Asia – The beginning

Being employed and having limited time off does restrict your big trips somewhat, however with some careful planning, mostly by Paul, we managed to get 3 weeks this year riding our own bikes, mostly around Mongolia. Paul and I did Iceland back in August 2013 for a few weeks. We get on great, sure there are some different talents when it comes to riding, interacting with the locals and things like that but we work well together. What I lack, he makes up for and vice versa.

Paul was on his F800GS which he’s had since new. It had a full service, new HyperPro front springs and oil along with a few other bits and pieces. I had sold my F800GS last year and had a 2009 650 X Country with Hyperpro rear suspension, X Challenge forks with Marzocchi internals all done by Hyperpro. An Excel 21 inch front wheel and normal other mods.

So the plan was simple. Ship the bikes to Irkutsk then on 11th July pick them up and make our way to Bishkek where we’d fly home from on or around 2nd August. The planned route was the Northern route through Mongolia as shown here.


It wouldn’t go quite as planned though.

We’d shipped the bikes there a few months before hand, and unfortunately due to a bit of naivety we’d assume they would clear customs and we’d just pick them up. As you can guess though, Russian bureaucracy knows no bounds and it ended up taking us 2 full days to get them. Paperwork, more paperwork, duplicates, stamps, lunch hours and photos took up 2 solid days. But we got there in the end.


As you can see, the bikes shipped with no front wheel and my poor G650 X Country doesn’t have a centre stand. Unfortunately everyone except the foreman had left for the day, so we had no muscle to help with the bike and promptly broke the front mudguard while laying it on it’s side to refit the front wheel. I was hoping that would be all the damage we’d have.

First job, while riding back to the hotel, was to get the front mudguard bodged. I couldn’t ride with it off as even the 10km ride back to the hotel in the rain had me covered in road grime being flung up. I pulled in, at about 7pm, to a auto-service garage and found a true gem in the machine room called Viktor. He spent about 2 hours meticulously making brackets and rivets and my front mudguard was perfect. Best of all is that he wouldn’t accept a penny. It was a “Present from Russia to England” What a fantastic guy.


Paul and I spoiled ourselves at the hotel again that evening, 2 days of horrible customs, but we were ready to leave Irkutsk first thing on Wednesday morning and get going.