Find a destination: New York has a nice ring to it. The only thing standing in our way is 20.000 kilometers of off-road and 80 kilometers of open sea: The Bering Strait.
The vehicle: x4 solid, soviet sidecar motorcycles – born to be fixed!
And the final ingredient for the perfect storm: 5 artists ready to convert their studios into rusty sidecars…
Halle, Germany: Our journey is about to begin. Engine compression – ignition timing – valve clearance… these are still foreign words. Just 25 kilometers have passed since we left our doorstep when our Russian motorcycles strike!
It’s pretty clear that the roadside assistance won’t be towing us all the way to New York City, so we should probably come to terms with our new life as mechanics… But apart from adapting to a few mechanical issues there’s more coming up…
The next 20.000 kilometers look like roads dissolving into deserts… dissolving into swamps… dissolving into rivers… Accompanied by thunderstorms, sandstorms, armies of mosquitos, and mountains of bureaucracy! Curiosity – naivety – stubbornness… or perhaps persistence – There are many ways to find out what distance really means.
Where taiga meets tundra: We’re in East Siberia. It’s still another 4000 kilometers to Bering Strait and our visa time is running out… So we decide to take a short cut: The Old Road of Bones…!
But after 300 kilometers of squirming through swamps, rivers, and mud we have to come to terms with the fact that this “shortcut” isn’t much of a time saver.
All roads end here. So it seems we need to add another part to this expedition! During our winter pause, we patch together a prototype that will get our motorcycles swimming: The Amphibious Ural 650.
By springtime we’re ready to take on the biggest obstacle on our Landway… The Kolyma river.
We are standing at the shore of this 1600km long river, and we’re fully prepared! Checklist: x4 Urals equipped with pontoons and propellers, and x5 clueless people with their life vests. We can only hope that none of our engines spontaneously explode as we head towards the Arctic ocean!
Spoiler alert: After 2,5 years on the road we somehow made it back to New York, without any fractured skulls or broken bones… Maybe just a few grey hairs…
Meanwhile we’ve learned what happens when plans collapse. Chance becomes the shape of our daily routine. Randomness becomes an opportunity to determine the course of our actions.
The Ural has without a doubt become the stage of our journey: A breakdown announces the lifting of the curtains and people feel open to approach us.“Where are you from?” “What’s wrong?” “I can help you…” And while the backdrop always changes the result stays the same: The ice breaks – and our breakdown family grows even bigger.
Without all the people who invited us into their homes, to share a meal, to fix in their warm garage, or to hammer a broken crankshaft this would have been a completely different story…!