Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 73: Saratov

The roads heading north were to be kind, .. variable, but at least the Police were waving us straight through at every checkpoint. Our aim was to complete three consecutive three hundred mile days and reach the city of Ufa by Monday. On any normal roads this would be simple, …. but this is Russia.
Approaching Saratov was met a group of bikers who had been away for three days trail riding around the Volgograd area. They rode an assortment of Japanese trail bikes including Africa Twin 750’s, DR800’s and a never before seen Africa Twin 250. We chatted for about an hour, they had places to be and the hoped for offer of free lodgings did not materialise, ….. and so we all moved on.
Following the map, we bypassed Saratov and headed for the main M5 motorway which would take us onwards to Samara and then Ufa and the beginning of Siberia. After about 20 miles and without warning, .. the road we had taken simply came to an end with an army checkpoint, a steel and razor wire barrier and two confident looking soldiers blocking our path. I consulted the map and realised that the only alternate route would take us at least 50 miles off course, …… and so I smiled and re-entered my CitySprint Courier Mode.
With no common language between us, we eventually established that this section of road had not yet been built and it was currently being used as a military training ground. The area towards the M50 was not only very ‘sensitive’, but also extremely ‘dangerous’.
After several photographs, the liberal distribution of Poor Circulation badges and a signed copy of the Riders Digest, ….. the barrier was lowered and an army officer in his Uaz Jeep escorted us some 20 miles across unmade road and open ground, .. at great speed, and onto the M5 Motorway. It is impossible to imagine this happening in England, …… but here in Russia our new friend Roman has taught us that anything is possible.

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