The Un-Route

The setting for the Ice Run is one that may well blow your socks off, which is actually a bit of a shame if it's sub-zero temperatures.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the deepest lake in the world, 25 million years in the making, Lake Baikal. If your Ural plunges through the ice here it will fall a mile before it hits the bottom. At which point you'll probably not get it back.

Perfect for an adventure then. Right?

The Plan

Training will carry us along the North-western coast, across Olkhon Island where the support unit will drop back to fulfil a less conspicuous role. Then, like a cunning inmate weilding a sharpened spoon, you're free. Hopefully you'll have picked up enough knowledge to make your way up to Severobaikalsk and the welcoming hot springs at the far North of the lake.

We don't set a route, we just give you GPS co-ordinates of fuel drops and some particularly hazardous bits to avoid. Best not to get those two mixed up.

From Severobaikalsk in the north you'll come off the Ice. Your road south will be along the zimnics (frozen rivers), forest trails and snowy covered dirt tracks of the Irkutsk Oblast.

Don't think of this as a route, more like a vague indication of where you might go, sort of.

The Unknown

Lake Baikal in March is a positively balmy -20c. While this means bits of the bike, and bits of you are less likely to fall off, there are still a whole bunch of unknown factors which might well kick you in the arse like a particularly nasty case of posterior frostbite.

The bikes - They're old and don't respond terribly well to the cold. That's sort of the point. We've improved the ignition and batteries and given them all studded tyres. They weren't reliable in factory condition, and age has not wearied them in this regard.  

The cold - At minus 20 a 25 mph wind will take the air temperature down to minus 35. At this temperature even Arctic foxes can freeze to death.

The terrain - Parts of the ice will be sculpted by the wind and smooth as a well-oiled otter, other bits will be as cracked as your nan's elbow. The route up the lake will not be a straight line, this much is safe to assume.

Un-Route history

The first Ice Run went up the frozen River Ob ending in Salekhard. Once we got there, we found the a Mars Bars cost a fiver, and the locals were a bit too helpful. Not fit for purpose we decided and after two editions we went back to the drawing board. We turned our focus east in a quest for a new less suitable route and found the crack in the earth that is Lake Baikal, home of 20% of the worlds unfrozen freshwater. 

The Inaugural Baikal Ice Run took place in 2015. We took advice from cold weather experts, endurance biking experts and locals who between them have lived and worked on the lake for hundreds of years.

We collected a crew of runners to find out if this new route was at all possible on a Ural. 'Just about' was their conclusion. Which is good enough for us. We went back in 2016, and everyone made it through again, mostly in one piece.