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Why Are You in a Car?

by Tyler

The shortest answer to this question is: to drive across Russia!

Here is the long answer:

In the broadest terms, our plan for this adventure was to travel from Scotland to Malaysia by land and sea. As we plotted our route (originally intended to be completed in year, now two) we realized that cycling across Russia would take us at least six months. Rather than extend our trip, we naïvely waved our hands over one of the largest landmasses in the world and said, "oh, we'll just take the train!"

As it turns out, the commuter trains on the Trans-Siberian Railway don't generally have cargo cars. Boarding a non-bike friendly train is no small feat with two expedition touring bicycles. We've spoken with people who've done it, and we have a bit of experience stuffing bikes on trains ourselves:

Touring Bicycles in Romanian Sleeper Car

It sucks.

Touring Bicycles in Romanian Sleeper Car

For us, riding the rails across Russia would be all about stopping to see the villages and cities along the way. The prospect of constantly loading and unloading our bicycles in this manner handily destroyed any desire we had to try this. Unsure of what to do, we decided not to worry about the problem. A solution always seems to arise if we don't force things.

When Tara's family visited us in Italy, the answer to this dilemma was realized. Her brother Lian jokingly suggested we buy a van in Russia, throw the bikes in the back and drive! At the time, we more or less dismissed it as too crazy/hard to accomplish (but fun to think about!).

A month or so later we'd fled south to Tunisia for winter. While there, we considered cycling across the Middle East. To do so, we'd need to get visas into Libya. Despite our best efforts, the attempt failed. When we couldn't find a ferry around this barrier, Lian's flippant, "just drive across it" solution was starting to look like the only workable option outside of flying.

When we examined the logistics in earnest, we discovered the roads from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (where we start cycling again) have come a long way in recent years. They are now well paved and serviced the entire way. The drive can be done in as little as nine days, if you're determined to do it quickly, anyway.

All we would need to do is buy a car! We tried for some months to arrange a purchase in Russia, but were ultimately advised to do so in Germany.

And so, we did! Our little red car (LRC), is a 1991 Toyota Corolla XLi.

Tara Fixing Hair

We've disassembled our bicycles and placed them carefully in the tiny trunk.

Disassembled Bikes in the Trunk

We hope to recoup most of the €1,300 purchase by selling it on the other side. We're not sure how we'll do that either, but we're not worried. A solution will present itself.

Free Camping With LRC