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Georgia to New Zealand - My Journey Home (page 8)

I left Ulan-Ude early on a grey morning but the weather stayed mostly dry for the 600k to Chita except for a couple quick thunderstorms. I’ve been hearing about the wildfires that are happening in Siberia and I started to see some of the smoke from them today.

It was a big day for me distance wise but with only about 100k of that dirt roads I felt pretty good when I reached the Russian biker post I stayed at.

I think Mongolia has helped my riding fitness for sure.

Only one person spoke English and the dorm style room was pretty humble but it’s a donation only policy so it makes it the cheapest place in town to stay. I also have been having some issues with my starter motor so I thought it would be a good place to work on that the next day.

The next morning I had planned on pulling my starter motor off to clean it but I looked out the window and saw the sun so not wanting to pass up taking advantage of the fine weather I just packed up and hit the road early and I smashed out another 600k to Mogocha.

The rain held off and it was actually pretty warm but the sun started to fade away the deeper I rode into Siberia.

3.2 million hectares are engulfed by wildfires now and I just read Russia has declared a state of emergency.

Apparently the local people are pretty upset the government didn't react earlier.

In 2015 Russia reintroduced an old Soviet era policy that allows the government the right not to extinguish the fires if the cost to do so is more than the value of the wood burnt.

So up goes the area of Belgium with no regard to the environment or people living in the areas.

I was starting to get concerned at one stage when it got very thick and I wondered how well they actually keep track of it and how quick they could react to closing the road. I had seen very little traffic most of the day and I’ve dealt with smoke from wildfires coming down from Alaska before but nothing as thick as this.

I found a cheap hotel in the next town and the lady shows me a room with one big bed with its own toilet and bathroom and says it’s 2000 (about US$30). It's shitty and overpriced.

Opposite the hall she shows me a room with 2 beds no toilet or shower but there's one down the hall and it’s a bit cheaper. No problem so I take it.

Before I take the room I ask her if there is hot water. She says yes.

Once settled I go to take a shower. No hot water.

I go down with Google translate and they get pissed off and say in 1 hour you get hot water.

An hour later I go to the shower and there is only hot water. Scolding hot you can't stand under it. No cold at all.

I go try explain but they turn their back on me and basically make me feel like I'm just a dick.

I went out to find something to eat without much luck and I go back to my room and the receptionist lady sees me and follows me to my room with another guy.

I unlock my door and she points to the other bed... hang on this isn't a bloody dorm room.

She doesn't speak English, I don't speak Russian but I know how to say no... she gets mad but I just look and say het (NO) she motions me to take some stuff off the other bed then I say no f@#king way then she gets so mad yells and slams the door really hard.

I don't give a rat’s arse how mad she is but I paid for the room not the bed and there were other rooms. I have been to some places where you have to share or pay for the bed but this wasn’t one of them. Not for the price she charged me.

Not wanting to deal with the mad lady again I shot out of there early (btw I left her a little present... not intentionally and not that little but the toilet didn't flush)

I got to the next town about 3.30 after 585k. One place was booked and the other had a shitty room with four beds that are the single short ones with a foot board. I’m not dealing with that so I went and brought a couple bags of noodles and beers and thought I would just keep riding until I found a place to camp.

I keep getting told not to camp because of all the bears but I'm yet to see one and I have spent months camping through Canada and Alaska and I don’t think the bears here are any hungrier than there.

I found a pretty sweet little spot by the river about an hour later.

The next morning my hips woke me up early so I was packed and on the road by 7.30.

I stopped to take a photo then I noticed my skid plate was missing. Shit I remember hearing something hours ago but I just thought it was another rock hitting it. I was kicking myself because I normally cable tie the hand disconnect bolt but I hadn’t this time and I had removed it the night before as I had been working on my bike. I was going to have to do something about that before the 2000k of gravel I had ahead of me on the ROB.

By the time I got to the next town which was the next stopping point it was only about 1.30 so I thought I would just continue to ride.

I grabbed a drink and kept riding towards the next town I saw on the map that was about 270k away thinking I would stay there. When I arrived I found out there weren’t any hotels in the little town and I didn’t even have cell service here.

I grabbed a feed at the only little restaurant contemplating my next move and while eating three girls came in and sat down at the table next to me. One spoke very good English and I found out they were just on a day road trip and heading back to Yakutsk.

It made me think that as beat as I was it was till doable to get there before dark. I had already done 700k by now.

I finished up quickly and hit the road again meeting the girls again at the gas station where they wanted to take selfies with me and we exchanged Instagram details.

Photo 6 of Georgia to NZ - My Journey Home (page 8)

The next couple hundred K the road wasn’t as bad as I’ve had but it wasn’t exactly smooth either and my butt was starting to tell me enough is enough bro you are on a 5 hundy remember.

Yakutsk sits on the river Lena and unfortunately for me it’s on the other side of it from where I was so I still had to catch a ferry to cross it which is nearly an hour and by now all I wanted was a normal shower and my butt nowhere near my bike.

On the ferry I was looking at places on Booking.com but when I got to Yakutsk I couldn’t find them and with it dark now around 9pm and starting to lightly rain I just couldn’t be bothered worrying about my budget and I stopped at the next decent hotel I rode by.

It ended up been the nicest place I’ve stayed at for the last 4 months but after pulling a 925k day and making it to Yakutsk a day earlier than I had planned I tried not to feel guilty and told myself I deserved it.

The next day I woke up to pouring rain. It didn’t let up all day and I was so thankful to have put in the massive day the day before and I took advantage of having a decent sized room by spreading my wet tent out and started to do my laundry in the bathtub.

The following day was fine and I used it to spend it working on my bike. I did a oil change, replaced the air filter (I carry 2 normally sometimes 3).

I had been racking my brains what to do about making a skid plate and I decided to cut one of my Giant Loop Bushwacker handguards up. They were plastic, bendable, big enough and all they needed to do was stop a rock hitting the case so I thought it would be perfect.

Now they say stupidity should be painful and I won’t deny what I did next was both.

I was using my leatherman to shape my new skid plate the whole time trying to be careful then I went to puncture a hole in it for a cable tie and before I knew it bam it went though but sliced to the edge of the plastic and straight into my finger. You know that feeling when you know it’s bad without even looking? I looked down to see blood pouring on the ground. I held it and kept seeing blood come through my fingers. I took a look and yeah I knew it was going to need stitches I grabbed it in my shirt and ran into the lobby of the hotel.

As soon as the ladies say it one looked like she was going to faint and the other rushed me to a back room. There happened to be a doctor at the hotel and they got her and while we were cleaning it over a sink she confirmed it would need to be stitched. The ladies were so nice and even though they didn’t speak English you could tell by one rubbing my shoulder and the other strangely patting my head they felt sorry for me.

So off to the hospital Aaron went in an old school Russian ambulance feeling pretty pissed of with myself. What an idiot.

The hospital was old looking building with tiles falling off the wall and dimly lit corridors. No one spoke English but I seemed to get through the system okay and after an hour or so I was standing back on the street with my finger bandaged up. On the Brightside I did find out that your first visit to a Russian hospital is free.

I couldn’t find a taxi so I walked the 3k back to the hotel in my riding gear with a throbbing finger and thinking about how much it’s going to suck trying to ride with this.

Back in my room a couple hours later I went to put my shoe on and felt a pop then looked down to see blood streaming out of the bandage onto the floor. Crap I’m guessing I popped the stitches. I went back to the lobby and once again off to the hospital but with firm instructions form the receptionist to get someone to call them before I left so they could get me a taxi back from the hospital this time.

Now I’m not a doctor so I’m not sure if they couldn’t give me another local in the finger but this time the doctor who had given me prescriptions earlier did the stitching and he didn’t seem to think I needed it because there wasn’t an injection and he went right to work using a much heavier thread this time I noticed.

I have to admit the first time he went through I let out a little bit of a oww F##k and he just looked at me and said mosquito bite. I’m not sure how big the mozzies are there but shit that’s one heck of a bite.

He certainly made sure it wasn’t going to pop open again and I’m happy to say that they have a good return policy as I didn’t get charged for my second visit either.

So here I find myself with fresh stitches in my finger that’s to big to put in my glove and the Road of Bones ahead of me to tackle which is 2000k of gravel, potholes, mud without much of anything else but the remoteness of the Siberian landscape and a few small towns spread far apart. I don’t always make things easy for myself do I.

I had planned on leaving the next day but with all the rain of late I found out both the roads closer to Magadan were shut due to landslides and I felt it would be better to give my finger a couple days to heal a little. The last thing I wanted was for it to pop the stitches again a day or two in and not be near any medical help.

So for the next few days I finished that skid plate and working on my bike. I went to the Mammoth museum and remember the girls I had met earlier? Well one felt sorry for me and came to visit me a couple times. She said I deserved it and I couldn’t of agreed more.

Aaron_Steinmann
Author of this article: Aaron_Steinmann
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