The Ice Run. We've got eight brave teams driving Urals over the frozen Lake Baikal. That's about 750lbs of bike, plus a couple of riders driving over the deepest body of freshwater in the world. This ones not for the weak kneed.
It's bloody tough getting any 3G from the middle of a frozen lake. Now, we've not just got an update, we've got four days of updates all in one go.
Here's the latest from deepest, darkest Siberia directly from Ice Run Chief, Katy Willings:
We are hunkered down in Balshoye Galoustnoye as planned, but in the village rather than on the ice. As always, launch day ran away from us and we did not get within range of the ice in time to make camp, having never tried to do it before. Loading the bikes took forever.
Actually numerous advantages to staying in the town tonight: warmth and power, hot food. instant party. This group pretty awesome. Serenaded by proprietress, a proud Buryat lady named Lyudmila and her mum, who she proudly told us was 70 years old, on the accordion. Legends.
Carl disappointed with the surrounds as far as tinder goes. I have advised him on his profile pics: in his hunting suit, gurning next to a dilapidated white saloon car half buried in snow.
No actual bike related breakdowns on the journey yesterday. This might be a first. Uwe and Paul took a long time and five people, to dig out of the snow bank Uwe plunged them into. Easily done, sidecar wheel gets into deep stuff and the whole unit veers violently right, it's like an anchor. Happens very fast. Does make your sidecar passenger feel like you are trying to kill them. So far relations between Uwe Paul holding up apparently.
A few folks lost bags and attachments on the way out of the city yesterday so there were lots of folks up and about already re-ratcheting. It's going to be another really cold day and we go round numerous capes which will be very windy. We will save the immersion training for a warmer day possibly. Might actually kill someone if we do it today.
Route is good. Carl and dave asked a few times how much more of the corrugated unsealed roads we would see. A fair bit actually. Bikes will definitely rattle apart. I'll save that news for later.
International women's day. Hopefully our girls will rise to the occasion.
Richard and Anton went out early this morning and crashed their drone. That ended their romantic walk.
Amazing first day on the ice. Extremely cold and windy first training session, just simple handling at low speeds and avoiding each other, realising how little traction and braking power people have. Turning a left circle, avoiding hazards, feeling how snow on ice affects the handling, all valuable lessons and unbelievably fun skidding and skating around. We clear most of the snow off a hectare of ice just pulling donuts. It'll be back soon.
Some big gaps tackled as a group including a ramp type affair which needed speed and a very straight brave approach. People got a good three feet of air.
Later several cracks need ladders to cross and a very slow, very precise approach. Teams realised extent to which they need to rely on each other and work as a group. Some smashing up ice to pack the gaps as far as possible, some keeping the ladders steady and directing in their fellow runners.
Camped just onshore in a wood, to shelter from the wind. -25 again, very brutal, spirits very high.
First notable repair, a classic. Kraken Molotov ripped a whole in their oil sump smashing into a piece of ice (presumably). When we stopped for the night it was clear they were pissing oil. On a world heritage site. Not cool. The gasket sealing the unit was badly torn and we did not have spare gaskets that fit. Did have a tube of gasket glue though, so the lads took the sump off, cleaned all the surfaces with their knife, warmed the metal by the fire and the glue in the mothership, and reconstructed the part under the light of their head torch. Some hot stones placed close by to try and keep the glue warm enough for long enough to allow the silicone to bind, and a brief offering of cognac and vodka to the gods of the lake. Then we slept on it. This morning she started 2nd kick and it seems compression levels better than before. Urals. They just keep giving. A certain swagger from Anton and Richard too. Justified.
Last full training day today. After a laborious first pack down of all camp equipment, we had an unbelievably beautiful ride on smooth bare ice. Eyes can't handle this much natural beauty.
Afternoon session is ride-ups. They get the hang of it though. James and Marc smash through a clutch plate however. Too much clutch and too many revs. Bam. Bike can run but tricky to ride and they need push starting every time. This will definitely bite them in the ass.
Plan for 10th March. Off ice at Anga river mouth. 40kms into town to refuel, eat at Irish pub, register with SOS services, rendezvous with Vlad,the party kit and hopefully, a clutch plate. We’ll stay somewhere warm tonight and charge everything, prepare everyone for the run. Confidence levels feel high.
This is going to be amazing.
Ride to the Anga river mouth was gorgeous - until we hit land and most people immediately got stuck on snow and ruts and difficult terrain. This is a deliberate final dress rehearsal for tomorrow: we need them to struggle, navigate, work as a unit to get over 3-4 kms of killer tracks. For some who have been merrily skating along on the ice, this will be the most important training session of all- they have basically been following the mothership until now (as planned) and not fully responsible for their bike and their route. That ends today.
James and Marc’s bike RIP. We have sourced a new clutch plate but this will be an engine out repair job and a bit risky. Time wise we’ll spend the entire period from now until tomorrow morning with the bike in pieces. Instead we are going to swap them onto the black bike 3569 which is running fine and just needs a few tweaks.
James and Marc taken it really well but it's a real shame. Also the last time we can cannibalise another bike to sort a team out - thats the last of the spares. We have to give a stern warning to everyone on gear changing - not mashing the clutch and over-revving since there's a strong chance they’ll get through another one riding that way, definite rider error not bike error.
Meanwhile, Efraim and Ala’s exhaust fallen off. Guess they wiped it out on something. A weld job. That'll be for Olkhon Island.
The Ice Run launches 11th March from Olkhon Island.
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If you think you could handle the Ice Run, you can sign up for the 2017 edition.