Our 2012 trip was originally thought up after the Charlie and Ewan round the world documentary, say whatever about them but they did bring adventure motorbike travelling onto TV and into the public domain. So the seed had been sown and the talking started, originally it was between 3 of us and only just chatting about the possibilities of riding the “Road of Bones”. After a couple of years of it being placed on the back burner due to work and other commitments, it was resurrected by a visit to one of Austin Vince’s talks on his trips across Russia in Mondo Enduro and Terra Cirra (great talks, very funny).
By 2010 the talking had become more serious and we had started looking at routes, equipment, what bikes would be best for what conditions, etc. After another couple of Austin Vince talks, HUBB meetings and message board research, we decided to fix a date (well more like a year and window of travel). Next decision was route, bike shipping, and which direction to ride, either east to west or west to east.
The route’s main objectives were the “Road of Bones” actually the old summer road part and Magadan’s Mask of Sorrow, but while researching this we came across some articles by Walter Colebatch on this road called the BAM?. So after meeting him at the Ripley HUBB meeting in 2011, we planned to add this to our objectives as it looked much more interesting than the federal highway route. Next was which way to travel… starting from London and finishing at Magadan or starting at Magadan and finishing in London. There are pro’s and con’s to both ways, but we decided that shipping to Magadan and riding home would be the better option. Both the bikes and us would be fresh for the hardess parts of the ride, we would’nt be able to backout just after starting and psychologically ever day we would be getting nearer to home.
As we were looking at doing some fairly serious off road / trails along with some tarmac mile munching we needed bikes capable as all rounders bias on the off road side as that was the priority and possibly the more dangerous part. We agreed to all have the same bike as this simplifies spares, maintenance, and all round knowledge. The bike choosen was the KTM 690 enduro, it’s light enough to pick up when fully loaded on your own, has a smooth LC4 single cylinder 65bhp motor, and based on the dakar bike so you know it can withstand a lot of punishment.
Shipping the bikes was another debate, getting to or from Magadan is not so easy as it is practically in the middle of nowhere! Research on the HUBB showed possibilities of shipping to South Korea, then to Vladivostok, and onto Magadan. All a bit of a pain and very expensive for just a few bikes, plus the travel to South Korea, Vladivostok, then Magadan would eat into the travel time. We all work so 8 weeks was the maximum time allowed for this journey, after much research we came up with the shipping idea of getting the bikes to St Petersburg (riding and ferries via Esbjerg, Kiel and Ust Luga) then internal freight to Vladivostok where it would be placed on a container ship to Magadan. We would then fly out to Magadan when the bikes were scheduled to arrive, this was actually about half the price of the other options plus the bikes would be already registered in Russia so we only need to pick up and go!.
So everything sorted, unfortunately one of the original 3 had to drop out due to work commitments so that left just myself Mark Kemp and Kevin Emans for the adventure. Bikes were ridden and ferried to St Petersburg, then crated up whilst we flew home to work for another month. The route was planned during this period starting at Magadan then riding the Tenkinskaya Trakt, old summer road, western BAM, down through Mongolia and across Russia and Ukraine meeting friends in L’viv finially riding through Europe and home.