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Old 11-29-2009, 01:17 PM   #11
Colebatch OP
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Originally Posted by MK96xj
How about a little back gorund info on your trip?

More pics too please
Most of the background is on the Sibirsky Extreme website in my sigline.

But to make it easier, I will summarise: This was part of a much bigger project earlier this year to take a motorcycle or two into the extremes of Siberia. This Road of Bones stretch was actually pretty comfortable but helped link up a couple of the more extreme bits we did.

I did the road from Yakutsk to Magadan with an older chap from London who was also keen to see this part of the world. The older chap, Tony, was 67 years old ... but he did have 50 years and 500,000 miles of motorcycling under his belt ... and he spoke a little Russian too, since he lives at least 3-4 months of the year in Moscow.

The weather was particularly good when we took the Kolyma Road on, so we thought we might as well try and see how fast we can do the 2100 km (1300 mile) dirt road. I wanted to do it in less than 5 days, if possible.

- - -

A final bit of clarity on the 'Kolyma Road' and 'Road of Bones' ... and I will lift most of this straight from my blog:

The Kolymsky Trakt, or Kolyma Road is the official Federal route from Yakutsk to Magadan. It begins with a new road between Yakutsk and Khandyga (or at least between the Lena and Aldan rivers), then follows the Road of Bones to Magadan, taking the Northern Variation both times the Road of Bones splits.

“Road of Bones” (Doroga na Kostyakh) is a term given by the Russians to roads built by Gulag labour between Khandyga, a former major river port before the road to Yakutsk was built in the last 10 years, and Magadan. As most people already know, the terms 'road of bones' was used as the gulag prisoners who died during construction, and reports are of hundreds of thousands at least, had their bones and bodies just used as landfill for the next section of road. Quite literally the corpses were bulldozed into the road. As a point of interest, the Russians dont really use the term at all. Its heavily discouraged by local governments who want to move on from the bad old histories. Its only in the western imagination that the term ‘Road of Bones’ conjures up all sorts of images of harshness and misery, and of course, adventurism.

Note, just as there is no one route for the Silk Road, there is also no one route for the Road of Bones. All parts of the network of roads built under the Gulag system, in which dead prisoners became part of the roadfill, were termed a "Road of Bones". There is no definitive article "the" in Russian. So there is no THE Road of Bones.

The original summer through route began in Khandyga and ran via Kyubeme (now deserted), Tomtor (these days accessible by motorcycle only in August and early September), Kadykchan (now a ghost town) and then south to Magadan via Ust Omchug. There was also an all weather spur up to the gold mining town (and major Gulag centre) of Ust Nera from Kadykchan connected to a zimnik (winter road) from Kyubeme to Ust Nera. There was an additional road up from Magadan to Susuman and Kadykchan via Atka and Orutokan. The whole lot was originally all built in the 1930’s and 1940’s by Stalin’s Gulag system.

The zimnik from Kyubeme to Ust Nera, once the roughest and toughest part of the network is currently being upgraded to all weather road status.

The section from Magadan to Susuman via Atka, when combined with the original road from Susuman down through Ust Omchug to Magadan is known as the ‘Kolyma Ring’ and is the heart and soul of the 'Gulag Archipelago', made famous by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It was on or near this ring that dozens of Stalin era Gulags existed in the 1930’s, 40’s and early 50’s, only to be abandoned after the deaths of Beria and Stalin in 1953.
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Colebatch screwed with this post 10-23-2011 at 03:31 AM
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