The Mission

The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Rally Day 15

Here's what it looks like after a night in Novosibirsk:

Not bad eh?

The Aston Martin has had an upgrade as well and is now sporting it's Aston Lada badge

Today the rally headed across the Russian Steppes, possibly the most boring place on the planet. It's hundreds of miles of flat grassland interspersed with silver birch trees. There are no cows, pigs, sheep, or chickens to be seen. Indeed no farmers, labourers or farm machinery. There are no villages - only grubby towns on the rail line with huge grain silos where the summer wheat crop is sent on to Moscow.

If you lived in the steppes you would never go for a walk because there is no where to walk to. There's no point in cycling because everywhere looks the same. A family outing would be to another wheat field or silver birch grove. It's an impossible place. Driving it is a nightmare. The road is dead straight and never ends. Or it ends at Omsk where it might as well never end. Omsk was once a place for exiles and prisoners. Dostoyevsky was sent here and wrote:

Once again we've created a late night for the sweeps. It started this morning in Novosibirsk or rather Rhubarb and Custard didn't start. The fuel problem that's dogged us the whole way has erupted again. This time a faulty fuel pump was diagnosed but we have two so we managed to get going on the second one but we stopped again on the long road to Omsk - we actually got it going ourselves by switching to the supposedly broken fuel pump, all very mysterious. Now we were running late but - joy of joys - road closures meant that the rally was cancelled for the day and timing didn't matter.

A third fuel breakdown was witnessed by the sweeps (who also saw us getting it going again). It was agreed that we had better have a proper look at the whole fuel system. This involved taking out the fuel filters (again), blowing air through the fuel lines and rebuilding the carburettors. The top theory for our problem is Mongolian bacteria is living in our fuel tank. Let's see if the sweeps' hard work has solved the problem.

I had planned to write something about Siberia's history over the past 500 years as the Russians fought for control against the remains of the Mongol Empire in the form of the Golden Hoard and the Tartars. As we know, the Russians eventually won and their secret weapon was the Cossacks who acted as crack troops and adopted a 'Victory at all costs' approach. When I came to think about it I wasn't sure what a Cossack was but it seems they are Ukrainians who didn't want to be in servitude to the Poles and instead sided with the Russian Czar. This turned out to be a rough deal as one of the terms of their deal was that all Cossack men served 20 years in the Russian army.

Having subdued Siberia, the Czar promptly turned it into a camp for political exiles.

But I don't have time to give you a history lesson as I have much to report on the Rally.

First the Capri is back. Here's what it looked like after the roll:

No comments:

Post a Comment