Since beginning of last week the KLR and I started our riding with the sun low on our backs. We were going west for nearly a week and then turned north for the long ride to the Arctic Circle.
The most beautiful feeling every day is to get onto the KLR after it had been packed. The bike is carrying a heavy load. With the yellow bag behind my back there is just enough place to settle down and be comfortable. I can only imagine that a fighter pilot in the cramped cockpit of his jet would feel the same like me on the KLR: Perfect harmony with your means of transport.
OK, I know, the KLR is not quite as fast as an F-16 or a MIG. But which pilot can testify that he’d crashed his plane and then flew further? I did that many times with the KLR and we are still moving.
The good people in Luga where I stayed my first night in Russia nearly a month ago invited me back to them for a last farewell. So I was aiming for Luga, using highway and secondary roads, gravel and sand roads, and rode around the mud. But I got there at last.
Here are some images of the last few days’ riding.
During the Soviet times many churches were converted into discos, clubs or public buildings.
We had a lot of rain in the south and I was afraid that further north the roads could be a mess, but reaching the more northern parts it was dry with no rain at all. I would lie if I don’t admit that I was so relieved!
Have you ever tried to ride on gravel with only your right hand on the handle bar, and with your left hand you try to take a photograph of the dust trail following the bike? Not easy. Not to recommend either.
Soggy forest roads, but I followed the advice of Charley Boorman. If there is an easier option, go for it! I managed to ride around the mud. Sorry Neil, you have to wait for the photograph of me lying in the mud.
As I got to Luga the fridge was again nearly emptied onto the table. I was so privileged, and honoured, to meet the angel people from Luga.
Everyone had to go back to work and I decided after an eight-hour ride I would shower outside in the garden and then sleep for an hour or so. I was woken by a friend of the family, only Russian speaking. She is the owner of the hairdresser saloon where a month ago I asked for a place to stay the night with the huge downpour. Yesterday she took me to her saloon, let me sit down and started cutting my hear and trimming my beard! After that she took me out for supper. Just a pity we couldn’t speak a word to each other.
The angel lady of a month ago who fed me chocolates and hot tea when I walked into their saloon, soaking wet.
My wonderful hosts and their son-in-law in their “magazin”. The moment when I have the correct spelling of their names I will update this post.
The got this bottle of very special Vodka from them as gift. Neil, Eeton, Dick, we have a date.
Victoria, one of the daughters of my hosts, proudly showed me her and her husband’s house with banja and vegetable garden. Victoria can speak English and over her I could communicate with the parents.
One of the special memories of my Russian ride: To go swimming in a Russian lake at 22:30. The water was not that cold. While floating in the cool water six ducks passed within two meters of me, paying no attention to me.
Tomorrow I will write about one of the highlights of my ride, the visit to the Amber Room.
When I start riding again I will be heading to Rovaniemi, a city on the Arctic Circle. I should be there late next week. According to Wikipedia the average annual temperature there is 0,1 degrees Centigrade. It should be warmer now as winters there go as low as -47 degrees. I would be happy with 10 degrees. So I should survive quite well. I have two inner layers that I will add to my riding clothes the moment when it really gets cold.
I am going to miss the midnight sun with about a week and a half. Until 7 July Rovaniemi had no nights at all.
Regards from the far north!