Kandyga to Yakutsk

Today we plan to get as close as possible to Yakutsk but with 400km of the M56, the forest fires and the dust from the road to contend with we’re not sure if we’ll get all the way In one day!

Lenin at Kandyga

Lenin at Kandyga

So fuel up and off we go with not a great start, the road was a mess with deep lose stone from the road works and four large ridges in between of the truck tracks. Thick smoke and thicker dust it was not an enjoyable ride.

M56 Koylma to Aldan river

M56 Koylma to Aldan river

Got to the Aldan ferry but due to the smoke the captain wouldn’t leave for safety reasons luckily when the smoke got worse he did leave! What’s that all about?

Aldan river Ferry

Aldan river Ferry

Aldan river ferry forest fires

Aldan river ferry forest fires

As soon as we boarded the ferry we were surrounded by kids all very interested in us and the bikes, In fact everywhere we go we’re like a couple of celebs people gather round want to know where we’ve been where we’re going and why are we doing it!ed

Aldan river ferry

Aldan river ferry

So three hours later than expected we’re off the ferry and back on the shitty road heading for a cafe, another of Walter’s waypoints and stopped for a bit of lunch. Then off for the Lena river ferry, after lunch the smoke started to clear and the road got better with less traffic/dust so we were happy!

Statue on M56 on the way to Yakutsk

Statue on M56 on the way to Yakutsk

M56 Kolyma to Yakutsk

M56 Kolyma to Yakutsk

Then onto the Lena ferry about 7pm where we got talking to Nick and Anna, Anna is an English teacher and Nick studied in the US so both had great English.

Ferry to Yakutsk

Ferry to Yakutsk

After talking to Nick and Anna for half an hour or so they asked us where we were staying, we told them we were going to find somewhere when we got to the centre of Yakutsk. They offered us to stay with them as they had a garage for the bikes and it would be late to start looking for accommodation, so we followed them home. When we arrived at their house Anna started clearing out their bedroom whilst Nick made us tea, it was only when they bought us to their room we realised and felt bad that they would do this for us but they were more than happy! By the time we had got our stuff in the room Nicks mum had arrived to cook for us. I’m amazed at how these people took us into their home, two complete strangers on motorbikes. So we chatted for a couple of hours had a hot shower (first since we left the UK) and to bed.

Distance travelled 429kms Max Altitude 250mtrs
Total Distance travelled 1885kms

Tomtor to Kandyga

Woke this morning after 10 hours sleep and still feel knackered, the old summer road is a fantastic track but tiring or maybe we are trying to do too much each day. I think the incident with the mad hic in the hunters lodge took it out of us a bit as we ended up riding late into the night even though we were already worn out!

Tomtor

Tomtor

Tomtor is a little town in the absolute middle of nowhere but has a nice feeling about it and Tatyana’s hospitality is second to none. Her husband went off and made Kev a replacement lug for one of his panniers as it fell off somewhere along the road. After we fixed Kev’s bike we rode to be pole of cold monument on the main road near the Tomtor sign leading to the centre. The actual place with the coldest inhabited recorded temperature of -71.2c is slightly south called Oymyakon.

Tomtor Pole of Cold

Tomtor Pole of Cold

There is a small museum in the centre which we visited, the curator did her best to show us bits from the gulags and information about the local people who by all accounts live to a ripe old age. One man lived to 125 years and had a son when he was 70 (I suppose there is not much to do in the winter months)!

Tomtor Centre

Tomtor Centre

We left around midday and started off on the second half of the road of bones, the sun was out it was warm and the road from Tomtor out is still well maintained unlike the bridges so plenty of river crossings ahead.

Old summer road bridge

Old summer road bridge

After about 3 hours of riding and we got to the end of the old summer road, during the ride we saw a bear on the road but as Kev rode towards it the noise from his exhaust scared it off into the forest. We crossed the Kyubyume river and refuelled at the station just north of the exit to the M56.

Kyubyume river crossing

Kyubyume river crossing

Next stop Kandyga another 270km along the M56 Kolyma highway, the whole way along the M56 were road works with gravel traps and boulders. With the dust from the lorries this was much tougher then the old summer road! you could not see a thing when you come up to a lorry but you had to overtake otherwise you sat in the dust cloud at 30mph. It was a risky and unpleasant ride then the last 50 km or so we had the smoke from the forest fires to contend with as well!
Kandyga was a dusty smokey rundown town and we looked for a place to stay from one of Walter’s waypoints and pulled up outside a block of flats with 2 people standing smoking by the front door. We stopped and I  spoke to them in my best/worse Russian and it turned out that it was the B&B. Although it didn’t look good from the outside the inside was great Oxana and Roman her husband were very nice and looked after us well. We had a plan that at 11 o’clock we could put our bikes in the container for safety but by 10 o’clock we were both fast asleep so Roman blocked the bikes in where they were with his car! Good man Roman!

Distance travelled 483kms Max Altitude 1470mtrs
Total Distance travelled 1456kms

Road to Tomtor

Kev said the best thing about me burning all my kit was that I had the fire roaring when I woke this morning!

Campsite in the morning on the old summer road.

Campsite in the morning on the old summer road.

I had both our kits to lay on and throw over me but was still freezing cold in the morning so was up early fetching fire wood, we had a bit of breakfast which I think was Hungarian beef with noddle’s and headed off. The day started cold and drizzly but after a couple or hours the sun came out and we had a fantastic days riding, the road from the hunters lodge to Tomtor is a great track to ride.

Old summer road track

Old summer road track

Old summer road track

Old summer road track

Old summer road bog

Old summer road bog

Old summer road river crossing.

Old summer road river crossing.

Mozzie nets!

Mozzie nets!

We arrived in Tomtor knackered and hot but whilst refuelling and talking about maybe finding Tatyanna’s guest house she pulled up next to us and introduced herself what a result! She took us to the house and sent her husband off to get some nuts and bolts to replace some we had lost along the road they really are a great couple! Around 8pm Kev passed out and didn’t wake until 8am the next day!

Tatayana's guest house Tomtor.

Tatayana’s guest house Tomtor.

Distance travelled 188kms Max Altitude 1244mtrs
Total Distance travelled 973kms

Hunters lodge RoB

Drunk Russian hunter escape!

On arriving at the hunters lodge we found a drunk Russian in residence which obviously messed with our plans a bit but we were wet and cold, he invited us in offered us tea and seemed OK but we soon realized he was a bit mad! He was trying to tell us about the Russian Afgan war and that he was in the 4th Battalion then started doing machine gun and throat cutting gestures to us. We didn’t fancy sleeping in the same room as him so tried to explain that we wanted to sleep in an old Banya across the dirt road. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept trying to get us to sleep in the hut with him, after an hour of going around in circles we decided it was time to leave and look elsewhere. Whilst packing up I looked over to Kev who was nearest the hut and saw that the nutter had followed us out a couple of minutes later with a shotgun! Shit this wasn’t good, he was standing there waving it around and shouting in a drunken slur, then BANG! he lets a round off near Kev’s bike. At this point we both thought are time was up, but as Kev is a bigger target and was nearer to him than me I still stood a chance to escape 🙂 . So in that split second after the shot was fired we jumped him, killed him with bare hands and buried him in the forest! (Kidding). We actually tried to pacify him but it’s very difficult when you don’t speak drunken Russian, eventually he calmed down and let another round off at a fence panel showing us they were blanks. They were probably used to frighten bears away, but it didn’t matter we were off before he could reload with real cartridges! So now it was 9.30pm raining, cold and getting dark and we were riding the “Road of Bones” how romantic 🙂 . I had no sleep mat or bag and a tent with a fly sheet that only covered half the back and we’re heading further into the wilderness and this is only the second day of travel!.

Rob at night

Riding the old summer road at night.

We rode for a couple of hours away from the nutter got in well off the road and built a nice big fire and made camp.

Camping on the road of bones.

Camping on the road of bones.

The rain had stopped so we sat and ate another freeze dried meal and talked about what we should have done in the little situation earlier!

Distance travelled 466kms Max Altitude 1200mtrs
Total Distance travelled 785kms

Kadychan deserted city

Suseman to Kadychan is about 60km’s of dusty gravel road full of trucks servicing Ust Nera the mining town at the top of the M56 Kolyma.

Kadychan from the M56

Kadychan from the M56

Lenin at Kadychan

Kadychan Lenin looking the worse for wear!

Kadychan1

Kadychan

Kadychan2

Kadychan

Kadychan4

Kadychan

Kadychan5

Kadychan

From here it was only a short ride to the start of the Road of Bones and we were both very excited but it was getting late so we were going to head for the hunters cabin which is about 40 km in and camp there for the night, We needed shelter for mark as he had set fire to his entire camping kit shortly after leaving our first camp.

Bear Hunters on the RoB

Bear Hunters on the old summer road near Kadychan.

On the way to the Hunters lodge we came across a group of hunters looking for bears. They asked if we had a gun and were shocked when we said no and that we would be camping.

 

Suseman last stop to the RoB

Up bright and breezy this freezing cold morning built up the fire for a warm up and breakfast before setting off for Suseman which is the last fuel stop before the road of bones and Tomtor.

1st Campsite

28th July and we have a thick frost in the morning!

About an hour into the ride my exhaust decided to set light to the indicator which burned through a strap causing the rear roll bag to drop onto the wheel! this caused it to lock up skidding the bike along at 50+mph on gravel is not much fun…

It’s a know issue with the 690 and should have altered the indicator location but didn’t bother, you live and learn!

Kit Destroyed

One destroyed exped, sleeping bag, tent(almost), rollbag, silk liner, and inflatable pillow = uncomfortable nights!

Burnt Indicator

Who needs sleeping equipment and indicators anyway!

Once the remaining usable kit was repacked we headed off to Suseman for our final fuel stop before Tomtor. This is the last inhabited place for several hundred km’s until you reach Tomtor so stocking up on as much fuel as you can carry is imperative just in case!

Suseman

Suseman.

Suseman is very much a dead end town and getting there from the end of the Tenkinskaya Track meant going 40km in the wrong direction down the dustiest road we have ever ridden. The M56 is a compacted dirt rocky road and trying to pass the lorries that are throwing up the dust is seriously dangerous, you really cannot see a thing so your hitting rocks and gravel ridges with no warning as you overtake.

Suseman Kids

There is a cafe in Suseman where we had hoped to get something to eat but unfortunately it was closed so headed straight back out after stopping for fuel. Next stop Kadychan which is a deserted city that once housed 10000 plus people, the story goes that one day during the winter the heating broke so they all upped and left!

 

Magadan and the Tenkinskaya Trakt

We finally left Magadan around 4 pm and headed out for Tenkinskaya Trakt, we probably should have stayed another night in Mag but were chomping at the bit now after waiting for the bikes for 3 days!

Bike crates

Delivery for Emans!….

Bikes at Mask of Sorrow

Mask of Sorrow from the back.

Mask of Sorrow front view

You can’t leave Magadan without a shot of the front.

We sat at the bottom of the mask of sorrow setting our sat navs when a guy on a cruiser came by and insisted on leading us out to the track, which was great except he only rode about 30 mph and we had about 40 miles to the start!

Losha Magadan biker

Magadan biker (Polar Bears Club) Losha, only 12 members.

We rode the track for 2 hours or so before arriving at the fuel station at Ust-Omchug, its a small settlement not much there and within minutes we were surrounded by children.

After topping up our tanks we headed off for another hour before the light started to fade.

Tenkinskaya Sign

We found a little spot well in off the road and got the fire going for a brew. It was a lovely warm evening and we sat round the fire had a freeze dried meal which was actually not bad at all and chilled, the new morning was a different story with the fire gone out and thick frost over all the equipment we both woke freezing having been lowered into a false sense of security by the lovely evening before.

Evening of first campsite

Distance travelled 319kms Max Altitude 1180mtrs

Thursday in Magadan

Oh dear, I can see a pattern forming after another messy night! Sat in a bar with Phil last night great guy and very interesting listening to what he has done so far, then we were joined by the local mafia who wanted us to sit and drink with them and that’s when it all went pear shaped! we were hoping for an early night after the last one.

The thing is that there is not a lot else to do here but go for a pint, or drink vodka!

Magadan Church

Magadan Church in the centre.

Went for a walk today and came across the Kudo support truck so looked around for the group and found them in a nearby hotel, they arrived late last night after a London to Magadan trip with 4 customers we are going to meet them for a pint tonight seemed like nice chaps and also have all the info on our route.

Magadan Beach

Magadan Beach, not a big tourist destination!

Magadan Pier

Yes Magadan does have a Pier!!

Magadan Landing Craft

Old landing craft beached, someone was living on this..

Wednesday in Magadan

A bit of a wasted day as we sat drinking with an American, Australian, Russian and a Czech that we met in the steak house last night, was a bit of a session to say the least and Kev didn’t get out of bed until 8pm the next day! The Russian vodka measures are a bit much!

Magadan Steakhouse

Beers in the Steak House.

 We met a guy Phil (triumphil on the HUBB) who is doing a round the word trip on a triumph tiger, unfortunately the bike has had it so he plans to fly to Anchorage and buy a new bike there to carry on his trip. We are meeting Phil soon for a beer and to hopefully pick his brains on the road conditions ahead of us.

truimphil Magadan

Phil’s Triumph Tiger.

Tuesday in Magadan

Today we woke at 4am which was a bit of a combination of jet lag and a friend phoning Kev and waking the whole block of flats, we went for a stroll to see if we could find milk for tea but none of the supermarkets open until 10am.

Magadan in the morning

Not much action at 6am!

Magadan Jets

Remnants of the Soviet Union.

Magadan Tank

Luckily for us there was a bar that hadn’t closed yet so was able to sit drink tea (no really that’s all we drank) and eat peanuts. The bar was quite full for that time of the morning with a drunk couples in, will have to try and avoid that place if we go for a beer any time this week as Kev couldn’t handle a session like that!

We headed back to the apartment for a bit of breakfast around 7 am after getting refused more tea in the bar ( Kev was getting a bit lairy must have been the caffeine ) the bar was closing, at 7 am!
Around 10am we took a stroll down to the shipping agent to find out about our bikes, we knew the ship was in yesterday and they may take 2 days to get unloaded but when we finally found the company we were told the bikes would not be ready until Friday after 4pm! Bugger!!!! Back to the all night bar then!
We will have to find something to do tomorrow but it doesn’t look promising, today we walked all around the town but found nothing! On a plus side the sun has been out all day though the wind is bitterly cold it’s still much nicer than yesterday.