Remember Karolis Mieliauskas? He’s the motorcycle rider I told you about a few weeks back just as he was preparing to embark on a long distance ride across Siberia. His plan was to ride his motorbike for more than 1000 km (620 miles) through the harshest conditions imaginable from Yakutsk to Oymyakon, a destination that has been called the coldest place on Earth. At the time, he expected the ride to take roughly one week to finish. As it turns out, he didn’t even need that long.
Earlier this week Mieliauskas reached his destination after just five days of riding, arriving two days earlier than expected. That was possible because he managed to ride 500 km (310 miles) in just two days, knocking off half the journey during that period alone. Along the way, he faced temperatures that dropped to -52ºC/-61ºF. That’s incredibly cold when driving in the cabin of a car or truck, but on a motorcycle it is especially grueling. Particularly when doing so for hours on end.
The trip got off to a rough start when the bike experienced a malfunction on the first day. Mieliauskas rides a mostly unmodified Yamaha adventure bike, which hasn’t been updated in any significant way to deal with the weather. The Lithuanian rider was able to make repairs however and then managed to ride 500 km in those first two days.
Karolis says that being able to cover those distances in such harsh conditions is simply mind over matter. He believes that the cold we feel is in large part because our minds tell us that it cold and if we learn to control that area of our brain, we can ignore the temperatures. I’m not sure if I necessarily believe him, but he not only managed to complete the Coldest Ride expedition, he has also undertaken several other cold motorcycle adventures. Back in March of 2017, he rode 785 kilometers (488 miles) across the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, while in July of the previous year he rode 11,000 kilometers (6835 miles) from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, to Vladivostok in just 12 days.
“Undoubtedly my previous Siberian adventures helped me on The Coldest Ride, but I believe that using this journey as a form of ‘active meditation’ is what got me through,” says Mieliauskas. “I describe these endurance rides as ‘active meditation’ because from early morning to late evening, I am just riding a motorcycle which is not designed for trips as long as these.” He goes on to add, “As a result, this makes the journey physically uncomfortable. However it is a form of self-discipline because when sitting with a straight spine for up to 15 hours a day, because I have learned to ignore the signs from my mind such as ‘you are too tired,’ ‘you are too hungry,’ or ‘you are too whatever.’ By rejecting these statements, I see that I am not this body, or this mind, or these thoughts. The most interesting part of these trips is when I ask myself “who am I?” By continually asking this question and again rejecting all possible answers, I finally experience the truth.”
Deep stuff to be sure and Mieliauskas seems to have found something that works for him. I for one know I wouldn’t want to ride a motorcycle through those extremely cold temperatures. Congrats on finishing this crazy journey.
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