My red Suzuki was safely strapped in the van waiting for new wheel bearings. Larry & I had a decision to make. Who would ride what and/or where? Riding double on Larry’s bike was my first choice. Further inspection had found that the rear wheel bearings on both our bikes had some “play” so two-up would not have been a great choice. My wonderful Sweetie, Larry, invited me to ride his bike and he would join Jeff & Anton, our Russian guide, in the van. Since neither an injured shoulder or a broken leg had kept me from missing a mile of riding during Sections 1-3 or now Section 5, I appreciated his offer.
We kissed good-bye and off I rode, on a BLUE bike. Ernst, Frajo, and Juergen welcomed me into their riding team. Ernst lead, I was tucked in behind him followed by Frajo. Juergen brought up the rear.
Jeff, Anton, and Larry were on a more serious mission – finding wheel bearings. The internet has revolutionized distant travel. Larry had gone on line and found out the metric dimensions of the needed bearings. Within hours of his finding the sizes, two other people had replied to Larry E-mail with the same information. Anton located a “bearing outlet store” in Saratov, right across the street from a bearing factory. They had the needed bearings to fix both our bikes. The guys bought the parts and set out on today’s route to Volgograd.
Days like this are when we are reminded of the value of an organized, supported, trip. I remember vividly what it’s like have a flat tire in The Yukon and try to convince a car repair shop, after they said that they didn’t work on motorcycles, to consider my Yamaha touring bike as a small car and fix the tire. They plugged my flat. On another trip, the stator when out on June’s Gold Wing. By swapping batteries between her bike and mine, which had the capability of charging her battery, we limped along 600 miles until we found a shop that could fix it. I broke two fingernails but we made it. One time when my Harley started blowing oil all over near the Georgia-Florida border, I convinced a man at a rest area to take his bike off his trailer, put my Harley on the trailer and tow my bike the 250 miles home. I offered to drive his truck so he could ride those miles on a perfect riding day. The man then said that his girlfriend didn’t want me to ride with her in the truck so he said I could ride his bike. Oh, darn!
These type incidents are not there to add stress on a Globebusters or Edelweiss trip. We can enjoy the ride, knowing that the van, and a talented mechanic, is 30-60 minutes behind us. When in countries where we do not know the language and/or the infrastructure for dealing with trouble, mechanical or health wise, is not there, Larry & I are big fans of organized, supported trips like the Discover Our Earth Expedition.
Not only had I experienced wobbly wheel bearings, our first pit stop today featured a wobbly outhouse. Lakes and occasional views of the Volga river added water features to the landscape’s variety pack.
Ernst treated us to watermelon so fresh, it had just been picked. While we were devouring the melon, the van caught up with us. It’s so nice knowing that as long as we stay on route, the van will always be behind us, ready to help when needed.
In the USA, we’re all familiar with “Best Western” hotels and motels. Did you know that there are also “Best Eastern?” The Hotel Volgograd is one of them. Around the corner, cold beer and veggie pizza, complete with corn, recharged our bodies’ batteries.
15 Jul Saratov to Volgograd Russia 235 miles
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