Adventuring Through The Arctic Freeze
I remember how I first came across Antonia (Ants) Bolingbroke-Kent, it was over warm coffee, inside a warm house, as I devoured her article from 2015 Testing the Ice in an adventure magazine, where she was part of an expedition that took a Ural sidecar through Russian to reach the Arctic Circle. An exquisite piece with the best opening line, “There are two basic prerequisites for a motorbike trip: a motorbike and the ability to ride one.” Such a simple casting of words to hook any adventurer. Because it truly does not take much once you have the determination for adventure your world and roads begin to open.
I previously wrote a RideNow Blog about Ants back in January as an overview of her amazing adventurous soul and to introduce you to her books. I wanted to take you a little deeper into snowboarding off the side of a Ural, homemade ATVs, local villagers, and Siberian dinners al fresco. Where she took on the challenge of an Artic motorbike adventure with the founder of The Adventurists, and Buddy. Their mission: to buy an old Ural motorbike and sidecar and ride it 1,000 miles up the Ob River to the Arctic Circle. They began on a freezing day in February, and as they say, the rest is history.
There was something about the way they describe taking to the 1993 Ural, a bike that battled its way with every tire rotation. The Ural underwent a revamp and buyout in 2003, but the 1993 bike that they purchased, from an ex-convict named Valoday, for $965 was a fitting companion for the harsh winter escapade they had decided to undertake.
When making the decision to take on the challenge of riding across Siberia in the winter, it is not just the -40°F weather that one must take into consideration, it is also the bears, wolves, and bandits. For their first few days out on the adventure they were joined by a local that was too concerned to let them take off alone in such weather and with such wild elements abounding.
“Oh, the joy of hitting the snow! As far as the eye could see was a blinding blanket of white, broken only by the odd silver birch copse [silver birch trees in an English countryside]. The bike skidded and bumped along, her new tyres gripping the packed snow with remarkable effect, and her tractor-like engine rudely shattering the stillness.” Ants writes with such lyrical flow; it is no wonder that she has three published books that document adventurous living through the beauty of words. She speaks of ‘swimming in a sea of stars’ as she describes the wonders of the vast night sky in winter, and although just a spectator reading of the adventure, it takes you there. You feel the joy that locals had in meeting their first-ever foreigner, or the smells and sites the three adventurers took in as they traveled further along the zimniks (winter roads).
While the attempt to reach the Russian Arctic Circle fell just shy, the adventure they undertook was nothing short of amazing. Ants also wrote about the adventure on her blog, Testing the Ice. For more on her adventurous life, books, or more on The Adventurists-and maybe taking on a challenge or two, here are some sites of interest:
I look forward to feeling the ice beneath the tires, and the vast open skies of Siberia one day. Ride safe, RideNow, see you out there on the ride.
Written by Danell Lynn, www.danelllynn.com Guinness World Record Motorcyclist. Photo Copyrights: Ants Bolingbroke-Kent