The Long Drop Ep.10 – The Alden Again

Jo and Dave’s bikes both need some proper repair work or they could be in trouble. The team are on the hunt for a bunch of Russian welders but what’s the chance of them out here? Jo also seems to be collecting a few animal body parts for good luck from the locals. Spooky!

Breaking from Camp Debris we’re away early heading for Alden which is the half way point between Yakutsk and Tynda down near the Chinese border and from where we will head back east. We last saw the Alden some 700 kms further north at Khandyga when we crossed it on that tragic day where the two lads were killed. So just a section of this river is most of the length of the North Island – big place Siberia.

The road fails to live up to the billing given it by the boys from Ural. It’s roadworks and hardpack so not nearly as challenging as sand and roadworks which will await them as they head out from Yakutsk toward Khandyga. I wonder whether that will make them turn back – probably not now they know that a grandmother just rode all the way from Magadan. The road is drying out very quickly and before long the dust starts to swirl as a pretty constant flow of trucks buries us in invisibility. It’s choking too so we decide to take a lunchbreak down a sideroad by a stream. Here Dave and Jo both discover their pannier assemblies have both sheared in the same place – where Jo’s had the bolt need packing out. Now it’s a welding job so nothing to do for now but for each of them to be strapped with a ratchet belt to the frame until we can find a welder in Aldan.

The road soon turns to tarseal – about 30 kms north of Tommot and we don’t see metal again. It’s like the outback ride is now over – and we’re transiting from here out to Vladivostok. The Road of Bones seems a long way behind now. Dave and Jo’s bikes of course are grateful of course for the smooth surface for now. Into Aldan and a search around 3 or 4 Gostanarias finds one that is operational and we can settle in. Even better it’s located smack next door to a welding shop and within 40 minutes both pannier frames are welded back together. And the guy won’t take a cent for it – unbelievable.

Then the search is on for a dinner place. I saw a Japanese about 2 kms away so we walk to that only to find its no longer operational. Frustrated and tongues hanging out for a beer we flag down the first taxi and after a series of signs to indicate we’re after food, we jump aboard and he transports us to the other side of town to a boutique brewery/restaurant which is not hard to settle into at all. I have the steak which I find out is horse and as tough as possible even though at $20 equivalent it’s the most expensive item on the menu, Dave’s chicken and chips and Jo’s rougash are better value. Completely lost and now slightly tiddly it’s a blessing that our cab driver has remained outside and delivers us back to the “Gostranista Welcome” directly. We sleep like logs- the long days of riding are catching up with us.

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