Sunday, 12 July 2015

Back to Tudtuyaruk yurt camp

In the morning, we left the hotel and made our way to Tudtuyaruk yurt camp. We had a good 250km to ride, mainly on alphalt. 

Back in June last year, we met Anton and Vladimir there and spent an evening drinking Kazakh cognac and talking bikes. It was quite a coincidence. 

Vladimir says there are no coincidences and that things happen for a reason. In any case, it was a strange feeling to be back there.

(see here for my entry last year:

It was a lot of riding, about 250km, with occasional stops to visit some ancient places like a ritual stones and carving dating back several thousands years.

We arrived at the yurt camp in the evening and were allocated a yurt for the whole gang.

Vladimir wanted to give me some tuition for riding off-road but it was a bit late that evening.

We had dinner in the kitchen / diner yurt. The place was like out of that famous bar in the Star Wars movie, the only thing missing was the alien band playing that crazy music! 

One guy with long hair was wearing a massive giant bright yellow shaggy coat, another had some sort of Iroquois air style, another looked like a mixed of Indiana Jones and Han Solo, without the lasso but hat included, another, still, looked like out of a 60s hippy movie while a baby on his chair was strangely quite and staring at people. And that is just for the people that looked ‘normal”!

The following day was excursion day. I knew what that meant: tough trails ahead, although Vladimir calls them baby school motocross trails! This time I was determined to do the entire ride.

The weather looked actually dry that morning after the rain of the previous day, we decided to ride after breakfast.

Vladimir took us through another exit from the campsite. It had a very steep muddy section. I made my way through best I could but not the right way, putting my right foot down. Vladimir told me off for that. He really wanted me to improve my riding skills and ensure I would keep my right foot (which controls the back brake) on the peg.  

- “I don’t want you to go on your travels around the world not riding properly” he told me some time before. I feared I was becoming some sort of "project" for him, make me into a descent off-road rider. When I told him, with his usual broad smile, he denied... I had my suspicions though!

The excursion up the mountain was stunning. It was hard going for me, to start with, but we kept in formation. I was right behind Vladimir, who, despite riding standing up on his foot pegs, continued to have that supernatural power of seeing behind him what I was doing at any time! How does he do that!?  

At first, I started slowly but soon got bored of slow and managed to go faster and faster.

The bike performed so well on lose gravel, stones or anything, that I grew more and more confident. We managed to get to the 1st step up the mountain through narrow treacherous mountains tracks.

The last climb involved a very (very!) steep trail that would be hard to achieve, due to the lack of oxygen. Anton told me he managed once with Vladimir but they had to take the air filters out.

Vladimir, Andrey and Alistair attempted the climb, but their bikes died half way through and they had to turn back.

We then descended back into the valley. We visited a few other places of interest, like the "Mars landscape". I felt comfortable with the way my bike behaved on any sort of terrain and performed reasonably well, although, I know that Vladimir was looking for the easiest ways off-road to get through. There were still lots of mud around. 

Later on, Vladimir told me, with his usual broad smile, that I had done very well that day. That was a big compliment coming from “Action man" himself! 

Back to the yurt camp, the guys decided to go out with the bikes  and find a shop to get some beers, to celebrate. It was Saturday evening after all! They took a detour by the hills and I heard that Andrey had a spectacular fall in the mud. Sadly no one took a picture of it! That did not seem to deter him, as he kept taking off at the speed of light with complete disregard for the sort of track he was riding. He was certainly keen.

We went to the banya for a wash and then back to the colourful kitchen / diner for a meal. It had been an action packed day.

After that, Vladimir disappeared to the camp’s “Star Wars Tavern” / Kitchen / diner to play guitar and socialize with the strange fauna that inhabited that place, obviously feeling in his element!

Andrey decided to follow to provide him with some business advice, while we stayed in the yurt with Anton to talk and relax.

Little did I know what was waiting for us the next day!

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