On this tour I drove through rivers, streams, sand, mud, 4000 m passes, pists, rocky river beds and never once was I afraid. But this changes quickly on the Russian highways, which are everything but a highway. They are just normal overland roads, mostly in good condition, with unbelievable traffic. I estimate that 80% of the vehicles on this roads are trucks, and they know no mercy. If you do not overtake they will overtake you, and that is really scary.
Here is a dash cam video (mami, nöd luege!!!)
But before we could even start we had to repair our cars. Bernds turbo was broken and it had to be replaced with a new one. If the turbo is not cooled correctly it can explode and then metal particles are sucked into the engine which is the certain death of every engine. Quitschis rear spring broke, that’s just a normal thing to happen, 3 cars had this problem and it is rather easy to replace a spring. Fortunately we found some excellent mechanics in Bernauls car repair district. They checked everything and also found that the bearings in the front wheels where through. The seal failed and water came in, which might lead to catastrophic failure if not detected. Catastrophic means you can loose a wheel while driving. They could fix it all and it was ridiculous cheap. Also this guys where so unbelievable friendly. They gave us presents, I got a home made vodka produced by the grandma of the workshop owner, it is ridiculous strong…
Unfortunately Russia is also reeeeeeaaaalllly big, we had to drive around 4000 Km on this roads, and you can not relax for one moment. I was glad to have Bernd with me. Although the tour officially ended in Barnaul we decided to drive together through Russia because something can, and will, always happen and it is also way more entertaining to do this together. Plus in the end I’ve kind of started to like this guy. Yes, he is mildly crazy, but who isn’t, and he is a good guy and that is all that maters in the end. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on this tour: You can not hide your real you: You are tired, have not showered in a week, your hungry, freezing, afraid and 10000 Km away from your loved ones, and than something goes wrong. What would you do?
We drove as quick as possible, meaning as much as we could on the weekend because the traffic is a bit more bearable. We also drove through Moscow during the night which was a bless and worked very well, but it was tough.
One of the main problem was Quitschis alternator which quit working. Luckily I have a diesel and as long as you manage to start it it will continue running without electricity. But no electricity also means no wipers, no radio, and worse: No lights. So we used Bernds car to charge Quitschis batteries to give me at least a couple of hours of lights to drive through the night. It worked and we made it to Latvia where we found a capable mechanic who just took the alternator apart, clean it, and it was working again.
Now I’m on my way home already in Poland. I have more than a week time to get home. So I’m planing on doing some detours. A couple of hundred kilometres more or less doesn’t matter anyways anymore.