There’s little in life that I wouldn’t have done, if I’d known the conditions in advance. But the road going north from Almaty to the Russian border is on the list. 830 km roadworks, dusty detours, potholes and bumpy bastards!
Just 20 km before Öskemen in northern Kazachstan, almost at the end of the seemingly endless road, I make a last pee break and notice my indicator light melted away. Somehow the rear of my bike sank about 5 cm, causing the luggage rack to touch the exhaust pipe – luckily no hole in it yet. And oh shit… my toolbox came down as well. Just a few days ago I attached an additional strap, which prevented me from losing all my tools. Those little coincidences saving my … tools 🙂 I put everything back together, head to the first town, look for some shadow to properly investigate what’s been going on. Then I become nervous… Did the suspension give up and let the rear of my bike sink down? No kidding… After all those kilometers off road on the TET, back-country detours, Pamir, Wakhan, and Kyrgyz roads it gave up on me after this bumpy-grumpy road in Kazachstan? I always considered the Hyperpro suspension to the best modification I did to my bike… It can’t let me (well, Harry) down now – right? In a rarely bad mood I look for a place to stay. It’s hot, I’m annoyed and worried that I’ll be stuck here waiting to get my suspension replaced – not the best moment for the police officer to put on sirens and alarm signals flagging me down for whatever reason. No way! My not-amused expression and repeatedly stating ‘sorry, I don’t understand ‘ makes him give up his attempt to point out my disobedience rather quickly. He made one ‘phone call’ to his superior, then let me go. Skip the crap; I’ve got more important things on my mind right now. One sleepless night until I find the guts to go and explore, finding out what’s been going on.
Never would I have imagined to be so happy to find the rear-frame of my bike broken. What a relief! Both tubes carrying the tail had given up: two ‘nice and clean fractures’ without any internal collateral damage. Yes! This is it! NOT the suspension! Hyperpro rocks – still – and Harry will soon be fine again. Sitting out the Sunday, I found some excellent craftsmen at Elite Motors in town. They did an awesome job welding and reinforcing Harry’s rear part, and reattaching the toolbox. The best of it all: they actually accepted me helping dismantle and mount things back together. No, that’s not obvious! It wouldn’t be the first time for me to be expected to NOT touch my own bike – probably just because I’m a woman and you know… bikes are no women business. Not this time! Maybe it’s because Harry starts to show that I’m actually using him… that I live on and with the bike fulltime. Maybe it’s the collection of country -flags- stickers on the front that’s revealing our little detour together?
Whatever the reason may be, it was a morning well spent at the workshop.
Thanks guys, for the great craftsmanship!
Tomorrow I’ll move on to the Russian border, and from there to Ulan-Ude for a second attempt to obtain a visa for Mongolia. Almaty wasn’t successful; the consul on holiday and nobody seemed to know when he’d be back at the consulate. The kind officer who answered my questions but kept the gate closed, understood my disappointment. It was the first time I heard an official saying: ‘yeah, it’s pretty fucked up’… I could hardly keep my face straight. At least I left the consulate with a smile 😉