Saturday, 9 August 2014

Day 39 Wednesday 6th August. Zherdovka, 20 miles north of Irkutsk

Today turned out to be a busy hot sweaty day.

We started with Paul going to the bank and Geoff going to try and sort out his failing Russian beeline sim-card. Dave and Frank started on the bike jobs of changing two batteries, changing the chain on Geoff's bike, and cleaning air filters.

Geoff had two hours of Victor Meldrew moments. In the end he established that the Beeline sim-card he had been sold west of Moscow as unlimited data and no roaming charges anywhere in the Russian Federation did attract roaming charges in the Irkutsk region only. Nobody could explain why Irkutsk region is the only region in Russia that charges that sim-card for data roaming, or why the good lady in the Beeline shop west of Moscow had failed to mention this point, or where in the contract I had signed it states this fact, however he did manage to get the data roaming charges reversed, but had to end up buying another sim-card for the Irkutsk region to avoid high data charges.

Eventually all loaded up and ready to leave the posh hotel, and with well wishes and onlookers there to wave us off we had the embarrassing moment where Dave's bike would not start. After a little interrogation of how he had washed and cleaned his air filter it became clear that dousing it in water for 30 mins and then putting it ringing wet straight back into the bike is not conducive to getting an engine to start. We changed his air filter for a dry one and hey presto! we were away to pick up the front "Shinto" tyres we had ordered from a Continental garage yesterday.
Picked up the tyres and Dave asked the garage if they could help with trying to get the bead to sit correctly on the rim of his wheel. The young garage mechanic tried everything he could but couldn't get the bead to sit correctly. After about 40 mins and with copious amounts of tyre lubricant, and holding the tyre in the correct position it eventually popped into place. The whole workshop gave a cheer, it had been a tough job.

We went to the shop where our tyres had been delivered for us to see if the air filters ordered from England had arrived. We knew that they had been shipped on the 29th July by Royal Mail Air Service, but when you check the tracking number it doesn't tell you an expected delivery date, just that the parcel had been delivered to the Russian Federation Mail services. Needless to say the filters had not arrived, so we said to Axel in the shop that when they eventually arrive he can have them as a present from us. Those filters had cost £80 to buy and ship to Russia!

Geoff discussed his continuing dead leg with the others over breakfast.
Paul told his story of having a similar experience and he had to have major back surgery to make it better, but it is still not right. That's what friends are for to cheer you up and share the burden of a problem!!

It seemed Geoff had three choices:
1) Whilst in Irkutsk get in touch with a doctor and start to investigate the problem here in Russia.
2) Put his bike on the train now in Irkutsk and go home to get it checked out back in the UK.
3) Continue with the motorbike riding on to the BAM road and see how things develop.

He chose 3).

When we came to ride out of Irkutsk Paul was leading and his sat-nav decided to take us down back roads. At one point we were all parked in the middle of a busy road trying to turn left, and all feeling mighty uncomfortable that at any minute some speeding Russian would plough into all four of us. Clearly this didn't happen!

We stopped to camp about 20 miles north of Irkutsk at a pleasant riverside location.

Frank then very kindly put his dirty gloves on and proceeded to change the oil on all the bikes (noticing that Dave had put his last oil filter in back to front). The considered opinion was that the engine had probably still got plenty oil, but it wouldn't be filtered properly. Air filters were checked again and two washed and put out to dry. Dave adjusted the tappets on his bike as it had been sounding a little tappetty.

We dug a pit and burnt the old engine oil along with all the plastic packing etc. the campsite being left in pristine condition in the morning.

More later

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