Reaching the Omskaya Oblast was a challenge today. The flat landscape laid the way for a strong cross/head wind, which was against us all day. The headwind component robbing power from the engine and making it physically tough on the neck and shoulders. The crosswind component was the worst though.
Winds crossing from left to right meant riding on a lean to the left. Trucks coming the other way (of which there were many) had their advancing pressure wall blown across my path. The resulting turbulence was extreme and meant 2 hands on the bars at all times.
The road being long, straight and flat meant lots of overtaking, where oncoming cars can be seen a long way off. It’s a recipe for accidents, I’d had to move towards the gutter a few times. My sidestand switch started playing up causing a miss-fire, usually when passing a truck and I needed power the most.
This morning we were up early (ish), got packed and away down the road. Novosibirsk is an excellent place, mostly because of the special people we met there. It was good to get a last meal with everyone, I hope I managed to adequately thank them at the end of the night!
Our original plan was to get half way to Omsk and wild camp. I figured 650 km in a day is doable, but not fun. Besides which, we might miss something cool along the way. The locals thought that was a dumb plan.
“Why stop? There is nothing to see, there is nothing. Omsk? 1 day, 1 day. ”
That certainly proved to be correct. The landscape is completely flat and didn’t change for over 500km. Low scrub or sometimes farm fields. But mostly nothing. No rivers, lakes, streams, hills, mountains, valleys. Nothing. I can safely say that at the motel 100km out of Omsk we’ve missed nothing.
If it’s your last night in Novosibirsk and it’s also a Friday night, then you might as well make it a big one. Right? Wrong! After a succession of big nights, what I needed most was a booze free early night. As it turned out we had a small night out, which by Russian standards is a big night anywhere else!
Yesterday I found a pub that was nice and quiet, with good food. It had a Bavarian feel to it, not Russian at all. At Kiril’s garage I asked Maga if they wanted to join us there for dinner. The idea being I could walk back to the hostel at any time. When I arrived there was a band on and the place was humming.
We ended up at Misha’s flat, which is very nice. He and Yujin had a couple of different flavoured hookas on the go which were great. I’ll have to get one when I get home. No tobacco, it’s more like dried fruit that smokes over ice cooled water. Very nice.
After that we went out to go bowling but everywhere was closed, so we were taken to a night club. Aside from a Turkish prison, it’s probably the last place I wanted to be right then. Night clubs have never really been my thing. Misha obviously had confections as we sent straight in, jumping the queue.
I was handed a beer and stood motionless watching the world go by, until Yujin took pity on me and asked if I wanted to share a taxi home. It was very generous of Misha to get us in, I almost felt guilty about leaving. Almost!
A relatively early night, I was in bed by 3am. This morning I was up early to cook myself a full English breakfast. It’s not something you see here and I just fancied one. The sausages were a bit too German, but otherwise I reckon I made a reasonable job of it.
As it’s been a fairly slow couple of days, I’ve taken the opportunity to do some planning on where to go after Russia. It’ll be Europe obviously, which is near enough home, but there are quite a few options from St. Petersburg to England.
It’ll be cold, but I’m thinking of bombing up to Murmansk. Being the furthest north-westerly city it’ll mean I’ve have traversed all of Russia. (Rather than leaving Russia from St. Petersburg). From Murmansk I can cross the border to Norway.
This is the only border between the former Soviet Union and NATO. It’s well inside the Arctic circle, which means I’ll have ridden from a point on the earth where the sun is directly overhead – to a point where the sun never gets above the horizon. Cool! (Or cold, I’ll let you know!).
Norway is notoriously expensive and I’m (allegedly) notoriously tight, so I’ll drop down into Finland ASAP! I’ll also be glad of the rising temperatures again for sure. Once I get to the Baltic sea I’ll follow the coast round to Sweden, take the bridge to Copenhagen in Denmark. Germany, Holland and maybe the ferry from Hamster Jam.
At the end of the night more people arrived. They were tattoo artists and their work was stunning. One guy had portraits on his legs that looked just like photos.
In the early evening we went to Kiril’s garage to see if I can do an oil change there. No problem of course. Kiril had a few goldwings apart there and it was interesting to see how Honda engineers them. The free riders turned up and before long the BBQ was on. Dinner was laid on and a great night ensued.
The free riders, as far as I can gather, is a kind of non-club of friends. I didn’t fully get the concept, but they’re a great bunch. Bankir (with the bowler on) lives in Omsk, and already we’ve been invited to stay there. That happens to be our next major city before Kazakhstan, so once again the planets are aligning nicely.
We found out later that Ken’s shock is in Moscow right now. It’ll be a couple of days yet before it arrives. (Hopefully by Friday and not Monday!). I have good quality oil on order which is also due on Friday. It could turn out to be a busy day!
I’m not sure who these three people are, but they were flanking Lenin in the square. Their reflection in the puddle made quite a striking image.