In 2014, a two year journey on a bitch of old Ural 650 motorcycles with sidecars was started by a group of artists stitched together from all over the world. They began their journey from Halle Saale (East Germany) with the aim of reaching New York in 2016. Their journey was split into three stages. Stage 1 was Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia. STAGE 2 was Far East Russia including the Old Road of Bones and ending up in Magadan.
We sat down with Suzy for an interview.
YouMotorcycle: What inspired you to hit the road?
Suzy: It was really important for us to remove ourselves from the privacy and comfort of everyday life. We wanted to get out there and explore the many faces of the world without being hindered by the pictures created by the media. We wanted to question and push both our sense of practicality and creativity by trying to adapt to foreign geographical regions and to learn a thing or two from the cultures found along our way. What is amazing about the method of the motorcycle is how in touch it is with its surroundings. This brings us much closer to experiencing firsthand information – it reevaluates cultural preconceptions – it can create more space for understanding.
YouMotorcycle: How long had you been riding before leaving for your trip?
Suzy: Not much – Some of us had just got their licenses like a month before we started and some even after we started! Half of our group had done a trip with Simpson mopeds a few years back where they tried to reach India. Kaupo (we call him the Estonian Free Rider) managed to get his license during our last Wintercamp in Georgia. Straight out of a 5 minute test and he was on the Caucasian mountains, swivelling towards Vladikavkaz.
YouMotorcycle: How far along on your ride are you?
Suzy: This is our 2nd Wintercamp, which is taking place in Vancouver. Now we are preparing for STAGE 3 which is to manage the off-road conditions through Chukotka up to the Bering Strait. The first challenge that we will encounter in Chukotka is the crossing of the Kolyma river. To manage the 1600 km extension of water up to Seymchan we want to reconstruct the Urals with propellers and floating pontoons. At this point we are looking for new sponsors which are interested in working with us to make things possible!
YouMotorcycle: What has been your favorite part so far?
Suzy: It’s difficult to point at just one part in particular. You know… these Urals from the 1990s… they’re not the speediest or the most reliable pieces of machinery. We actually chose them for that reason: they can breakdown at any given point and force us to take a closer look at some of the most unexpected places. It’s also pretty amazing to see how much help people stop to offer as we’ve had one breakdown after another – after another – after another… Plus these motorcycles are widely known in the regions that we’ve been through. Finding spare parts – spare gearboxes, even the 9 spare engines that we ended up needing was never a problem. This “slow-motion” bike with all its breakdowns have brought us into some pretty cool situations.
YouMotorcycle: What was a particularly difficult part?
Suzy: Most definitely the Old Road of Bones. This road has been shutdown for the past 20 years. The bridges are falling apart across some pretty wide and strong river currents. The amount of swamps is… absolutely ridiculous! Especially with a 400 kg 3-wheeler. This was A LOT of sinking in mud – pushing/pulling – road construction improvisations.