On the Latvian roads

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Our adventure on the Latvian roads started with the collection of our sidecars at the Riga port.

To help us in this mission, Mikhail, the agent contracted by the shipping company gave us an appointment in a café of the town centre, early in the morning. The first signs of our anxiety appeared when we opened the doors of this posh place and discovered an empty room. To wait patiently, we ordered one of the most expensive espressos of our trip. Finally, it was with half an hour of late that Mikhail arrived and sat next to us. The presentations made in just a few minutes, Mikhail left with Julien and Emilie. The three of them sat in the big white Dodge Challenger, owned by Mikhail, and parked on the other side of the road. When it started, the engine made a nice noise before to go straight in the wide avenue. The three of them went towards the port, letting Marie and I, on our own with our backpacks. Once again, being not the “main” drivers, we cannot take part of the process for importing the vehicles. We watched the car going further away through the café window, hoping to see Emilie and Julien tonight on our loyal sidecars. For them, the marathon day of administrative tasks started at the customs office before to continue at the port. The most worrying moment was when the authorities asked for a X-ray check for our sidecars. As they arrived from South of America, they wanted to check the content of the container before its entry on the European territory. A step that Mikhail managed to avoid thanks to its force of persuasion. Lucky us! The logistics process would have been tough and the costs would have been expensive. Again, we needed to wait patiently. Nothing hard as finally only a few hours were required for their freedom. A short time, compared to the little week we spent in Cartagena in Colombia when our sidecars arrived for the first time in South of America.

What a pleasure to see again our sidecars and to ride them again! Nothing fancy to ride the first kilometres in the Latvian capital but its smooth atmosphere and the low traffic, compared to our crossing of the previous capital cities, were in a perfect harmony with our driving. For the first time of our trip, I had the feeling that the Ural was in the perfect place with this scenery. It’s now far away the time that our vehicles were the perfect opposite of our South American friends riding horses or driving powerful American or Japanese cars. Here, we can almost behave unnoticed on these wide avenues, along the rails of these old blue and white tramways from the Soviet time.

After a 40-day trip on the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea ; we started by a maintenance day to start serenely our trip towards East. In the Riga streets, we started by looking for 2 litres of engine oil (one of the quickest research of our trip thanks to Mikhail help) before to change the oil of our engines, gearboxes and final drives. We checked the tightening, greased with WD40 and our sidecars where finally ready to hit the road!

At the end of the afternoon, Mikhail met us for a ride. He was proud to show us his white Victory motorbike. Accompanied by his friend Vitalys riding a navy blue BMW 1600, we went towards Noth-East to visit the National Park of Gauja.

This park was our privileged place for the next few days, the time to collect our visas for Russia. We visited the bobsleigh track, nearby the small city of Sigulda. On the top of this metallic building, we discovered a breathtaking view over the curves of the Gauja river.

The small roads of the park offered an amazing scenery for the two or three-wheel lovers. A succession of curves around lakes or streams crossing pine forests. We lunched by the Vaire river, nearby a nice closed building before to explore the waterfalls. At each corner of the park, they were the perfect opportunity for a refreshing break.

We discovered the Davida Dzirnavu Avoti waterfall and the de Daudas Üdenskritums one ; the third highest waterfall of Latvia with a 2-meter height. I must admit, this size needs to be put into perspective compared to the impressive waterfalls of the Asian jungles.

On the roadside, in the middle of a forest and far away from any villages, we were surprised to see orthodox cemeteries. They have the weird specificity of being located in a middle of a forest. The graves were placed randomly under trees in a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for meditating. A beautiful scenery which is actually nicer than our oppressive wide grid arrangement made of concrete. These first nice days matched with the opening season for the bikers in Latvia. Here, like fishing or hunting, the bikers have their privileged time for riding. This first sunny weekend was the opportunity for going out with the sidecars! We saw many motorbikes looking like the “Gold Wing”.

Early in the morning, before to collect our Russian visas in Riga, we enjoyed a clearing to change our back tyres. With brand new tyres, our sidecars were ready for our Eastern adventure. The Russian roads, and the birth place of our sidecars, were getting closer. But for this, we needed to wait patiently a few kilometres, the time to cross Estonia and the Narva river being the border between the European Union and Russia.