Wednesday Sept 21st 2011
1560 kms completed. Approximately 430 kms until Yakutsk.
We arrived on Monday night in the town of Khandyga and are taking a well deserved rest after having gone non-stop since Ust-Nera, 600 kilometers away, through mountain passes, multiple intense road construction areas (including a 32 kms section through Black and Yellow Prizhim) as well as large rocky and/or sandy sections which fatigued our bodies (especially our knees and backs).
On our way, passing through two time zones, and therefore losing rapidly precious daylight in our evenings, we have had to rely heavily in the evenings/nights on our rechargeable lightweight but powerful Light & Motion Solite 150 multisport lights.
Indeed, already on our first night out of Ust-Nera, we chose to pass our 10th mountain pass (Olchansky pass) under falling snow. Indeed, we did not want to wait until the next morning, and therefore taking the risk to be stranded in the mountain pass under a potential thick layer of snow...
I was reminding myself at the time the classic scene of a Russian movie I saw where two men fell asleep under an apple tree, eating its fruits and woke up the next morning under a thick blanket of snow, quite surprised! Winter can fall quite suddenly in these northern regions!
Over the following 10 days, the temperature varied from -10 to +16c, and we were able to experience a mixture of snow, hard rain, and sunny fall days while riding our way up and down the successive mountain passes and hills, somewhat feeling as if we were riding a roller-coaster which paradoxically are called in French: "Les Montagnes russes", and strangely enough are called "Amerikanskye Gorki/ American Mountains" in Russian!
On our trail, we had the pleasure to meet a mixture of intriguing yet inviting yakut, ukrainian and white russian road workers, stranded truck drivers and isolated although quite energetic young meteorologists.
We were offered twice great banyas, as well as reindeer stew, moose roast, brusnika berries, bliny and few warm and hearty borsch.
We now want to especially thank Igor and Evdokiya Vasilyevna whom we met on the road while they were driving by. They very promptly offered us to stay in their spare apartment upon landing in Khandyga!
Now, here we are in Khandyga, profiting from their hospitality and taking the opportunity to tour this Yakut town.
We are planning to leave tomorrow morning and bike 30kms away to Keskil where I plan to cross the mighty Aldan river to Melino-Aldan on a rowing boat (in line with my self-imposed human powered obligations) while Gulnara will safely get on the regular river crossing ferry Keskil-Melino Aldan.
Khandiga-Yakutsk 430 kms route
Dimitri & Gulnara