- Get ready for it to be cold. Bloody cold.
- Learn how to use your nominated GPS.
- Put your tent up a few times before you rock up in Russia. The Russian crew love watching people putting their tents up for the first time in the howling wind, on an ice lake. Don’t give them the satisfaction
- Watch a few how to’s on YouTube. Cold weather tips, and motorbike/Ural maintenance stuff can drag on a bit, but it’s pretty handy, and you learn more than watching cat videos.
- Develop a packing system. It’ll go out the window on day 1, but it’s nice to know you tried. Dry bags are your friend here.
- Speaking of packing, see if you can pack light. I recommend leaving a bag of clothes and other stuff you likely won’t use in Irkutsk. Take only what you need on the bikes, as packing and unpacking each day quickly becomes a chore.
- Each team should have a duffel bag allocated to sleeping equipment, this helps speed up camp setup and teardown.
- BRUSH UP ON YOUR RUSSIAN, or don’t. A glazed look and a polite smile will get you a fair way, so will pointing. There’s nothing like a genuine thank you though when someone has been especially nice to you.
- Learn the basics on identifying a fouled spark plug, how to change one, and what to expect when one shits itself. This happens from time to time, often with alarming regularity.
- Look out for your mates. You’ll definitely appreciate your teammate more and more as the trip progresses, if only for the body warmth when it hits -30. Giving someone a hand putting up a tent, or lending out a bit of left over boiling water will come back in spades, when you’ve exhausted your one Ural fixing trick, or flipped your bike and your flask of vodka is just out of reach.
- Eat Snickers bars before coming on the trip. You will exist largely off these packages from heaven for 2 weeks, so don’t show up with your Snickers tolerance saturated.
- Panic. Don’t be surprised when your bike breaks down. It will. You’ll fix it, and keep going. Stressing out and panicking will not help. Enjoy the scenery, you’re in Siberia.
- Skimp on the gear prep. Bags, tents, and boots are big ticket items that are not cheap to rent/buy. They will pay for themselves on the ice, and who knows, you might develop a taste for arctic explorations, and they’ll get used time and time again.
- Expect much from a Ural charging system. They’re equipped with roughly enough punch in the alternator to keep the lights running, engine ticking over, and the handwarmers from freezing over. Strapping 3 x 2A USB chargers on the battery going flat out, keeping your selfie machine ticking over, might (will) push it over the edge. The first sign of this will be when your bike dies and won’t start because the battery is flat.
- Underestimate the environment. Get too boozed and pass out in the snow(ask Dave about this), or ignore your GPS and drive into a crack in the ice, and you could find yourself in what those in the know call ‘a spot of bother’. It’s cold, it’s remote, and you’re fairly well responsible for your own safety. By all means shit happens, and that’s where the real fun begins, but if you can mitigate any personal crisis, and let the bikes provide the dramas, you’re halfway there.