Transcontinental Enduro Marathon
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)|January-February 2020
14,500 Miles on a Honda XR650L from Togliatti to Magadan
Vladimir Kostrov

The route was an act of pure spontaneity. But my goals were simple. In addition to testing my own strength and endurance, I wanted to see as many historical and natural attractions as possible, come to know the lifestyles of other nationalities, and to experience their cuisines.

Prep for the trip took about a year and began with the purchase of an ’09 Honda XR650L along with upgrades and improvements and spare parts.

The route to Magadan would take me through Saint Petersburg, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizia, Mongolia and the BAM (the Baikal-Amur Magistral, one of the most extended railroads in the world, stretching for over 2,671 miles and connecting Siberia with Russia’s far east). Some friends and family thought the whole idea was on the verge of madness. They warned of the lack of gas stations, settlements, and civilized roads. But I had faith that everything would turn out well and forged ahead.

Although the reliability of the bike and the equipment was paramount, there was also a psychological component. And once underway the initial animal fear of the unknown was replaced with extraordinary excitement. When you move along a route, you don’t think in terms of fear—you just solve problems and overcome obstacles as they arise. That said, a wise traveler still must be prepared.

On the road you don’t think about the remaining 10,000 miles, instead you set daily goals and, if possible, achieve them. This method allows you to enjoy almost every mile traveled. At some point you realize you’re no longer concerned or thinking about how far there is to go, you live by the journey.

Experienced travelers didn’t lie about Uzbek customs officers. Indeed, it was an intense experience and they kept me for a long time under the hot scorching sun. However, I didn’t meet any wild people or militants with guns. I didn’t come across any bears, either. On the Ak-Baital Pass, 4,655m above sea level, the XR650L struggled but got through it and proved to be an excellent choice.

Desert Western Kazakhstan, from Beyneu via Ak-Basta Aul to the dam between the Aral Seas

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