Our hardy Ice Runners have been a la Ural for 5 days now, apparently impervious to, amongst other hazards, -60 windchill, a diet of dried fish and frozen Dr Pepper, and the kind of helmet hair that not even dry shampoo can revive.
Not to mention the hazards of babysitting a vintage motorcycle over some extremely challenging terrain, with no set route, no maps, and just sign language and intuition to guide them.
Oh, and wolves, did I mention the wolves? Anatoli, our favourite foul-mouthed interpreter in Irbit, mentioned (about one hour post-launch) that there had been a hunting ban in place for several years in the region, recently lifted on account of the absolutely THRIVING wolf population. "Those furry motherfuckers!", he added, quite un-necessarily....
Probable survival scenarios endured/enjoyed include several which Olly Rowland highlighted in his blistering presentation during the launch weekend; he appeared quite nostalgic recounting how one's poo sinks slowly, majestically through several feet of snow of a -35 morning.
He also suggested that in extremis: One's poo could be wrapped in plastic and cuddled up to for warmth. "Your body uses a lot of energy getting that turd up to blood temperature. Why waste it?" Quite. We will of course share any tales of poo-snuggling just as soon as we get evidence.
Meanwhile, some actual updates from the teams and what they have been up to. The more eagle eyed map-watchers may have worried that certain teams seem to have been stationary for extended periods.
I am pleased to report that in all cases, the hiatus has been due to abuse or un-use of the satellite trackers which are the source of the location data for each team. Here's a quick run-down of who is where:
Angry Bird & Grumpy Owl / Wild Wolf Bikers
Up front are two British teams, Angry Bird and Grumpy Owl (Chris Bird and Nick Sutton), and Wild Wolf Bikers (Eloisia Wild and Irene Lobo, our first ever all-girl Ice Run team).
Chris and Nick have been cruising out in front for a few days now, and despite spinning a rather eccentric, weaving course, are on the whole making tidy progress. On day 2 they found themselves on an old logging track which 2 Pioneer teams in 2012 spent several days stranded on, and deciding that discretion was the better par of valour, they retraced their tracks back towards Tavda, and a more viable road north.
Since then they have rattled north through a few towns and have hit the relative urban civilisation of Uray. Whereupon they met up with the girls, Eloisia and Irene. Eloisia has had an ear infection and their tracker needed some fresh batteries, so apparently both teams will enjoy the relative comfort of a heated berth tonight rather than another night camping. Fair enough. They are alive and well, and at the head of the pack, in any case, and here is photographic evidence from Uray.
No sooner had Nick and Chris refuelled than they managed to get an impromptu invitation to a wedding in the town. Nick sent this image of him surrounded by local hotties, one of whom is presumably the bride. Absolute class.
A bikers club in Uray have been tracking the teams on the Adventurists map and apparently found Chris and Nick, introducing themselves this; "What the fuck you doing wrong side of this lake? You get lost or what?" Help comes in some unlikely guises out here.
Ice Ice Baby / Oznog Racing / Boris & Natasha
Meanwhile, around one day behind these two teams, is a cluster of three teams all enjoying the ride; the Germans Sam Schellenburg and Mo Suess, Chris Plough, Kate DeWald and Boris Berkovich.
This from Chris Plough this morning (Friday) ; "Katy - travelling with Kate, Boris and ze Germans. We're rocking the fuck out - soo much fun!" They have done a couple of switchbacks since then but now appear to be powering towards Uray.
This evening Chris informs me that his mighty beard is going down an absolute storm with the locals....mainly the men though. Hmm, time for the re-think perhaps?
The Motorcycle Diaries
Also making splendid progress is Karan Suri, riding solo as Team Motorcycle Diaries. He also appears to have found food and warmth at a wedding in the town of Mezhdurechenskiy, and reports that "I have gatecrashed not just the wedding party but the dance with the bride. Guess we have a more celebrity status than the groom".
This is testament to the incredible hospitality and sense of fun of the Siberians, as I can guarantee that none of these riders will look, or smell, like an appropriate wedding guest by now.
Rocking Chair Motorcycle Club / Up to Snow Good
Also in Mezhdurechenskiy are Fredda and Russ, while the Ozzies Dalbs and Dylan, team up to Snow Good, are slightly further back in Mortka awaiting some repairs to their electrics. Always nice to have some headlights....
Meanwhile, a whole world west of all this frivolity, our lone "North West Router" Kabir has made steady progress off the launch (though not as steady as his tracker suggests).
He's on good road north from Nizhny Tagil and enjoying good hospitality, and reported on Monday night that "the hotel guys gave me free food and a great scarf. I don't want to jinx it but the Russians are the best".
So there you have it; some sterling work in the field of international relations, as well as making the world less boring. More news as we get it.
Live from the finish line, Yamalkan, Salekhard