Cold, constant, and crazy, but it just might be soo AWESOME
[ NOTE: This plan is morphing, please read the whole thread before posting comments ]
I've had this trip idea in my head. Tingling. Nibbling. Festering. I unfortunately decided to scratch the itch with some research and it's actually....possible
Many people have crossed Asia to Magadan. Many, many more people have gone to Prudhoe bay. What I would like to do, is to combine them.
It left my head for awhile. The whole crossing the ice thing can't possibly be done with the Northwest passage opening up and all, can it? Nawwww... of course not. Then I watch that damn episode of Top Gear. If someone as impatient and technically declined as Clarkson can do it (even with an Icelandic mechanic team in tow), then it should be possible to survive the climate. Hell, a sled dog rider is just as completely exposed to the elements as rider...
My effort to disqualify my notions with good hard facts began to backfire on right from the start. First were two reports I found at the National Ice Center (NOAA) for the Bering Sea. The charts basically said the ice was 90-100% covered most of the sea South of the straight with ice over 20cm (enough to hold about 1000 kg) as long as you go in or before the first two weeks of April (otherwise you have a lot more navigation for weak spots in the ice--without much topography for guidance). There are about 207 hours of light a month, which is about 8 a day starting in April. The trip up is challenging due to the early spring timeframe but doable as well. It fairly straightforward to make it to Anchorage, and the Iditarod Trail(s) has left paths Nome. Further, Nome is big enough where you can get weather updates and wait for enough equipment or information to make a confident go/no-go decision.
Aha, but if you are going, where to? I began searching to see if there were enough villages to even make it to "civillized" Russia. Alas, as I search I find more that allows this to work. You can cross from Nome to Provideniya (~275 mi), and then head to Anadyr (~300 across the sea). Plus, Anadyr is one of the biggest developments in NE Siberia.
After this, it's just a matter of getting SW to wither Magadan, or (as I found it may be easier) M56 / Kolyma Road via a road from Omsukchan from the East.
There are a number of villages and towns in the middle too. I have no idea how populated these places if they would sell fuel in Apr/May, as that's right before resupply time [when the freshwater ice starts to melt and open up their ports]. Many may be mining establishments, however the BAM road ride report seemed to indicate many of the towns they crossed were similar purpose built areas and the people were still quite friendly.
That's what I would like to know from the community. All you FF's please comment on things I may have forgotten, bits of info you may have to fill in the blanks, pluses, minuses, etc. All I ask is that if someone goes to do this before I can that you will try to take me along and/or share your planning wisdom. If you would like to help with the path research, that would be nice as well.
The contents of my Google Maps KML file are here. I have found that Bing Maps has detailed satellite views that Google doesn't, and some of those images contain nice wintery footage. The detail is helpful in figuring our the trails the locals have created in their trucks.
It also bears to keep in mind there are pros and cons to timing after arriving in Siberia. If you go, the freshwater rivers and marshes thaw after the sea, however the snow can be thick in the hilly areas. Also, tundra can really be ridden across without much impediment, however there are spots with thicker forests (trails are critical to making it through these areas). Accurate topography can be difficult to ascertain from satellite images. There are some rivers that look like ridgelines...
Even the political aspects have hope, as I live near enough to DC to visit the Big Embassies needed for visas
If there are problems with the KML link, PM me and I'll send you a copy some other way. My webserver is acting up
I would rate this near impossible without massive air support and HUGE funding. Have you read 3KTMs go East reactivated with the little bikes it was super tough, just one example I could think of. I think you be better off walking food depot to food depot with a high caliber rifle and good anti bear deterrents IMHO.
That's what I thought until I started looking up routes and resupply towns in between. There were a LOT more than I thought I would find. I am unsure which are seasonal and which will have commercially available food, fuel, and shelter. In a worse case you can bring bolt cutters and "borrow" a shed if nasty weather hits. As I find more detailed satellite images there are Ural tracks all over between the various villages. No stretch between towns is more than 300 mi apart currently, and many are 150-200 only. I'm still finding more towns as I look.
The big questions are the cold, wind, ice thickness, and depth of unpacked snow. While inland Siberia is much colder than over the sea ice, there are many rivers and their valleys, based on the Bing maps, don't accumulate snow the way the rest of the landscape does.
The routes would definitely need to be scouted before plowing straight through, but I think this can be done with an amateur budget. I definitely think it's doable with a 4x4, but riding would make sheltering the vehicle and lower the weight on the ice.
What are the temperatures like? You might want to google Paul Mondor - Iceman, he is the guy when it comes to cold weather riding. So you could probably get some tips from him. Maybe he is keen on the idea.
What's more, what is your cold weather riding experience? Coldest temp you have ridden in etc... It takes a special type of person to be able to survive on a bike sub -5 celcius, even with serious heating equipment. Your speeds wouldn't be high so your wind speed isn't going to be an issue.
300 miles isn't far on Highways. Off road in mud 300 miles is insane. 300 miles in snow... well :evil
There was a Japanese guy who has done a whole heap of arctic riding. I think he was the first to motorbike to the Poles. Think he had a fair bit of sponsorship though... which leads to the question, are you going to get some kind of sponsorship?
BTW - What kind of timeline are you looking at completing this within?... I might be crazy enough to go with you.
You will die and be eaten by cannibals. Sign me up.
Holy cow... my idea of adventure is to go from Minnesota into WISCONSIN, and deal with the language barrier over there ("cheese?" ..... "no, I said I need gasoline"..... "Cheese?" No, GASOLINE!")
Hats off !
On snow machines this would be a hard trip. On bikes?
I actually posted this to be helpful but as I was posting I realized that if you didn't know even this simple fact you had absolutely no idea of the scope of what you are proposing.
A number of us longtime Alaskans don't think anything 2-wheeled could be ridden over much if any of the Arctic Ice Pack.
Have you heard of Sjaak Lucassen who's ridden around the world a couple times on an R1 sportbike? He and Doris Weidemann also rode their bikes up the Haul Rd to Prudhoe Bay one winter a few years ago.
Sjaak would like to ride the ice from Barrow, Alaska east. Maybe he'd go west with you or you could join him. Here's his plan: http://www.sjaaklucassen.nl/index.ph...id=154&lang=en
Good luck, Mark H.
When you think of ice, you probably picture the smooth, slippery surface of a frozen lake, where the biggest challenge is finding enough traction for your tires. The only similarity between that and Bering Sea ice is that they are both cold.
Ice in the Bering Sea, as well as the Chukchi Sea to the north of Bering Straits (where you would be looking to cross), is in constant motion, with leads opening and then closing again with tremendous force. Rather than a smooth surface to negotiate it is rough, unpredictable, and dangerous. Think of what it would be like to ride across a landfill with garbage trucks constantly depositing a steady stream of every manner of obstacle - from sofas on end to huge packing crates to bags of soft squishy material - and doing that for a couple of weeks with no rest other than what you could get on top of the pile of garbage. Oh yes, and doing that in the very worst winter you have ever experienced. Believe me, your imagination cannot possible conjure up the difficulties you would encounter as you've never come even close to what a trip like that would entail. A person on foot would have a better chance of completing it than one having to drag a machine along.
Yes Alcan Rider pretty much nailed it.... it's pretty rugged the wind is blowing across miles & miles of ice and burns like no other.... and you cant hide.... IT IS BAD!!!! I do know, I work there....
Look close thats where you would be riding.... I'm not even that far north....
or you could swing south & warm up... but you aint riding here either....
I can appreciate your get up and go, but this cant happen...
Thanks for the replies.
-The quote on the hours came from one source, and I believe it may have been "usable" daylight. I did not check to see if it factored in coverage due to storms, etc. which are quite possible during the spring. At any rate, the research is nowhere near completed--this is more of a feasibility study, which would be followed with a more thorough review of what would be needed, whether it could be afforded, whether there are smaller items that would be deal breakers, etc. I am not Nanook of the North, and I fully accept that some training would be a wise idea before attempting this [ preferably before even doing detailed level planning].
-The ice pack is variable and I am aware that ice flows get compacted into all kinds of weird angles. It was my assumption that the coverage of ice on the sea is represented in the National Ice Center reports providing rough estimates both on coverage and thickness. I guesstimated ice coverage was needed to be at minimum 90% to 100% to avoid ice holes and non-uniform ice flowes that can't be circumnavigated reasonably. It was my assumption that not all portions of the ice would be kraggy, just like it wouldn't all be smooth. It is entirely possibly I am underestimating the kraggy area size by seeing examples from multi-year ice areas that have been worn flat and applying it to the mostly signle-year ice that exist in and below the Bering Strait.
-As for traction, metal studded ice racing tires provide great traction on ice (some ice racers scrape their handlebars in turns)...the bigger problem will be snow depth. This, based on limited research, is highly variable but can be manageable as the wind keeps the depth down somewhat on the sea ice. This won't hold true once on land though. One "plan b" would be to fabricate a new swingarm that can fit a ATV snow track (like Antarctic 4x4 trucks have, just smaller) and use a snowmobile front skis adapted to the front forks, however that would be time consuming (chain drive into a flat track, brakes, suspension geometry changes, etc.), and you would need a sled just for the parts to convert it back to a motorcycle. If the krags are frozen solid, having the narrower width of a motorcycle may be beneficial as you can use narrower passes than a car sized vehicle (or possibly even a dog sled).
As for exposure...it would be the same as any dog sled team would experience, plus any heat your engine and exhaust gives you . I can't forsee going particularly fast given the environment and the possibility of "finding" ice holes or polyana (esp off of St. Lawrence Island). Exposure effects to the bike and its ability to operate would be an interesting problem...
I'll definately look up the experts referenced. As mentioned before this is a feasibility study at this point. It would be multi-year to prep, esp since I have very young children and my current cold tolerance level is "Texan".
EDIT: I should add crossing the ice isn't even the biggest problem as I see it. Eastern Siberia is colder, has more snow, has more terrain, more "wildlife", and will make it more difficult to find someone who needs help. Even if someone could get across the sea, your not even close to halfway back to civilization.
I wonder if a paddle tire would work in the snow?:hmmmmm Something like this should hold ice screws pretty well: http://images.motorcycle-superstore....ar-Tire---.jpg
What bike are you thinking of?
How much fuel capacity? Spinning your wheel in the snow could cut your fuel mileage by a factor of 3 or more.
What's your evac plan in case shit hits the fan? Far enough East, you might get the U.S. Coast Guard to help. Once you're in Russia you might be SOL.
There's no substitute for local knowledge. It looks like Wales is the closest town to the strait? You should find a way to get in touch with people in town and ask them about the condition of the ice.
Could you charter a plane or helo beforehand and leave caches of food and fuel along the way?
By the way, they already make snow tracks for bikes:
Evac needs to be thoroughly looked at. I do not believe (?) either SPOT or many of the Medi-flights operate in NE Russia. The spacing of populated [in April / May] townships is going to be critical, because those are going to be the only points you can get someone into / out of. Many of the towns / villages do have airports due to the geographical isolation (just like Northern Alaska). Chartering a plane to leave supplies may be beyond my ability to fund, though would be an option for a sponsored journey.
EDIT: Didn't see an image if you posted one, but I did find some Youtube videos of tracked motorcycles. Then there's the standard Russian ingenuity as well:
<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VMBohw0ZLG8" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420"></iframe>
I highly looking at the above video in Youtube, as there were many other "interesting concepts" posted ;-)
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