I have been very fortunate to assemble a highly motivated and experienced team of athletes for this trip, all of which have extensive experience either climbing or cycling in demanding conditions in remote parts of the world.
Venezuelan Maikey Lopera has established new rock and alpine climbing routes in Canada and Venezuela, was a former member of the Venezuelan National Cycling Team, and is ACLS and Wilderness First Responder certified.
American Eric Noll has recently finished a 6-week bike tour through the Indian Himalaya, has completed a self-supported 2-week solo bike tour through the Altai Republic in Russia, and has extensive bicycle touring and mountaineering experience in the USA, Alaska, and Canada.
Federico Pisani has established new rock and alpine climbing routes in Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina, including the first ascent of Upuigma in Venezuela and Cacao de Chuao 5.13 in Tepuy Roraima (Venezuela).
I am responsible for the general organization of the trip and logistics on the ground as I am the only member of the team who speaks Russian and has previously been to Lake Baikal. I have extensive experience bicycle touring and mountaineering in the USA, Canada, Russia, Mongolia, and China, including riding from Irkutsk to Beijing and a 3-week self-supported winter mountaineering expedition in Kamchatka, Russia.
Training for this trip should be pretty straight forward, just a matter of spending time on the bike, although we will need to put the bikes on hard-packed snow roads in winter to see how they handle and to test the gear. Bearing in mind that Baikal is completely flat, we are considering using fixed-gear or single speed drivetrains. I like the idea of having as simple a bike as possible to minimize possibilities for gear failure and general malfunction due to the extreme cold. Opting for a fixed-gear drivetrain would allow us to run a cable free bike as brakes would become superfluous. We may even choose to run a 2-speed fixed-gear, allowing a back-up lower gear in case of snow accumulation, winds, or tired legs. It will be important beforehand, however, to test the bikes fully loaded on snow to make sure that the gear we choose is the right size.
I am very excited about this expedition. Like many of you I’m sure, since childhood I have been fascinated by cold and remote places. This trip allows me to combine my love of bicycle riding with my love of winter plus it has the added benefit of engendering contact with another culture as well as with a unique natural wonder – what the Russians refer to as “the gem of Siberia”; Lake Baikal. Many thanks go to Axiom for supporting us in this endeavor!
Keep dreaming those Arctic Dreams!
Tags: Axiom, Expedition, Lake Baikal, Russia, Touring