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World Tour 2008 - Week 04 Chapter : 02 Jun ~ 08 Jun 2008



Hello Again


It has been rather quiet here in the journal and that might just be because the group is having too much fun riding their bikes across the Taiga of Siberia.


Actually I have heard from the group and this tour seems to have had more rain than we have had in the past. They have also had a few spills and a accident that have taken a lot of time.


Sorry to say to You that like to read this journal, but the Ride comes first and if there are time left the journal is a plus. Hopefully when the group has some more time to spare we will see updates here.



Best Regards,


Helge Pedersen,

Founder of GlobeRiders, LLC



Day 25 - 02 June ~ 08 June 2008 - Irkutsk, Russia - Mike M. Paull


Siberia (Sibir in Russian) is truly one of the world’s last frontiers. Roads are few, and in such poor condition that I couldn’t imagine navigating them on anything other than a GS motorcycle. The small, agrarian villages that exit look all essentially the same, tiny homes made from squared-off logs, with few windows in an attempt to keep the fierce winds and biting cold of the winters here at bay. Heating is by wood. Many homes don’t have running water, and it is not uncommon to see people filling jugs and containers at a community pump.


The landscape is a flat expanse dotted with forests of birch, with stands of evergreens making a periodic appearance. Smack in the middle is Lake Baikal, which, it is claimed, holds more fresh water than all of America’s Great Lakes combined. Were it located anywhere but in Sibir, its accessible shores would be a continuous resort-opolis of condos and motels. Instead, due to its isolation, there is a single pulp mill, and only two small towns of any merit.


With nothing but plains and forests surrounding us for days on end, it’s no wonder that an excursion on Baikal is one of the highlights of our journey across this part of Russia. However, with the long riding days, and need for laundry and maintenance on our few “layover days”, this year, only a few us of joined the crew of our chartered boat for our bi-annual cruise along the shores of Baikal.


In 2006, a good portion of the Lake was covered with floes of broken ice. This year, the ice had melted, but it was a cold and windy day nonetheless. One trip below decks, which consisted solely of the engine room and a bunk house fitted with four small hanging cots, quickly convinced us that we would stay topside. A wind shelter of tarps had been rigged around the stern, but of course, this set-up could only shield us from the breeze if the boat were in reverse. . . .


We headed out onto 32,000 square kilometers of water, which at times reaches over 1,650 meters (5,300 feet) in depth. The shoreline is 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) in length. At the museum we visited before boarding, we were told there are over 1,000 species of plants, and half-again as many varieties of animals, almost 80% of them unique to the area. All we see is water, very cold water. At its greatest length, the Lake is 630 kilometers (390 miles) long.


With such a small group, we are on one of the smaller tourist boats that ply the Lake. At one time, these craft, built here on the shores, carried timber to railheads, but logging companies have taken to land, and these haulers have all converted to the tourist trade. Our boat seemed sturdy enough, though an alarming clank of metal on metal resounded below decks whenever the engine was spun to cruising speed. The wheelhouse was decked out in a leopard motif, and was equipped with both a massive (and non-functional as it turned out) ancient, hooded Russian radarscope, and new (and wholly functional) state-0f-the-art Garmin GPS receiver (similar to what we have on all our bikes).


We made turns out of Lisvtyanka, and headed for one of the few accessible “beaches” along the near shore. While the group explored the woods and an old train tunnel, the crew hot smoked one of the few fish of any commercial value caught in the lake, the famous Baikal Ohmul. In a surprisingly short amount of time, a tray of this smoked whole-fish delicacy found its way to the “dining area” on the fantail, and a picnic-style repast, with a good bottle of Baikal Vodka to take the edge off the cold, made for a welcome dinner.


Wrapped up in blankets, we weathered our way back to our dock. Needless to say, this year, no one took the plunge into the lake itself, regardless of the local belief that a swim in Baikal will make you 25 years younger.





Day 34 - 02 June ~ 08 June 2008 - Ekaterinburg, Russia - Dan Townsley




Siberia is a far road to ride. Not the bleakness that I had in mind from reading but rather a expanse of forest and cleared fields that extends from horizon to horizon – day to day. The people generally have simple lives and work hard but they are not an unhappy people. My encounters have been brief but those that I have interacted with are most helpful and always interested in our journey. Language is the most common hindrance I have encounter in any attempt to share conversation.


Occasionally we have the chance to meet other motorcycle travelers. On two such meetings we came across two duo’s of German travelers on their way to Mongolia. The first pair we happened on were just sitting down to a lunch of grilled kabob’s. Unfortunately for the second team we came across, even with two years in the planning, their journey from Germany to Mongolia and back was seriously jeopardized by a broken rear shock on one of the F650GS Dakar’s. I hope they Hans got fixed and back on the road to Mongolia.


We could not cross Siberia without a stopover in the town of Irbit – home of Ural Motorcycles. It turns out that we were there on a four day Russian holiday which was also the more locally interesting “Irbit Day”. Irbit is over 300 years old as a settlement and although a small town they had a really nice celebration in the town square. Lots of singing and dancing by the local school kids. Priest’s singing rock songs – honest! We were even invited to introduce our group and purpose to the city folk who gave us a warm applause and welcome. Seems Mike Paull even volunteered me for a TV interview – thanks Mike.


We are putting on new tires here in Yekaterinburg with the chance to change oil and get any other service we might need from a new BWM Dealership that sells both cars and motorcycles.


I’m looking forward to the rest of Russia!



Dan Townsley




Images from the World Tour 2008








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