Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crossing the Line

Grateful thanks to the Mayor of Shuryshkary for this map
As soon as night fell the wind dropped and the cold returned. The faint orange glow of civilization drew us onward. After towing Eva for a dozen kilometers, Nick and Paddy’s bike, La Poderosa, was faltering. We paused at a narrow section of the road and flagged down a passing 4x4 to ask for directions. Zaya spoke with the driver who said we were only three kilometers from Labytnangi and the finish line. 

Of course we were never actually going to Salekhard. The Adventurists don’t put finish lines in places that the locals may have heard of. They put them in obscure, out of the way spots that are impossible to find at night. Labytnangi is just that type of place. Besides, all that information was in the official Ice Run handbook - which presupposes that one actually reads the handbook. Still, being so close to the end was, in the circumstances, unbelievably welcome news.

The dominoes started falling into place. The largest truck on the planet carrying a crane the size of an Antonov Mriya pulled over and its driver agreed to tow us to the outskirts of town. With directions from the road guard, we turned left and dragged Eva for another three kilometers until La Poderosa decided enough was enough and finally stopped dead. Five minutes later a Land Rover drove up and offered to tow both our bikes. Inside the car were Björn and Rico who had wisely abandoned the road for the night and hitched a lift. That meant, thankfully, all the Ice Runners were now present and accounted for. 

Fifteen kilometers of perilously steep hills and no brakes later we arrived at our hotel. We had made it! We had completed this most mental of adventures in one piece with the entire crew almost, and not for want of trying, uninjured. What a gas! What an adventure! What an amazing bunch of people the Russians are!

Time to celebrate. We dropped our kit, turned around and piled into a taxi and headed for a bar...  

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