15 June 2008

Into the Urals

We left Novosibirsk on the morning of June 10 for Omsk, about 660k away. Don't remember much about the ride already, kind of more of the same. Here's a shot from lunch:
But Omsk is a cool city, lots of parks, and rivers and a beach. Didn't feel like having dinner with everyone else, so walked a few blocks to a decent pizza place, then walked around. Had to scurry out of the way of a column of cadets from the Omsk Military Academy in full dress parade. Graduation? Don't know... Here's a picture of the bridge, the beach is off to the left:
The next morning, June 11, we left for Tyumen, about 630k away. Hit lots of traffic again pulling into the city, stayed at a nice hotel, but didn't do much. Here are pictures of a nice church, a diner where we stopped for breakfast (sign says "Beware of Dog"), and my bike at the end of the day--pretty dirty!
Add ImageOn June 12 we left for Irbit, site of the Ural motorcycle factory in the Ural mountains. For the first time we had at least some choice about which road to take, because there was finally more than one road. We finally a very small stretch of dirt road, these picture where all taken near the "administrative" border between Siberia and the Urals (see the sign behind my bike?):

A bit later we came to the "geographic" border between Siberia and the Urals, a little stream. There was a spring near the sign marking the border, so we stopped for a little break:

Irbit was only about 230k away from Tyumen, and we got there in time for the city day celebrations. Apparently there was some kind of misunderstanding, as we were supposed to rush over to the main square because "everyone was waiting for us" to participate in the city day ceremony. Apparently the city leaders weren't aware of this and they did not seem keen to shoehorn us into their special day. Most people were more than fine with this, but Mike and Sasha apparently convinced them otherwise. I had lost interest by this point and wandered off before the group mounted the stage. Anyway, here are some pix of the festivities at city day, and the crowd gathering around our bikes:
The next morning we went for a tour of the Ural factory. Not exactly a dynamic place, it was supposedly a holiday so there was no one there. Here are some pix:
After the tour we came out and there were some women checking out our bikes:
The woman in the yellow shirt was part of a big group of bicyclists--about 50--from Ekaterinburg who were riding through Irbit; very nice people, we chatted with them for quire a while.

On Friday the 13th we rode the 225k to Ekaterinburg. The city was kind of blah, but there was a great little cafe in a park near our hotel and an excellent Scottish pub, which had to be one of the best bars I've ever been too. Lots of beautiful women, good music. Danced and drank beer until late.

We also had our bikes serviced in Ekaterinburg, at the brand new BMW dealer. It was kind of a disaster, we mainly had oil and tires changed, but they screwed up my mud catcher and put the wrong oil in a couple of the bikes, resulting in them overheating in coming days. They need more training, or practice, or something! Very nice guys, though, here are two of them with my bike:
On the morning of June 15, we left for Ufa, not really sure if that is still in the Urals, but I think it is...about 550k. Just outside of Ekaterinburg is a less than impressive marker showing the border between Europe and Asia:
This was a nice ride, although we never really noticed the Ural Mountains, this is what the terrain looked like, tell me if you see any mountains, I sure didn't:
There were several cool ruined churches along the way:
We also bumped into two Russians on Goldwings along the way, they invited us to a spa/natural spring along the road for some good, healthy water. So we stopped and checked it out:
Ufa seems to be a nice city, with a big beach on the river (which one??). We stayed at the Presidential Hotel, at the top of a big hill in kind of a park. Mike Jones did not show up on time, in fact had not arrived by dark, and when he finally called it turns out that he had gotten a flat tire somewhere along the road...Sasha and Victor had to head out with new tire for him, apparently the old one got shredded. This incident created more bad blood between Mike Jones and Mike/Dan, who felt that the flat tire was Mike Jones' fault, and who were angry he didn't call earlier. This would have repurcussions later on!

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