Before any of you think the worst, don’t worry, Yogi is fine. As if he would have a breakdown, me on the other hand. Leaving Novosibirsk at the start of the week I had a plan in mind to make good time and be in Moscow by the weekend. Well, we all know what happens when I make plans.
As always, my good friend the weather decided to literally rain on that parade and after more than a thousand kilometres of being absolutely soaked to the bone, it finally got to me. From Novosibirsk we headed to the city of Omsk.
No more than an hour into the long days ride it started to rain. Really rain. Given we have spent god knows how many hours riding in it on this trip, it is fair to say that my wet weather gear has seen better days. With gloves that are being held together by gorilla tape, yet still have holes in the fingers, to pants that look like something Madonna would have worn in the 80’s, there was no keeping dry.
It is bearable, just, to be wet for a period of time, but when it is also a chilly 6c plus windchill, then it becomes miserable pretty quickly. With rain pouring into the slashed sides of my pants, my crotch quickly filled with water and there it stayed, for the remaining 8 hours. I made a promise to myself there and then, when sitting at my desk back in the real world and I feel annoyed about being at work, I shall remind myself that I could have a cold, wet crotch and fingerless gloves to keep me warm!
Drying out overnight, I woke to an equally grey and gloomy looking day. After a quick facetime with Nan and Grandad to cheer me up, I set off hoping it would clear. It didn’t. The wind was howling, the rain was relentless, I was soaked and my plan to reach Kurgan would need to be abandoned. Pulling into a petrol station to grab a tea to use to defrost my burning cold fingers, I looked for the nearest town to stay for the night.
The closest place I could find was still another hour’s ride, so I rugged up as best I could and literally put my head down and got there. Driving into the very small village I had the feeling this wasn’t going to be one of the nicest places I had stayed. The hotel itself was fine to be fair, although lacking hot water, I laid my wet gear out again in the hope it would dry overnight. Unfortunately, it didn’t, getting me off on the wrong foot the moment I got up.
Having had no lunch or dinner the day before, I attempted to eat the stale bread and salty rice porridge for breakfast but even at my hungriest, I still have standards. It was of course raining already, but I had promised myself, if you just do the next 5 hours to Kurgan you can stay at the nice hotel. That seemed like a fair reward, that is, if it hadn’t of been booked out! Aughhhhhhh.
Almost at snapping point, I got on the bike and set a course to get out of this miserable Siberian town. Being so close to Khazkstan and knowing my gps, I was paranoid about accidently going the wrong direction and coming too close to the border. Because of that, I had it in my head I was going the wrong way. The only way to check was to cross reference it against my phone, which now, on the side of the road in the rain, I couldn’t get to work.
Out of nowhere I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks in my helmet. I had had enough. I was cold and wet and lost. I just wanted to come home. Sobbing on the side of the road with cars rushing past me, I wanted to be done. When it rains, it pours. Sometimes quite literally. I let myself cry for a few minutes, attempts to call home were hampered by the useless internet connection, so I had to pull myself together and get on with it.
Sometimes you need to be ok with how you are feeling and accept it, rather than fight it. We are all so consumed with making sure we are ‘happy’, that anything that threatens our happiness becomes something to fear and quash as quickly as possible. I knew in that moment, that I needed to feel completely and utterly miserable, and just be ok with it.
After a few more minutes messing around with the maps, I was confident in our direction. So with a deep breath, we pulled back out on to the road. At the next fuel stop it had finally stopped raining thankfully, however I was still freezing. I went inside to pre-pay for my petrol and when I returned one of the other customers had taken it upon himself to start filling my bike. He had seen me go inside, no doubt looking cold and windblown, and wanted to do something to help. Although he spoke no English, we still managed to communicate and his gesture had been just the thing I needed to feel re-energised after such a rough start to the day.
Sitting on Yogi at the petrol station, once again trying to warm myself with a tea, I felt the smallest rays of sun warming me through my millions of layers. This had been the last stop for fuel before starting the roughest part of the road into Kurgan. Heavily rutted and damaged from the harsh winter conditions and filled with pot holes big enough to eat a semi-trailer, I had been dreading it for the past two days.
Now with the rain finally giving us a break, this patch of road didn’t seem so bad. The wind blew with vicious force, pushing us sideways. Each passing truck would suck us towards them and then spit us back out the other side into the opposing winds and it would be a constant struggle to stay on the right side of the road. It was pure heaven. I couldn’t have felt happier riding along, getting through the kms knowing I was drying out with each gust that seemed intent on pushing us over.
With only 50km to go, the sun finally came out from behind its gloomy curtain and rather than push on and get there, I pulled over. I got off Yogi and sat down behind him taking a break from the wind and let the sun shine on my face. It that moment, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.
Although I didn’t get to stay where I had wanted to, the next place was absolutely fine and I had an amazing dinner after almost two whole days of no food. I watched movies and drank tea. What a way to end the day.
I reflected on the previous day the following morning as I awoke to brilliant blue skies and clear crisp air. Once the unpleasant part of my situation was alleviated, everything else felt so incredible. It made me wonder why we aren’t unable to be grateful of those small things every day. When we are faced with something that makes us unhappy, why are we so quick to then move on to the next problem and make that our focus, rather than being grateful for the comforts we do have?
This thought stayed with the whole day, it seemed so simple but somehow not. After spending a great deal of time thinking about it, I feel I may have the answer. Firstly though, ask yourself this question. When was the last time you were uncomfortable? Not just inconvenienced, but truly uncomfortable? I am going to guess it would hard to remember. I for one know thhat I would have to be honest and say on a day to day basis, I really have nothing that causes me great discomfort. And therein lies the problem.
With no yardstick with which to measure against, the smallest issues in our life seem monumental. We live, thankfully, such comfortable lives that when we are faced with something that causes us trouble, we give it a disproportionate amount of our time and energy. Perhaps we all need a recalibration every now and then.
This week I feel like I had mine. It wasn’t easy, actually, it was really bloody hard. I felt totally alone, I was tired and the basics of not being able to keep warm and being hungry, not something you honestly face in any real on-going way, was overwhelming. There have been many times on this trip that I felt like I was genuinely going through personal growth, this week, whilst probably one of the less enjoyable, has been an important one.
I don’t think it will ever mean anything when you are given the advice “remember there is always someone else worse off”, because as human beings that is not how we work. We need to remember the times that WE were worse off. We need perspective and that can only come from yourself. I questioned myself, harshly, at the beginning of this trip as to what on earth I was doing out here, and days like I have had this week, are my answer.
I am pushing on to make Europe by the start of the week. With only two weeks until we fly to Canada, I still have quite a bit to do, both in km’s and getting organised. Least of which, regardless of what the bank account has to say, will be looking for all new riding gear. After almost 10 years my BMW gear needs to go into retirement, it was certainly a good investment at the time as it has saved me from the countless offs I have had across my adventures, but it has seen better days!
Whilst it may not have been the usual array of nice photos and amazing new places this week, I hope you are all as happy to be a part of the not so good as I am. It makes everything else seem so much more special, and for that I am very grateful.
Kylie and Yogi x