|We thought given the hassle needed for the visa the crossing into Russia would be hard work but we had smiling guards and a relaxed atmosphere just the usual paperwork run around, 3hrs and we were in. Caught slightly unaware we instantly lose an hour so head for the nearest town for money and supplies at now 4pm. This quick stop didn’t quite materialise as the bike drew it’s usual crowd and they were trying to organise TV crews but the station was shut. We had a whole gaggle of young lads one who was doing the interpretating very well. We eventually escaped not without a bag of bananas and apples being given, only to run into a off duty copper at the next lights who insisted on showing us the route out of town after going through all the map route again it’s hard to say no to people.
From here it’s hard to say if we made a bad choice or were just unfortunate. We had taken advice from a biker in Astana who recommended a B road across the Altai region of mountains rather than the main drag. The first day was breathtaking stunning scenery round every corner and good asphalt(tarmac) 200km later and heading closer to the mountains the road became gravel but still good around 5pm we start to feel slightly concerned as the traffic gets less and roads less worn. I should add every stop for petrol water etc we had been told to go the main road way but ignorned this advice. Reaching the last village before what on the map was a “bit” road we came to a lovely wooden bridge and crossing it turned into stunning forest, it soon became apparent there was no way through, we confirmed this by asking the one truck driver who turned out to be a forest worker he said we would have to back track quite a way not really a problem but it had rained heavily here and our nice dry dirt road was now a muddy sticky mess so we decided to try the outriggers out. These worked an aboslute treat by now it’s late so we free camp and continue in the morning. Unfortunately we get a puncture in one of the outriggers but can’t afford the time to stop and repair it as we only have 5 days in Russia before registration and we have 3 days of riding to the border at least. The outriggers did a stirling job and made us through most of what the hill threw at us. We came unstuck when we came to a particularly thick, sticky muddy bit when we had no grip what so ever. Both outriggers had long since shredded the tyres and were in the process of destroying the metal wheels themselves (this was all our fault as we had puncture repair kits with us but no time to fix them). Plan B was exicuted and the snow chains attached by now we were in full force of a thunder storm and said muddy road was now a lake, as it was gone 7pm we just put the tipi up where we had stopped and called it a night. As a final kick in the teeth the centre stand snapped off one of it’s supporting legs lucky the outriggers hold the bike up or we could have been stuck. We have to say this was our lowest point to date cold, wet and if the chains didn’t work stuck for a good few days. After a hot feed and dry clothes we retired. What a lovely sight in the morning, the sun rising and no rain! We took advantange whilst packing up and laid stuff out on the tarps to dry. What a diference a day makes our mood bouyed by the sunshine we tackled the mud bath and were back on our way having been photographed by an enthusiastic lady russian calling us heros. We were by no means out of the woods yet as was proved by the minor road being in better condition than the next grade up. This was partly due to a rally of some description being held in the middle of nowhere with over 1000 people attending, this resulted in the road being a mud bath for over 100km. Silly me forgot to put my waterproofs on and having not really tested the outriggers in anger soon found I resembled a bog wappit much to the amusement of any villager we passed. Poor Boofle copt it too, we will both need a bath later. I have to admit I originally thought the snow chains a step too far but I am willing to eat humble pie and say I was wrong we wouldn’t have made it out without both outriggers and snow chains good on you Kev. We were rewarded for our efforts by the last 100km of stunning views, sunshine and good tarmac ending in a small village with picture postcard views of broken bridge leading across the river, a horse grazing nearby and an eagle soaring overhead. Just to put the icing on the cake the local store sold ice creams what more can a girl want. We entertained the local kids for a while before joining the main road again.