Circumnavigating the world through Human Power while connecting different societies, civilizations and landscapes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Planning the first 1760kms bicycle section: Omsukchan-Yakutsk

Omsukchan - Yakutsk 1760 kms - Summer 2011 Planned Route

Yes, indeed, after having spent the last few winters pulling a sled, it's time for me to get reacquainted with the bicycling world!

In less than 11 weeks, in early August 2011, I am due to start bicycling westward out of Omsukchan (where I last stopped with my sled in late April 2011) towards Yakutsk and proceed furthermore southwest, towards Mongolia.

I am also excited to announce that my girlfriend Gulnara Miftakhova is planning to join me bicycling for this next section of the expedition!

Note: By the way, going forward, I will try to use the term "bicycling" exclusively and refrain myself from using the term "biking" which has apparently confused some of my international readers, wondering if we were planning to travel by bicycle or motorbike!

So, between Omsukchan, Magadanskaya Oblast and Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha, we are planning to bicycle the following route:

Additional Notes:

July 1st 2011-: have also been forwarded the Russian following link that highlights the Road of Bones route taken by Russian cyclists: КОЛЫМА - 2008
well as a video taken by Milosz Augustyniak, a pole hitchhiker in June 2011.

July 12th 2011:
Between July 8th and August 10th, 8 bicyclists are riding from Yakutsk to Magadan. We hope to meet with them while traveling in opposite direction.

July 26th 2011 : Australian hitchhiker 2010 report on the Kolyma highway.

Part 1. The first 251 kms from Omsukchan to the intersection with the Kolyma Highway, aka "Road of Bones". This promises to be a busy dusty and potentially dangerous narrow road where we will be passed by countless supply trucks coming in/out of Omsukchan and Ducat silver and gold ore mines.

Part 2. We will then travel the next 404 kms on the wider Kolyma highway until we reach Kadykchan, this time side by side with a greater amount of large Kamaz and Ural trucks travelling at high speed between Magadan and Susuman.

Part 3. In Kadykchan, we will definitely be glad to leave the trucks and the "dirt highway" behind and get on the more bucolic/rustic "old road" for the next 405 kms, via Tomtor all the way to Kyubyume in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

I am actually really looking forward to this more peaceful section away from the large trucks commuting between Magadan and the gold mining communities in Northern Magadanskaya Oblast.

2011 Update: For anyone who wonders, yes, we did decide 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.

Old rustic 405kms bypass

Note on River crossings: In April 2011 while in Magadan, I was able to meet several bicyclists and truckers who are familiar with the Omsukchan-Yakutsk route and I now know the following:
a. In August, the rivers tend to be much smaller than in early summer and therefore can be crossed easily.
b. In the case of a downpour, we may need to wait 1-2 days for a river to recede before we can cross it.
c. For the larger rivers we will have to find an alternative solution such as using inflatable kayaks or something similar to cross the river and ensure the continuation of this "human-powered" expedition.

Part 4. In Kyubume, we will get back on the main Kolyma "dirt highway" and travel 320 kms further to Khandyga.

Part 5. In Khandyga, we will travel 380kms further to reach Yakutsk.

Total: Omsukchan-Yakutsk - 1760kms / 1094 miles

After Yakutsk, our goal is to travel on our bicycles southwest towards Mongolia and continue further through Kazakhstan, and through some of the Central Asian states (Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), some of the Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel), and some of the Northern African countries (Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal) where it will be time to row!
Of course, the exact route will be determined as we progress, partly depending on geopolitical conditions.

In the last few years, I partook in a few biking races such as crossing South Africa from Durban to Capetown in the Freedom Challenge (2005) and competing in the challenging La Ruta de Los Conquistadores in Costa Rica but never really undertook a loooong bicycling expedition of this caliber: Going from Omsukchan (Far Eastern Russia) to Dakar (Senegal, West Africa).

Bicycling 2200kms across South Africa, Freedom Challenge, Feb 2005

So, yes, at this stage, we are definitely learning as quickly as we can, about "adventure cycle-touring" logistics.

We are currently researching what are going to be the best bikes for us to use, the best waterproof clothing, paniers, spare gear, etc...

To that effect, I have been gathering valuable information from my friends at Angus Adventures, Asiemut, Panamerika, World's End Trek and amongst other sources, from the "Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook".

But, PLEASE, feel free to email me directly at if you want to share any tips and recommendation you might have on bicycles and bicycle gear, "bullet-proof" waterproof clothing, etc... And yes, we are definitely looking for new reliable sponsors in the bicycling arena.
So, once again, please feel free to send me the recommendations you might have so that we can use and promote their reliable brand along the way!

Finally, over the next few weeks, I am still planning to post some of my favorite pictures/videos and stories on what I have experienced this spring while pulling my sled from Paren to Omsukchan.
Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Dimitri, how are you going to cross rivers? AFAIK many bridges are missing along the old road, and a special obstacle is the Aldan crossing. Typically huge trucks are able to cross the rivers (except Aldan), but it is likely to be problematic for a biker. As for Aldan, there's a ferry, which I think is against your conditions.

Dimitri Kieffer said...

Thank you for the input! Actually, river crossings have been on my mind for quite a while! I remember a few years ago watching the film "long Way Around" with Ewan Mc Gregor and noticing how he was putting his motorcycle in the cargo space of trucks for river crossings: (, check at 1m 45s).

As you mentioned, this is against my self-imposed "human powered exclusively" conditions) and therefore I need to find human-powered solutions for these river crossings.

In April 2011, I was lucky enough to meet in Magadan, bicyclists and truckers who know the Omsukchan-Yakutsk route quite well. I was first told that luckily, in August, the rivers tend to be less of a threat than in early summer and therefore can be waded through.
Also, after a downpour, we may need to wait 1-2 days for a river to recede before we can cross it.
Finally, for the larger river crossings (i-e: Lena river), I am considering using an inflatable kayak or something similar. Nevertheless, I have no doubts that river crossings are going to make this bicycling section challenging.

Dimitri Kieffer said...

Clarification: Lena River should not be a problem because the expedition will probably not have to cross the river.
On the Eastern side of the Lena river, in the town of Nizhny Bestyakh, (which is facing Yakutsk located on the east bank of Lena), we will probably be able to connect with the M56/Amur-Yakutsk/Lena Highway and progress southwest towards Lake Baikal and further on Mongolia.

Maxichamp said...


I write Tamerlane's Thoughts. This is an incredible journey. I hope you will/can post updates and photos on your blog. Good luck and be safe!