Back on Track

The mission of the past few days has almost been completed. Steps have been retraced through Turkey and Bulgaria, I’ve had some pre-Russia maintenance done on the bike in Lasi (Sprint Motors, Lasi, Romania), Moldova has been crossed, the beautiful city of Kiev has been navigated and I’m now at some sort of Samaritans-run camp having been fed and watered. Russia looks to be about 200-or-so miles away and I’ve got all day Monday to get there (the Russian visa kicks-in on Tuesday).

The past five days have seen some serious hours put in on the road, from dawn until dusk, sleep-ride-sleep-ride… and the scenery has changed with each passing hour. It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago I was soaking up the heat and drinking tea in Turkey. The extra riding has also changed my mood slightly, really putting me in an “I’m actually riding a bike around the world” frame of mind.

The border crossings of the past few days have been fun too, and my passport is looking quite respectable now. The (heavily armed) Ukraine border people were very curious as to why I would want to visit Russia, and the Moldovans were very thorough with the vehicle checks, but otherwise all good. I’ve seen my first AK47s (I assume that’s what they were) thanks to the Moldova/Ukraine border.

By the way, Ukraine is lovely. The roads may be long and straight but they aren’t too bad in quality (they aren’t great, but they certainly work). Wild camping is easy because the place is just an expanse of wheat fields dotted with villages and farmers’ dirt tracks. The drivers are considerate, for the most part. Oh yes, and there is a surfeit of really pretty women here. It’s a cliché observation, I know, but it’s assuredly true.

The bike is now in almost tip top shape, thanks to Oreste in Lasi, but I’ve almost run the rear tyre into the dust. Tomorrow I’ll get as close to the border as I can, set up camp there and put this spare set of tyres on. I’ve lugged them around for what must be 3,000+ miles now so it’ll be good to finally put them to use. I just hope they survive the 6,000 miles of Russia! If they perish after 5,000 then I might really be in bother. Erk.

All things being well, I should be in Canada this time next month! Bring it on!

Ah. The Samaritans. On my mapping application, this little place is listed as a campsite and it’s between Kiev and Russia. Jolly good. My greeting of “Hello, camping?”, with accompanying cross-language hand gestures, is meet with a look of slight confusion by the chap here. In fact, he is as much chaplain as chap and I’m suddenly offered food, water and a camp bed next to their chapel. It is in fact a Samaritan-run camp for teenagers – a summer camp, is my guess. There are lots of friendly and generous people on this planet 🙂

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