Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 Moscow, Russia to Kaunas, Lithuania (752 miles) Total Trip Miles – 11,762. 15 hrs hours riding
Weather Temperature mostly cloudy in the mid 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds with some brief rain showers especially early.
Well the big day had arrived!…on this day I was going to be riding towards the Latvian border and after a couple of long, tough weeks in Russia finally closing this chapter of the ride. Quite honestly, the Siberian leg had always been the keystone of the entire trip – to me, the success or failure hinged on this 7000 mile ride across some of the most inhospital terrain and land on the planet…this was going to be a big day for me.
The first 4 hours of the ride was hampered by moderate rainfall making the roads a bit treacherous in spots, so I was forced to keep my speeds down. As time approached late morning, I could see small breaks in the clouds finally ending up with mostly sunny skies as I approached the border. As I rounded a corner, I could first see nothing but huge trucks, probably 150 or more stopped and lined up with many of the drivers standing outside…I thought to myself this just can’t be good. As I worked my way to the front of the line, the line of cars was only about a dozen deep and I actually got to the Russian customs side in less than 30 minutes. My excitment was quickly dashed when I was asked to move to another line and an older, more distinquished agent – he reminded me of George C. Scott, the actor that played Patton took over the process.
There appeared to be quite the confusion with my documents and I ended up with him for over an hour. I finally got my stamp, stamp and stamp on some paperwork and was motioned to move to the Latvian side. The experience was very similar with me being motioned to see this person and that – one said my International Driver’s License was invalid and that my Tennesse license did not allow for me to ride a motorcycle in Lativa – anyhow, I felt they were only hassling me a bit and decided to just go along with them – thought it was quite humorous frankly. I truly believe they finally just got tired of me and finally after some more stamps, stamps and stamps I was on my way into Latvia.
Immediately I noticed a change in the landscape and road conditions…enough that it quickly became very apparent – the roads were much better maintained and the lushness of the farms was stark. For the first time in several weeks I began to feel a calmness in the air that helped me to relax as I rolled through the countryside.
Earlier in the day I had been in contact with Piotr Mlodecki, business development with HTL-Strefa, and one of NDC’s vendors out of Poland…I had actually met Piotr in Nashville at a brief meeting and we discussed the possibility of riding together during my trip. That moment had arrived and just having the opportunty for the first time in 40 days to ride with someone I knew was exciting. Piotr made reservations at a hotel in city center of Kaunas and we planned to meet around 10 pm for drinks and dinner. As luck would have it, Piotr met and guy on a bike looking for a place to stay for the night and he ended up joining us for dinner – his name is Martin from Germany and we had great converation about riding experiences and all the spots to see in the region…a very nice closure to an already wonderful day! I was truly able to finally put a check in the box…Siberian Leg – 7000 miles!!
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So thankful you are finished with Russia and safely in the Balcans. Your “no post” days have been discomfiting! You are in our thoughts every day.
Hi Sharlane…sorry to have had some blog delays in Siberia, but unfortunately, there were times in this remote region I had no connectivity. As I have returned more to the western world, things are much better…hope all is well for you and all the folks at Alaska Scientific there in Anchorage!