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World Tour 2008 - Week 03 Chapter : 26 May ~ 01 Jun 2008




Hello Again.


Planning the timing of the GlobeRiders World Tour Adventure is not very easy. After our first tour in 2000 we concluded that the next journey through China and Russia would have to happen a little earlier in the year. At that time we would never have thought that Siberia would have greeted the group with temperatures above 100F.


It is tough call with such long distances over a 2 months journey.


This year the weather has once again proved that there is no such thing as the perfect time to do this journey. Had the group not been delayed 2 days before crossing the China to Russia border the weather would have stopped the convoy of bikers. According to our Russian guide, Sasha, snow and low temperatures had delayed his progress to reach the border and prepare for the groups arrival.


As the group continues their journey across the Siberian Taiga, well in to their 4th week on the road, the weather will get warmer and treat of snow is in the past. Enjoy this weeks installments from the road.



Best Regards,

Helge Pedersen,

Founder of GlobeRiders, LLC



Day 17 - 26 May ~ 01 June 2008 - Manzhouli, China - Mike M. Paull


Walk down any “high-end” shopping street most anywhere in the world, it all looks the same. Interspersed between the cookie-cutter Starbucks and KFC’s are Nike and Luis Vuitton storefronts, equally and mind-numbingly cast in the corporate image, you could be anywhere, you could be nowhere at all, you might as well have stayed home.


It’s the local open-air markets that tell a story, educate, entertain, and assault the senses with a continuous barrage of unfamiliar sights and smells. Here, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Here, you mix with real people, proudly displaying and hawking real goods, produce from their local farms, and seafood from local waters. The carbon footprint is virtually nil.


It’s funny to hear touristic comments, usually horrified, about the lack of refrigeration, the “unsanitary” conditions. Fish are displayed whole, not neatly skinned, de-boned and shrink-wrapped. Meat is cut off the quarter, not nicely sliced and diced. What visitors fail to realize, this is where their meals come from, it’s really all about meeting your dinner up close and personal!


Somewhere in China,





Day 23 - 26 May ~ 01 June 2008 - Irkutsk, Russia - Dan Townsley




We have been riding hard for the past week. A first for GlobeRiders Tours, on our first days ride we had to ride into the night finally reaching our hotel at 10pm. Since our newly revised schedule required us to ride every day for the first week, gas stations were all too common a resting stop for us on our way to Manzhouli. What was supposed to be a two night stop in Harbin was now only an overnight but we were still greeted by the local motorcycle club and they returned in the morning to give us a great send-off and help us run the Harbin-traffic-gauntlet.


Although our time in China has been a bit stressful for all, I have found the Chinese people to be friendly and certainly curious. Manzhouli is the major trading post for eastern Russians with China. This is one of the strangest towns I think I have ever seen. A mix of Lower-Manhattan, New York’s China Town and an American Cow-Town from the 1900’s. Every sign is in at least two and sometimes three languages: Chinese, Russian and sometimes Mongol. Everywhere you look are small – sometimes very small – storefronts in all of the buildings. I’m sure you could find anything if you had long enough to look for it. Or, at least a copy of anything. When you’re bike touring around the globe, sometimes you need to have some food that reminds one of home – KFC worked!


Our crossing out of China and into Russia was another very long day of waiting. But once the Chinese finally figured out their own new processes they were very gracious and with apologies for the delay sent us through to the Russian side of the border. The Russian Customs Officials were ready for us and we thought we would sail through but our final delay was due to the processing of our vehicle insurance – a must have in order to finish customs clearances. A short ride from the border to our hotel in Zabaikalsk, Russia found us in a very poor looking village and a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Manzhouli. Seems the sole purpose of this little Russian village was housing for the Russian Border workers. As we all sat down to dinner that evening (our first non-Chinese food in weeks), in walled all of the Russian Customs/Border Guards with the largest bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey any of us had ever seen. The Russian’s way of saying, “…sorry for the delay’s and safe journey!”


That sincerity has been with me for the past week. I have seen it in many of the Russian people we have had contact with.


A visit to the “Old Believers” while we were in Ulan Ude was for me the highlight of the tour so far. These folk practice the Russian Orthodox religion and the family that invited us into their home for dinner are the founding singers of the old Russian folk music – their group was named as a UNESCO National Heritage Group in 2006. The singing is very complex and intriguing. We have ridden past many Russian villages in the past few days wondering what life was like there and now a few of us have seen it up close.


We had our first rider accident this week but I’ll let someone else tell that story. Good news is the rider is continuing on the Tour but in the Chase Van for a week to let a dislocated shoulder heal up a bit. We’ll put his bike on the train to meet us in Yekaterinburg.



Dan Townsley




Day 18 - 26 May ~ 01 June 2008 - Zabaikalsk, Russia - Mike M. Paull


It’s Day 18 of the World Tour.


After delays caused by the misrouting of our container through Hong Kong, delays in getting our bikes cleared through Chinese Customs, having to cut rest days, and riding double the “normal” distance several days to catch-up, we’re almost back on our original itinerary, looking forward to riding our planned schedule from here on out.


It’s been a real “adventure” so far. The aforementioned delays, unloading our bikes in the middle of a grass and dirt field, the long convoy riding, the seemingly suicidal mode of driving in the cities of China. I think it’s safe to say that we have tested the initial endurance, patience and flexibility of our riders to the limit. They’ve passed The Test, have kept it together, and we all look forward to settling into a normal Road Mode in the days to come.


Our processing though Chinese Customs at Manzhouli, or final destination in China, was plagued with predictable problems with “documents”. Although we arrived early in the morning, we were still in the clearance area in the early afternoon. Fortunately, one of the top-level officers saw us still sitting idle as she returned from her lunch break. She motioned our guide over, an animated conversation ensued, a barrage of cell phones came out, and shortly thereafter, I was waived over and introduced. She apologized for the delay, and explained that our paperwork was still incomplete. However, after hearing of our problems in Tianjin, she ordered her subordinates to stamp our exit passes and hustle us through – they would take care of the paperwork later. She will forever be a Customs Goddess, and I wish her a long life and fruitful career for taking the initiative, throwing the book out, and doing the right thing.


Things on the Russian side went pretty well, considering. The chief Customs officer on duty recalled the GlobeRiders group from a previous tour, and said he remembered several of us, including one or two that had never been there before – it’s the thought that counts. We didn’t have to open a single pannier, all of our bikes and belongings were cleared in a flurry of stamps and sign-offs. The only delay was in making up our mandatory 3rd Party Liability insurance documents. Apparently, the forms had to first be filled out by hand, then handed to a “computer operator”, who, one key at a time, painfully entered each rider’s information, then printed off the forms. These, of course, had to be signed, stamped and approved by yet another officer.


Because we experienced border delays on previous tours, we schedule our first overnight here at a hotel only 15km away. From the swirling commercial bustle of Manzhouli, we crossed into the stark and barren lands of Siberia. Our hotel in Zabaikalsk, Russia, is one of the worst on the tour (but still “best available”, in this case, the only). After unloading our luggage, we had to drive the bikes a few hundred meters away to the local police station that had generously offered their secure garage to store our bikes for the night, complete with an armed guard equipped with a sub-machine gun. The “road” into the garage was a wasteland of mud, ruts, swampy standing water, and debris. Definitely the toughest path on the tour so far. No worries – this group has learned to ride the rough stuff. Good thing, there are several thousand kilometers of M55, the so-called “national highway” ahead.


Dinner in Zabaikalsk was a pleasant surprise. After weeks of being crowded around round tables, equipped with a giant Lazy Susan, mounded with foodstuffs most couldn’t recognize, and regardless of where or when, Kenny G’s ubiquitous “Holiday Saxophone” CD lamely playing in the background, a new café had opened in Zabaikalsk. We were greeted by a smiling staff, a bar laden with cold drinks, and a long rectangular table, plated with cold cuts, smoked fish, individual bowls of Borscht – and no Kenny!


Partway through dinner, we heard voices in the hallway. In trooped about 10 members of Customs and Border Guard members from the post. They had come to apologize for the delays, and presented the group with the largest bottle of Jack Daniels that I have ever seen, a wonderful Kentucky welcome to Siberia!


It’s an odd reversal of history - after the strict riding regimen in China, there is an overwhelming sense of relief passing through what was formerly referred to as “The Iron Curtain”. No more convoys. No more riding behind a guide vehicle, with a chase vehicle following. We can now ride anywhere we want. China is a fascinating country, almost impossible to see by bike, but we persevered once again. Into Siberia! As we are Riders first and foremost, the lands that were once a natural prison for the persecuted and exiled represent, instead, vast expanses of riding Freedom – how the world has changed!


Best Regards,





Day 22 - 26 May ~ 01 June 2008 - Ulan-Ude, Russia - Mike M. Paull


It’s Day 22 and we’re deep into Siberia.


Enjoying our first two-day layover and “rest day”, we’re in Ulan-Ude, home of the biggest bust of Lenin in the world, and a city built by those banished here by the Tsars of old.


Our visit here is one of the cultural highlights of the World Tour. Ulan-Ude is the capitol of the Buryat Region. The Buryat people are a unique mix of Mongol and Chinese, with blended features of both, but a cultural and architectural style uniquely their own. After a visit of some local sites, to include to Ivolgin Datsan, the center of Buddhist learning and education in Russia, we have our first (and only) opportunity to have dinner with a local family.


Our host for the evening is the ever-animated local legend, Galena. Galena is a member of the Old Believers, a splinter group of the Russian Orthodox Church whose members were force-marched here hundreds of year ago for their adherence to more fundamental religious customs and practices than those endorsed by the rulers then. With a tenacity typical of Russia, they not only survived, but prospered. The Old Believers are one of only twenty-some peoples recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Ethnic Group. Unique to their culture is a rich oral history of song, a polytonal mix of complex voice-only harmony. They have toured the great cities of the world, and even today, members attend international songfests.


As she has done for previous World Tours, Galena and her group met us on a sacred hillside near their homes. Against a backdrop of scudding clouds and the blustery winds of “Sibir”, they greeted us in song. After the performance, she invited us into her home.


The first stop was the newly completed church, which was only a cinder block work-in-progress when we were here in 2006. Next, a new “Banya” (sp?) that her troupe had built, the famous Russian hot bath and wet sauna, so that the group could sweat and scrub the dust and dirt of Siberian roads from every pore.


Next, dinner with Galena!


From the outside, the building was a decrepit-looking but stout structure of poorly mortared bricks. Inside, her apartment was neat and tidy, with a proud display of souvenirs collected during her many tours, the longest one sponsored by the UN. We presented her with gifts of vodka and fresh fruit. Shedding her colorful traditional costume of layered skirts, Galena and her family prepared our meal. The table was set, stocked with vegetables grown on their own land, then pickled. Interspersed were platters of sliced meats and sausages, chewy Russian bread, and rounding things out, a variety of drinks to include local “piva” or beer, the ever-present vodka, bottles of wine, and HIGHLY fortified spirits made from rose hips and “Apple Jack”. In the kitchen, a mound of dough was tempering, and by hand, a huge stack of folded “Russian calzone” was stuffed with sausage and onions, quickly deep-fried, and run to the table. While the drinks warmed things up, shashlik (meat grilled on skewers) were fired, mounded next to good local potatoes, and our repast was complete. As dessert was served, the family would spontaneously burst into song, to include a surprising rendition of Shenandoah, which encouraged a few of our riders to join in.


In one of the most inhospitable inhabited regions on earth, we enjoyed a night of incredible hospitality, food, wine and song.


Best Regards from The Road,




Day 24 - 26 May ~ 01 June 2008 - Irkutsk-, Russia - Harrison & Debbie Christian


Hello Everyone!


It's been awhile...we will try to update and not repeat what we have already told you. We have been riding through Siberia for many days now. It's not quite what we expected. There is lots of forested land and rolling hills. Lots of rivers and many small, poor villages that look like something out of the "Hobbit" and "Children of the Corn" mixed.


The roads have been somewhere between bad and downright horrifying. Pot holes the size of our bikes and worst. Immense frost heaves in the center with semis coming toward you and an Audi doing 70 behind you. Yesterday was a blast. There was gravel, sand, mud, pavement with and without pot holes. Very Challenging and we end each day with a sigh of relief and satisfaction.


We are having a fantastic time and cannot believe how fast the time is passing. Each day is very full and there is usually not an internet connection. If you don't hear from us that is why. Please keep sending us messages. We miss everyone very much and think about all of you and enjoy hearing from you. Our cell phones won't always receive or send texts..


Today we are in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Today marks the half way (time wise) mark of our journey. We are only 1/3 of the way through Russia. Spring and Summer are late here as well. We have had lots of cold rain and missed snow by just a day or two in most of the passes. Snow still on the ground. We were interviewed (Harrison and myself) today by three different television stations. They were fascinated by the fact that Debbie (a woman!!) would leave the USA and ride her bike through Russia.


Harrison was asked why he, a successful business man would want to come and ride through Russia. He told them how good the Russian people have been to us and that he was going to be 68 soon and if not now, When? He also gave the young (beautiful, tall and blonde) anchor woman a ride on his motorcycle (she asked). We will be on the 7:00p.m. news tonight on all networks. We plan on watching and video taping the tv. All words will be dubbed into Russian.


This is definitly a great country and a grand adventure. We are here for two nights and are washing our clothes. We did an oil change and bike wash at the BMW dealer today.


Tomorrow we move on...the journey continues..


Love, Harrison & Debbie


Krasnoyarsk, Siberia 06-06-2008 Impression Week 3



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