walk over to a one-way, mirrored and barred window, equipped with a two-way intercom, and a tiny sliding cash drawer.

You can’t see who you’re speaking to; you don’t even know if anyone is on the other side. You communicate through hand-gestures or a written slip of paper how much gas you want to buy. You place your money in the drawer, the drawer slides shut. If all is well, the next sound you’ll hear is the pump starting up. You can then walk back to the bike and, carefully squeezing the handle against the prodigious pressure of the line, meter your gas into your tank. If you guessed the right number of liters, all is good. If you bought too much, you’ll frantically signal to the next rider and hand over the nozzle so that they can take the extra fuel, as you’ll not get change. Of course, the shut-off doesn’t work, so gas is dribbling out the nozzle the whole time. And, of course, they now have to re-calculate how much gas they need to buy, as your generosity has thrown their computation off.

If you didn’t check to make sure your nozzle was shut off before the pump starts up, gas will instantly rush into your tank. If you guessed right, all is well. If you bought too much, and you don’t get back to the pump in time, the next sound you’ll hear is a liquid gush as gas geysers out of your over-filled tank, because there isn’t any auto-shutoff, accompanied by the hissing sound of fuel as it hits your hot cylinder heads and exhaust pipe.

Fun stuff indeed!

Want to buy a drink? Go to the reach-in and attempt to slide open the door. It won’t budge, it is locked. Try and get someone’s attention. When you finally do, they’ll wander over and unlock the padlock, carefully watching while you make your selection, then immediately lock it once you’re done. To be fair, some of the newer stores have all the doors on a remotely actuated lock that can be released by the cashier.

As we roll into towns, rows of dilapidated one-story garages line the outskirts. Multiples locks festoon all the doors. No one who can afford a good car would dare to park it on the street overnight. They drive all the way out to their garage and lock the car, tools, spare parts, tires, and anything else of value within. Then, they’ll either walk or take public transportation back to their house or flat. Russian home’s generally don’t have garages.

In the “Intourist” (Best Eastern!) hotels we often stay at, you check-in at the Front Desk. You have to hand over your passport, which they may keep over-night, as you have to be registered at the local police station. Often times, you don’t get a key. Instead, you’re handed your “room pass” and instructed to report to the floor maid to obtain your key. You hand over your pass, she hands you a key which is attached to a HUGE fob, to insure that you don’t simply put it in your pocket when you leave your room – it’s too big. When going out, you hand back your key, you get back your pass.

Far too often, you’ll want to get into your room, but no floor maid is to be found. You wait. You count the stains on the counter, or the number of bottled beverages and packs of cigarettes in the triple-locked glass-fronted display case behind the desk. Clearly displeased the interruption, the Keeper of the Keys finally makes an appearance. Whenever you don’t actually need the Keeper, she sticks her head out each and every time a door is opened or closed. You feel like your movements are constantly monitored. Most of our riders share a room. The Keeper only dispenses one key, the Front Desk only one pass. And, as you might have guessed, the keys are kept, naturally, in a locked drawer. Many floors have several maids. Only one has the key to the drawer of room keys. She’s usually the one who can’t be found.

Our bikes are parked in a secure lot every night. Many of the lots are public and not owned by the hotel. Unload the bike, check-in, come back down, drive to the lot, walk back – it’s routine by now. If you want to work on your bike or go for a ride, first you have to find the lot attendant, who is often not at his post. In the mornings, they’re often asleep. Once located, out come the keys and one or more locks have to be negotiated to get you to your bike, sometimes, another set to get your bike out of the lot.

Make no mistake. Russia is a “must-see” on any global adventurer’s wish list. Better-informed and experienced now, I look forward to coming back again. It is a country full of scenery, it’s the sheer size that makes it all seem mundane after a while. Like anywhere people exist, there are smiles, hand-shakes, instant friendships offered without thought of compensation, the communal sharing of food and drink that is the hallmark of civilized people throughout history, but the surly attitude of hotel staff, gas station “attendants”, retail clerks, the corrupt police, and locks everywhere, wear down the spirit of even the hardiest traveler after a while.

Good thing we have Wi-Fi in this hotel, and that I have my own personal computer with me, because if I had to use the business center here to publish this journal, I’m sure I’d find it . . . locked!


Day 46 - 23 Jun 2006 - Anapa, Russia

CONTRAST, RELATIVITY, ADVENTURE and APPRECIATION are the four words which best describe the experience Kathy and I have discovered in the last 50 days while “Making Tracks Around the World” with the GlobeRiders.

CONTRAST: The 17 million people of Beijing China, the congested streets and aggressive free-for-all driving style (but with rhythm and order ) of the Chinese, vs. the open wilderness of Siberian Russia where seeing a gas station or passing a car every 100 km is a welcome sight. The +5-star accommodations in several larger cities to a –5-star “hotel with barely a bed to sleep in in others. The warm friendly welcome of the hard-working Chinese people to the colder, could care less and apparent lazy attitude of some of the Russian people. The beauty of Lake Baikal and the Siberian wilderness, to the slum-like surroundings of some rural towns. The small village of Tarbagatay (just outside Ulan Ude), home of the Old Believers, which hasn’t change at all in 200 years, to the modern progressive city of Novosibirsk just a few days ride away. Silky smooth paved roads for a while, then the road just ENDS, and off we go thru the orchards, trees and rice paddies in NE China. The warm feeling of camaraderie and story-telling over dinner and drinks, with the world best motorcycle riders, to just 12 hours later, being lost and alone in the middle of F-ing ( that’s Freaking ) Siberia with no one in sight for the last 50 km.

The highs and lows have been dramatic and ever changing, every hour, on this ride of CONTRAST.

RELATIVITY: Everything is relative to the past when you experience the present.

Sitting on the throne at home in the USA, using Charmin toilet paper, to the welcome sight of a piece of sand paper near the hole-in-the-ground communal public outhouse with no paper or even a seat in most of this part of the world. One day a 5-star Western style hotel, to a dump with no hot water or toilet seat. At least Tom Bodett leaves the light on for ya’ at Motel 6! Driving down what once was a dirt road 50 years ago, with crater-sized pot holes, 16 inch ruts, loose gravel and sand for 50 km, then you come to a beautiful stretch of hard-packed dirt road and you think you have just come off the surface of the moon onto Interstate I-80. Back home, I enjoy a nice Kobe Beef steak at Dominique’s D&J Bistro, prepared by Suzuki-san, and a nice glass of Meritage wine, served with a big smile from Shelly or Rocky. In Inner Mongolia, after riding thru a sand storm just NE of the Gobi desert, we have lunch in a Yurt, a ram has just been butchered in front of us, cooked over a dung (dried animal dropping) fire and served with a bottle of warm water. It’s that or a trail mix bar for lunch…for Kathy it was no lunch.

Things can always be better, things can always be worse; it’s all about RELATIVITY and a matter of perspective. It was once said, “Yesterday was history, tomorrow is mystery, that’s why we call it the PRESENT.”

ADVENTURE: 50 days so far of crossing the last frontier in the world; twice the width of the USA, and lots more to come as we move west back towards civilization.

The CONTRAST and RELATIVITY so far has become an ADVENTURE of a life time.

APPRECIATION: Thank you Federal Express and to my customers for a 34-year career and early retirement, which in part has allowed me to do this before I get too old to ride a motorcycle. Thank you Rick Mayers of Rick Mayers Custom Saddle Company, California, for making me a seat to keep my fat ass comfortable. The Germans can engineer and build a light bulb which will last forever, but it takes Rick Mayers to build a seat for my BMW R1200 GS which I can ride more than 50 miles. John, Don, Guy, Dan, Scott and the crew at Cycle Werks of Barrington, thanks for preparing my BMW motorcycle for a trip that would ruin any other bike. It has performed flawlessly, over every surface imaginable, in every driving and weather condition you can think of. To Jim Hyde of RawHyde Adventure Camp in California, USA, thank you for helping this Harley Davidson Electra Glide rider get his dirt riding legs back after 40 years of being away from the dirt.

And thank you George Bush for maintaining the America I love, to come home to the same way I left it….FREE as a bird.

Helge Pedersen, Mike Paull, and GlobeRiders all, thank you for the experience of a life time, which I hope to repeat with you again. The best part is, we still have several weeks left with the GlobeRiders, then Kathy and I will tour Europe and visit old friends in Germany for yet another month.

Submitted by Bard Boand

[Images by Mike Paull]

Day 47 - 24 Jun 2006 - Yalta, Ukraine

Howdy from Ukraine…..after we finally got here. It was nip and tuck for a while. Seems the Russians took a liking to us and wanted to keep some of us as pets or souvenirs or guests or some such. The border officials still seem to act like tough guys from the past and bully civilians into paying extra (bribes) for routine services. Evidently, “You can just kiss my ass”, does not translate very well into the Russian language.

Seems the pattern is this, you process out most of the stupid tourists and when you have just a few left, then the “your papers are not in order” crap starts. Well, when the rest of us did not meekly leave the country and our friends, they started to try and brow beat us. HAHA! Like we are intimidated by a shrimp of a guy in a big hat and no gun yelling at us? “Yeah? So’s your Mama!” You guys are going to have to get bigger hats and longer legs to intimidate free people.

The same as with the speed traps in Russia. They are merely opportunists in business for themselves while on duty. They keep the bribes low enough so that it must be easier and cheaper just to pay and go on…they make up for it in volume. “Give me money or get ticket”. Oh yeah!! I just wish I did speak Russian. “Give me the ticket, butt-head; just be sure to spell your name correctly, also.”

My message to the Russian people is “1776”. Look it up, remember it. Then take the ticket and call all the newspapers. Don’t pay a bribe to process your transaction. Screw ‘em, they are not the KGB, they are civil servants, demand they behave that way and do their damn job and serve the public. The public is YOU. They can’t make the payments on that Beemer or Land Cruiser on a government salary. Let them get a real job like you did. Get the TV news guys out to the scene of the problem. Let the Bozos with the big hat and the outreached hand show up on the news and things will change. We raised hell at the Russian border and some Russian people saw us do it. We stood together in the face of men who were used to intimidation being the weapon of choice. It didn’t work, huh little men? I’m sure the word is getting around that we were not arrested or shot or beaten or fined. The bullies of the world in positions of authority beware, your job is not safe any longer.


PS…….If the truth be known, when I found out Bill was one to the captives, I was driven more by fear of having to tell Sheree that I left him in Russia, than the red-faced little men with the big hats and bad attitudes.

Day 47 - 24 Jun 2006 - Yalta, Ukraine

Greetings from the Ukraine

It is nice to be out of Russia, especially since we managed to complete the first 7,000 miles without any major incidents. The border crossing was a challenge for some and made us all dig a little deeper into our bag of patience. The real challenge was the last 175 km to the hotel on twisting roads in the dark. Some of the towns we passed through looked like they were having a carnival with people drinking and partying in the streets. The challenge then became one of dodging drunks. Enoki-san ran out of gas along the way, and after transferring gas from Bill’s bike to his, we made it to the hotel just in time to eat dinner before the restaurant closed.

Soon after crossing the border into Ukraine, Bill commented that the country looked different. Sometimes the change is very subtle, just enough to be noticeable, but then maybe we are looking for change and even the smallest detail becomes more evident. We are finding the people much more courteous, friendly and helpful. Prosperity is also more evident, which might be why the people are so nice.

The next day we spent touring the city. We saw the Livadia Palace-Museum where Roosevelt stayed and the historic Yalta Conference of 1945 took place at the table where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin made their historic agreements. We also visited the Alupka Palace where Churchill stayed in 1945. We ended the tour with a stop at the Massandra Winery. We tasted nine different varieties of wine, most of which we liked.

Our first real day with nothing planned is a good chance to look over the bikes and make any necessary repairs. Jeff spent the morning cleaning and looking over our bike, he has to maintain his image of having the cleanest bike. After lunch at the local McDonalds, we took a hike over to the nearby beach where we stayed 6 years ago. The hotel there is giant, it holds 2,000 people and is where the “working girls” ply their trade. Things looked the same; the girls just looked 6 years older. On the way we passed beaches where people with money come to sit in the sun. Yalta is a destination spot and there are many people who seem to have come to soak up enough sun to last them through the long cold winters.

Ann and Jeff Roberg

[All images courtesy of Ann and Jeff Roberg]

Day 49 - 26 Jun 2006 - Odessa, Ukraine

Talking About Sidecars

In addition to the international make-up of this year’s group, we have another first on the World Tour 2006, our first sidecar. I happen to be the “pilot” and I’ve received a number of inquiries about what it’s like, how’s it doing, etc. So, presented herewith, all you ever wanted to know about sidecars.

A sidecar is a weird vehicle – a motorcycle to which a single-wheeled body has been attached. The term “sidecar” generally refers to the combination of the two. The combination is also referred to as a “hack”, or “rig”. The motorcycle is sometimes called the “tug”, the sidecar itself as the “car”, “tub” or “chair”.

Why would anyone create such an unnatural union? Two main reasons - with the 3rd wheel out there as an outrigger, a hack doesn’t fall over, which means you never have to hold it up. At a dead stop, it stays upright all by itself – what a concept! Also, the “chair” (which can also be a platform, cargo box, or whatever takes your fancy) greatly increases passenger or cargo capacity, making for an inexpensive general-purpose vehicle which can be built for much less than a car.

What a sidecar is most emphatically not is a motorcycle; just ask any motorcyclist who has taken a rig out for his or her first ride! Motorcycles counter-steer, whether the rider consciously thinks about it or not, to go right, you push the handlebar to the left; to go left, you push the handlebar to the right. Sidecars, like a “normal” car, direct-steer, to go right, you turn the handle bar to the right.

Motorcycles bank or lean into a corner, a rig does not. A motorbike can rotate about two axes (pitch and roll/front-to-rear, left-to-right), but a sidecar rotates about three, the third being its center, or yaw (clockwise and counterclockwise), more like an airplane.

On a motorcycle, a left turn is the mirror image of a right one. On a sidecar, a right-hand turn wants to lift the sidecar – if one’s speed is too high, or the radius of the turn too small for the given speed, the chair will lift (this is called “flying the chair”). An experienced sidecarist can intentionally fly the chair for long periods of time, even in a straight line, or figure eight! However, once the 3rd wheel has lifted off the ground, the direct-steering rig instantly becomes a highly-unbalanced counter-steering motorcycle. This change-over is called “reversion”. An inexperienced pilot will attempt to drop the chair by steering to the left, which usually results in either running off the left-hand side of the road, or directly into on-coming traffic. The correct action is to snap the throttle shut.

Left-hand turns are different. Generally they are a more stable, as the chair can’t lift, however, a left-hand turn taken too fast can cause the tug to flip over the tub – not an “ideal configuration” under any circumstance. To help lower the center of gravity when turning either way, a pronounced body shift in the direction of the turn, by both the pilot and the passenger (sometimes referred to as the “monkey”) helps.

Even acceleration and deceleration/braking maneuvers are different. Looking down on a rig from above, you have two wheels inline (the motorcycle’s), and then a large body and third wheel hung off of one side. The chair represents a significant amount of weight. If you remember Newton’s laws, when you accelerate, the motorcycle is driven ahead, but the weight of the chair lags a bit and has to be pulled along (a body at rest tends to stay at rest). This means when you accelerate a rig, there is a pronounced pull to the right, which you have to counteract with steering input to the left. Conversely, when decelerating or braking, the motorcycle slows first, while the chair wants to run ahead (an object in motion tends to stay in motion), which causes the whole rig to yaw to the left, which requires steering input to the right.

A veteran sidecarist uses Newton's laws to advantage. When entering a right-hand turn, first decelerate as you approach the turn. As the radius starts to decrease, you then apply throttle, this causes the rig to yaw to the right as the tug tries to overtake the tub. In a left-hand turn, you decelerate after you’ve already started the turn, which makes the rig yaw to the left as the chair tries to over-take the motorcycle.

Needless to say, piloting a rigs require active steering and good Sierra Alpha (Situational Awareness) at all times.

My rig is based on a 2005 BMW R1200GS. To it, a Dutch-built EZS sidecar has been attached, quite a feat of engineering as the R1200GS has no frame, and consequently, no attachment points to hang a car from. For what I needed and wanted to do with the rig, a long list of additional requirements had to be satisfied. It took a skilled designer and master craftsman to pull it off. Fortunately, one of the finest sidecar builders and riggers in the world has his shop in my hometown of Seattle, Washington, USA – Pete Larsen, and his shop, Liberty Motors. It was a long, expensive proposition, but the results speak for themselves. To date, the rig has performed flawlessly, and has exceeded my considerable expectations. And, with one exception, I’ve made it through every obstacle that the other riders have had to deal with, and of course, I’ve never fallen over!

In the course of researching hacks, I found the website of Hubert Kriegel, a Frenchman with a magnificent obsession – he’s sold everything he owns, built a BMW R100-based sidecar, and has set off on a 10-year journey around the world. His first of many good pieces of advice follows:

“When riding with a group of motorcycles, the solo motorcycle think of your sidecar as a dumpster for their overloaded start with a little thing and in no time you are overloaded with their stuff! Be sure to establish your rules at the beginning, it's easy to say no, but it's much more difficult to give them back their stuff. This is up to you to manage it.”

I’ve taken his advice to heart. He’s a wise man. Hubert also offeres this observation on the evolution of sidcars:

"A Sidecar is the car of the poor - this is how it was invented and used... because if you could afford a car, you would buy it and not bother with that "anti-mechanic" machine...then it evolved... but even today, the countries where the sidecar is popular is for the same reason... Russia, Cuba, Slovakia, Slovenia, China...."



For more details about my sidecar rig, the link below will take you to a post on the ADVRider website:

The man who made it all possible, Pete Larsen of Liberty Motors, has his website at the link below:

There’s another sidecarist out there, the wonderful Hubert Kriegel, who is making a “Timeless Ride” around the world over the next decade. He has some great pictures, and excellent captions. Please see where Hubert is now at the link below:

No story about sidecars would be complete without mentioning Ural Motorcycles, the only current manufacturer (with a dealer network) in the world which builds an off-the-shelf sidecar rig. We visited the factory several weeks ago in Irbit, Russia, in the foothills of the Ural Mountains. I also own an Ural Gear-Up, which has the distinction of having an engagable driveshaft on the tub’s wheel. You can visit Ural’s website at the link below:

To compensate for the loss of my left leg, my rig is equipped with a push-button operated electromagnetic shifter, and product also used my many drag racers. The unit I chose is manufactured by Pingel, who were kind enough to provide me with a free spare as back-up in case I had any problems on the road:

Day 29 - 26 Jun 2006 - Odessa (not in Texas),  Ukraine

Howdy from Odessa---not the Odessa in the Permian Basin, Texas, USA, where I would be turning south on Highway 385 to head down to Big Bend National Park, but the one in Ukraine.

Ukraine----Home of the fake radar traps and cops whose shocked facial expressions when told “Bullshit!! That is not even a real radar gun” and “OK, Lets ALL go to town to pay the speeding fine.” Show just how far the local people have still to go in having rights and understanding how to use them. When the bums wave their little black and white stick at you, it means you have been selected to receive a threat and a bribe solicitation. Come on down, my car needs tires and my girlfriend wants shiny things. This group responds with a wave back and a “how you boys doin’?” and we just keep going. What are they going to do? Get on the radio and set up a road block for bribe escapees? Or maybe try to run us down in the little Ladas? Nah, screw ‘em.

Also noticed in this country, is the shortage of ladies undergarments. The manufacturing plants must be broken down. Material for making clothing must be is short supply, due to obvious rationing during the assembly process. The water must get very deep on the streets when it rains since the ladies all seem to wear very high heels and tie the shoes on with thin little laces wrapped around the legs up nearly to the knees. In Texas we would say they all look like Hookers----Bless ‘em all. (My eyes are tired and my neck is sore).

This is a great trip and I wish I had brought Precious Darling with me. Two-up on this trip is so NOT a problem. So to you readers out there, be the first in your neighborhood to ride around the whole freaking world and just do it!!!

Oh well, I so wanted not to rant. This trip, I bought a used bike and stripped extra crap off of it and outfitted it with used gear and am having so much better luck than using a new bike with new stuff on it----go figure. I guess you could say experience pays off. Nah, just lucky I guess. Well it’s time to go eat some more cucumbers for dinner; I don’t mind really, we just wash them down with beer. WHATEVER!!!

That is all---from your man on the scene—Adios!


Day 49 - 26 Jun 2006 - Odessa, Ukraine

Roman Bilyk - A Real Biker!

Yasu and I had been riding all day together; our destination this day was Odessa, Ukraine. Starting out in the early morning from Yalta at the shores of the Black Sea, this early morning was all what riding a bike is about. Beautiful roads, incredible scenery and blue sky - what a start to a day! Even the police checkpoints worked in our favor, they just waived us ahead with a smile.

The scenery changed, temperatures exceeded 90 F and straight roads made one sleepy. As we came closer to Odessa we started to meet a lot of bikers heading in the other direction. Obviously “local” bikers, judging from the bikes, coming from a gathering in Odessa I assumed.

But then we met one biker riding in our direction. If it had not been for the large Ukrainian flag mounted on the rear of the old red bike I would have assumed the rider to be one of the many local farmers commuting, we meet them every day. No, this rider was different and as I passed him I could see that he had been riding for a while. He returned a waive and a smile, no helmet, the helmet was on his elbow.

Lunch that day was a cup of tea and a banana. Just too hot to even think about anything else to eat. The roadside café was a quiet little place and as Yasu and I discussed how the lady could keep the business going, the biker that we had passed earlier that day came rolling in for a break and a chat.

His name was Roman Bilyk and before we could get in a word he had told his life story on two wheels. I just could not believe it, but he was no less than 2-3 kilometers from his home after a motorcycle tour to India. No big deal one might think, after all we had come from Beijing, China. But looking at his ride and listening to Roman’s stories, he is the hero in my book!

Riding a Jawa 350cc two-stroke motorcycle produced in 1988 all the way from Ukraine to India and back takes a lot of guts and Roman has it all. His English skills are excellent and the stories are colorful and filled with tales about broken frames, engine failures, crashes, friendships and border problems. If you met Roman you will see no GoreTex riding suit, leather boots, or gloves. His broken helmet, he carries on his elbow, his jacket has large holes and his shoes are leather sandals, no socks.

We parted by taking some pictures and he wrote down our webpage and I copied his web page,

But that was not the end of our meeting with Roman. Just a kilometer ahead we passed the Ukrainian flag carrier and together we passed a couple of big rig trucks. Next thing we knew there were two policemen waving us to the side. We were told that we had passed where no passing were allowed.

I felt so sad for Roman that was greeted back to his homeland in this way. Yasu and I could walk away from the ticket. We just had to our little waiting game and crying until they got tiered of us and would let us go. Roman was written a ticket and headed for home. But before he could leave Yasu looked deep in to his luggage to find a brand new pair of nice motorcycle gloves that he gave to our new best motorcycle friend.

Take good care Roman and happy travels to you.


Helge Pedersen

Images from the World Tour 2006 from Helge Pedersen

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