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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As some of you may know, I live in Azerbaijan now for a bit more than a year. I moved here with my family from Washington DC and we’ll probably stay another two years in this country. I know, a year without any 'real' tour is a long time, but I'm so focussed on my 450 project bike, that I now spend almost all of my free time in the garage, rather than in the saddle. So, after some occassional riding in the region of Baku, a serious trip was overdue.

I did a little inspection of my 450 K5 model the day before, and realized that it's been a while since the last oil change. I also had the feeling that there was a tiny hint of gasoline fragrance in the oil, so I changed it. I think this might be perhaps caused by some extended but not very successful starting ceremonies a couple of months ago. I know, that I have to do the carbs soon.

I’ve planned to ride for two days. Knowing that my feel good distance for a relaxed day is round about 150 miles per day, it wasn’t difficult to find a suitable route. The only difficulty to get away from Baku is in fact to find nice small roads. But unfortunately they do almost not exist in a significant radius of waste land around Baku. So I had to start with a busy and unpleasant highway. Not to mention the reckless driving on these roads. Trucks and SUV’s were pushing me around, the pavement was missing sometimes on one lane or the other, and whoever wanted to stop, did it straight away on his lane on the freeway to let people step out, or simply to use the phone. Not very nice, but I’m already used to it. Driving and riding in Baku is much worse! However, I had to get away anyhow and so I kept myself motivated by dreaming of some beautiful back roads ahead. My plan was to stay in the small village of Sabirabad and I left the highway as soon as possible.

Finally I could enjoy the ride…well, for 10 miles or so… The road went bad, got worse... and worse and soon I found myself riding zig-zag around holes in 3rd gear. I decided to stay on the road anyway and reached Sabirabad after another one and a half hour or so and decided to call it a day. The people of Azerbaijan are really friendly. Some men gather around me and my bike frequently, and the people in this village made no exception. They see some adventure riders in the countryside every now and then, but a westerner riding through their country on a vintage Honda is most likely quite unusual for them. My red, diplomatic, XXL license plate (normal ones are white) that has 007 in it doesn’t help either to blend in. But mostly they give me a thumps up for my bike, after they’ve learned that I don’t speak Azeri or Russian. I walked around a bit, had a nice dinner with some beer (Thank god I’m not riding in Saudi Arabia) and the day was done.

The next morning I realized, that I hadn’t parked my bike outside at night for ages. Knowing that my green lady needs a little patience to get her started, to say the least, I firstly was a bit worried, when seeing my bike covered in morning dew. But she didn’t let me down. Ufff....

Then the ride got really rewarding. The road up to Samaxi was finally perfect. First through some fields, then up over a small mountain range and through some small villages to Samaxi just with the inevitable Lada every now and then. Then it was freeway time again, but this highway is much better and actually nice to ride. I’ve taken this road many times by car, but never realized that this one’s so much better than the other highway. Much less traffic and almost no trucks, because most of them take the southern highway to get to Georgia. I even met a group of local riders that stopped to say hello when they saw me at the roadside. They rode all sorts of bikes: Two custom Harleys with huge ape hangers, super sport bikes and adventure bikes. There are simply not enough riders in Azerbaijan, that it would make any sense to have separate groups dedicated to a certain style. I like that spirit.

I arrived back home in Baku in the early afternoon. The wind was freshing up on the way, yet still not bad for November. Generally it was a nice tour, but I think I’ll try to find a riding buddy for next year. I’m really enjoying the solitude of being on my own, but I guess it might be more fun and reassuring than riding alone...

My bike of course was the perfect buddy. It felt so good to spend some time with it on the road again. I think most of you know what I’m trying to say. The confidence in my 450 was rising with every mile, and I felt really connected to my twin. I also had the impression that the warm engine pulled stronger than on short cruises but that might be a subjective feeling. Anyway, this bike has a place in my heart, that’s for sure. I just love the deep grunt of it. Thanks for reading!

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Glad you're able to get a ride in! Great pictures and looking forward to more.
J
 

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Gunnar, what a great ride and some beautiful scenery. One always wonders what riding in another country would be like... good to hear you encountered many friendly people including other riders. Excellent pictures and quite the journey, thanks for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the ride report! Nice pics! Do you have any pictures of the local riders you can share?
No, we didn't take pictures. We were just talking and looking at each others bikes. I've also realized, that I'm looking now at almost every larger bike, simply because I don't see many of them here. I'll try to write a bit more about the moto scene here and motorcycle related stuff in Azerbaijan in another post later though.
 

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Absolutely wonderful ride report and awesome pics! I don’t trust the drivers where I live and I’ve lived here my whole life. Great that you got out there and just did it. Love to see more of it. Good stuff!!!
 

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That's a proper motorcycling road trip. Reminiscent of Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels down through Africa when you look at some of those photos in many ways.

Great Stuff FW :)

Can I ask btw - that number plate (the biggest one Ive ever seen on a bike..) is that a local in-country registration number ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks Chris and Alan! Yeah, the trip was good and gets even better when I look out of the window right now. It's gotten wet, cold and cloudy by now.

I've got to have diplomatic license plates on my bikes because my family is in Azerbaijan on a diplomatic mission. It's my wife that brought us here. I'm at times not very diplomatic :)

So they got me these red XXL plates because they don't have to issue diplomatic motorcycle plates very often. The US diplomats have in fact smaller license plates on their CARS(!) but they are not able or willing to give me smaller ones.
It makes at least the tail light look small and elegant ;-)
 

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I've got to have diplomatic license plates on my bikes because my family is in Azerbaijan on a diplomatic mission.
Hey cool - they are at one level brute ugly plates...but ...if you can park in all the restricted zones you like, and stretch the 450s legs with immunity on the speed ticket front, they start to look very appealing indeed.

I'd love a set :)
 
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