Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Cautiously the door opened and the policeman peered in for signs of movement. There were none, just heavy breathing interrupted by the occasional snort of sleep. Out of the slits in my eyes I watched him slowly turn around and quietly close the door again. It was nine o’clock and time to get going. 

Our next stop was for fuel in Muzhi, a largish bump on the river’s bank. The new normal meant were greeted by the overly attentive police, who were busy dragging Geordie, Pat and Guy around every shop in town as they searched for a shovel - the three of them having arrived an hour ahead of us. A quick lunch and we were back to trying to get the bikes started. For us that meant fixing Eva's carburetor choke. The spare carby we’d bought in Irbit came in handy and proved there is some upside to 60 year old technology with a common design standard.  

Out on the zimniks we cherished the rare occasions when we found glare ice. It meant we could speed up and enjoy Eva's desire to go - for at least a short while. Then the ruts and potholes would reappear and before long we’d be digging ourselves out again. One long stretch of good road led us straight towards a zimnik maintenance team. Three trucks working in concert is all it takes to maintain the ice roads in tip-top condition. A plow smooths the way and is followed by an enormous flatbed truck carrying water that drips directly onto the snow. Lastly, a transport truck pulls three gigantic tyres across the newly formed ice smoothing it out. The process is a constant battle. Soft patches give way under the weight of traffic and form divots that the wind blows snow into solely to trap nutters on Urals. Nature is fully in charge in these parts. 

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