I didnt go to Siberia in 2011. I just watched and egged on a number of friends who did: Helping with planning, helping with bike preparation and following them live on spot trackers as they crossed my favourite part of the world.
But I wasnt sitting idly by. I was deep in the middle of my own plan to put together the boldest ride I had ever done. Back in 2010, I had been listening to Dave Lomax of Adventure-Spec fame talking about the Trans America Trail ride he did a few years back. Also, earlier in 2010 I had been on the 2 week Russian Off Road Challenge with a route that had been stitched together by zooming in on google earth. The trail was 85-90% perfect. Via that experience, I learned off-road route drawing by google earth actually could work, if you knew how to interpret google earth. It suddenly dawned on me that a trail could be mapped, from the edge of the European Union (Poland in this case) to the Pacific ocean. Just like the TAT, but 5 times longer, 5 times harder, and 5 times more brutal. 18,000 km (12,000 miles) of dirt tracks - but it would be a mammoth project just to map it. Drawing a turn by turn line across the largest landmass in the world. I began in the spring of 2011.
By September 2011 I had the route. It had taken me about 4 months of staring at google earth daily, panning a few hundred metres at a time. It was a combination of cool tracks I had ridden previously, linked up by vast google earthed stretches sometimes several thousand miles long. I had linked together all sorts of terrain, from sandy dunes, to lush forests, fast steppe tracks, rocky brutal sections, Ural Mountains, river crossings, mongolian grasslands, the Western BAM and the Road of Bones .... Old Summer Road. There was a strong focus on terrain and routes that offered interesting off road riding. Through Ukraine, European Russia, Kazakhstan, the Altai, Mongolia, and Siberia. I took in a few key cities, like Kiev, Volgograd, Astana, Ulaan Baatar, and would finish up, of course, in Magadan ....
It would take an entire summer season just to ride it. That was the mission for Summer 2012: To ride the Sibirsky Extreme Trail.
Was this going to be the greatest trail on the planet? I certainly hoped so. It would certainly be be toughest of all my rides.
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Here's a selection of smaller taster pics from the Sibirsky Extreme Trail ride this year; the full story and high res pics will unfold in more detail right here in the coming weeks and months:
And a video trailer: