Tokyo to L.A.: The Hard Way

Motorcyclist magazine tackles Russia's Road of Bones on a Suzuki V-Strom 650

By Joe Gresh, Photography by Joe Gresh

I'd like to be my normal witty self. Unfortunately, my brain is frazzled from 10 days and 3300 miles of bumpy Russian roads. I'm brain-frazzled because Motorcyclist magazine's sister publication, Motor Trend, decided to thrash Suzuki's all-wheel-drive Kizashi sedan from Tokyo to Los Angeles by road via Russia. Yes, yes, I know there's an ocean they have to cross, but with a decent turn of speed Motor Trend hopes to hydroplane the Bering Strait to Alaska. Two Suzuki Equator 4x4 pickup trucks are along for moral support, and somewhere during the planning process they tossed a Suzuki V-Strom 650 into the mix just to increase the potential for chaos. The Wee-Strom is where I fit into this risky scheme.

I began to suspect I wasn't Motorcyclist's first choice for this adventure when I got an e-mail from Editor Brian Catterson asking if I wanted to ride the Kolyma Highway in Russia, and that he needed to know my answer by the next day. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the celebrity list of drivers: Ed Loh, executive editor of Motor Trend; Fred Williams, technical editor of Peterson's 4Wheel & Off Road magazine; and Gavin Cox, rally car racer. Then there's me: the guy who fixes boat toilets. Kind of like the inspiring story of Notre Dame's never-say-die Rudy, except that Rudy is the starting quarterback in this movie.

For those of you counting at home, that's three magazines pounding on Suzuki equipment for 7500 miles over some of the most remote, unforgiving roads in Asia and North America. Props to Suzuki for bringing the brass ones along on this trip.

Tokyo to L.A.: The Hard Way is broken into three stages. Japan is stage one, Russia is stage two and stage three finishes strong with a run from Alaska to Los Angeles. We are halfway done and I am handing off motorcycle duties to Jack Lewis for stage three.

I'd tell you more but this epic motorcycle ride is too big to absorb right now. Russia is too big to absorb. I don't even know what day it is. I need to lie down. After a while, I'll attempt to describe it for you in an upcoming issue of Motorcyclist.

Anyone wanting to skip ahead now can check out Ed Loh's blog at or go to the official Suzuki site at

The enormity of this ride is only matched by the incredibly good fortune I had in being picked to tag along. Thanks, Suzuki!

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