After a year away the world’s ‘coolest’ motorbike event is back and promising more crashes, splashes and Russian vodka shots than ever…
If you’re looking for a biking adventure next year, how about riding 2000km over and around Planet Earth’s deepest lake? Lake Baikal in Russia is the oldest and deepest (it’s just over a mile to the bottom) lake in the world. With temperatures in the region dipping to a balmy -20 o C, the lake spends most of the year frozen and the folks over at The Adventurists decided it was high time that a group of people rode across it on old motorbikes with sidecars attached. Naturally.
The 6th Ice Run, taking place in March 2018, has just opened its doors for entrants – teams of two comprising one driver and one ‘navigator’ in a side-car, although you can swap over as much as you want. There’s no route set in stone, but you’ll be given a selection of GPS co-ordinates for fuel drops and
some particularly hazardous areas to avoid (best not to get those two mixed up) and some expert advice on where the best riding will be found, help you get across and then – on forest trails and rural ice roads – around the lake.
There are a few Russian vodka-fuelled parties under the stars, with Banyas, fires and feasts of local fish, thrown into the mix during the 12 day event, but the most fun comes in the form of dealing with the lake’s 12,000 square miles of ice. Parts of the ice will be sculpted by the wind and smooth as a baby’s derriere, other bits will be more like a sweaty builder’s arse crack, meaning the route across the lake certainly won’t be in a straight line. Whilst the wind can polish the ice smooth and flat like a mirror, in more sheltered areas it can resemble a freshly ploughed field, with great tombstones of ice to navigate around. If the winter is mild there will be surface water and cracks to pick a path through and sometimes jump over.
“We made some rash decisions. I remember going across one particular crack and not really thinking about stopping. The back wheel went through the ice. We had enough momentum to pull through, but it was a bit of an eye-opener.” – Richard Fleming, 2015 competitor
“When you put the brakes on, not much happens except the bike pulls really hard to the right. Then the steering goes funny, the brakes lock up and you skid at a strange angle, usually straight into whatever it is you’re trying to avoid.” – Katy Willings, Ice Run Chief
“I’ve been all over the place on crappy vehicles that break down all the time, but it’s never really been a problem because whenever you stop you don’t feel like you’re going to fall through the road.” – Matt Prior, 2015 participant
If this sounds like your cup of tea, but you’re a little concerned about the fact you’ve not ridden a bike across a giant frozen lake before, you can be partly reassured by the fact there’s three days of rolling training and mechanical briefing on the lake, so you get to know the basics of how to ride and fix a Ural motorcycle in -20 o C, how to camp in the cold and how to pull someone out of the ice. If something does go drastically wrong, The Adventurists invisible backup crew are only a call away with a team of bike and adventure experts on hand.
No more excuses? Visit www.theadventurists.com/ice-run for more details or watch the video below and get a flavour of what the Ice Run’s all about.
“What can I say about the Ural? They are shit, but magnificent at the same time.” These days Ural make excellent bikes. Thankfully that was not always the case and scattered across the corners of the ex-Soviet empire lie scores of old school Urals. Built like a tank, slightly rusty and often unreliable. Obviously the all-round perfect Siberian adventuring machine for facing over 2,000km of frozen rivers, lakes and roads at -20 o C.
In 1939 the Russian army thought it was high time they had some motorbikes. Ever the masters of efficiency they nicked one from the Germans – the BMW R71 – pulled it apart, copied it (badly) and slapped an Ural badge on it. Thus was born one of the world’s coolest motorised bicycle machines. Right up until the 2000′s the design remained pretty much unchanged.
It is these old engineering marvels that The Adventurists have carefully selected to make sure completing the Ice Run is
really quite hard.
A note from The Adventurists on saving the world “Adventurists teams have raised millions for charity and by supporting Cool Earth, you’ll be saving the world one rainforest at a time. Not because we’re tree hugging sandal weavers, but because the world would be shit without them.”
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