TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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Russian Twisties, Yes There Are Some, But Not As We Know It!

Posted by TravellingStrom on July 29, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

As soon as I entered Kazakhstan I found a censorship issue, my blog is produced on WordPress and all media type web pages are banned by the government. It has taken me ages to work out a way around and even this is shakey but am chasing a backup plan. I have enough issues to deal with without worrying about how to post, so if there are no updates, I am behind a wall, you can still follow if I am riding, see the SPOT link to the right of this page. But, if it becomes too hard to do, I will drop it as I need to relax in front of the computer, not get frustrated. I have a local SIM card now so can use my phone to send updates to Facebook, in the end that is very easy and may be my only means of contact, we shall see what happens

Well, after the info I was given last night I had intended a very early start, but when I checked my maps and online, I was certain I did not need 10 hours to get to Samara, it was only 380km, so I had opted to wait for breakfast, guess what, they said ah no, today is Sunday, no breakfast!! Bugger, so I got away to an early start anyway. The road to start with was good and the landscape similar to outback Queensland, mostly bare and nearly flat, with some trees occasionally, but having a stomach complaint meant I needed more trees than there were available, lucky they left a heap of concrete blocks to hide behind at one point along the road πŸ™‚

I was trying to learn the Russian alphabet as I rode, I was doing this by trying to read the towns names as I rode past the signs, they were usually in Cyrillic and English and I had a conversion sheet in my map case πŸ™‚ Some of the towns names like Camapa = Samara were easy, others were real cruel to try and read let alone pronounce!


I came to a major junction where I decided to stop for breakfast, I had clocked up the first 100km which was my main goal and had no dramas with road conditions as yet, so I enjoyed some nice homemade apple pie for brekky, some hot chi(tea) it had been a tad cool this morning, and I even bought some extra pie for smoko πŸ™‚

The next stop about an hour later was a nice strand of trees, no need to know the reason why, but I can say there is not much traffic along here. Some of the sections of road were in top brand new condition, other sections rough, but overall OK. It was not long after this though that the holes started to appear!

Now, one of those photos above had another yellow road direction sign, my GPS took me straight along this road and through the intersection, no turning, but in hindsight I maybe should have gone a different way, I will never know as none of the names on that sign made sense, follow the GPS, surely it cannot go wrong in a straight line eh. Another couple of Ozzies, Craig and Sharon on a 990KTM who had been through this area in the past month, told me about a detour through a small village which is longer but in better condition, although they missed the turn themselves and also went down this way. Um, I did not get that info until later that night, but to tell the truth, the next few hours were very enjoyable. There was bugger all traffic, only a few cars and the occasional truck(probably using a GPS), and after riding the Federal Highway which is full of trucks, cars, dust, fumes congestion and bad driving, it was relaxing to cruise along and pick which pothole to hit and which to avoid πŸ˜‰ And as I was under no time pressure; I had all day to do this section of road and mentally was in go slow mode, which along here was advisable.

Maybe the road was bad because this was an abandoned section of the country? I certainly passed a lot of houses that looked abandoned and many old industrial buildings, also trashed. It is hard to guess and I decided not to go exploring those old houses in case I was wrong, everyone has a Kalashnikov in these parts! This was at the small village of Ctapaя Caxya.

Of course riding through these potholes is not advisable, it is best to avoid them where possible, so this is where the Russian Twisties come in.
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A bit further on after going through a small forest section I stopped on a bridge for a photo and a local stopped and said if I need water, that stuff down there is spring water and very tasty πŸ™‚ I had plenty so declined to ride down there, but it looked to be a nice camping spot.

A bit further along and more abandoned factories or chicken farms were evident, but maybe they were not viable, what was viable along here were sunflowers, km after km after km of these fields, so there must be some farmers around to harvest it all!

After a while and after passing through an oil drilling small town, I came to the end of this real bad section of road and found the main highway again where there was traffic, still not heavy, but more than I had seen for the past few hours. The strange thing was, the sign here said only 70km to Samara, my destination, but my GPS said 127? Who to believe, well, however far it was I had plenty of time as it was only 11.30am, so the 10 hours time told me by that bar dude was way off and I took the bad road less travelled as well!

It was not far down this road that I came to a massive traffic jam and thought, not again, I hope it is not like this all the way!! But as it turned out a massive multiple truck and car pileup had happened, I found this out by sneaking past the backed up vehicles before passing the crash site, note, a covered body can be seen in this video, but it is not gruesome, the mess of the car is obvious, skip it if you are squeamish.
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Around 1pm I get into Samara, including pit stops and bad roads, it only took around 5 hours, and it was hot, a good time to find a hotel and some aircon! I passed some war relics and even stopped next to one as I had a locked up GPS, nothing new, it just does not like cities! I then had a fair way to go along the Volga River on the banks of which Samara is built, before finding the correct place. Here I was confronted by the “AntiTerror” poster at reception, but the photos depicted old cold war stuff, not current gear thankfully!!!

I was pretty starved by now so I headed down to the river side area where the ferry terminals were and found a basic kebab type food and a cold drink and sat down to relax. It had been an interesting ride today, but I could not relax because I had a nutter come and sit at my table. Over the next 20 minutes, he changed a few times, he spoke good English and also tried to speak to me in Spanish, it seems he is a pilot and pilots space planes, yeah right, plus he is a professional fighter, maybe, he looked a bit flabby, but he would not stop talking. In the end I told him I needed some space and he went away, he followed me a few times later, but no hassles really! The hotel photo says the name Volga and is very clean and tidy, unlike the actual neighbourhood it is in, which is very old and run down, but there are some bright sights as well.

So I spent a pleasant afternoon looking around the local area, before heading back and applied some more effort to the China problem. At this stage, there is no real way around, except riding through Mongolia, I’ll keep you posted as news happens. One of the weird things here is how much the locals do NOT know about their own area. I had thought(and planned a few days ago) each day to get over the border before my visa here in Russia expired, and I had measured the trip from here to Uralsk in Kazakhstan and it was only just under 300km, so with a fair bit of time wasted at the crossing, it would not be a long day. But, the security chap here had told me it is 1,000km and 10 hours and the road was bad!! So, I cut my evening short and planned on an early start with no breakfast, which was at 8am or after, how could I have stuffed up so thoroughly!!. Then when I got back to my room, the guy came up and said he was wrong, it is not 1,000km and I had just double checked my maps and also Craig had told me it is good road and the border is an easy no waiting affair. What a schmozzle, but at least I now could stay for brekky as it was already paid for πŸ™‚ What a happy note to hit the bunk with πŸ™‚

Cheers from Samara, Russia
TravellingStrom

4 Responses to “Russian Twisties, Yes There Are Some, But Not As We Know It!”

  1. Hey mate! Try Astrill VPN if you really want, will cost about $20-30 for three months membership. The added bonus too is that you can set your country to a router in say US/Australia/UK and that way you can get around the location bans on the videos on news sites – which is good for watching olympic coverage online. I used it while I was in China, was great.

    • Hi and thanks for the information, I seem to have found a working solution but will keep that in mind if I need to buy one. My only issue is WordPress, trying to post to my blog, but I managed today so I am all good πŸ™‚

  2. Becsta said

    Hey TS what’s that set up with your iPod? I’m looking for a new solution rather than my phone. Cheers Becsta

    • Hi Becsta, I have a Camos Bluetooth stereo headset, so there is a small bluetoth transmitter on my ipod to send my sound

      There are others on the market now but when I bought this it was the ONLY stereo system around. I tried quite a few at the time and all failed with music quality

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