Moscow, Russia to Kaunas, Lithuania – Day 39

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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!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

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Samara, Russia to Moscow, Russia – Day 38

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Monday, 3 September, 2012  Samara, Russia to Moscow, Russia (750 miles) Total Trip Miles – 11,010. 14.5 hrs hours riding

Weather Temperature mostly sunny in the mid 60’s with a mix of sun & clouds with some brief rain showers.

After loading up my bike, the Europa Hotel in Samara served up a nice breakfast included in the rate, which is typical for most hotels in Russia – a ham & cheese omelet, coffee, orange juice along with a an assorted meat tray & yogurt.  They were running a bit behind so I ended up getting a later started than anticipated, but starting my day with a good meal has become more & more essential given the long hours on the bike.

Getting out of Samara at 8:30 am took about 45 minutes due to morning traffic and the fact that I had to cross town to get back on the highway.

I only wish the photo above was of a Moscow street!…It’s actually one I took from my apartment window in Novosibirsk.  I had often imagined getting my photo taken on the bike at Red Square; however, this would need to postponed for a later time.  Since having the mechanical delays, I could only get to the outskirts of the city on this day – I talked with several folks that said weekday traffic in downtown Moscow was a problem.

To assure I could make the border crossing the following day at Latvia, I decided to get on Moscow’s outer highway loop around the city to end up on the west side of the city and better poised to make a run for the border the following morning.  Keep in mind it was dark and the highway was nothing more than a 2-lane state road in the US with heavy truck traffic.

With time approaching 11 pm, I decided to look for a hotel to stay the night in the Obinsk area and was unable to find one that I didn’t have to drive a distance.  Well, since I am fully self-contained and decided to pull out the sleeping bag and camp next to the bike at a 24 hours fueling station – sounded like a logical choice.  Ended up sleeping between the bike and curb and with all the trucks, lights and the like I suspect my sleep was something less than optimal, but hey, I as tired from the days ride and it felt quite refreshing to me.  After about 5 hours of sleep, i was awakened by the light taps of rain – that was my wake up call and before daylight I was up and on the road towards the Latvian border.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!