In a way I envy Declan McEvoy. And in another way I don’t. He’s going to try on two wheels what put us to the limit of our endurance to partially cover on four last year.
Next March he intends to ride a motorbike on, and through, the harsh depths of an unrelenting Siberian winter.
Declan from Quin in Co Clare is a self-diagnosed motorcycle adventure addict.
This time it is to attempt a 634km ride across the frozen ice of the deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal. In the process he hopes to set a new world record for the “longest journey undertaken by motorcycle on ice”.
You might remember my adventures last year in a Mazda CX-5 over Lake Baikal, the lake that holds about a third of the world’s freshwater. Daytime temperatures dip as low as -20C (-30C at night).
The journey poses significant risks for Declan especially as he will be driving on his own (we had massive Mazda backup). The ice acts like moving tectonic plates, heaving together in some places yet moving apart in others, sometimes leaving gaps of up to three metres. I can vouch for that. Other risks involve surviving the chill factor: at 80kmh it can feel like -60C.
Declan outlines other real dangers: getting lost in whiteouts, struggling to find fuel, shelter and to cook meals on the move. The mechanical aspects of the bike present further challenges.
There is the danger of the engine seizing because of low oil temperatures. “Batteries and electronic devices become very unreliable in these frigid temperatures,” he tells me.
But he has more or less been there and done that around the world.
He has already ridden another motorcycle solo from Ireland across Europe, the Stans, Mongolia and far-eastern Russia to Alaska then south through the Yukon to the US, Mexico and central America in an on-going attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo.
Is he not afraid of this latest adventure? “Yes, I’m afraid – really afraid.” But, he added: “If your dreams don’t scare you then maybe they’re not big enough.”
He is in demand as a motivational speaker and urges his audience to “feel the fear, then do it anyway”.
He believes it mentally prepares you for the challenge and not having some level of it is a bad thing. “Fear is temporary, regret is forever.”
He and his wife live in the small village of Quin in Co Clare.
After more than a year of research, planning for The Baikal Project is well under way.
He is currently seeking support from motorcycle manufacturers.
Discussions with Guinness are already at an advanced stage too and Declan was quick to point out that records for such feats normally state the make and model of the chosen machine.
Clothing for extreme cold has been researched and will be soon procured. Likewise, luggage must be carefully chosen and visas and flights put in place. “The logistics are huge.”
Even getting a motorcycle to Slyudyanka, the small town south of Lake Baikal, and later getting it from Severobaykalsk on the north of the lake back to Ireland are “challenging to say the least”.
Not to even mention the costs.
Somehow I think he’ll find a way through.
We wish him the best of luck.