You have already met the nine brave pioneer teams for the inaugural Baikal Ice Run. But who are their partners for this epic adventure? Here we introduce you to the incomparably glamorous fat bottomed girls, the Urals. Auditions were held and the closest nine bikes to the garage door got stripped down, cleaned up, re-greased and thoroughly serviced over the winter. They have responded very satisfactorily to this loving attention and profess themselves to be "well up for" the impending fraternisation with our human quotient.
Our ageing fleet of Urals aren't like a chorus line of exotic dancers; indistinguishable beauties who perform in mesmerising synchronicity. They were produced in different decades; would have behaved differently when new and have all developed unique character traits as they matured.
Despite consistently updated parts and regular maintenance they each behave differently on the start line and allow their personality quirks to really break loose after a couple of days on the road.
Christine. Named after 2014 rider Chris plough's indomitable friend Christine. Take a bow Christine. Bearing the scars of her wild and carefree youth, she has a slightly bent fork and other structural dents to prove she's been there, done that, had so much fun she used the t-shirt to mop up someone else's bodily fluids.
Likes- getting up in the mornings. She's always up for it, and has the distinction of starting from cold in -42 in Beryozovo, last February.
The Midwife. New to the fleet in 2014, the Midwife was so named after she safely delivered event manager Katy's first Cross country riding lesson, without any need of forceps, surgery or newfound belief in a non-existant deity.
She's a calm and soothing motorcycle, prim in her demeanour and crisp, almost passive aggressively smooth from her gearbox. She used to be owned by our very own fleet manager Sergey Mechanic, which has helped her maintain her youthful looks and athletes body. Ridden by the all-girl team Wild Wolf Bikers in the 2014 Ice Run.
Black Caviar. Named by Australian team Snow Worries in 2013, after Australia's prized racehorse. 'Nelly' gave her all that year and was in the leading four bikes to the finish line in the Arctic Circle.
She boasts a silken gearbox, a beautiful cruising fourth, and a seductive power slide.
She can take a bit of a kicking to get going, but like Anastasia Steele generally enjoys the abuse and when there she is more than worth it. She got so excited she actually caught fire during the 2014 ice run under the smoking caress of Up To Snow Good's, Dylan Thompson. Her electrics have had a bit of an overhaul since then.
Tram. Named after The Real Arctic Monkeys, who arrived first at the finish of the 2013 Ice Run. Also because she sounds quite like a big bus. She's a reliable workhorse despite the smokers cough, she has the distinction of being the only Ural to actually start after 2 days waiting at the finish in Salekhard in 2014. She can handle the cold alright.
Likes - oil. Like a power hungry American president she will kill millions for a few gallons of the black gold. She's a thirsty one and tends to mark her territory when left to her own devices over night. She's feeling considerably less leaky after an extensive spa break this winter
Panzer. Named by the Coleman brothers who rode her during the 2013 Ice Run. Also known as Frankenbike after a cheeky transplant on the 2014 Run, whe her fuel tank split in the arctic conditions and the German boys Samuel and Moritz were forced to swap the tank (there's a pun here somewhere with Germans stealing a tank and 'Panzer' but I'll be fucked if I can work it out). She is now a fetching two-tone, a distinctive sand body with a flash of cerulean blue on the fuel tank.
She is a slow starter, though upon stripping and re-building in December 2014 it was revealed that her engine timing was so out that she should technically have never been able to start, ever. Magical powers suspected.
Likes - speed and noise. Once actually running she is one of the most sporty girls in the fleet, never smooth, always powerful. Probably the fastest in open country
Dislikes - reverse. Just ain't going to happen
Cerberus. Back in the fleet after a year out to pasture in 2014, Cerberus, named after the canine guard of the underworld by Ozzie team Putin Up With The Tremlin. From 2013, she sports a distinctive 501 on her shiny black bonnet. Sometimes she gets called 501 but the tell-tale 'bark' of a persistent misfire gives her away.
She's a keen one, high geared, with a high tickover, you'll hear her coming before you see her. She reached the finish in 2013 following an ice road trucker who lit the way for her, after her headlights died.
In sporting form for 2015. One of the most beautiful ladies in the class, with a snazzy chrome trim and a little grab bar for the sidecar passenger to grip in times of terror.
Noisy, eager and beautiful, what fella could resist?
Battersea. Ridden by Olly Rowland and Rob Mills in the inaugural run, where she required frequent resuscitation on the road.
After 10 days of Rob Mill's mishandling the poor old girl had to take a sabbatical for some TLC.
Reports are she's responded well to the therapy, extensive reconstructive surgery and high protein diet and is almost able to talk about the ordeal.
Nancy Snow. Named after 2013 pilot Geordie Tait's mum, Not because 1000 dirty Russians have ridden her, but because the stickers he plastered all over her shiny blue body are still there 2 years later; and Nancy Snows face features heavily. This is a tough outdoorsy kind of girl, she'll plug on after crashing and even flipping (the bike, not Geordie's mum). She's not a show pony though, the clutch requires some muscle and she steers heavy. Ridden by Boris and Natasha in 2014, she was one of only three Urals to make it to the finish unaided. You can trust Nancy to run, even when she's suffering; it's not clear whether the same can be said of Geordie's mum.
Likes - fourth
Dislikes - first and second. And changes between the two
Eva. Ridden in the inaugural Ice Run by Windy City Wanderer Eric Krause; who was so enamoured by the liaison, he signed up for the 2015 run hopeful of seconds. She boasts a powerful engine and a fetching two-tone exterior, with a blue body and a white windshield. She was famously rescued by a tank on the 2012 Run after an unfortunate cannon into a snow bank. This girl can take a kicking and get straight back up again.
Affectionately described as having electrics "like a rats nest" by 2013 pilot Mike Northcott, who had the distinction of teaming up with Queen of Lady Adventurists Zaya B.
Likes -accelerating. She likes to feel the wind in her hair
Dislikes - braking. Not her strong suit
It would be wrong to compare a bike that loves action, forget's the 'stop' command and likes a kicking with a lady; so we wont.
The Ice Run begins on Monday. You can follow the action on the tracking map here. For Ice Run news including sign up gubbins for 2016 stick your email in the box below.