A good day

Wednesday morning I was feeling cautiously optimistic. Bike was properly fixed (I hoped), I’d had a good sleep, weather was fantastic and if the road surface from yesterday held up I had a good chance of making some decent kms after the delay in Khabarovsk.

Got all my stuff together and headed off very cautiously, checking the oil tube repair – first to the servo for fuel, then a stop after 10km, then 30, then every 100. The repair held. The oil started to dry off the rear tyre and my bike stopped glistening and started looking properly dusty again.

The road held up with only one or two gravelly roadworks, and I sat on 100km/h just cruising. I started to wish for more interesting road as the hilly, mountainous region around Khabarovsk gave way to a flat inland plain. In contrast to the signed “protected zone” areas around the road on the previous days (I assume these were national parks), this was very much a huge farming region – no farmhouses, just field after field after field.

1900km to Chita, and not much in between. Not a road sign you see every day.

1900km to Chita, and not much in between. Not a road sign you see every day.

I stopped for brunch at a great little cafe next to a lake. Their main attraction was a swimming pool, empty, and various sculptures around the lake you could check out. I did so. After chatting with some guys in the carpark, everyone wanted to get a photo with me, including the cafe staff, one of which I present below.

I feel like she was trying to tell me something, but I can't quite work out what.

I feel like she was trying to tell me something, but I can’t quite work out what

Delicious brunch: goulash, buckwheat (?) rice and blin aka pancakes with condensed milk

Delicious brunch: goulash, buckwheat (?) rice and blin (pancakes) with condensed milk

One of the guys, Sergey, gave me his Skype nickname and said to call him if I needed anything, or wanted to practice my Russian. This has been really common – once or twice a day, often – and I’m filling up my notebook with kind strangers’ phone numbers.

Sergey

Sergey

A trucker approroached me and asked me to take his photo. I was a little confused initially, because usually it's me doing the asking. I then got him to take this. The Lena Highway is epic - 2100km, and that's only a small segment of the larger Trans-Siberian highway. The scale of the country here is nuts

A trucker approroached me and asked me to take his photo. I was a little confused initially, because usually it’s me doing the asking. I then got him to take this. The Amur Highway is epic – 2100km, and that’s only a small segment of the larger Trans-Siberian highway network, which runs from Moscow to Vladivostok. The scale of the country here is nuts

I camped just off the highway in a farmer’s field, a fantastic end to a wonderful dry day. Sunset here is around 10pm, so I made some dinner and enjoyed a beer in the sun as all my panniers slowly dried out.

I’ll admit I did check for tracks of … large animals on the sandy trail to the campsite, but no bears yet. Feeeling a little bit silly, I put my food well away from my tent. It was still there in the morning.

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