9:30am found us at the front of the hotel drinking far too much coffee than is good for us.
The familiar hum of the BMW twin caught our attention as we turned to see a kitted-out BMW R1100RS pull up to the bar: Vladimir Tchaikovsky had arrived with all the panache of a world cup racer. As it turned out he was!!
Before Vladimir’s position with BMW Motorrad as after sales manager for Russian and the Ukraine (so he’s quite important ) he was race manager for the Yamaha race team.
A short while later found us weaving at speed in and out of the Moscow traffic trying to keep up with Vladimir, who, by his standards, was obviously taking it slowly! 20 minutes later and we were at Autodom – one of the biggest BMW dealerships that either of us had ever been to. Before we knew it our bikes were unloaded our keys taken and our bikes whisked away.
We were introduced to Alex, who runs Autodom, and the ever-smiling Marina, who’s English was also very good. Autodom were absolutely fantastic. We spent the day talking to Alex whilst Marina interpreted and we got thoroughly spoilt and looked after – coffee, teas, fruit, lunch, all were supplied and they would not accept any money from us! At around 2:00pm a problem had been discovered with the 650’s sprocket and chain and Autodom had offered a warranty replacement. Unfortunately the bikes paper work was back in the hotel room. With the 1100 being prepped for service, Vladimir had offered to take me (Simon) as pillion back to the hotel to grab the paperwork, how could I resist.
Bloody hell what a ride! This time Vladimir was not hanging about. Weaving in and out of Moscow traffic at 80 mph and at times using all the braking power the bike and ABS had to offer, we reached the hotel in record time and were soon off again back to Autodom. The ride back was even faster. Terrifying or fun, I’m not quite sure. Although things certainly got interesting as Vladimir was ordered to stop by the Moscow police and immediately accelerated away from them, knowing full well that they were not going to catch him! “Shit” I thought, they’ve got guns if they shoot they’re going to hit the daft-looking pillion hanging on for dear life. Luckily they didn’t and I arrived back at Autodom safely, if not a little shaken.
At 7:30 the 650GS was now finished and ready to roll and the 1100 was now on the ramp – during the summer Autodom service department runs 24 hours a day in order to meet both the work load and the incredibly high expectations of its VIP clients who range from high-flying business men to the current reigning political party members. To our amazement not only was the 1100 being worked on it was now showroom immaculate having been cleaned within an inch of its life by Autodom as part of their service.
Some time earlier we had been invited by Vladimir to spend the evening with him and his friends at a local restaurant. We were now feeling a little awkward as it was fast approaching 10 o’clock and the 1100 was still being worked on and Vladimir refused to leave us. By 10:20 all was complete and the bill paid. The 650 had had a major service and the front and rear sprocket and chain were replaced under warranty. The 1100 had had new spark plugs, new rear brakes and new oil filter and a new back tyre (Metzler Karoo). Autodom had also given us a large discount for which we owe them another very large thank you.
With the bill paid we were off and after a quick shower met up with Vladimir, his wife and friends. We had arrived too late to eat but after a couple of beers it was decided we would all go back to our hotel and one of the many restaurants, which we were informed was Mafia run!
We were ushered to a private room and the curtains were drawn and the conversation quickly turned to travel, politics and the strange humour of the English and football! Where it was decided that as neither of us knew anything about football, we couldn’t possibly be English.
Adrian, one of Vladimir’s friends, took great delight in extolling the playing prowess of Chelsea – perplexed with his fascination with Chelsea we asked why not follow Manchester United? We were told quite categorically that Chelsea had recently been bought by a wealthy Russian businessman and therefore been adopted by Russians as ‘their team’! Several Vodkas later and conversation was .......er......nope can’t remember...! too many vodkas – time to go to bed!