Paskelbta temoje: 2014: Murmansk – Magadan
After the last year trip from Lisbon to Vladivostok my eyes were looking for a new route across the map. It‘s really always is where to go – that‘s for sure, it just depends on expences, duration and logistics.
After a long discusion with myself, the chosen challenge was the route Murmansk – Magadan. The distance between these two Russian cities is 11500 kilometers and this is the longest rout in the world without crossing the state borders. The idea to choose this route belongs to Mr. Vitoldas Milius, the editor of the magazine „Autobild Lithuania“. This distance has been already overtaken by many drivers – travellers, but all of them have been travelling with someone, not alone. So the final idea was to take the route Murmansk – Magadan – Murmansk and to start both – the car and the motorcycle at the same time and continuing the trip on the own. Possibly the followers understand that on long distance trips, the motorcycle doesn‘t have chance to win against the car. The car stops more rear for filling the fuel, it‘s not necessary to stop and change the cloths when the weather is changing. Even physically to drive the motorcycle is much more difficult that to drive a car. So, although generally the motorcycle can drive faster, at the end of the day the overcome mileage is less. It is quite a big challenge to drive 23000km of Russian roads also for car as for motorcycle.
The planned start from Murmansk was on the 1st of July by two transport vehicles: V. Milius – by car “Honda CRV”, and me – A. Bubinas – by motorcycle “Honda Crosstourer”.
There‘s possible to carry much more things in car trunk and motorbike‘s baggage is very limited. I had to choose very carefully what things I really need to take with me. My thing stuff was – spear set of tires, a few 10L petrol cans, tent, tool kit. All belongings without a spare tires and fuel cans amounted for only 15kg and fit into one basket.
One of the most frequently asked questions, speaking about marathon trips – “speeding?”
No one goes 180km/h on such trips, but also not lag 50km/h. You simply move with the flow. It‘s not a secret, that even in Vilnius on Geležinio Vilko street a rear driver goes 80km/h – the average speed in that street is about 90 or even 100km/h. Motorcycles overtakes cars easier. Vitoldas had much less success on this issue. But in both ways if you’d like to speed, you have to do a lot of crazy overtaking. The second questions mainly is – “what is the purpose?”. “Honda” representatives invited us to participate in this project to present their production in more interesting way using our experience.
23000km – is the traditional annual mileage of many lithuanian drivers. We did this „a bit“ faster and in „a bit“ more difficult roads than in Lithuania. There are also more purposes on such trips. Those, who run, ride a bike, ski marathons or climbe the mountains – they will understand us easy. Driving a long distance alone you think only about what is happening right now. It‘s not important what was yesterday and you don‘t think what gonna happen tomorrow. It‘s not a task to prove somthing to someone or yourself.
After a start from Murmansk we rode probably the best road in Russia. It seemd that we drive in Finland‘s roads. I have made a navigation mistake close to Petrozavodsk and decided to take a circuit arround the lake from the southern side and Vitoldas has chosen the nothern side of the lake. As the result I‘ve got a shorter road and about 200km of „excellent“ gravel.
The road gradually deteriorated and when I realized that there is no road anymore, it was too late to turn back.
Just after the excellent offroad has started, I passed the local endurists coming back from training. They looked at me, my motorbike and tires very strange and said: „We think, that you will not pass“… „Thank you“ – I‘ve said in my mind, and continued my way. I don‘t like to turn back and go the same way again. The culmination of today‘s adventure was the river crossing the road, and there was no bridge, just a ferry which runs on a free schedule.
The success didn‘t turn and after one hour I was on the other river side already. Unfortunately, the success didn‘t fit into ferry with me and I had to drive 50km more on such „excellent“ road.
Although the final destination is the same, but the route is different. V. Milius has chosen the rode which was worse, but had a less traffic passing through Kirov and Perme. And I have chosed the big traffic road passing through Nyzny Novgorod and Kazan.
Why the choice was different? There is a big traffich on the lower road and contains a lot of trucks. But it is more easy to overtake them by motorcycle – the Russians notice the motorbikes and let them pass. And to go by car on that road would be problematic. So, Vitoldas has chosen the upper road with the worse surface, but practically you drive alone.
During the first day I drove 1600km. I couldn‘t mover faster, because there were a lot of road works, very big truck flow and many traffic jams. As far as I have counted, the proportion is like one car to three trucks, there are many of them.
The road quality is very russian, don‘t imagine that there‘s everything like in Europe. But more or less it‘s possible to move on. The time zone changing still doesn‘t influence very much. During two days three time zones has changed already. Moving to the East the days become shorter for one hour every day and the time to sleep remains less. The body can‘t accept these changes so quickly, but after a long day i feel so tired that I fall asleep at once as I reach the bed. The muscles hurt the most in the mornings, but after a few tens of kilometers everything is fine.
I have reached Ufa on the second day, where my friend Aleksandr lives. I met him last year during my trip from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But unfortunately, Aleksandr was on business trip in Moscow and he asked his friend to take care about me. Although I was met very welcome and friendly, the time for sleeping I had was just four hours. The destination of the third day is Isim city, located very close to Kazakhstan. The expected road was not the best one, so I had to start very early, otherwise the destination would be reached very late at night. Crossing the Ural mountain and driving the serpentines, the weather changed so quickly, that during 15 minutes the temperature dropped down up to +6, increased up to +16 and dropped down up to +6 again. So it didn’t make sense to stop and change the cloths.
Driving from Kazakhstan to Isim there is a road section of 40km, which looks like God has forgotten this place. The drivers are sent there for all their sins they’ve done on the roads. This sector will be not mended at near future, because, as the locals say, no one owns it. The road beginning belongs to one country region and the road end belongs to another region and as long as these 40km belong to no one it will remain to be destroyed naturally.
I drove the same way last year, and I hoped that something has changed. But unfortunately, nothing has changed and the same road sign was announcing that the road is in emergency condition. Fourty kilometers sounds very optimistic as I couldn‘t reach such a „high“ speed even on motorcycle, although I was ahead of all the rest road users. I reached Isim city in late evening, it was raining the same like last year. In fact, the rain has stopped when I entered the city and as the local biker said, it was the first time during two weeks when the rain has stopped. If this were in ancient times, I probably would have been glorified as God who suspended the rain. MOTOPOST has accommodated me. It was a cottage which is built to such fellows as me. Six beds, the fridge full of food, kettle, tea and water supply system. What else would biker need after a tiring rainy day. It is really much easier to find a cheaper bed for bikers than for car travellers. Every biker met on a way will help with pleasure to find a cheaper bed or will offer to stay at his living place. When travelling by car only the roadside motels and hotels remain to stay in for a night. In fact, there is also possible to save. If to arrive after 12 a.m. the prices in many motels are double lower, so it is possible to get a luxury room for only 30Eur. Of course, the luxury room is according to their standards, but there is everything tidy.
The destination of the fourth day was the capital of Kuzbas – Kemerov city, where an acquaintance of mine Semion lives. I‘ve met him last year on his way back home from his girlfriend who lives for 1000km, although the driving licence he has been got just four days before his trip. Unfortunately, I couldn‘t meet Semion this time. He was away for a week with his girlfriend for a horseriding. But parents of Semion were very hospitably. The day was difficult. Strong crosswinds forced me to use much more strength than usual. But in fact I was lucky it did not rain. Daily odometer readings stood at 1,300 kilometers mark. It was difficult to convince the parents of Semion, that I really need to wake up not later the sunrise, and the day began as it was planned. Every morning I feel pain in muscles and just after 50km riding I can feel better. After such short warming-up my body returns to the normal shape and I can feel like new again.
On the fifth day the first 700km were very easy, but closer to Irkutsk the road became worse and worse, and the car flow was increasing rapidly. I had to stop 5 times in the morning to change my cloths. The temperature was changing quickly, the flies and mosquitoes hit my helmet, the cleaning and fuel refilling also take time.
Usually it takes me about ten minutes in fuel station in Russia, as first of all I had to insert the fuel gun, then to bring money, the to come back and fill in. Then I need to go back to cash desk to take my change. And always there are about a few people standing at cash desk. I have to stop for fuel 5-6 times a day and every time is the same.
During the whole trip there was the only fuel station which had an usual system – first you fill in and after you go to pay.
It was already dark when I reached Irkutsk. My friend Dobromis lives close to it. I was thinking about to stop and sepnd the night there, but close to Irkutsk I‘ve changed my mind and continued my trip 200km more and stayed at motel for 20eur per night.
Morning… Rain… Nothing changes.
I‘ve stopped at Baikal lake shortly for making a picture. Last I‘ve passed this place in the rain. It was so cloudy that possibly I couldn‘t see Baikal lake if even would be standing on the lake. This year the weather was more nice, but just after I‘ve made a picture, the rain has started again.
The road section Alan Ude – Cita is the worst one on the road Moscow-Vladivostok. Many heavy vehicles turn towards Mongolia from Ulan Ude and many pits remain on the road.
The road pits don‘t surprise anymore after such long driving on Russian roads. To lavirate with motorcycle between pits on such bumpy road is really easier than to do it by car. But sometimes to avoid bumping into pits is imposible even driving two wheels vehicle. When the road surface is dry it is easier to notice the pits, but even then it‘s impossible to avoid them, so in such cases the body weight is moved on the legs. A bit far from Baikal there a lot of cars with having a wheel on the right side and the most trucks are not MAZ or KAMAZ.
Most of them are made in Japanese or China. But since the traffic is on the right side of the road, to overtake other cars is really dangerous having a wheel on the right side. This could be noticed from the number of car accidents collided head on – a frequent phenomenon in these areas. These two evil things just nearly did not break my journey.
Close to Chita city I was driving on a very narrow, bumpy and devious road. I was trying to pass a truck when suddenly a car with the wheel on a right side just appeard in front of me. It was trying to outride a truck. I was forced to make a sharp turn to the right where was a quite deep pothole and I had no choice just to ride over it. Unfortunately, I didn‘t have time to transfer my body weight on the legs and my spine suffered a compression hit. As a result the spine nerve has been pressed and my hands remained insensitive. Luckily I have managed to reach Chita city successfully where I have visited a doctor. He recommended not to continue the trip, but I‘ve decided to correct my route and to continue the trip. So, my primary plan to go to Magadan has been changed by a plan to ride to Vladivostok, because there is a bit better way leading there.
To ride a gravel road with such insensitive hands was extremely difficult. Also, I didn’t want to take a risk to fall down and to hurt my spine more picking the motorcycle.
In Chita I was planning to stay at home of my friend who is Chita District Military Prosecutor. But it happen that he was living in Vladivostok for a year. So, he has asked of his neighbor to take care about me, who unlocked Vladimir‘s house and let me in. We had a dinner together, small talk and I went to bed for a rest. In the morning he accompanied me up to the end of the city, whished a good trip and promissed to wait me on my way back.
Usually we say that the world is very small. But Ihave realised the meaning of these words only when I met one of thirty people I know in a country where live over 130 million people. Timuras is the person I‘ve met on my 12000 kilometers way to Vladivostok in a small cafey and it was very unexpected for both of us. One more coincidence is that I‘ve met him in almost the same place where I‘ve met him last year. That time he offered me to spend the night at his home, and now his friend has harboured me.
The way from Simanovsk to Chabarovsk is rather good. But on a way from Chabarivsk to Vladivostok there are a lot of gravel roads and roadworks. Also, the fact that at present there is no wind and heavy vehicles traveling very much complicates the travelling.
All dusts are in the air and road visibility is only about 5 meters only. After 15 kilometers of driving such road my clothing became brown from black color. The roadworks distance is about 50 kilometers long and I have to be very patient driving through of it. Russia is a country of miracles.
Travelling on a road I found a water spring. It seems that it‘s possible to scoop some water, but the spring is in a very middle of the road and it is certainly not broken pipe, because there are no pipes – the nearest village is at a distance of 70 kilometers. It is just a water spring in the middle of the road.
The road from Irkutsk to Chabarovsk was very thankless to my tires. Within two days or 3000 kilometers the tires frayed two times more than in seven days traveling from Lithuania. The surface of the road is very rough and wavy. Riding a high speed the tires absorb all these bumps, but also at the same time they were out much faster. I admire the ability of Continental specialists to make a product which is relatively durable and at the same time having unreal grip performance on both dry and wet surfaces.
When I‘ve reached Chabarovsk, I‘ve decided to change the tires, because to continue the trip with the same pair of tires would be not very clever. The speed would drop down rapidly if the rain falls. So, after a few calls I was already in a garage changing the tires. Also I‘v got contacts of a person in Bikin city who was already warned about me and has been waiting untill I arrive.
So, only a few hundred kilometers remained to drive and I can rest in bed. Who said, that to travel on motorcycle is uncomfortable? Only 600 kilometers of not the best but also not the worst road remained up to Vladivostok. As usual in the morning it was raining and in the afternoon I was already in Vladivostok. There is a few kilometers long bridge before entering the city and in this place I have decided to joke a bit. The point is that all bigger bridges in Russia are considered very important strategic objects and there stand sentinel over the bgridges, sometimes even on both edges, and, as they say, they protect the bridges against possible terror attacks. I have had an experience with them last year already, when I tried to take a picture after passing the bridge near Vladivostok road sign and sentinel was very angry on me because of that. So, this time I’ve decided to agree about photo with sentinel in advance. The deal was successful! I’ve got a permission to take photo, laughed in my heart at the security guard, but after that I didn’t avoid of whaling of another sentinel from another bridge edge.
I wanted to spend as less time as possible in Vladivostok, but I also didn‘t want to turn back near the city sign. So, firstly I have visited my old friend Irina and Javgenij, and after that I‘ve turned back. Still today I have to reach Bikin city. The weather was beautiful and the sun was shining in Vladivostok, but just I left the city the sky has overclouded and the clouds I saw in the sky I really didn‘t like. I have checked the weather map expecting to avoid the coming storm, but the forecast was not very optimistic.
The weather expected to be really terrible. Next to my all having fears – the fear of height, water, speed, arose one more – the fear of electricity. No, I’m not really scared of 1.5V battery, but when the lightning seems so close at hand, unwillingly I crouch into a small ball. 300 kilometers of the storm, fallen trees, branches flying through my nose and the black good, which is usually used for pouring pits and cracks on Russian roads, also known as a tar.
The tar is a separate topic. It is the same as on to slip on a morning ice on the way to work, jus it happens in summer time. The helmet glass splashing the rain, dusk, and in front the approaching train. Really, where from the train is on the road? But it’s just some Hino truck cab with six lights of 200 W each mounted on it. I’m really afraid of a high speed. So under such conditions I reduce my speed up to 70km/h and even up to 50km/h on turns.
Bikin is a military city close to the China wall. A colleague, who gladly accepted me even for two nights to sleep, works in railway maintenance. Pointed remark is that he says he never goes by train, because he knows in what condition they are.
In the morning, after a duscussion about the rail trasport pecularities, I left to the rain. The storm was subsided already, the wind was mild, but the rain was accompanied me throughout the day. I was able to drive only 1000km on that day and just before Simanovsk city the evening sun has dried me. I can‘t keep silent about the outfit which make my driving comfortable during the whole rainy day and when weather temperature was just +9.
The REVIT jacket was irreplaceable. Sometimes, when I saw the rain wouldn‘t last long I even din‘t bother to stop to put the rain jacket on. On that day I started fully dressed on. Possibly at higher temperature I would begin to swet, but when there was only 10 degress it allowed me to feel very comfortable and dry.
On my way back home all my camps were almost in the same places – Bikin city, after was in Simanovsk and then in Chita.
I was very surprised to see the description in Russian, Latvian, Estonian and also in Lithuanian languages on Sonax leather upholstery care wipes in one gas station near the lake Baikal. To see Lithuanian language on a product being far away from a country about 6000km was really unusual.
I‘ve met Timuras once again near Irkutsk, who came to motorcyclist jamboree near Bakal lake. I‘ve reached Tulun city already in the evening and I‘ve spent the night in a roadside motel.
In Kemerov, not wanting to afflict Semion parents I’ve stayed at Kiril home, a local golden hands master, with whom to spend a week certainly would be not too long time. It‘s also nice that knowing the lack of time to accept everything very concentrated. You get just the most interesting and actual information..
The road is quite boring. When you make one picture and after five hours make one more, after some time you can look and surprise why did you make many the same pictures?
In the evening, passing one of the town I‘ve noticed a group of people standing in a bus station and continuously shaking their hands very funny. The reason is very simple – the dozens of flies and mosquitoes. It happens when you pass into a swarm of flies or mosquitoes and soon everything gets covered with a mixture of dust and flies. Usually I clean my helmet glass every two hundred kilometers when I stop to refuel, and motorcycle glass is so dirty that is impossible to see anything.
It is psychologically easier to move towards home. It seems that even the road is shorter and the sun is brighter and the sky is more blue towards the home. However, the temperature +42 doesn’t remind Lithuania and home.
I pass Krasnoyarsk on Sunday afternoon and it is quite a significant city, so many people are coming back after a weekend. The traffic is very intensive. It’s difficult to overtake other vehicles even with motorcycle.
I have counted even eight very serious accidents in just 200km distance before and behind Krasnoyarsk. On the road, where traffic speed is about 100km/h, there are those who overtakes other road users at speed 150km/h. The overtaking cars moves to the opposing traffic lane and faces each other. All accidents occurred head-on.
The road is full of various splinters. The number of various wreaths and monuments on the road sides shows how many accidents there are on these roads. I never make pictures of such things – I have such superstition.
The road is slowly improving, although today there was also some road repair sections and many of dusts. Russians trying watered dust, and when the day is in 40-degree temperatures, the watering becomes meaningless. Until watering machine approaches up to repair section end – the begining is already dry.
In Ishim I’ve stayed at the same motopost’e again and although it was not raining the morning, the fog lingered just turned from the city. It’s not a secret that the human eyes see a slightly different view than what you have perpetuated in photographs. No matter how much I’ve tried the fog in the camera was not as dense and opaque as lively. I have to consider if it is not worth in case of fog to drive looking through the camera lens.
From Ishim I turned the other way than I came. I chose to drive the highway located more to the North, the same road Vitoldas has driven. The road is in really worse condition, but the car traffic certainly not less, at least until the Perm.
Only yesterday it was 39 degrees, and today – plus five and the rain. One would think that the weather is changing very quickly and drastically, but keep in mind that the average daily distance covered by about 1,400 kilometers. From morning till night at this distance possible to see everything.
I was not very happy choosing the northern way. The traffic perhaps is only 20 percent less, maybe later it will be even lesser. However, the roads are even worse, especially in the Vologda region. In general, it’s difficult to describe the road here – 200 km could be of good road and 200 km can be very bad. I think here would be possible reduce accidents by one-fifth, if only to be a good road – it is a lot of potholes here and people caused accidents very often simply trying to avoid the potholes.
I drove about 700 kilometers in over a half a day. It is difficult to name it like the road, it’s more like an off-road. Today I realized that to ask of the locals about what road will be in front, is futile. After about 150 kilometers drive on a hardly narrated road coating, I inquired at a gas station about what road is expecting to be further. I was told that the road will be much better than it was before. Finally, I shook myself another 250 kilometers on exactly the same road condition, and in some places it was even worse.
The road was patchy in several places, the pits were just brewed, but it doesn’t make the situation better. The asphalt was just outpoured into a pit and how it was dumped and so it was left. Maybe it was trampled a bit. If the road level is regarded as 0, then the pothole is below zero let’s say about -5 centimeters. After the pothole was repaired instead of it the hillock occurred already +5 centimeters of height. It could be said that the roughness remains the same, only the different is whether it is a pothole or knoll. Very often it’s even not possible to circuit the holes and to drive slowly in many cases is worse than to drive fast.
There are some civilization wonders in small towns such as speed reducing hills .. they are in Russia for sure … known as “lying policemen”, but usually two times higher, like springboards. But even such road conditions do not prevent local drivers dart fast. I can’t imagine how often do the people repair the car suspensions here. Perhaps every each refueling. No matter what kind of cars the drivers ride here, but across the pits and hills they really go fast. Skoda Octavia has overtook even leaping, maybe some kind of sport shock-absorbers are mounted there. They flying over that off-road in speed 120-130 km/h. Some trucks also drive similarly, so the road becomes like a construction site. Here is full of white and red bricks, planks.
Without “lying policemen” there are also normal live policemen who measure the speed in roads where the speed limit is 50km/h. It’s a strange choice but apparently the purpose is to push the time, but not to catch something.
The relationship between police and motorcyclists is one more interesting topic. I was stopped only once during the entire trip of 24 000km. Although the maximum speed has been exceeded sometimes, much more frequent violation of Road Rules is a crossing of a solid line. There are particularly severe penalties in Russia for this violation, even taking away of the driving license for half a year. If the readers will forgive me, but sometimes it is hard to slog from behind a truck moving 80 kmh, when the visibility in front is only a few kilometers, but a solid line is drawn in an orderly manner. There were such overtakes also just before the police nose. However, the officials ostentatiously turn to the other side when saw the motorcyclists .
A question about the animals running across the road is also an interesting for many readers. I have encountered only three sparrows, because these birds are looking for food on asphalt. They swallow the insects that fall after a collision with a vehicle. If magpies, crows and jackdaw are more cautious, sparrows don’t move out of road and fly doubling back forward and can’t avoid a collision. Two sparrows came out for eternal rest after crashing into the windshield and one into the mirror. I didn’t meet the bigger animals in my way, although there are quite lot of crushed foxes, badgers on the road, who recklessly tried to taste the remains of crushed birds.
Day-to-day the same routine and finally when journey is going to the end you reach the main trip goal when you forget even who you are, what you are doing here and what is this here. I sincerely admit, I do not remember where I have slept last night. It was unremarkable town with unremarkable motel.
To travel back is easier not only for psychological reasons. It is easier to do it also for the time zone changing. If traveling to the eastern side of the Russia 1-2 hours disappeared every day, so on the way back every day has 25 or 26 hours. While the average speed in both directions was similar traveling forward I spent 8 days and 20 hours and on the way back I spent only for 7 days and 3 hours. The last day of my trip Murmansk – Vladivostok – Murmansk was unique to me not only because of the fact it was the last. It was the improvement of my personal best record. Within 25 hours from rest to rest I managed to drive 2,300 kilometers. I would like to finish a trip happily. On the last day the road was … Do you know how it looks highway in Germany? It’s nothing like here. My average speed was only 50 kilometers per hour in a road section of 200 kilometers. No, you didn’t trip up – it‘s 50. I’ve got a good dose of rain as usual at night and even one more “facilitation”. Because Murmansk is far above the Arctic Circle, so a real night lasted only a couple of hours. All other time was dusk, where visibility is worse than at night. But behold, the sun rose and I’ve been in Murmansk already.
One night’s lodging, 24 hours, 2050 kilometers and I‘m inVilnius. There is nothing much what to say about the trip part Murmansk – Vilnius. Journey similar to trip Vilnius – Klaipeda. The road is great, the mood is perfect. Thank you for your patience and attention.
Many thanks to:
Motorcycle Honda Crosstourer VFR1200
Continental Conti Trail attack tires
Helmet cleaning wipes Sonax
Auto/moto cosmetics Quixx
Rev’it Moto cloths
Sony NEX-5T camera
Sony AS100v – action camera
Garmin Montana navigation
Autobild Lithuania magazine
Online portal 15min.lt
P.S. I traveled with a beautiful motorcycle Honda wearing excellent Continental tires. From mosquitoes I “defended” with Sonax and Quixx cosmetics, from rain and wind with Revit clothing. Garmin navigation has helped me to achieve the purpose, Krieg flask rescued from thirst, portal 15min.lt told all stories about the trip, all photos and video material were obtained by Sony support. I found irreplaceable tool for Sony NEX series systematic camera for such journeys to take pictures. When there is no enough space for a large and heavy mirrored monster – it’s the best choice. I gathered video material even more compared to last year. I filmed with Sony NEX-5T and also with action camera with Sony AS100V. However, video movie in the near future probably you will not see. Since two-thirds of all travel was on the same path as last year, and during a year there were not so many changes on these roads so it does not make sence to make the second same video movie. You can see the trip of 2013 on: Lisabona-Vladivostokas 2013