ice Lake

In March next, an Irishman will attempt an extraordinary feat, testing both man and machine to the limits and beyond in the harsh depths of an unrelenting Siberian winter. Declan McEvoy from Quin in County Clare, a self-diagnosed motorcycle adventure addict will attempt a 634Km motorcycle ride across the frozen ice of deepest lake in the world, Siberia’s Lake Baikal. In the process Declan hopes to set a new world record for “Longest journey undertaken by motorcycle on ice.” Siberia’s lake Baikal is the world’s largest lake by volume, holding about a third of the world’s freshwater. Daytime temperatures sees the mercury falling as low as -20°C whilst night time temperatures plummet below -30°C.

The journey poses significant risks, not to even begin to speak about the possibility of falling through the ice and sinking a staggering 1,640 metres to the bottom of Lake Baikal!  Declan said “the ice behalves like moving tectonic plates, heaving together in some places yet equally moving apart in other places and sometimes leaving gaps of up to three meters to be negotiated”. Aside from the technicalities of the journey there is also the concern of human survival in freezing temperatures whereby at 80 Kilometres per hour a -20°C wind chill can feel like -60°C. Further real risks are of getting lost in whiteouts, struggling to find fuel, struggling to find shelter and struggling to cook meals on the move. The mechanical aspects of the bike itself in surviving those extreme conditions present further challenges. Dangers of the engine seizing because of low oil temperatures are problematic and exposed parts of the engine need to be insulated properly. Batteries and electronic devices become very unreliable in these frigid temperatures.

Declan on the road

However, Declan has a significant reputation for motorcycle adventure travel under his belt, having 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 USA, Mexico and Central America in an on-going bid to circumnavigate the globe solo. When asked if he is afraid or fearful of this upcoming challenge he said “yes, I’m afraid - really afraid” But he continued by saying “If your dreams don’t scare you then maybe they’re not big enough”. Declan is in demand as a motivational speaker with giving inspirational talks to all kinds of groups. He urges his audience to “feel the fear, then do it anyway”. He believes that fear is the thing which mentally prepares you for the challenge and that not having some level of fear is a bad thing. Regarding living life to the fullest he says “fear is temporary, regret is forever”. Declan continues “Other than my addiction to adventure travelling by motorcycle I’m just a regular guy with all the normalities of any other person. My wife and I and our family live in the small village of Quin in County Clare and are all of us are dealing with the normal humdrum of life, no different than any other family.”

After more than a year of research, planning for The Baikal Project is well underway. Declan is currently seeking support from a motorcycle manufacturer lest the Russian Ural should take all the glory! To this end discussions with Guinness are already at an advanced stage 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 soon to be procured. Likewise, luggage must be carefully chosen and visas and flights put in place. Declan says “The logistics are huge”. Even getting a motorcycle to Slyudyanka, the small town on south the of Lake Baikal and later to get it from the town of Severobaykalsk on the north of the lake back to Ireland are challenging to say the least - not to even mention the costs.

Declan on his travels

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The Baikal

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