The day "off" the bike in Astrakhan saw me ride 20 odd miles trying to find the bike shop where my new tyres were waiting. The GPS coordinates I had been given were wrong. But after a combination of Google maps, guesswork and following a friendly Russian motorist who took pity on me, I eventually found the shop. The wheels were removed and taken (by car, along with myself) to a tyre workshop a couple of miles away. They had all the gear there and made short work of changing the tyres; they even balanced the wheels. So my bike is now wearing a new pair of Heidenau K60 Scouts. More suitable footwear for some of the roads ahead. During this process, it became clear that my cush drive rubbers were shot. I have a spare set though, so I am good to go. This all took the best part of a day, fortunately, I did my sightseeing yesterday. So, leaving Russia tomorrow after a brief visit of a tiny corner of this massive country. I will have to come back and do it properly someday. Spasiba Russia! Once across the border into Kazakhstan, everything changed. Firstly, a khaki clad border guard asked if I was carrying a gun (or maybe he was trying to sell me a gun?.) I bought insurance and a packet of crisps (another gourmet lunch) and hit the road. This stretch was pretty bad; potholes, machine gun toting cops and camels wandering into the road along with the cows and goats. All good so far, until I checked my mirrors. Something wrong? My topbox was gone. Turned round and backtracked for about 40 miles. No sign. I flagged down motorists, no joy. I spoke to a machine gun wielding cop. Incomprehension. The box contained all my bike documents most critically, my temp. import document, without which the bike can't leave Kazakhstan as well as my freshly bought insurance. Not good. Oh well, sort it out in Atyrau. That was the plan anyway. Kazakh officialdom is hard work. Spent virtually the whole of the following day in various police stations trying to explain my predicament to various police through a variety of unofficial translators. The day ended with promises of help tomorrow, IF I can find an interpreter.
Soundtrack: Levellers - Leave this town