Audio Post

Posted: February 15, 2013 by blinkenzomg in Uncategorized

More motorbike shenanigans

Posted: February 14, 2013 by blinkenzomg in Uncategorized

So I am sitting in an extremely comfortable hotel room in Урай (Uray), which was our target for today. They have a bed, heating, a shower etc etc, I just ate cheese and bread and drank beer with cool people and I am very very happy to be here.

The last few days have been a lot of fun, and particularly yesterday in the “funny in retrospect” sense… Our first day (three days ago) our target was a town called Tavda, which we made no problems all. Started at about 1pm after the rally launch, picking up some fuel, final formalities and a slow recovery from the night before (traditional Russian dinner with “moonshine with spices”, and singing Babushkas, followed by a banyan experience – a Russian sauna followed by a quick dip in an icy lake. videos were taken, and I sincerely hope none ever see the light of day). We made it to a lovely campsite across from a frozen lake about 5pm, found firewood and had a great time, singing country music around the fire, cutting down trees and whatever other manly things you normally do while camping.

Day two we enthusiastically set off and utilising my rather excellent navigational skills our convoy of four bikes headed north-east. Two hours later, we found the road petering out and after asking locals it turns out we should have headed north from our campsite, whoopsie. So 200km back the other way… We were all feeling a bit down. And then the sun came out to illuminate the snow-covered pines by the road, LCD Soundsystem was closely followed by The Whitlams on my iPod and I realized that we were in freaking Siberia, entirely of our own volition and with everything we needed strapped to the back of a vintage Ural. And if that isn’t enough to make you very very happy nothing will.

Lost, but the shop sold tasty tasty food.

The countryside is bloody beautiful, by the way.

We made about 40km of forward progress (240km less the 200km detour) and stopped to camp outside a small town. Clear night, cold, and we were interrupted by Russians from the town rocking up on various dilapidated forms of transport (turns out theres a fuel shortage, and we couldn’t get any of the fuel we desperately needed to get to the next town). They brought vodka, snacks, firewood, home-cooked meals and sat around until about 2am drinking with us. The Russians we have met on this trip are without exception totally awesome people.

Camping with awesome Russian dude who rocked up on a motorbike and gave us Vodka (in the back

The next morning was super duper cold and had to get going. We buy 20L of fuel from one of the other teams heading past (cheers!) which gets us as far as the next town but we till desperately need fuel. We pull into town, buy a few things, get invited into the local school for a hot lunch (russians are a amazing), Guy gets taken to the mayors office to ask for fuel but no dice. We press on.

The rest of the day I covered in my audio blog from last night. It was really really tough going. Imagine 4×4 through soft sand (snow). I swear I pushed that bloody motorbike for the whole 40km down that road, around trucks that refused to move. It was the worst. Finally finally we got to the end on to a blessed highway, and pull over to fix Geordie’s sidecar (we’ve been convoying with him and a couple of other teams). Some Russians pulled up in a Nissan ute and asked how the road was that we just came out of. I paused, looked at their car, and said “In this car, no problems!”. They drove off. I’m probably going to hell.

made it into another town, our destination. Utilizing Bjorn’s excellent Russian skills we negotiate to purchase petrol off a couple of locals for twice the going rate. Fuel shortage there too. Fill up all the bikes, and while we’re waiting me and Geordie see a couple of guy walking from their shed to their house with an armload of firewood. With my best Russian I ask if we can buy some, and when he works out what I’m trying to say he just says help yourself. He had the biggest shed full of neatly chopped wood I have ever seen, and refused payment. Russians are awesome.

These guys gave us dry firewood, and refused payment. Seriously, this was the best thing in the world after the day we had. If you’re reading this guys, thank you so so much.

We pull up in a blessed cafe on the outskirts of town and a beer, then head to a campsite Bjorn scouted out about 2km down the road. It’s a beautiful spot, we have a roaring fire, and life is wonderful after a truly tough day. In the morning we get a really fantastic sunrise, after a few repairs to the bikes we press on.

Stunning sunrise. Pictures do not do it justice.

Make it on fantastic roads to s small town called Мортка (Mortka) where – wonder of wonders – they have a petrol station. With petrol! We fill up everything with beautiful beautiful 80-octane бензине. On top of that, three local bikers rocked up and helped out checking over the bikes and filling us up with oil. When Geordie complained (in gestures) that his bike was perpetually jumping out of second into neutral, and he has to hold it in to the detriment of his left foot, their response was (in gestures) “they all do that. You need to learn to change gears better”. Geordie spluttered. In any case they were awesome dudes and you should check out their website at .

We pushed on for Urai on gloriously paved roads, cleared of snow and ice. Tested out the Panzer (our bike’s) top speed – 80km/hr on the flat with no wind, but we both got it up to around 100 downhill much to the terror of the person in the sidecar – and finally made it to this blessed city where they have a hotel. With showers, after camping in the cold for four days.

Good roads! Oh my god it was so nice to be able to just _go_ and not stop every 5 minutes and climb in and out of the sidecar. You have no idea how good the above looked to me, I promise.

When we arrived we pulled into a parking lot to work out what to do (it’s a largish city, 40,000 people) and a couple of police pulled up and asked for our documents. They seemed interested, asked about the trip (I was sincerely hoping they wouldn’t notice our illegal broken headlight) at which point we asked them if they could direct us to a hotel. They said sure, follow us in our car! Awesome.

When we got there, some person walking past on the footpath stopped to translate (!) and they said we should leave our bikes at the police station so stuff wouldn’t get stolen. We unload our baggage as they generously wait, random lady from Moscow in the hotel foyer offers to translate (and tells us she would never travel in Russia – everyone is dishonest and we’ll get robbed! Not what we’ve experienced), head to the police station with translator in tow, at which point they say that the police commissioner would like to meet us. We rock up, unshaven and dirty to this very classy office and interrupt this dudes meeting so he can say Hi! He asks where we’re off to, wishes us good luck, and asks what time we would like a police car to direct us to the right road to our next town! We booked it for 1pm. Just wow.

So yeah. Headed back to the hotel, got us some bread and cheese and beer from the local Продокти (Produkti aka corner store) had a shower and I am currently exceedingly happy. Plan for tomorrow to head North towards Nyagan which is the entrance to the ice road to Salekhard, though that’s a few days away. In the meantime enjoying the experience.

A few photos are up at, Guy has more on Facebook, we’re both safe and happy.

Until the next hotel,



In Urai

Posted: February 14, 2013 by geeza11 in Uncategorized

Very quickly – we’re in Urai, but we forgot to put batteries in our spot tracker. In a hotel, very happy, longer post soon


Audio Post

Posted: February 13, 2013 by blinkenzomg in Uncategorized

ckI’m actually writing this from a remote Siberian general store that has wifi! Camping in the snow last night was certainly an experiencespecially in -10. We may have kind  turned the wrong way but we’re heading back to the main road now. Should be an exciting dayRidding the motorbike has been crazy but lots of fun as well. No mo major crashes or breakdowns yet (touch wood) so we’re going alrigh. We’ll post soon!

Guy and Patrick

Aside  —  Posted: February 12, 2013 by geeza11 in Uncategorized

The Beginning…

Posted: February 10, 2013 by geeza11 in Uncategorized

So it has almost begun…

Tomorrow we ride out of Irbit at 12pm on our late 1970s Desert Sand coloured Ural Motorcycle that apparently has been completely refurbished and is as good as new, but then a new bike doesn’t take 10 kicks to get it going and isn’t noted to be “the most difficult to start” it may be a long trip to say the least.

The past weekend has been a drop in the deep end of riding motorcycles through ice and snow. If you use the front brake, the wheel instantly locks up and you have no steering, so that is out of the question. The back break is on its way out and as before applying breaks means skidding a lot. So pretty much stopping quickly is something of a dream. But the bikes are an amazing amount of fun to drive. Today we took them through their paces at a motocross track, sliding around corners and getting stuck in snow drifts. One major problem with having a sidecar is that when turning right (it is on the right side of the bike) the sidecar wants to flip you all the way over and turn you into a road and Ural sandwich, something that isn’t fun! But it can be overcome by the person in the sidecar leaning over to move the weight further out and make it more stable. Ruts are also a big problem and so are hills, as the rear tyre begins to slip!


Don’t let that worry you though, as long as you drive sensibly the bike will try and behave itself and respect your decision not to plough into a snow drift or large russian truck. The weekend hasnt all been about riding motorcycles. We visited the Ural factory as well as the museum and were stunned that literally one guy was making the whole bike. We’ve seen Russian folk dancing whilst eating a traditional Russian meal and we’ve gone ice swimming and sleigh riding. It certainly has been a packed weekend!

It all gets serious tomorrow though. We leave at 12 and are hoping to make a 300km journey to just past a town called Tavda where we hope to camp for the night. Should be interesting! We’re the only team with a map so have been lending a hand to try and work out the best possible route. It will take us in a Northeast direction and from Tavda we follow a railway up to Uray before main roads again up until Nyagan. From there we meet up with the ice road and then it is 600km of no petrol stations to Salekhard. We’ll be finishing in a ski resort just outside Salekhard where the two week forecast has shown temperatures form -30 to -40 for the days when we will arrive. How fun!

For now, we both feel prepared and are confident that, with common sense and determination we will be able to make it and live to tell the tale. We’ll try and keep you updated, remember this is Europe so there’s better telephone signal than some major cities in Australia. We can also leave a voice recording either from our phones or even the sat phone, so be ready for those. We’ll be sure to update you and tell you where we’ve been so keep on checking up on us. There’s also a live tracking that you can follow if you just click on Tracking at the top of the page and follow that to the adventurists website. But now I must get sleep so I will be alert and ready for the big day tomorrow!

Thanks everyone for your support, and we’ll see you on the other side!

Guy and Patrick


Posted: February 10, 2013 by geeza11 in Uncategorized

Welcome back readers to one of the last posts about our time gallivanting around major Russian cities. I will however continue to update you on our progress towards the Arctic Circle as long as there is some form of phone signal or satellite coverage where we camp for the night, which apparently there is in the middle of Siberia, but I digress. So here I go describing our short but extremely fulfilling time in Moscow and subsequently Yekaterinburg.

After what we thought was an extreme number of early starts (3), we had decided to book an afternoon train to Moscow from St Petersburg. The train was an incredible piece of engineering and formed part of the high-speed train network across Russia. It was classy, clean and spacious inside yet reached speeds in excess of 250km/h turning a 700km journey into three hours and fifty minutes of smooth jazz fun, although no free Wi-Fi L. The late start and quick trip made it much more enjoyable and we hopped off in Moscow feeling rather refreshed. One more crazy taxi ride later and we had arrived at the hostel. Once again very clean and friendly though the mornings proved to be interesting with only one toilet and shower for 20 people. We then did our usual thing and moseyed around the main streets in town and ended up in the extremely pretty Red Square. Bordered by the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral (dome church #2), an expensive and very ornate shopping centre and the red buildings at the entrance it makes for an impressive sight. After spending some time taking in the city we returned to the hostel and planned out the next day.

With so much to see and do in Moscow we decided to add a bit of risk/time pressure and woke up at 11. First of all we decided to visit the Kremlin and Armoury inside. The walls of the Kremlin are an impressive red and stand out against the white snow that covers most everything. Inside there are ranges of old and new government buildings but a somewhat lower standard than the rest of the incredible city! We then visited this ridiculously grand and overpriced shopping centre before checking out an array of 15th-17th century Royal clothes, settings, carriages etc. Rather impressive.

He following day we had a rather funny experience in this sushi bar. In broken Russian we ordered a meal and a water/tea each being on a budget and all that. First of all two waters and two pots of tea came out. Upon asking why the double up, he spoke some crazy Russian and gestured he couldn’t refund it. So we were like fair enough, but then came two bowls of udon noodles and our confusion too. The waiters were having a not so sneaky laugh at the back. Finally we decided to lay down the law when my dish came out double as well and we said we wouldn’t take it no matter what. But when the waiter pointed out the largish sign that said 1+1=1, i.e. two for one, we felt we probably should take it. Awkward. It did however get us very cheap vodka and made for a great afternoon. That night we then visited a very classy bar in Moscow owned by Denis Simachev. They made any cocktail you wanted and at whatever time of the day. You could come in at 6am or 3pm and order a martini. It was a very nice bar and we returned there the next morning for some delicious breakfast too, minus the alcohol!

On our final day in Moscow we once again woke up late and then visited St Basil’s Cathedral. It is recognizable by the huge coloured domes that stand out against the horizon when viewed from afar. The inside was very interesting and certainly contained a lot of history. That night we had bought tickets for a Russian folk dancing concert called “Sadko”. There was an orchestra and dancers that performed the classic Russian dances and songs. It also taught us that the Tetris theme music is based on a Russian folk song as the game was developed in Russia. We then had that stuck in our heads for days. Rather catchy!

That pretty much sums up our time in Moscow. It is a very beautiful city and has so many things to see and do! I’ve kept it brief because it’s late and we’ll be starting the long journey North through snow and ice tomorrow but I hope this has provided some insight!

Guy and Patrick


Posted: February 7, 2013 by blinkenzomg in Uncategorized

You can: we have them! I’ve been uploading photos to and Guy is uploading them to Facebook or wherever, if that’s your thing. Here are some of my favorites, but keep an eye on the Flickr page for the latest.

I was going to finish with a witty pun, but after reading the post below for the first time I think if we upload any more puns today WordPress will literally set fire to our blog. So, sorry about that.

Tram, Yekaterinburg: where we are now. They have trams, buses, trolley buses *and* a subway. In a city the size of Perth.

Tram, Yekaterinburg: where we are now. They have trams, buses, trolley buses *and* a subway. In a city the size of Perth.

Red Square in Moscow. Kremlin to the left, behind the big white domey thing. GUM fancy-pants department store to the left, behind the temporary ice skating rink. St Basil's Cathedral in the centre.

Red Square in Moscow. Kremlin to the right, behind the big white domey thing. GUM fancy-pants department store to the left, behind the temporary ice skating rink. St Basil’s Cathedral in the centre.

Market shopping in St Petersburg, with the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in the background. Very pretty. I bought a cool camera and a USSR-replica hipflask (I passed on the KGB one), Guy picked up some neat replica Russian space program badges.

Market shopping in St Petersburg, with the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in the background. Very pretty. I bought a cool camera and a USSR-replica hipflask (I passed on the KGB one), Guy picked up some neat replica Russian space program badges.

I’ll leave it at that, but check out the photos if you get a chance – click on any of the pictures above or see for a convenient index page.

Yours in Russia-ness,


From Russia With Love

Posted: February 6, 2013 by geeza11 in Uncategorized

Good evening once again,

This time I’m writing from our smallish hostel located just off the main street in Moscow, however time is always ticking and my keyboard not forever tapping so I’ll have to give you a quick rundown on the beautiful town of St Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург) and then later on find somewhere to begin for Moscow. Only a week now until we start the Ice Run proper as well, rather chilling! But for now I’ll put some words together for you depicting our brief time in The Palmyra of the North (let’s hope the name refers to the Ancient City).

With so much luggage – 1 x 17kg bag each, 1 x 20kg duffel, 2 x back packs, and 2 x helmets (with some read dye they could easily look like a bagged head) – catching any form of transport is always slightly rushed and stressful, quite similar to our first experience in St Petersburg, Russian(ed) and somewhat stressful. We jumped off the train, walked the wrong way off the platform, before making the walk of shame back past a number of Russian soldiers to the sound of their jolly laughter. Once outside the inner tourist really blossomed. Having already heard about the large number of black cabs in Russia (unregistered taxis) and the convention of bargaining down the price before hand, we proceeded to completely forget and load all our bags into one, then asked the price upon arrival and were told that it would cost 2300 rubles or 74AUD. Sometimes you learn the hard way in life. But with that out of the way and all our stuff safely in our room we decided to get out onto the streets. It was a good chance for Patrick to practice the Russian he had learnt previously and it was very helpful in ordering our food and navigating our way through the streets. At first Cyrillic can seem daunting however, it is rather simple and all the words are phonetic so no silly silent bs, ts, or ps.

The rest of the first day here saw us climb to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral (big domey church thing) however our bad luck for the day continued as after ascending to the top of the dome, enjoying the amazing view over the town and descending the 270 steps to the bottom Patrick realized that he couldn’t find his second wallet containing a large sum of euros and fresh rubles. We tried going back up the exit, but were shouted at in Russian by some guards so presumed that it might be best to leave. Patrick then bought another ticket and climbed the whole cathedral again but to no avail. Some investigative work looking through photos revealed that his bag had in fact been open and our races up the steps may not have been the best idea. We then did our usual aimless but very insightful wandering and absorbed as much as we could, from the Cyrillic to the Russian culture and intricate architecture on the buildings. It is certainly a country very proud of its language and heritage and we found that it wasn’t that they couldn’t speak English they just assumed you would have learnt Russian, an attitude very different to the Finnish and most other European countries. The rest of the day was fairly relaxed and after waking up at 3:15am were fairly tired and decided (after going to a pub) to go to bed to get some rest for the next few days of relaxation oppan Russian style.

The Hermitage was one of the big things on our list as it apparently houses more artwork than the Louvre even with over 20 million pieces in storage. Inside is a labyrinth of corridors and rooms all ornately decorated in gold and artwork. At first with no map we managed to get completely lost and I swear we saw the same vase/sled at least 5 times, although a very nice sled at that. The attendants were also giving us some odd looks. Crazy tourists. Finally after at least an hour we found a map and got less lost. There were some incredible paintings there by Matisse, Cézanne, van Gogh and Picasso along with the amazing Tsar era items intricately carved out of wood/bone/gold etc. One thing that stood out was a clock about the size of a small shed, completely out of gold. On the hour, the three animals inside, peacock, owl and mouse would come to life moving their head/wings. Nowadays not such a big deal, but the lifelike movement is achieved through just some wind up springs and was designed in the 18th Century. Clearly no expense spared on the construction! I’m sure the peasants would have completely understood, Kings can’t rule properly without their gold toilet seat! Unfortunately Patrick had come down with a nasty cold so we decided it was best to head back and have a restful afternoon/early night so he could have a quick recovery and get straight back into it the next day.

And we certainly did. Patrick had recovered well and we soon found ourselves admiring the incredible mosaics inside the Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood, the place where Tsar Alexander III was exploded (great church pun: How do churches make holy water? They boil the hell out of it). Not just shot or stabbed or hung or quartered or whatever they did in those days but actually exploded. Hmm messy. We then ventured into the awesome souvenir market and bargained our way through lots of different soviet era memorabilia and millions of babushka dolls. I managed to pick up some awesome space badges and Patrick a camera, flask and some other interesting items. The Russian Museum was next on our list and exposed an important era in Soviet Art. After getting back to the hostel, we decided it was time to come out of our six bed dorm and actually converse seeing as we hadn’t been out much due to illness and it was well worth it! The kitchen had been taken over by a number of ISIC students from all parts of the world. They made a dish from each of their countries. We made some overcooked pasta with what we thought was tomato sauce but turned out to be 99% capsicum 1% tomato. What had us gagging they seemed to be enjoying with smiles…sort of. Clearly Australia was well represented. We can be thanked later. But then the Brazilians showed us some of their funk and then did a quick samba lesson! Awesome fun. Most of them had come to visit and use the kitchen but once they had all left we went out to a bar with these guys from Turkmenistan and Brazil, turned out to be a very interesting night after all!

Our final day in St Petersburg we visited the sea fortress and pretty much froze. Once again wind chill was a big factor which may be sort of worrying considering it was -3C and we’ll be riding in -20C. Let’s hope we can acclimatise…

Well we have actually made it through Moscow and are currently in Yekaterinburg and will be staying here two nights before moving off to Irbit.

Only four days until we leave now, so we’re both getting pretty excited and a touch nervous at what lies ahead. I’ll leave it at that and hope to finish off writing up our time in Moscow shortly.

Hope you’re all keeping warm, and during our trip we’ll be able to update our blog via voice and text so should be interesting.

From Russia with love,

– Guy and Patrick


That will be all, thankyou.


PS. Guy sez he has more blogs coming soon, because he’s less lazy than me.

PPS. (We’re in Siberia)

Video  —  Posted: February 6, 2013 by blinkenzomg in Uncategorized