June 16-19 2019
Rain, mud, clutch repairs, horsemen, and more big crowds !
|Clouds and rain ahead|
|In the rain at German village|
|Miss Vicky pushes her way through !|
(Note of interest :- There are many people of German origin living in Kazakhstan. Their history is too extensive to detail here, but, if you are interested, more details can be found here :- Kazakh Germans )
|Mud, mud and more mud|
|This stage was to cause us problems later|
The border crossing shortly after that was relatively simple compared to some of the previous ones. although standing around in the biting wind while our clothes were wet and muddy was not much fun. Today was turning into a bit of a bummer.
|Gidget in Kazakhstan|
|In Pavoldar car park|
|Bridge over Irtysh River, outside Pavoldar|
|Lunch time TC stop|
The off road sections were OK, but there was one in particular that sticks in my mind, for
|Waiting for a Timed section|
LH side light glass had decided to fall off, and the bulb was just sitting out there, waiting to be hit and broken, or suffer from water ingress, or whatever. After checking to make sure it still worked, I tried to find something to protect the bulb - And turned to the nearest thing to hand - a small plastic water bottle I was drinking from. I cut the
|The Beetle heads off on the track|
The second memorable part for me was that we were sent off at 60 second intervals, and the Beetle went off, 60 seconds later the Hong Kong boys in their Merc, and then us. I was head down calling the turns, measuring them on the Monit because there sure weren't any sign posts out there, even though there were a LOT of tracks going off in every direction. Suddenly Ashton said "Are you sure we are going the right way ?" "Yes of course we are, keep going" "But Giles, there is a car coming towards us !! Are you SURE we are right ?". "Yes, KEEP GOING - And turn left in 100 metres - 80 metres.....70 metres", at which point the Mercedes, which was still heading towards us, suddenly turned to his right (our left), up the track we wanted. He had missed the turn and had come back. Now we were right behind the Mercedes, which was a problem as no where to over take. "Turn right in 30 m" I called, "20....10" - The Mercedes went straight on ! "Are you sure ? Says Ashton. "YES". We turned right, and suddenly we are going side by side with the Mercedes - He had again missed the turning, realised
|Arch of Triumph, Nur Sultan|
Coming into Astana / Nur Sultan is quite a sight - Some incredible buildings, quite a few of them left
|Khan Shatyr, Nur Sultan|
|Marriott hotel car park|
|Patented moisture barrier !|
|Goat damage on E Type !|
|P2P cakes for desert !|
a large dent on the front of the E Type - It turned out that they had had a "close encounter" with a sheep or goat or similar a couple of days ago ! And when we went in for dinner, we found even the deserts had been hand made into the P2P logo ! Shame to eat them really !!
|Gidget on a roadside ramp|
|Sweeps inspect the clutch|
|Entering Balkashino camp|
|Locals at Balkashino|
|River crossing entering Balkashino Camp|
We then soldiered on towards the Balkashino Camp - Our 7th and last camp site. One dirt stage had to be cancelled due to rain making the conditions virtually impassable, so much of the day was spent on the very smooth freeway, which considering our problems, wasn't a "bad thing". Entering the camp site was a fairly major water crossing, but, while we may have had no clutch, our yellow rubber glove waterproofing did its job and Gidget didn't miss a beat.
|Horseman at Balkashino|
Ashton had a busy evening on the phone trying to locate spares. We carry a clutch plate, but everything in the mechanism was new so we weren't carrying any other spares. He was therefore trying to find a way to import a repair kit into Ufa, our next rest day, 3 days up the road. Importing items into Russia ? Not so easy, and it turned out to be a major nightmare that was to keep Ashton (and others who were also desperately in need of spares) busy on the phone for the next couple of days.
|Party time in the rain|
|In the mess tent|
|Camp site restaurant !|
|Our last camp site|
good as the entertainment, and everyone turned in, in some ways sad that this was to be the last camp. Somehow the camp sites just have so much more atmosphere than sitting in a concrete hotel in another big city. Ah well..............
|Ashton waits for the start time|
A later dirt stage we elected to miss, but we did the 3rd one on tracks through grass that was relatively smooth and great fun, and
|Big crowds at Kostanay|
|Gidget in front of Government Building|
|Some people towed out of Kostanay|
|Crossing into Russia - Again !|
driver who decided he wanted to tell us how to cross the border, and where we should put our car ! Needless to say, he went onto our "bad" list, and ironically held us up all day !!
|Photo time on the freeway !|
Once in Russia, the two stages we had on grass went quite well, and although we were allowed to leave 2 minutes behind the (offending) Volvo, we still caught him, and pushed past in the long and bumpy grass beside the track. On the next stage, we also caught them up, but again managed to overtake them, and deliver respectable times in the end. These grassy open stages and much more to my liking as a navigator, and find that as the event goes on, I am managing to master them better, and find them incredibly satisfying.
as our clutch (Their Austin is effectively a 3 litre 6 cylinder Healey, except it has 4 doors !) actually hand carried in to Ufa, which is great news as the clutch really is becoming difficult to live with for poor Ashton.
During the day, we had our usual fair share of passing cars slowing and rolling down their
|My turn with the girls !|
motorcycle and sidecar ! It was then my turn to have a
|McDonalds and a sign !|
Bannoe Lake is a resort, with several large residential blocks dotted around in woodlands. We parked up, with the usual crowds, although this time we had pretty girls telling us where to park ! While doing a spanner check, I was able to negotiate over a fence to buy a few beers from some beer tent, so we were able to have a cold beer while we unpacked and sorted everything out. Finding our accomodation in the complex was not simple, but eventually made it.
|Dinner at Bannoe Lake|
|Being shown to our parking|
had set up a big marquee for us, and served us a great dinner. Unfortunately, after queuing up for about half an hour at the drinks stall, we were told they had run out of wine, so we had to drink beer for the rest of the evening. A very pleasant evening down beside the scenic lake. This is a big ski area in the winter, and given that it is only about 500 m ASL, it gives you an idea of what the temperatures must drop to out here !! A pleasant welcome back to Russia.
Rest of the photos are here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/8W6JpKuN8mqFmZF79