Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Day 55 Friday August 22nd. 30 miles short of Ochanda

We awoke and started our day again with our mosquito friends. The campsite was beautiful however as you looked across from the lake to the mountains opposite with lines of clouds that seem to cling to the sides of the hills.

Geoff had been carrying a bag of powdered milk in his top pannier, and this had ruptured with all the rough riding. He had to empty his pannier and aw hit in the lake to remove all the milk.

At the first river crossing we came to Frank who was leading set off towards the river and got stuck in the middle. Dave and Geoff dutifully waded into the river to help Frank get across. When In the river Dave and Geoff looked over to the side and there a short distance away was a perfectly reasonable dilapidated bridge. So right at the started the day Dave and Geoff had wet feet which they needn't have had if Frank had used the bridge!!

Today was a day of dilapidated bridge crossings and like Paul previously Dave dropped the back end of his bike through a rotten timber and it had to be lifted out. We all were thinking "what if" ?

Fuel stops now have to be planned and we need to use the jerry cans we are carrying to get us between fuel stops. At the next town we stopped for fuel and then went to the shop to stock up with water and food. We then went to an adjacent hot food stall where we had meat pasties and coffee for breakfast.
Mountains without mosquitos lunch

After refuelling ourselves and the bikes we set off again and made good progress along flat gravelly roads. This however creates a lot of dust and we have to ride well separated to avoid blocking the air filters on the bikes too quickly.

Frank hit some soft sand and had a major fishtail waggle of the back end of the bike at speed but just managed to control it without incident.

The road eventually took us up into the mountains and we stopped to take in the views and decided to have lunch not because it was lunch time, or that we were hungry just that there were no mosquitos and we wanted to stay there as long as possible!

As we came down from the mountains we came upon a recovery truck trying to winch a Lada 4 x 4 jeep out of the trees at the side of the road!

We arrived at a very large river where we thought we would have to either get a Kamas vehicle across, or use the train bridge, but as we arrived at the road bridge we discovered the road blocked, but workmen in the process of repairing the bridge. At first they said the road was blocked, but then relented and indicated we could use the beautiful new carriageway. The only problem was getting onto the carriageway but they pulled together some planks, and rallied around to help us when we were struggling to get up.

Again after a long day we struggled to find a suitable campsite. In the end as we approached a village we saw a field at the side of the road and quickly set about setting up camp. There was a lake close by but you could not get access because of the boggy ground between us and the lakeside.

Geoff had noticed that as he rode over the dips and bumps in the road the movement of his back panniers felt different. On inspection it became clear that more welds had failed and jubilee clips were fastened on both sides to keep him going until we can get it welded. The root cause of this problem is that Geoff is foolishly carrying the damaged shock absorber from Dave's bike!

For some reason ( probably because we were in a field at the side of a village) we decided we didn't need to put up the bear fence. At one o'clock in the morning dogs started to bark. At first just one or two, but then more and more and within 30 mins it seemed like there were 10-20 dogs all close by. Paul and Frank were the first to sense some possible danger. We had been warned by our motorbike mechanic friend in Novosibirsk that in fact wild dogs were a greater danger in Siberia than bears. They got up and put on their motorcycle gear for protection and quickly poured some petrol and made a fire. Geoff followed soon behind, but no amount of shouting from us could awake Dave. Frank went and shook his tent and he still didn't wake. Eventually we were all up and collecting firewood in the dark to keep a fire going all night. Frank and Paul put up the bear fence. The barking gradually moved off to further away, and at 3am we all settled back to try and go back to sleep. Nobody saw a dog, but they were certainly close by. Wether they were wild dogs we will never know, but since then we always put up the electric fence!

More later

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