I have now been in Irkutsk for 11 days and things at first went from bad to worse. I was towed here by an amazing Russian couple who found me on the road. We had a great adventure getting to Irkutsk together and I was very sad when they left to complete their trip. I stayed wafting for my bike to be fixed and in the mean time sorted my Russian transit visa out.
After a week I was told my bike is fine the mechanic has fixed the hole in the radiator and all is well. I was a bit worried as I could not see how it would be fine with just affixed radiator when it was totally dead due to overheating. So off I went to collect Dizzy on Sunday and things were not good at all. He sounded bad felt bad and cut out every time I slowed down. I went back to the mechanic who called a friend of his who speaks English and told me this is normal. So off I went back to the church thinking this is no way normal. I spoke to a few bikers on the net who agreed and I returned to the mechanic and his English speaking friend who said I should just clean the air filer and carburetor. So on Tuesday I did that plus changed the oil filter since that just needed to be done.
Well this did nothing and I got another biker to take me back to the church on my bike so he could see for himself. WELL I am not a nervous passenger and have never been but I literally closed my eyes during the journey these Russians are crazy. But when we arrived that church (where I am staying) I noticed that Vadim was looking quite pale too. It’s no fun riding a bike that cuts our every time you slow down thorough peak hour traffic I a city the size of Irkutsk. So Vadim immediately call the mechanic and said this bike is very sick. That was when the story was translated correctly. The overheating has bent / warped (whatever the tec term is) the piston and piston rings. The mechanic (apparently the best in Irkutsk and I do now have renewed respect for him) manually fixed the piston and made new rings. He did this because it would take a month to get the new parts which were really needed for Dizzy. The piston is therefore vibrating in the cylinder and that is the bad noise and the bad fit is the reason it cuts out all the time.
I spoke to more people on the net including my brother, Anthony, who is an aircraft engineer and they all said no way do not ride this bike. Ant said Please don’t ride this bike just accept that It is over (first time I’ve ever listened to my big brother) this bike will not get you 200km let alone 2000, and never the 10000 I need to go, it needs the right parts. SO I accepted that Dizzy was beyond repair in Russia. Many conversation and investigations later, including my friend awesome Eric in Laos offering to ship his DRZ parts piston, values etc etc to me it looked like nothing would really guarantee success. Even if the parts did arrive on time and thought customs etc (and we would be cutting it very thin) we could not guarantee that the bike would be 100%, something else may just be wrong too.
So I sadly decided to ship dizzy back to Europe, but this left me in Siberia. Now this sounds really simple but it took days to discover that there was no way I could hire a car and get Dizzy to Almaty. Unless you are in a country where you do not understand the language or read the alphabet you cannot understand just what it’s like to organism something as “complicated” as a hire car. In Europe one simply hops on the net and in 2 minutes you have a car that you can take to any country.
Well deciding to ship Dizzy back home is one thing paying for it is another. I finally received 3 quotes from usd3000 to 4050 hmm well that isn’t gonna happen. SO Dizzy will stay in the garage of my friend Vadim and he will try and sell him for me. If he can great and if not well that’s life maybe I’ll come back next year fix him up and ride him back home.
I had decided to chuck up the china trip and fly to Laos and hire Eric’s DRZ and just spend the rest of my trip there. Although that would have been great on one hand I felt really bad as my trip is all about Zurich to Singapore OVERLAND. Not wussing out and flying to Laos. So after many more conversation and a couple of nights sleep I decided to give it one more go. I’d fly to Almaty and try getting a second hand bike there. If this did not work I would hitch a ride in the 4×4 with Lyn and David, as least I’d still be going overland. Then when we all got to Laos I’d rent Erics DRZ and spend the last month of my trip back on a bike.
So today, my birthday, I bought the best gift I have ever given myself a ticket to Almaty and although I have really enjoyed Russia and have been made to feel VERY welcome in the church I am very much looking forward to just moving on.
Just rereading this post I relaise that I really am not a very eloquent person, since I just cannot describe the last few days very well. I feel like I’ve been on such a rollercoaster. One minute being really down and just wanting to dig a hole and pull the soil over my head then been told my bike is ok, then back to the hole then picking myself up and deciding to drive my bike in a van to Almaty and get Erics engine only to be told at the airport ‘’you want to drive a Russian car to Kazakhstan no way are you crazy Niet niet’ . Although I was feeling very sorry for myself I did realise that many many people in the world have far worse things to deal with and worry about so I did try and keep that in mind, which I think was one of the things that made me man up and just get on with it even if it meant riding shotgun. So it’s been all ups and down but finally light at the end of the tunnel and a plan of action.