Its been in my mind for a long time to visit Siberia. I think a trip to Alaska got me to thinking about how close Russia was to parts of that state. Alaska is really ‘Gods country’ as they say and so after reading about Siberia for a long while, it became a goal for me to go see it.
In the last 10 years I have become increasingly interested in outdoor activities and staying in shape. I’ve thought on and off about how cool it would be to cycle in the Pyrenees on some of the Tour De France segments, or do some rock climbing in Spain, or some running in Greece and the like. Then a couple of years ago I watched the classic motorcycle documentary ‘The Long Way Round’ , wherein Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did an around the world trip on BMW 1150 GS’s and that got me to start actively thinking about how I might do that solo and without a support team. Here is a clip of part of the road that they were on that is also part of my trip plan (see my Route)
I cogitated on and off about the fact that they had huge bikes and a big support team. I thought about some of the logistical problems and how a single guy might pull it off. Then I found out that there is a pretty good community of adventure bike riders and quite a number of guys doing stuff like this in teams and a few people doing solo round the world (rtw) motorcycle adventuring. Further there were plenty of adventure bike tour companies offering motorcycle or even bicycle tours through various parts of Sibera, Europe, Africa, and other places.
Another factor is a lot of time spent in the great outdoors and getting in good shape physically. I figure in a pinch I can cover about 100 miles on foot if I am ‘stuck’ somewhere. Now that’s not going to happen, but knowing for sure you can make it on foot in a 100 mile radius or more from wherever you might be adds to your confidence. With a pack that ends up being a lot further. My ability to navigate in the wild also has gotten good courtesy of GPS and conventional map and compass use.
Finally the psychological component was there. My mom died last year, my daughter got married to a wonderful guy, and I think I pissed off so many women that the “Get Out of Dodge” syndrome kicked in.
In January I decided that I was not going to spend the rest of my life doing what I had been doing and wanted to go do something really fun and unique. Fear of failing at the effort for me is not really a factor, it was a big one for McGregor and Boorman and the sheer risk of failure caused KTM to back out of providing bikes for their trip, but BMW did sponsor them. Me? I could fail utterly, but don’t really care about that. I can give it my best shot and be happy however far I might get. I have a plan but I’m supremely flexible and in no great hurry, with no goals other than to workout as I can, meet new people, and enjoy the experience wherever I might be.
Finally, this trip does have its risks, but the biggest ones are probably drunk drivers in Russia and other places, its not really all that risky beyond that.
- Start date: May 5th
- Bike: Suzuki DRZ 400 SM with numerous mods for adventure biking
- Lodging: Hybrid between hotels, moto camping, backpacking, and staying with friends or new friends
- Route and high points: Across the US(Grand Canyon, Monument Valley), by air from Montreal to Casablanca, across Gibraltar, to Spain(rock climbing/beaches), then along the Med, through France (biking/beaches), Italy (Florence and Venice/beaches), Croatia(beaches), Greece(beaches) to Athens, then over into Turkey (Istanbul, the alleged worst road in the world, and Khars where my moms Russian clan all hail), through Georgia (a bit sketchy on the political side), to Russia. Russia is hosting the World Cup when I am there so I’m trying to stay well south of all that mess, and going first to Stalingrad and then working my way to Novosibirsk. In Novosibirsk I’m going to reconfigure the bike to mostly off-road. From Novosibirsk south to the Atlai mountains where I hope to backpack, then onto Turkey and the Gobi desert, east to the Mongolian capitol of UlaanBattar, then north back into Russia up to Lake Baikail (swimming for sure), east to where the road splits either Yakutsk to the north or Vladivostok to the east, I’ll be going north to Yakutsk. Past Yakutsk lies Stalins’ Road of Bones, with one really challenging section and the part where I hope the DRZ will do its thing. The Road of Bones ends at Magadan on the Pacific coast where I’ll try and get a freighter to carry me and the bike by sea to Vladivostok, and from the by Ferry to South Korea to Donghae, then motorcycle across the peninsula to Seoul then to Anchorage, where I’ll reconfigure the bike again, back down the coast to Vista, CA.