Welcome to Journey To Russia

This site is here to chronical the epic journey Matthew, Patrick and Stace are currently doing to Russia and back. 3 blokes, 3 bikes, 3 Weeks.

You can use this site to help plan your own journey (Country Information) or to keep tabs on how we're doing with our journey. You can also watch the exclusive JTR Review Show, or keep up to date with our latest ventures in the news.

Given we’re now filming in wide-screen and that it would be nice to watch all the review shows in one place we’ve built a new page to allow you to do just that!

It sounds more exciting than it really is, but bookmark this link

http://journeytorussia.co.uk/watch-the-show

or subscribe to the RSS feed at

http://journeytorussia.blip.tv/rss

Shows in the pipeline include a guide to which tents will serve you best on the road, and the first of what I hope will be many cooking themed shows, with recipes that will keep you healthy using local food and the simplest of tools.

If there’s something you’d like to see us film drop us a note :-)

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A new episode in the Review Show… They’ve let me out of the garage – goodness knows why – but Patrick, Stace and I headed down to the London Business Centre over the weekend and met up with some great people who are there to make planning your trip nice and easy – but in the main we just liked to play with the kit and mess around with the camera!

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I’ve been playing with google maps again and we now have a very flash new map. It’s a bit basic at the moment but over the next few months Stace and I will be adding more detail and try to map the actual lines to our actual route as closley as possible.

We’ll also be using the map to display our photos and videos whilst we’re on the road. You’ll be able to access the map on the Route page.


View Larger Map

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Some people may say this is a luxury – but frankly there is nothing worse than waking up in a cold tent on a cold morning to be greeted by instant coffee or stale tea. The easy way to solve this problem? A camping espresso machine of course! Perfect for that first thing wake-me-up.

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News has filtered into the journeytorussia news room that the Paris Dakar has been cancelled. This is huge news, the rally involving trucks and cars as well as hundreds of motorbikes, has run un-interupted since 1979; although stages have been canceled in the past.

The guys who run the rally are not faint of heart, in fact they’re pretty damn brave most of the time with reports of locals taking pot shots at competitors quite common (not to mention the hundreds of injuries and the tragic deaths). But this year the organisers have announced that they are calling off the event because of, “direct threats against the race issued by terrorist groups”.

This has serious repercussions for the future of the race, it’s not clear yet what the financial issues will be, but I’m sure they’re not going to be able to sort this lot out in a month.

There’s still no official announcement on the Dakar site, but the ASO have said, “Following several consultations with the French government – in particular the ministry of foreign affairs – and taking into account its firm recommendations, the organisers of the Dakar have taken the decision to cancel the 2008 edition of the rally”.

Latest news direct from the rally camp via Rally RAIDio

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Continuing the series of video reviews, in this episode we look at the Trangia 25-5 – that’s the 2-4 person system that’s non-stick.

(embedded movie from blip.tv)

The Trangia is a wonderful all round system. I use the 25 (the slightly larger version) because I find the 27 too small for a decent cup of tea for more than one person, and whilst there is an obvious space saving issue, I also find the 27 too fiddly to use with the multi-fuel burner. Talking of which I’d consider the multi-fuel system an absolute must – the meths burner which comes with the system is fine if you have an hour to make a cup of tea – but as we discovered on the Dartmoor training run last year – the last thing you need when you’re cold and tired is to be wondering if your food will ever actually be ready.

The 25 can be had for around £50, the multi-fuel burner is about £80 and then you’re looking at between £5 and £10 for the various accessories, like the multi-disk and extra fuel bottle.

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I started to write a review for the EXPED Downmat… but discovered the best way to get my point across would be in a badly filmed and encoded video uploaded to YouTube.

And so it was done.

It may not be cheap, but £115 for total sleeping comfort is worth every penny. I love camping, there’s nothing I’d rather do that get way out into the countryside in the middle of no-where and sit staring at the stars. But when I crawl into my little tent I do actually want to sleep.

There’s a glut of cheap ’simple’ sleeping mats on the market – in fact there are also some pretty expensive ones – things like the thermarest – but does anyone else think that they’re just the biggest things ever!? I mean… who is going to pack one of those on the back of their bike?

Sure, the small one is tiny, but it’s so thin that even my little 10 month old kitten would find it uncomfortable. So enter the king of sleeping mats – the Exped 7 DLX!

The thing you have to understand of course is that this is no ordinary mat – oh no – it’s actually filled with down – and because down compresses so damn well it packs up really really tiny – much smaller in fact than the smallest thermarest. Having said all that when you inflate it – it’s wonderfully comfortable – even my large frame doesn’t touch the floor and it’s toasty warm on the coldest of nights.

It’s also quite clever – none of this just leave it inflate and then top up with your breath (which actually puts water into your mat and shortens it’s life) no! You use bag it comes in to inflate it! Amazing!

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I’ve been lying low for a bit and the other two have been out and about on their bikes so all in all a busy period where not much has changed as far as my Africa Twin is concerned. I’ll say sorry in advance as this bike has turned into an obsession.

I’ve spent the entire summer spending every weekend at college which has meant only being able to look and think about the work required on the bike. Until now that is…

So the panels have gone off to the paint shop, new fork internals have been ordered and are on the way and I have one remaining part to find and it’s the front brake master cylinder. The cost of replacement parts has shocked me. At a rough guess if I’d looked to replace all the parts with new Honda OEM stuff I’d have spent more than the trip itself will cost me (and probably us a group too).

Thankfully I have been inundated with help from all quarters. From free parts to tip offs about parts for sale I’ve got the lot bar the one outstanding. It’s out there somewhere (it’s probably on German ebay – everything else is…) and I will find it.

Going to take my front wheel to be sorted at college – new term has started and hopefully this will save me at least £40.

So stay tuned for photos and more details of the rebuild. At this rate I’ll be finished in time for winter – nice!

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Well as you all know the Russian Bear will have to wait. I have a bike to rebuild once my body is rebuilt (thankfully unlike bikes there’ll never be bits left over when it’s fully back together) and to be honest I’m more or less there. With the trip on hold for a bit Matt and Stace are off on their travels leaving me with a garage full of bike bits…Thanks guys!

Stace is off to Cornwall and France for a bit of R&R he’s off soon and no doubt will have some breathtaking pictures upon his return. Having learnt much from the prep for this trip he found he didn’t have to worry about the Cornish leg and the Foreign Office assured him that Cornwall was indeed part of the UK and the terror threat was low(ish).

Matt seems to have drawn the short straw again though. As with Russia he seems to have engaged mouth before brain and a throw away remark now seems to be sending him somewhere warm and sandy. I suspect when he mentioned he wanted to go to Morocco to Mrs Cashmore and later to Stace and I he at least hoped for some worry over his plan…Not so!

Indeed ‘Ooooo great idea’ was one of Catherine’s comments and ‘How soon can you leave’ was mine… Joking aside this is a big trip for the Big Boyo. He’s taking on a monster run down through France and Spain and then dipping his toe in the sands of Africa (who needs to be a journo to write this stuff….) is a big undertaking – especially for the solo rider.

However it’s also a fantastic oppurtunity to test some of the bits we’re planning for Journey To Russia. So hats off to Matt and like us you can follow progress at journeytomorocco.com

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Last Monday the JTR team huddled at our now infamous HQ at Borough Market. Small talk was made and sausages in a bap ordered as we politely sipped our tea and ignored the rather obvious reason for us being there.

As readers of this blog will know, we’ve all had some nasty offs over the last month or so, Patrick in particular is still in a pretty bad state – as he puts it;

“Thinking back to the accident one of the first things that hit me, other than the bike, was the notion that a September departure for Russia was slipping away from me.”

A truth that we’ve simply had to accept. Whilst JTR may have started out as one persons dream, it has never been about any one of us. JTR would not exist and does not exist without us being a team, unless all three of us can make this journey then it’s not Journey To Russia.

With that in mind we’ve decided to postpone our departure. We’ll now leave the UK July next year, with a fit team and bikes that are not in several parts in several garages.

This is a huge blow to us as a team, not least because it means losing a lot of momentum that we’d built up, and a lot of the work that has already gone in is now going to have to be re-done – but it’s the right decision – it’s the sensible decision.

We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and head for Russia in 2008!

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