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Update: Wed 01:20

Tuesday, 20 September

I went to sleep with the sound of pinging in the pipework as the hot water returned. I awoke to the sound of the same but was very cold. I was right about one thing, the hot water had returned but just not to the heating system. The pinging was always the sound of large drops of water hitting some metal outside. It was, in fact, 8C and pouring down. Combine this with my first view of the bike with a totally flat rear tyre. Great.

I pumped the tyre up in the rain and repaired yesterday's puncture under cover with some very dodgy old patch glue, it was like stringy snot. Maybe that's normal. I also noted that the fuse for the heated gloves appears fine which means the controller is borked and therefore no heated anything for me for the trip, let alone one glove. There was another straight-from-the-battery cable that came with the heated gear which I believe is safely packed in a warehouse in Banbury. On the plus side, breakfast was included.

I wobbled off with the thoughts of some local guy about something that I didn't quite understand ringing in my ear. I never identified anything on the way out of town that he was so determined to tell me. Actually, I was harangued by a drunk woman when I tried the other hotel in town last night. She'd followed me out of the hotel (doubtless to the relief of the staff) and then grabbed me and wouldn't let me go as I tried to escape her alcoholic breath and Russian/German/English, I think, she was talking in.

No sign of any suitable shops for tyre repair. In fact the M18, here, has been pretty much bereft of anything. When I reached a town after some time, I rode in and found a car tyre shop where the guy kindly topped the rear up for me. I stopped for a coffee and cake to warm up. I was absolutely soaked. The waterproof layers are doing a pretty good job but my feet have been sloshing about in cold water since about an hour in and my gloves have been saturated with water from not long after. Throw in 90kph of wind chill onto the 9C and heavy rain and I'm not enjoying it. Let's put it that way. Autumn may be turning the leaves some lovely colours but I'm mostly in a fixed crouch, eyes following the road through the rain and spray and any change in position swaps warm air for cold and maybe lets in some water. I was musing on how deserted the road was by comparison when a car coming the other way hit a large puddle and sent a wall of water over me. It's all abut timing.

After another hour I'm feeling the cold once more. None of this is aided by a peculiar problem I have where when I wear too many layers I can manage to stop the blood flow to my right arm. I suddenly realise my throttle hand is going numb and I have to contort myself to relieve the pressure somewhere in my shoulder for long enough to get the pins and needles sensation down my right arm. Odd, I first had it in Morocco so I thought it was this riding gear but I've had it on other occasions since unrelated to riding. Another sign I'm getting old, I guess.

So I stopped at another cafe (few and far between up here!) and another coffee and cake (I need the rapid sugars!) and another growing puddle on the floor around me. I jumped back on the bike and found the rear was flat again. Bugger! I stripped the bike down then found that the seat lock has jammed. I can't get the seat off and therefore access to the cigarette adaptor to power the air compressor. Hmm. Just then a trucker came out of the cafe and noticed my problem. He offered to pump my tyre up for me. Top bloke!

I could then motor the remaining 40km into Petrazavodsk and, sans GPS, wander aimlessly looking for a hotel and a repair shop. At one of the sets of lights on the way in I noticed "YAMAHA" off to the right. I wonder... And indeed it was a Yamaha dealership, of bikes, quads and either a skidoo or jetski, I wasn't paying attention. After several phone calls for reasons unknown they then took me into the car workshop next door and used the machine to pull the tyre off the wheel in the relative warmth and dryness of the bay. A puddle starting wherever I paused, of course.

It turned out yesterday's replacement tube had a double puncture (like a snake bite) and this morning's repair was sound. So they put the original tube back in while I repaired yesterday's replacement. Job done I could head off having forgotten to ask them about the seat lock. Ho hum.

I wandered about getting wetter before deciding to ask a taxi driver who was initially a bit reluctant then indicated that there were hotels in this direction. Well, there may have been but they weren't obvious. I headed for a couple of things that weren't hotels before stopping to ask a few people who gave up when they realised I was a foreigner and one woman who patently ignored me. I then asked another taxi driver who indicated I should head down through several sets of lights then turn left and look for the big hotel.

That's this place which I missed the turn for and stopped at another hotel round the corner when I was looking for a turning spot. It was full tonight, she said (never a good sign when you have limited options) so I came back here which turns out to be the place where you organise trips over to Kizhi Island and its collection of wooden buildings, most famously the churches, the point of being up here at all. Of course, this is a 4* hotel and charges appropriately. Including for wifi -- why do cheap places give you wifi for free and expensive places charge? The upshot being that this update has been typed up ahead of online time.

There seemed to be an awful lot of room keys in the room key pigeon holes behind reception, clearly not the busiest place (and the prices may be why the other place was full). When I picked my helmet containing my gloves up off the reception desk a large puddle flowed out. Sorry! She was very magnanimous about it. The cleaning woman wasn't so impressed with me trooping in and out of reception several times. When I pulled my foot out of my boot up in the room water poured off the sock into a puddle on the floor. Normally, when you feel water in the boot, it's because the insole acts like a sponge and when you press down the water squeezes out between your toes. No, today I could tip both boots up in the sink and pour water out. Nice.

It's still chucking it down and my soaking wet gear is either dripping on the floor or being boiled on a handy heater here in the room. The excursion to Kizhi looks like it'll cost around 2200R ($70) which sounded like a lot but is two 75 minute hydrofoil trips for a bit more than dinner. Far too good value for Russia, there must be something else involved. The other aspect is that I'll have to stay here two nights as Kizhi will consume a whole day -- let's hope it's a nice day! A very expensive way to dry your clothes. Live singers in the restaurant doing covers of various lounge classics to the nearly empty room. I wonder if I should put in a request for some AC/DC?

Currently at lat/long: n61 47.211 e34 23.512

Hotel Karelia, Petrozavodsk

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