Road of Bones and the Kolyma Highway - Pure Photos

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    This is one part of a multi thread ride report ... posted in a random order ... like Pulp Fiction meets Adventure motorcycling. Only when all the parts are together will it all make sense and tie in!

    This thread is preceded by a report on riding from Irkutsk due North to Udachny and then across the never before ridden Vilyuisky Trakt between Mirny and Yakutsk.
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=569243

    This thread is followed by a report on riding what I consider to be the toughest adventure road in the world, the 4300 km long BAM Road between Vanino and Bratsk. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=533442

    - - -

    No ride report ... just pics

    We begin in Yakutsk ... start of the Kolyma Road
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    Downtown Yakutsk:
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    The girls of Yakutsk - after a lot of time in the wilderness, they are a refreshing sight
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    Permafrost caves ... We took the chance to visit some permafrost tunnels in the side of a hill just on the edge of Yakutsk. Its 33 C (about 90F) outside, and its -20C (about 0F) inside the hill. Permafrost in Yakutsk is just a few metres beneath the Earth's surface, and the easiest way to get into it is not to go down, but just to tunnel into the side of a hill. This is the entrance on one such tunnel.
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    5 metres and 3 insulation doors later, and you have this:
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    This one is the ICE BAR:
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    And this one is the ICE OFFICE
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    #1
  2. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Lena River ... 7 miles wide
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    Aldan River ferry
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    Yakutka (Yakut girl) crossing the Aldan
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    #2
  3. GSdiablo

    GSdiablo cubical farmer

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    More please:evil
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  4. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Uh..... What he said. +1
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  5. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Keep it coming man! Them girls are Hot!
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  6. MK96xj

    MK96xj 100% Seat Time

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    How about a little back gorund info on your trip?

    More pics too please:D
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  7. OUTLAND MOTO

    OUTLAND MOTO And then suddenly....

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    If you made it home already, then congratulations! If you haven't, then good luck. Looking forward to more!
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  8. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    then one more for you my friend:
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    Even old guys get hit on by the Yakutian girls ... at least you do if you are on a motorcycle:
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    #8
  9. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Most of the vehicles moving on the major roads of Yakutia (meaning graded gravel) are the 50 year old design, but tough as a tank UAZ 4WD van ... called a UAZik ... "Wuzzik"

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    Comes in many versions: Here the double cab trayback
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    A ferry full of them
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    The front end:
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    Inside the (surprisingly roomy) beast:
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    #9
  10. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    That first picture is Stunning. Wow!
    #10
  11. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    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.
    #11
  12. Oisin

    Oisin Adventurer

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    Are the flights back operational?
    will be heading this way starting in April in Dublin Ireland...
    any info greatly appreciated
    #12
  13. Durangoman

    Durangoman Yeah its me!

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    :1drink
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  14. Spuds

    Spuds On my way home

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    :thumb

    I will be reading all links in your sig line.
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  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    stay tuned ...
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  16. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Khandyga - until recently, the eastern end of the road. From Khandyga, the Gulag system was connected to the real world via the Aldan and Lena Rivers. Occasional barges sailed to Yakutsk, from where more regular boats went 2000 km upstream to Ust Kut - and the railway.

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    70 km out of Khandyga, you come across the last town for about 500 km, Tyoply Klyuch. Soon after Tyoply Klyuch is a turn off to the Extreme North ... the first 190km (to Topolino) is possible in summer, but has a lot of water crossings. The rest of the road is a zimnik - a winter road. I think North Americans call them 'Ice Roads'. If you ride winter / ice roads, its theoretically possible in March to take this road all the way to Tiksi, at the mouth of the Lena River - though of course, no-one has ever ridden this on a bike. The zimnik is graded ice and snow all the way to Ust Kuiga (1295 km on this sign) ... after Ust Kuiga, the zimnik is rarely graded. With enough warm gear and ice tyres, and carrying all your own fuel, you would be able to ride to Ust Kuiga at 70 km/h (45 mph) on the graded stuff. After Ust Kuiga its about 500 km to Tiksi. I have been told the last 150km stretch into Tiksi is a tough one, where even on the ice roads, the big 6wd trucks struggle to do 50km (30 miles) per DAY! That last 150km is a 3 day stretch.

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    But I digressed ... it was summer. Any thoughts of the zimnik were totally irrelevant in summer months. We were headed straight on, for Magadan.

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    #16
  17. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

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    Awesome pics ...... good looking locals too.

    Looking forward to more.

    Soto
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  18. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Awesome!
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  19. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    Great pic's
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  20. Pine Sol

    Pine Sol Been here awhile

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    the man does it again.

    thanks, love the photos, scenery, girls, and the bike....
    #20