Current Location: I was able to successfully row on Thu Sept 22d, the Aldan river on a small boat with Gulnara on board and loaded with our gear and bikes.
Thereafter we camped one night on the left bank of the river and proceeded the following morning on our bikes towards Yakutsk on the federal road.
We covered the next 150 kms on a sandy/muddy road which in a way "thankfully" became covered with a good layer of fresh snow after our 2d night camping.
Indeed, the snow packed by the driving cars and trucks made it easier for us to travel on that surface than having to partially push our bikes on what would have been otherwise more kilometers of sandy federal road.
Along the way, we came across a few charming abandoned wooden villages which were previously inhabited by nomadic yakut cow and horse farmers.
We also came across a few inhabited farming communities where we saw a few "wild running" yakut horses and cow herds coming across our way.
We were also overwhelmed with Sakha/Yakut hospitality!
Indeed we spent one night in a very welcoming dairy farm ran by Roman and Alexandra, a great sakha/yakut couple who invited us to spend the night in their warm abode and fed us some of the delicious local Karas fishes pan fried, as well as local berry jam and yakut fried bread.
Early the next morning while watching Roman and Alexandra hand milked their cows, we were able to share more stories and learned a bit about what hard sakha/yakut rural life entails.
Along our way, we were also intrigued to learn and see how so many rural yakuts keep their water supply throughout the year in frozen blocks of ice, 3 meters below their houses @ permafrost level!
Finally, last night, upon landing in Ytyk Kyuyol, we were welcomed by fireman Ivan who invited us to his banya and to spend the night in his local fire station!
Mahtal Roman, Alexandra and Ivan!
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
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.
Once both reunited in Melino Aldan, we plan to continue our cycling expedition towards Yakutsk, 400 kilometers away.
Khandiga-Yakutsk 430 kms route
Dimitri & Gulnara
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Thursday Sept 8th 2011
971 kms completed
Approximately 1020 kms until Yakutsk
Getting ready to leave Ust-Nera where we spent two nights in the local hotel/gostinitsa, tour the town, organize some of our gear and met a few new friends
. We especially want to thank Natasha, Adam and Youssup.
Since Myaundzha in Magadanskaya Oblast, we passed our 8th mountain pass (Kolymo- Indigirsky) in the snow, spent a night in a coal mine (Tal-Yuryah) and even had tea inside a large coal mine working crane.
Coal mining, Tal-Yuryah, Magadanskaya Oblast.
Tea time inside a coal mining crane, Tal-Yuryah, Magadanskaya Oblast
We also had the chance to share freshly smoked fish (Harius) and tea with the inviting meteorologists at the remote post of Delyankir.
Harius fishes from the Nera river
Smoked Harius fishes at the meteorologists station in Delyankir.
Meteorologist measuring air temperature at the meteorologist station in Delyankir, border of Magadanskaya Oblast and Republic of Sakha, Yakutia.
We entered the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russian Federation, where we were very well welcomed by the local authorities in Artyk, inviting us for a night in their future hospice.
Gold mining, Nera River, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
We followed the Yakut gold mining belt, cycling along the Nera river, camped one night with our British friends Joann and Steven traveling in their Landcruiser and spent a morning playing hide and seek with a curious fox in the ghost town of Ozernoye.
Finally, we were also able to see very clearly permafrost/ice layer, a few feet under our collapsing/cracking federal road mostly made of argyle/clay before reaching Ust-Nera.
For anyone who wonders, yes, 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 (early September) the rivers were way too high and too furious to cross/ford safely on bikes and/or by foot.
Once again, I wish I could take the time now to write a good report on all what we have experienced since Myaundzha but we need instead to keep riding our bikes forward for the time being, now moving 600 kms further Southwest towards our next town: Khandyga.