We leave Kazan early in the morning, our next destination is the Ural motorcycle factory and museum in Irbit. Irbit is in the Ural mountains, and marks our entry into Siberia.
On the way, we stay with Stefan and Olga in the small Russian village of Byngi. Stefan is from Ingo’s home town of Bremen, in northern Germany. He married the beautiful Russian girl Olga, and they spend summers in Byngi, to be near Olga’s family.
Stefan and Olga have begun the restoration of a house that is over 400 years old, and here I experience my first Banya, or Russian sauna.
After a long cold day on the bike it was great to warm my bones in the heat and steam. That evening I slept like a baby in my small cot beside the Banya fire, with a belly full of fine Russian food and vodka.
In the town nearby we visit a leaning tower that gives the Leaning Tower of Pisa a run for its money.
On to Irbit and the Ural motorcycle/sidecar factory. Stefan had arranged a private guided tour of the factory for us, with a former USSR motocross champion who is now mayor of Irbit.
The factory was fascinating. Basically, they opened the factory door to us and said ‘enjoy’.
No hard hats, no safety glasses, no briefing. Just us, walking where we want, right among guys building the bikes. They even put one on the Dynometer and ran it for the first time for us. This small factory only produces 100 bikes/month, and almost everything is built from scratch, right here.
The bikes have a following around the world, and while we were there, one bike was being readied for shipping to Japan and another to Italy.
Following our factory tour, we were taken to the museum where we enjoyed time walking among some real old Soviet steeds.