Pat had the only detailed map amongst us. My 1:70 billion bizzaro projection map was all I could find before I left. It was the same one Tom and I had used on the Mongol Rally. Back then we ultimately resorted to relying on a combination of downloaded GPS files and asking for directions. Pat’s map on the other hand was purchased in Yekaterinburg on his arrival and looked confidently detailed. The route was selected, bikes packed and off we set. The roads were still covered in snow, but even in these remote areas plows and earth movers keep things smooth and passable. Blue skies, sunshine and the open highway - this will be a breeze we thought! Plus, we’re ahead of all the other teams - we might make even finish first.
An hour and a half later the road petered out. Not only did it peter out, it came to an abrupt end in dense woods with only ‘No Unauthorized Hunting” notices to keep us company. We had found it - the Death Road that Olly had spoken of - or so we thought. Rather than wander on into the wilds, we agreed that we’d head back to the nearby village and find out why we were so far off our course - it seemed more practical than spending three days starving in the belief that we were right and the map was wrong. Backtracking then towards our missed turn and steering due north, not northeasterly, Zaya took the helm. We were making great progress when, at a corner, the team decided to pause for a break. As she came round the bend, Zaya either decelerated too fast or braked too hard and described a perfect 90 degree leftwards arc into a snowbank. As passenger I did the mental arithmetic and decided there was no real danger to us or the bike and enjoyed the slide as we flumed into the ditch like a couple of cartoon characters. Geordie, laughing his head off, saw the whole thing, but sadly had his camera turned off.