The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010
September 10th - October 16th, 2010
SEPTEMBER 22ND, 2010
Border to Belokurikha
Coupe des Alpes
Now for something different. We left Mongolia today, and after hassles with the borders for the exit of Mongolia, and rather longer frustrations with the entry into Russia – some cars were in border-land for most of the day, despite the prior planning with all the information customs and immigration officials could require supplied well in advance – we finally left Mongolia behind.
We were welcomed into Russia by the local motor-club, who had a roadside display of Volgas, Moskovitches, and other Russian classic cars, dating back to 1949, including a Russian 4x4 jeep powered by a pre-war Model-A engine. More important, a modern van racked out in the back with rally service items and a small trailer, and, in addition, 50-kms further up the road, a truck capable of carrying a vintage car. They have thought of everything to ensure we had full back up for our two days in Russia, and we are to enjoy this kind of support all the way to the Kazak border.
The road changes dramatically once into Russia, we found ourselves driving on smooth tarmac. The scenery was also changing fast, leaving behind the dry barren landscape of Mongolia, and now we were driving down roads lined with trees all changing into autumn colours of yellows and golds.
It could have been the Dolomites, or the Alpine Rally. Lofty craggy peaks, snow-capped mountains, mountain streams, twisty roads that climbed and dipped, it was a dramatically different day.
Alas, we were given a re-route by officialdom which added an extra 120 kms to an already long day, now making it well over 700 kms, on top of the border delays, so by the time cars reached Belokurikha, a spa resort, the chefs were having to keep the buffet heated for late-comers expected to be arriving at well past midnight.
Among the first to arrive, Max Stephenson in the Pioneer Category Vauxhall, David and Karen Ayre in the Itala, George Howitt in the Rolls Royce, and the Vauxhall of Nellie and Charles Bishop.
We heard that the last car left the Russian border at 5.0pm, but car 6, the La France, and car 60, the Chevrolet Speedster, were still in no-man’s land, playing catch up, and the crew of car 99, the Vauxhall Viva, had taken over the driving of their truck in order to get it through to the border of Russia, and were now pondering the question of how to get the Viva onto a Russian truck, and how to return the Mongolian truck back to Mongolia, all on a single-entry visa.
We saw Tim Scott for the first time in what seems like ages today – the solo motorcyclist was in good spirits, sitting in the sun on a grassy bank by the roadside, his 1923 FN Motorcycle having seized a piston due to the strain of a long mountain climb. The rider seemed unfazed, “I’ve got a spare, all I need is a workshop.” He is with friends, as it’s just the sort of job the local motorclub will relish.
So, a demanding, frustrating day, and as this is being tapped out there was even more frustrations for George Howitt, having parked his Rolls Royce he has walked into the hotel with a bottle of whisky under his arm, but no glasses can be found… so he has to drink it all on his own.
The first car is due to leave here at 7.00am tomorrow morning for the drive to the Kazakstan border – and yet another round of adventures on the long road to Paris.