Summary on Aug-Oct 2011 section completed
Tuesday October 25, 2011 -
On August 13th, Gulnara Miftakhova and I left Omsukchan in Magadanskaya Oblast on our bicycles. We started riding in Omsukchan because it is where I had last stopped human-powered circumnavigation of the globe in May 2011, after having crossed Alaska, the Bering Strait, Chukotka and Kamchatka by foot, snowshoes and skis.
Gulnara and I rode 1962 kilometers on unpaved Far Eastern Russian "highways".
We started with the mountainous Omsukchan road for the first 250 kilometers until we joined the M 56 Kolyma Highway aka "Road of Bones".
Click here to see a google map of the "Road of Bones".
This first section was a a busy, dusty, dangerous narrow road where we were passed by countless trucks coming in/out of Omsukchan and Ducat silver and gold ore mines.
We then rode 1712 kilometers on the M56 Kolyma Highway through Magadanskaya Oblast and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
We decided to go with the "new" road and forgo the "old" road between Kadykchan and Kyubyume (even if it meant an additional 110 kms of cycling for our route), because we received reports from travelers who tried and failed to take the old route in landcruisers/kamaz and motorcycles from both sides (Kadykchan and Kyubyume) and told us that at this time of the year (early September) the rivers were way too high and too furious to cross/ford safely on bikes and/or by foot.
We arrived in Nizhny Bestyakh, Friday night Sept 30th, on our 49th day, after having completed 1962 "official" kilometers since Omsukchan.
Our 49 days journey included:
42 cycling days from Omsukchan to Yakutsk (Nishny Bestyakh) and our row across the Aldan river!
7 visiting/socializing/resting days which we took along the way to:
* visit gold and coal mines, interesting museums, gulag ruins, meteorologist stations, road construction settlements, a dairy farm and a fire station.
* take the time to connect with interesting characters, making countless new friends along our way: road builders, gold and coal miners, truck drivers, arctic permafrost researchers, firemen, museum keepers, journalists, mini bus drivers, photographers, meteorologists, hunters, fishermen, musicians, a portuguese motorcyclist and a travelling British adventurous couple in their 4*4.
Click here to see more pictures relating to this section of our journey.
We arrived in Nishniy Bestyah after having completed 1962 "official" kilometers on our bicycles since Omsukchan. However, our unofficial count is closer to 2100 kilometers completed between Omsukchan and Yakutsk according to Gulnara's cycle computer and taking into account all the additional kilometers we rode in/out/around villages, and including the section between Nishniy Bestyah and Yakutsk.
Gulnara and I then spent 10 days visiting Yakutsk in company of friends.
Gulnara decided to stop in Yakutsk (as she had originally planned) and flown back to Moscow.
I chose to continue further south on the Lena Highway (M56) because:
-my Russian visa was allowing me to stay until November 1st and I wanted to make the most use out of it.
-I was hoping to be able to ride the Lena highway as a zimnik/winter "ice" road (October forecast: from -20C at night to +5c daytime) which could have been easier than in Spring when torrential rains will probably turn the entire road into a beautiful "mud cake"...
- The world not being so small and I still hope to complete my circumnavigation of the planet some day, I needed to make progress while I could...
I departed on Sunday October 10th and had to stop 3 days later after having completed 150 kilometers because of a mechanical failure.
Taking into consideration how long it was going to take to repair my bike with a new and more robust freewheel hub, able to sustain my cargo weight and the Lena Highway (M56)'s abuse, and the fact that my Russian visa was bound to expire on November 1st, I decided that it was indeed time for me to stop the Nexus Expedition for 2011.
I am now planning to return in Spring 2012 to continue this journey, probably sometimes in the late March-April 2012 time frame, when hopefully the weather will be the most appropriate to get this challenging Yakutsk-Neryungri section done.
My girlfriend Gulnara Miftakhova still has the next few months to ponder on when and where she will join me in Spring/Summer 2012 on my route to continue future sections of Nexus Expeditions.
Dimitri Kieffer & Gulnara Miftakhova