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Russia – the way

You can travel with any vehicle – said Olaf Seifert and drove his very old Simson S 51 moped to Siberia. MOTORRAD was allowed to take a look at his travel diary.

Annette Johann


Why only with a moped? The man with the curly blond head and the green parka already knows this question well enough. “Because there is hardly any barrier between you and other people. You’re on the move like herself, ”he replies simply. “And,” he adds in a somewhat more profane way, “because it’s easier to get over when a moped and not an expensive motorcycle has to stay behind at some point.” As an alternative, Olaf Seifert, anyway, only his Ural team would have been available demonstrably did not even make it through Poland because the engine died after 700 kilometers at home. “You can travel with anything.” With huge hands still glistening with oil under the nails, he carefully spreads a few photos, a well-torn map and a small, densely written notebook on the table in front of him. Treasures of a seemingly never-ending journey that had taken him 10,000 kilometers to Siberia and which was supposed to finally satisfy the Thuringian two-wheel mechanic’s longing for wanderlust, who in 1989 was one of the first to climb through the Hungarian border fence into the west. “We didn’t get to see anything more like the Czech Republic and Hungary at the time.” After Olaf, the 14-year-old who had been rescued from the East Simson S 51 For 75.80 marks, he had brought it into travel-ready condition, put on two new tires and lashed a five-liter canister to the luggage rack, he set off east from Nuremberg on August 11. As early as the 13th, he noted his anger in the Ore Mountains at the German motorists, who “with their macho behavior are almost pushing him into the ditch.” The three and a half horsepower moped struggles up the mountain roads. With a driver’s weight of 90 kilograms and about a hundredweight of luggage, this is the Samson reached the limit of the possible. “But she climbs very bravely,” he notes. After a refueling stop, she suddenly refuses to work. Thank goodness it’s only the tank bag that has covered the ventilation hole. It goes on, up and down hills, in Greiz past Nuttern. In Gorlitz it should go over the border. But shortly before that, she went on strike P 51 again during a downpour. This time water got into the carburetor through an opening on the air filter. So empty the float chamber. Olaf soon found out: “If you don’t want to do handicrafts right away, just pull the choke and it will run for a while. But strangely enough, the good thing still works when the swimmer chamber is half full with sand and water, ”he wrote on August 14th. In Poland, the 31-year-old had a lucky streak. The constant westerly wind blows it over Warsaw to the Belarusian border near Brest in a sensational two days. »65 things! The big rucksack looks like a sail. «It’s still summer, but behind Minsk the globetrotter finds himself in cold, inhospitable weather. Sneakers, jeans, waxed jackets and open face helmets and, for really bad days, a rain suit and a warm sweater – there is not much more clothing surcharge for this type of Light Ride. In the tank bag are tools, insulating tape, binding wire, repair kit, air pump, a Russian road atlas and a photo album from home. “That always helps.” Olaf can speak a little Russian – that takes care of the rest. On the monotonous M1 to Moscow, he meets three young people at the roadside with adventurously converted and packed 125 Minsk. Also on vacation. “They built self-made cooling fans in front of the engines. Never seen anything like that. Great! ”They pull together a little. The motorcycles do not get on the bad roads much faster than Olaf. The still provisional border with Russia passed quickly, Olaf and his Simson do not attract any further attention. Olaf spends the nights in a tent and sleeping bag. »I find the most beautiful places to sleep in bogs and pastures. I often sit in front of the tent in the evening, watch storks and enjoy the sunset. «He dedicates a few days to St. Petersburg, the bubbly, western metropolis on the Gulf of Finland. “An old woman tells me that her sister died of starvation during the German siege in World War II. It is terrible. Everything still seems so close. ”A signpost informs us that it would be 1,500 kilometers to Murmansk. But it has already become very cold here. So course southeast, on the M 20 in the direction of the Golden Ring, that of golden onion domes the only brilliant historical circuit north of Moscow. While here the monasteries and churches also seemed worth preserving to the communists, in the other places the places of worship are mostly a picture of misery. “Either converted into bus depots and factory buildings like in Kirillow or Irbit or simply crumbling ruins.” Leaving the late summer warmth and the colorful and lively villages of the Volga valley behind, we head back through the quiet, wide plains to the Urals on a strict eastward course. Lake Baikal is waiting. Sometimes the procurement of gasoline is the only event. »Refueling is always exciting. If you are lucky, the people are nice, like at the Kubenskoesee, where I am invited to tea and supplied with biscuits and two-stroke oil while my photo album is doing the rounds. If the gas station attendant is in a bad mood, half of the ten liters of gasoline that have to be distributed between the original and the reserve tank flow to the side or over the clothes. ”In Kirillow, Olaf receives a map from passers-by with tips on what to look for must see. And again and again questions and incredulous looks when the locals hear about his trip. If the words are not enough, drawings are used to translate. On September 11th, Olaf photographed the Simson in the Urals on the border with Asia. He’s been on the road for a month now. “I laboriously search for the border column to get the historical picture.” He is followed through the mountains by a series of flat tires. The porous rear tire is patched again and again until the end of the battery retaining rubber. “But nothing holds at zero degrees.” Shivering and discouraged, Olaf struggles through the little mountain roads. Until finally, in Yekaterinburg, like a fatamorgana, a tire service shows up on the side of the road. “The guys over there are great. Sergej takes me home to his family in his Ural team, we drink tea and show family photos. In the evening he goes to his father-in-law in the dacha on the outskirts. I’m really filling up here. ”East of the Urals, the vast expanse of Russia hits him with full force. The road leads through never-ending grain fields, on which the collective farmers bring in the harvest with large caterpillar tractors. But the villages and kolkhozes are far from the road. »Often I don’t come across a village or a person for 50 to 60 kilometers. The same landscape day after day, the same view. It’s awful. ”Now the slow pace becomes torture. On September 17th, Olaf reached the Siberian city of Omsk. There are three more weeks of road, fields and steppe ahead of him as far as Lake Baikal. “Even if the Samson is still running bravely – I can’t and won’t anymore,” he wrote in his diary after calculating that he would arrive at Lake Baikal with the onset of winter. On September 20, he took another picture of Simson in front of the hotel, drove the three kilometers to the train station, packed his helmet and tools in the old tank bag, tied it up and put a note in the clear compartment: “Na padarock,” a present. “I’m sad, but it doesn’t help,” is the entry in the notebook. An hour later he squeezes himself and his rucksack into a compartment of the Trans-Siberian Railway for 50 marks. Olaf will be in Irkutsk in less than 48 hours. “It’s fascinating how quickly everything suddenly happens.” Olaf saw him for the first time on the evening of September 24th from the window of the rickety coach with which he covered the last 70 kilometers. “It lies before me, huge and crystal clear, Lake Baikal. Finally there. In the west, autumn-colored trees shine, on the east bank are the snow-covered two-thousand-meter peaks. It’s the best moment of the trip. ”When he drives back, the first snow falls. He wasn’t a moment too early.

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