M56 where I stood up a Russian truck driver – Sorry mate

As I sit here (on my bed bug infested bed in a dive of a guesthouse) writing this post the stench from my bike boots is almost unbearable (you’d think I’d be used to it by now) I’ve put them in the window but it’s not helping. I’ve also noted that my feet are almost rotting (ok this is an exaggeration but they are NOT in a good state) DAMN I need to get out of this wet country and back to warm and dry Kazakhstan. Also because the stress of being caught by the police is starting to get to me.

Every time I see a cop or a guest house owner asks for my passport I panic as my visa ran out about 3 weeks ago. Well the thing is it was a choice of riding quickly from Mongolia through Russia (on my transit visa) to Kazakhstan or doing the BAM….erm not a choice the BAM was calling like a drug and like an addict I totally ignored my better judgment and the law and stayed in Russia.

So now I am basically just trying to get out of Russia as quickly as possible but that is easier said than done. The M56 is long and tedious and bad and I hate it more than one could possibly hate a road. I am also getting used to riding with heavy panniers again and alone. Every time I look ahead or in the mirrors I expect to see the other bikes as then get a really sad feeling when they are not there. Ah well I wanted to do this on my own ‘so buck girl and get on with it’

The good thing about riding alone is that it’s just you and your bike and you ride according to your own timetable. The other good thing is that you get to meet the locals and experience more. Each time I stopped on the side of the road at least one truck driver would either stop or ask if I was ok, or slow down put a hand out in an ”are you alright” gesture. I’d give them the thumbs up they’d give me one back and voila you are not really alone.

Over my 2.5 day ride from Yakutsk to Tynda I kept bumping into the same truck driver, Serge (spl?) He was really friendly and at one point gave a lift to an English speaking Russian woman. We all happened to stop at the same diner for a snack and had a few minute chat. The woman explained that her car had died and Serge was giving her a lift back to her town about 3 towns before his trucking trip ended. Serge did not speak a word of English but asked me to meet him for coffee later on the road. I said thanks but no thanks, time to move on deadline what not etc… well after 10 min of this miming act with him giving me explicit instructions of which dinner to meet at I just said No problem mate whatever you say da da (yes yes)

Now I must say (before you all panic) these diners are on the road and full of people and Serge was just genuinely concerned for my safety riding alone on the road (or so the English speaking Russian woman explained) It was all very nice but I seriously had no clue where he wanted to meet me and really didn’t have time or much interest in having another miming conversation (they get SERIOUSLY tiring after awhile and we’ve all had many of them while on the trip) so needless to say I stood poor Serge up and high tailed it to Tynda not stopping in the hope that he would not catch up with me again. It was actually a hell of a last day I did 450km in 12 hours about 10 actually riding. It rained and I mean torrential downpour with almost –ve visibility. I was cold and wet and just desperate to get off the road but had to make it to Tynda and guess I was doing no more than 40km an hour max uugghhh what a day I hope I don’t have any more of them

The M56 yes it’s a highway