Gerald Vince, 44, Austin Vince, 36, Charlie Benner, 34, and Matthew Hill, 28, were not the picture of out-of-town holiday visitors bearing gaily wrapped gifts. The four men, two of them [Nora Favier]'s nephews, arrived at midnight Dec. 18 on Suzuki 350 dirt rider motorcycles. They were wearing leather pants and jackets and carried pictures, maps and diaries of their 30,000-mile journey.
This was not a team of professional bikers. They put their various careers on hold -- Gerald Vince is a travel clerk, Austin Vince teaches mathematics, Benner is a civil engineer, and Hill is a graphic artist. Each of them had to raise about $10,000 before embarking on a route across many terrains. They traveled, Austin Vince said, "from the dust-blown deserts of Turkmenistan, hostile mosquito-ridden swamps of Siberia to the vast cityscapes of Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles."
"Everything and everyone who wishes to travel from West Russia to East Russia either flies or travels by train," Benner reported in an e-mail home from Vladivostok. "Overlanders using motorbikes or 4-by- 4s take the train for this stretch, and to our knowledge, none have yet completed their trans-Russia journeys without getting on the train for at least this section."
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