90 days. 28,000 kilometers. 18 countries. 7 time zone. An incomparably unique trip. Just like our bike: the legendary 1999 Honda Transalp 600, sponsored and equipped by GIVI for that something extra. Because there’s a lot of riding to do. On the outward trip: Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.
On the return trip: Russia, Siberia and the Baltic Republics, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
THE DREAM OF A TRIP WITHOUT END
For us, the important thing is starting off… It doesn’t matter when we arrive; indeed, we hope we can travel for as long as we can. This time we really mean it: on our bikes, leaving at dawn from Baggio (Milan), final destination Ulan Bator. First stop Ancona, to cross over to Greece by boat. After arriving in Igoumenitsa, we take the expressway for Turkey.
We visit Amasya with its fantastic castle, Kurdistan with the palace of Ishak Pasha and the castle of Dogubayazit, and Iran with the grand bazaar of Tabriz. Next: Isfahan, the ruins of Persepolis, the fascinating Shiraz, the wind towers of Yazd, and other Eastern wonders lead us to the central Iranian desert. Heading for Turkmenistan, we also cross the Karakum desert. We stop over at Darvaza, where craters of gas have been burning for 40 years now! In Uzbekistan we visit Khiva with its splendid madrassas and mosques.
Only after 10 harrowing hours of travel do we reach Bukhara first, and then Samarkand. Traveling toward Tajikistan, we ride the dusty dirt road amidst sun-drenched canyons until nightfall, and then stop to sleep at a typical teahouse. The next morning brings us 10 hours of hellish track. From Kalaikhum we take the famous M41 road, full of potholes and rocks, with a rock wall on one side and a precipice over the river on the other. Then the road connecting Khorog to Ishkashim and… we finally arrive in Afghanistan!
We continue to ride eastward, where the peaks of the Pamir range can be seen. The Pamir Highway rises in altitude, and at over 4,000 meters it starts to rain. At the Kyrgyzstan border it’s snowing. At Murgab the great pass is closer and closer: we’re starting to have problems with the bike and with oxygen. With great effort we manage to reach our destination: altitude 4,655 meters.
From here, the only way is down, amidst yaks, wild horses, and nomadic yurts. In Kyrgyzstan, there is abundant greenery, with lakes and torrents. But Kazakhstan has our beer: the beer of the Eldoro Café, a favorite haunt of bikers. We’re in Altai, an autonomous republic of Russia where, in Barnaul, we change to knobby tires and check our brake pads. Something great is awaiting us: Mongolia!
Finally we reach the heart of Mongolia and what a rush of emotion! We travel between mountains and valleys, forest and desert, from internal tracks to awe inspiring panoramas. While riding along unknown roads and searching for adventures off the beaten track, we feel a total sense of freedom. Along the way we encounter sheep and camels, nomads and shepherds and when we come across the great White Lake, we feel as if we are in a movie set!
We eventually reach the dunes of the Gobi desert and we visit Ulan Bator, the capital where we stop for a while to change the air filter. A bronze giant rises up in front of us! It is Genghis Khan who waves at us from his glorious past. We are speechless: before his acts of greatness and the prominence of his empire, we feel incredibly small and insignificant.
With great effort we manage to reach our destination: altitude 4,655 meters. From here, the only way is down, amidst yaks, wild horses, and nomadic yurts. In Kyrgyzstan, there is abundant greenery, with lakes and torrents. But Kazakhstan has our beer: the beer of the Eldoro Café, a favorite haunt of bikers. We’re in Altai, an autonomous republic of Russia where, in Barnaul, we change to knobby tires and check our brake pads. Something great is awaiting us: Mongolia!
Watch the gallery
An extremely likeable couple of Milanese pastry chefs, married, with 2 children and a motorcycle. When on vacation, they love to live breathtaking adventures, which are precisely documented on their website: www.pinuccioedoni.it.
Riding the legendary 1999 HONDA Transalp 600
Giuseppe Gammino, known as “Pinuccio” by his Internet friends, has hair as white as flour and a super-young spirit. He manages to get the whole world involved in his adventures!
Riding with Pinuccio
Maria Domenica Chiesa, christened with the nickname “Doni” by her grandfather, has a smile as luminous as a beacon that never stops shining. She’s dazzlingly sweet, too.
On a trip like this, it’s easy to get lost… Among the bike accessories, a SAT nav holder is indispensable. Then there’s the tank bag, to be kept in front and be easily opened from the top, waterproof bags, spare jerry cans for gasoline and water bottles. All the gear has to be secure, safe, and reliable in any weather conditions. Another good idea: choose a bike that’s easy to repair, and take along its specific kit to be ready for any circumstance.