Saturday, 23 March 2013

Day 97 Ice cycling, Listvyanka

Our morning started with great family debate about whether we should stay on in our home-away-from-home hostel or shift to an average hotel by the lake. To stay meant continuing to have the best sleeps of our trip so far in a wonderfully quiet and calm environment, a snowy garden for the kids to play in, and being able to cook what we liked. To go meant Lee not having to take a taxi to go everywhere and maximum exposure to the lake for all of us, including the opportunity to see the sun set and rise.

Shane and Helen took a couple of hours out to ice cycle. Regular mountain bikes with Schwalbe ice tyres - metal studs on the knobs.

The slightest rise in the ice parallel to our line of travel would send the back wheel out in a skiddy - quite good fun - although we never plucked up courage to go too fast! No helmets of course...The wind had an impact on our line of travel well beyond its strength - it felt like we were over compensating continually to keep on track.
It was really cool to get further from shore - the feeling of isolation and exposure was amplified. Knowing that we were sitting over a kilometre of water was in our mind too.

Helen kept looking down through the ice in the hope of seeing a fish, but just the deep blue and black of the lake looked back. There were cracks everywhere, generally hairline, but occasionally up to 40cm wide - and running as far as the eye could see. Deep, abrupt cracking noises accompanied these.

On day one here we saw some people cycle touring on the ice - you'd want to like your company, there's nothing else to amuse you. One big sameness.
Being a Sunday, and with the morning being windless and brilliantly sunny, there was quite a bit of activity on the lake. There were stalls selling coffee, kebabs, smoked fish and there was rides on quads, snowmobiles and hovercraft. It appears that the locals treat the lake just like we would a park.
We committed ourselves to shifting to the hotel, which worked as we hoped. We spent more time on the lake, Lee got to go for a stroll in the frigid air, we got to explore a little more of Listvyanka. The kids committed some of their pocket money to a live show of Nerpa Seals - found only in Lake Baikal - which they just raved about. And another play on the lake.

We got to watch the day come to a close from the first floor lounge of our hotel. Glass of wine in hand.

Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom

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