16 April 09: Feodosia, Crimea
I left Yalta knowing the bike had been pampered this week. Electrical love on Monday in Odessa and a full mechanical service in Yalta on Wednesday. My last act was to give Valeri a Sibirsky Extreme sticker. He beamed a smile as he prepared a spot on the back of his transit van for the treasured item.
On the road, the bike was humming. Maybe carrying the extra tyres or the old oil was causing me to have had poor fuel economy for the last few days but after the oil change and the new tyres fitted, the bike was flying! I felt a real difference in the performance of the bike and without the weight of the tyres sitting high up on top of the rear bag, it was much lighter and more flickable. The road from Yalta to Feodosia was a real gem, especially east of Alushta, and the lighter, higher performance bike gave me a real buzz. My only concern on the windy hilly roads was how quickly I had been wearing through front brake pads. The XC had a dirt bike front brake set up – a single small disk and small caliper … nice and light and not too grippy in the dirt, but not as durable or secure on twisty mountian roads.
About 5pm I pulled into Feodosia, headed for the centre of town and called Yuri, the guy on the R6 I met yesterday at Valeri’s garage. He said he could actually see me. In a city of 100,000 people I had apprently pulled up right outside the front of his apartment.
He took myself and the bike to his lock up garage (where it became apparent he also had a couple of KTM dirt bikes) and then zoomed me around town in his brand new Lexus.
Yuri confirmed that he drove all the way to Yalta to get Valeri’s advice on a mechanical issue and said he is the best bike mechanic in the Crimean Peninsula. I have to say I have never had such a feeling of confidence in a foreign mechanic before as I had in Valeri. Anyone heading this way should track him down.
Feodosia is one of the oldest towns in the former Soviet Union, being originally a greek settlement over 2500 years ago. There is a lot of history there, including a 13th century Genoese Fortress, and Yuri made sure I saw it all.
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17 April 09: Kerch, Crimea
The day started in Feodosia by giving Yuri a coveted Sibirsky Extreme sticker, then off to the hairdressers. I got what I feared … a mullet. Seems to be the style here if a guy has longer hair. I had to insist on a few alterations to the back to avoid looking like a complete tool. Now, hours later, I am sitting in a cafe in Lenin Street, Kerch, having just collected a new bank debit card. Only problem was there was no PIN code with it. I have sorted out something with the bank staff tho to get it forwarded to me. So almost back to normal on the funding front. Actually there is a lot of Lenin-abilia around these parts. Not only is the main street in Kerch still Lenin Street, I am in the Lenin Region, and passed through the town of Illicha and Lenino earlier today.
UK radio is playing on the stereo here … must be internet radio. Not sure what the locals make of all the “meercat.com” insurance adverts with silly Russian accents, but its reassuring to hear English voices again. I havent met a native speaker since saying farewell to Jonathan over a week ago. Speaking of Jon, I just heard he has safely arrived back in blessed England. Take a break mate, you deserve it.
Took a bunch of back roads here, some dirt, some blocked due to recent installation of Russian military sites. Kerch is the last stop before Russia. Its 5km away across the Kerch Strait, so i might as well enjoy this internet access and make sure everything is uploaded and up to date.