Today was a 690 kilometres drive with a couple hundred kilometres of dirt road and time controls from Novosibirsk to Omsk.
The day started with a gala send of from Novosibirsk in the main Square as it was celebrating 123 year since it started.
The drive after we left town was as flat as it gets anywhere with the only high spots for the day being the bridges over Railway lines and other roads.
As we drove along the tarmac we watched the storms rolling along to the north of us in the direction of our planed dirt timed sections.
We were nearly at start of the first time control when we meet car coming back as the section was cancelled due to the slippery condition so it was back to the main road to Omsk to finish the day.
The rest of the afternoon was spent overtaking the numerous trucks and slowing for storms as we drove across the flattest plain with cereal crop farm of all different standard amongst the swamps and tree.
My past experiences driving in Russia tells me we have days of this ahead till we get to Southern Poland.
I think most people enjoyed the easier days driving after the busy time fixing cars on the rest day and the gruelling time in Mongolia.
As we cross Russia and I’m back in Blog mode I’ll try and cover some of Mongolia over the coming days.
This is the first rest day since we left Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and a well earned one at that.
I have been too tired each night till now to henpeck out a blog ready for some Internet that has only been good enough for emails of a night.
Penny has been going very well so far to date, save for a couple small steering niggles since the middle of Mongolia. On a sand track one day I bent the steering damper and have had limited steering with only about half the total angle of normal till today. The steering damper had started to leak and was failing at it job from time to time with the slight wobbles. This in turn made a steering arm lose in the stub axle. This was corrected on the side of the road the first day in Russia.
I had made arrangements for a steering damper to meet me in Poland but that was proving to be to far away, so today in Novosibirsk I got a shock absorber from one off the support trucks and with the help of some very kind Russians in a work shop under a block of flats we modified my mounts to take the shock absorber which on the drive back worked a treat and Penny drove the nicest she has for about 5 days.
This workshop was and absolute hoot of a time. The music in the workshop was provided by a old windup Gramophone and old 78rpm records. The needle and records were that worn the music was grating and I had to get it turned of so I could work.
The owner of the workshop had a passion for old WW 1 and 2 guns and jeeps so I was shown that collection in the workshop.
The workshop was filled with lathes and mills for doing all sorts of metal work so in a coupe hour the jobs was done and Penny was washed ready for the trip across the steeps of Russia.
At the end of the job the men assisting me on the repair would accept no payment of any form at all because they felt it was a privilege to help out with fixing such an old car.
While I was at the workshop Julie was around town shopping for some clothes and bits and pieces for some crews that were to busy fixing to do there own shopping
The afternoon has been spent resting and getting supples for the next few big days across Russia to our next rest day in Kazan in 5 days and 2800 kilometres
Over the next few days I’ll endeavour to put up some photos from the trip across Mongolia.
It’s the end on Day 5 the rest day in Ulaanbaatar the capitol of Mongolia, and it has changed so much since I was here on the 2010 P to P. But back to that later!
The start went on with a great amount of music and dancing just prior to car 1 leaving. Some cars like car 2 didn’t get away due to problems for a while and Car 11 sadly never got to the start due to a unrepairable gearbox failure.
We spent the day motoring through the Chinese countryside along some of the roads used on previous event to end the day at the city of Datong which was started in 200BC, but had most of the development in the last couple od decades with multiple high rises. That afternoon the Hanging Monastery was visited by the people that didn’t want to go straight to the hotel to work on little car problems.
I had planned on writing a blog that night but was overrun with fatigue and fell asleep after dinner before I could hen peck out a post.
The run up to the border the next day seems like eons ago but was a trip through some very diverse scenery with us dodging storms of and on. I use the dodging term incorrectly as we were very successful in that process as we drove through most of them including the hail. Luckily between the storms it was warm enough to get us dry ready for the next one. Julie and I have perfected the art of putting on my Gore-Tex at 100 kph.
As always the drive into Erenhot through the dinosaur statues is kind of surreal.
We all crossed the border into Mongolia the next morning with vast amounts of patience required by all.
Last time I entered Mongolia the only way to Ulaanbaatar was through the desert on a choice of multiple sand tracks. This day we headed of up the new road at 100 kph for 200 k’s before heading into the desert for some time trials and test to sort out the leader board. I drove the first time trial in a spirited fashion. To clarify what a spirited fashion is it halfway between touring speed and driving like you have stolen it.
After the first time trail Julie and I decided that the spirited fashion was not the best plan of attack since we both want to get to Paris and I need to load Penny on a boat to South America a month after we get to the UK from Paris for a Rally James and I are doing in October. I only have time for minor repairs.
Our first nights camping was under clear blue sky’s with the superb support of Nomad Tours that has been supporting the P to P on every event. My plan to write a blogs vanished that night when I got involved with helping the service support teams fix the numerous wounded cars.
Yesterday was the run into Ulaanbaatar with three timed stage section in the desert. As we loped along in Penny over the bumps and rock out the front of the rally we could see lots of things that would create carnage for the cars to follow. Carnage was nearly an understatement with I think 5 cars coming in last night on the trucks of shame and many others limping in with all sorts of problems associated with being driven like it had been stolen.
I parked Penny and greased and checked the oil and covered her up for the rest day. So touch wood I haven’t missed any problems, as the next 5 days are tougher then the past 2 with the next rest day being 9 days away.
The cars that weren’t able to be fixed in the car park are spread all around town at various workshops like the Volvo Amazon that rolled in the desert yesterday with no one hurt and on its wheels with the driver carrying on to the end of the timed stage.
The next post will be at least 6 days away when we get our next Internet.
If you read Julies blog you will question if we travel in the same car some days as we see things through very different eyes.
Yesterday was car collection day so the long awaited anticipation and anxiousness was over, as we got loaded on to buses to the warehouse.
We were scheduled to go on the early bus to the warehouse.
As we all streamed in to the warehouse like a bunch of kids heading to the tree on Christmas morning the excitement was high.
The reason we got the early bus became obvious with all the cars parked in neat rows and Penny in the front row like a naughty kid at school.
After taking some photos Penny started on the push of the button and we were on our way to the first Fuel Station marked on the route map.
Julie was apprehensive and worried about the navigation but got us to the fuel and beyond to the hotel car park without a hitch.
We were the first at the Fuel and before we had pumped the 160 litres to fill Penny about 20 fellow travellers had queued for Fuel.
This fuel queuing is caused from having to ship the cars with minimum fuel in the tanks.
The rest of the day was spent sort out luggage generally faffing about for us till the garden party hosted by the official timekeeper for the event “Frederique Constant”. The afternoon was less leisurely for some with some serious tinkering taking place to make last minute adjustment and repairs including drain fuel tanks after mix up and cars getting filled with diesel.
Saturday morning we work to a very very clear Beijing and was a day of Scrutineering and even more tinkering ready for the start at 8.00 am Sunday.
Once the Scrutineering was completed with ticks in all the right boxes the Navigators collected the rally packs with Route books which they had been asking about ever since there arrival in Beijing.