Monday, February 11, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemmings...

Monday duly rolled around. By now we were getting used to the way the sun meandered over the eastern horizon and brought a cautious start to the working day. It was fully 9:30 before there was enough light to call it morning and we still had lots to do. The first thing was pimping our rides - and ourselves. Nu, Pogodi! (trans. I'll get you!) is to Russians what Tom and Jerry is to Americans, a beloved animated cartoon. It began back in the 1960’s with the familiar premise of a clever rabbit that does its best to outfox a chain-smoking, hard drinking wolf. Zaya grew up on this stuff and decided that not only would our team be called Nu Pogodi, but we would dress the part, too. (This was one of those times that I figured it was better to just go along for the ride.) 

Next it was on our bikes and off to official start of the Ice Run, it seemed like it had taken us a week to get to this point. We looked splendid though, 12 Urals and 23 hardy adventurers arrayed in a straight line fit for a May Day parade. With military precision we immediately got lost, turned around in a petrol station, wound noisily through a housing estate and finally arrived an hour late at the start line and the press briefing.

Fluent in Russian, Zaya, now dressed as Zayats, the Nu, Pogodi! rabbit, complete with ears, gave the local TV station a rundown on what was happening. Well, at least that’s what I thought she was doing. She might have been talking about the advantages of Mongolian airag over Russian vodka for all I knew.  
© 2013 Ben Cooke
The mayor gave a speech, shook hands with us, presented each of us a memento of our stay in Irbit, invited us back for the annual motorcycle rally in July, and lastly wished us luck. A quick stop at the supermarket for last minute chocolate bars, then a few photos, and we were finally on our bikes being led out of town towards what was probably going to be the last gas station we'd see for days. We filled up and divided into makeshift teams. Nick and Paddy were the first to set off and led the way by turning right towards Tavda, taking the notorious, uncharted northeastern route - otherwise known as the ‘road of death.’ There is no better way to start an adventure than by leaving common sense behind, following your fellow lemmings and leaping over the cliff towards certain doom. Wahoo!

No comments:

Post a Comment