The Institute of Adventure Research came up with the idea of taking a classic Ural motorcycle and sidecar from Irbit to Salekhard along the zimniks, or ice roads, a couple of years ago. As soon as I heard about the trip I knew immediately I wanted to go on it. My colleague Brendan asked me the other day how many people were planning on going on this journey with me, and I said I thought about 20. To which he replied, "That's probably the entire global population that would have any interest in doing it." I think he’s probably right.
Who is the typical Ice Runner? Well, as you might expect, the group is 90% male, early 30’s on average and damned good looking. A little unexpectedly, 60% of them are Australian, with a large contingent from Perth. Quite why these young men want to leave God’s own paradise at the height of summer and test their mettle in the maw of Russia’s winter it not completely clear. I asked several of them and they said simply, “…to have a go, eh?” Isn’t that what life’s about? Having a go? My grandmother thought so. So do I.