Hi, my name is Phil and this blog describes a Solo Round The World Motorcycle Trip I am starting in May 2012. The blog also contains info on other motorbike trips I have made. It is named after the Lee Marvin hit from the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon. It just seems to sum up how I feel when I am on the road. I was born..etc..etc..

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Monday, 9 July 2012

3 - 6 July 2012

Tuesday 3 July, Day 61 – Ulan-Ude – Chita

There were a lot of people leaving early this morning so I got up and mucked about on the internet for a while then went back to bed till about 9am.
I got the night shift girl to translate an email I have written into Russian so I can send it to Yatutia Airlines to ask about the possibility of shipping my bike to Alaska. I think this is a long shot but they do have passenger flights from Magadan to Anchorage for around 950 quid one way.

Set off for Chita at around 11.30am and soon bumped into the Argentinean guy standing at the side of the road trying to get a lift.  He was on his way to China and then South East Asia.  I passed him in a car later on and then we met again when his lift dropped him off right where I was taking a nap.

The weather is wetter out here in the East and I have had occasional showers all day.  This gives me concerns about the road up ahead and I can see I will need my off road tires fairly soon.  I stopped at 18.30 to find somewhere to camp but realized I had no water so moved on until I came to a café at about 19.30 and 240km short of Chita.  I corrected my watch using my mobile phone and put it forward 1 hour. 

I had some food in the café and found a place to camp just off the main road but still close to the café I got the tent up as quick as possible while the mosquitoes did their best to attack me and get into the tent.  Made a brew in the tent and settled down.
Within half an hour I had been discovered by the locals and it turned out my campsite was not the best choice.  A group of 6 teenage lads came to visit about 11.30 and started warning me about the Mafia and making pretend guns and pointing them at me.  I had to open the tent to shake their hands and this let a load of mosquitoes in.  It couldn’t be helped, I can’t afford to piss anyone off.

The mosquitoes saw off the boys, they only stayed a couple of minutes and they were getting bitten to bits.  I settled down again thinking about the Mafia and whether they were joking or not and swatting as many mosquitoes as I could find.   About half an hour later I was visited again by a group of 3 older teenagers and once again had to open the tent to say hello.  They also got bitten and left quick smart without mentioning the mafia.  I didn’t get much sleep but had no more visitors.
Wednesday 4 July, Day 62 – Chita, Eastern Siberia

I was glad to get on the road about 7.30 and had fun taking the tent down while trying not to get bitten too much.  There was a heavy mist for the first couple of hours and it gave me some visibility problems.  In the end I removed the pinlock insert from my visor and this helped considerably.
Had a good ride to Chita with occasional rain showers and sections of gravel road to keep me from getting bored.  Arrived Chita just after lunch and stopped to use the ATM and pick up some supplies. While I was at the ATM I got talking to 2 guys in their thirties.  They asked where I was going and when I told them they said to be careful and not to stop at some of the villages because I would get my throat slit by Muslims.  Their words not mine!

I hit the road again and stopped for something to eat when the rain started again.  I got talking to a guy outside the café who was a guide for tourists up in the Northern Chutokta areas well inside the Arctic Circle.  He reassured me that I could get through to Magadan on the bike although he did say the road was bad.  I spotted a nice looking town just off the highway and decided to look for a campsite by the river, hoping for a swim.

I parked up next to the river and met three of the local boys who were firing their catapults at the river.  Not at me, thankfully!  I made a brew and as I was drinking it a guy stopped in a pick-up with 2 small boys and introduced himself as Vasily.  He invited me to his house and I couldn’t refuse, he was a gent.

We moved my bike inside his fenced garden and he prepared dinner.  He had 2 nice dogs, although the larger one growled when I stroked her too vigorously.  He told me he was a teacher and had moved to the village from Moscow 14 years ago.  He was very proud of his Banya (bathhouse or sauna) and was stoking up the boiler while I went for a swim in the river.

I contributed some bread, sausage, and tins of sweet corn and kidney beans to the meal and we ate veal soup and a mushroom, potato, and veal stew, followed by sausage and smoked cheese.  Delicious!

Vasily and I ate first and after we had finished eating the women went to the table and ate.  Afterwards the women had first use of the bathhouse and then Vasily and I went in.  It was fantastically hot, as good as any sauna I have been in, and Vasily gave me a good beating with some specially selected branches.  It was fantastic and I hope it helps with some of my mosquito bites.  Not sure what the branches were.

The people lead a simple life in these villages and I have to say it appeals to me in many ways.  Vasily showed me a set of antlers that he had mounted and said the bigger of his dogs had killed the deer.  I asked Vasily about the Muslim issue in the villages and he said there was no problem.  This is reassuring but I am still considering making this my last excursion of the beaten track.

Thursday 5 July, Day 63 – Chita, Eastern Siberia

Woke about 6.30 and went to relieve myself in the outside privy.  It is so peaceful here at this time of day and I am so glad I decided to get off the main road.  I am in a dilemma about my new tires and can’t decide whether to get them fitted before I try the tough section after Tynda, or give it a go with the ones I have on.

Left Vasily at 9am and he gave me a bear hug to say goodbye and I made my way up through the village to hit the road for Scovorodino.  The landscape is amazing, it is mountain after mountain, forest after forest, and it seems to be endless.

Had some worries about fuel. Unable to get 95 grade benzine at many of the smaller gas stations.  Had to compromise in the end and put 6 litres of 92 grade in with my reserve tanks.  This got me to the outskirts of Scovorodino where the gas stations had 95 grade.

The roads were good and I had a long hard day in the saddle with quite a few rain showers.  Arrived just outside town at about 9pm and found a place to camp not far off the highway after having some dinner at a truckers café.  I have been keeping my eyes peeled for Bears, Wolves, and Tigers but so far haven’t seen anything except some wild looking dogs.  There is a distinct lack of road kill out here and I can’t figure this out.

Skovorodino is a key point in my journey and is quite near the border with China. This is the town where you turn north for Yakutsk and the Arctic Circle, or carry straight on for Vladivostok.  I have been staring at the names of places like Irkutsk, Chita, Skovorodino, Tyna, and Yakutsk for years and to be actually seeing them on road signs is a massive buzz for me.

Friday 6 July, Day 64 – Skovorodino to Nevjungri, Far East Russia
On the road about 7.30 and made my way through a heavy and wet mist into Skovorodino to fill up with fuel.  There doesn’t seem to be much there apart from the railway buildings.  I asked the petrol attendant the way to Tynda and she pointed up the road.

The tarmac ended within yards and it was crushed stone from there on.  Some stretches were quite bad with hundreds of deep potholes but others were quite flat and I was able to make decent time.  Met a man and his daughter on the road and they were on their way home to Yakutsk from Vladivostok. Angelina gave me her number and offered to help with Yakutia Airlines.
Arrived Tynda about 14.00 and was amazed to see it was a big town.  A biker flagged me down and was keen to help his name was Max and he gave me a warning about bears. He also gave me the number for a biker in Yakutsk called Andrey who would help if I needed anything.  I made my way down to the river bank and went for a swim.   Next I met a girl who knew the guy at the local bike workshop and she introduced me.  He was working on a Honda Firestorm and I wondered how it would handle the road from Chita. 

Next I was introduced to a guy who really knew the road to Magadan and was into serious off-road riding.  He was manager of the Russian Truck dealership in Tynda and had acted as guide to a guy from ADV Rider website who had done the trip on a Harley.  He gave me some important information on fuel stops and told me that one I had planned to use was no longer open for business.  He also gave me a stern warning about bears.

The weather turned bad and heavy rain made the road a lot more difficult to ride with potholes full of water and the sandy parts very slippery.  My feet were soaked in minutes and I was praying for a café to take a rest and dry off.

I bumped into Angelina again at my next café stop and also some guys from the Saka Republic in the far Northern region.  I was stopped for a brew up the road and they pulled over to take photos. Really nice guys and they said they would email me the snaps.  Arrived in Nevjungri about 21.30, filled up with gas and found a place to camp on the outskirts.


  1. Phil! How goes it? I'm not seeing any recent posts... really hope its due to you having too much fun, not due to any problems on the kolyma road. I made Ulan Ude, but I'm definitely truing this wrong and not having a great time, seems kind of dumb to blow out my life savings on something that's not fun, so I'm planning to take the train from Irkutsk to ??? and ride a much shorter route. I hope your trip is going well, do say something to let me know you're alive! Else I'll have to hitchhike back the other way looking for you, and that could get tricky in the next month. Cheers, Sean Ardley (cyclist from near the Aldan river)

  2. that was a very long road trip. How are you so far? I envy you for being able to tour to different places. Seems like you really enjoy what you're doing and you're meeting people along the way.