Home
…He didn't think it would be so cold...

In the movie Chasing Legends, one HTC-Columbia rider – Tony Martin or Bernie Eisel we imagine – reflects off-camera that a particularly gruelling day in the saddle was like a “holiday in Stalingrad,” site of the battle in 1942-3 which proved to be a turning point in the Second World War as the Red Army and freezing conditions combined to halt the Wehrmacht.

It seems that not all German cyclists share that healthy respect for the Russian winter, however, with one unfortunate soul ending up in hospital this week after attempting to ride 300km across the frozen steppes of Siberia.

German mechanic Sven Riedel, aged 37, had been trying to cycle from Ulan-Ude to Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia but badly misjudged the harshness of the conditions, with overnight temperatures plummeting to more than -34C.

"I wanted to see Lake Baikal," he told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, according to a UPI report. "I didn't think it would be so cold."

Luckily for Riedel, who speaks no Russian, a passing driver managed to persuade him to abandon his tent and get in the car to be driven to hospital.

Riedel had previously ridden in Scandinavia during winter, but Russian officials said that attempting to do so in Siberia was another matter altogether.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

9 comments

Avatar
37monkey [138 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Hopefully, now he's done a recce he'll have better gear and be able to complete the ride next time  1

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Hmm, been snowmobiling in Sweden's Arctic north in -25C and that was pretty cold. The wind chill factor at 80km/h is worth bearing in mind. One of my eyelashes froze inside my goggles and my ice beard on the wool scarf I had across my face was impressive. When I was in Spitsbergen the temperature dropped below -30C and the wind chill factor off the sea was pretty tough there. I didn't try cycling in either place.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

I went skiing in Sweden when it was -27°C and it froze my nose hairs, i wouldn't have wanted to sleep out in a tent  1

Avatar
pickles [29 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Ulan-Ude, not Uan-Ude. One of the ugliest towns I have ever seen.

I was there in February. It was -35. However, the main problem are the winds. With a vast flat frozen inland sea surrounded by mountains, the winds can be pretty terrific.

Not great for cycling.

Avatar
Chris S [44 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Hmmm :- 30 deg F below freezing is 'only' -16.67 deg C, which is warmer than last month in the Highlands. Now, 30 deg F below zero (62 deg F below freezing) would come to -34.4 deg C, which sounds like the temperature Pickles recalls in Ulan Ude last month. Sorry to be fussy, but my engineering brain gets upset about these things!

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Hmm… according to the Farenheit to Celcius converter at http://fahrenheittocelsius.com/ -30°F is -34.4°C

I see what you're saying though Chris so to avoid confusion I've changed it to centigrade.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

I wish people would give up with all those old units. they're confusing and clunky.

Avatar
bikecellar [268 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

I wish people would give up with all those old units. they're confusing and clunky.

Those "old units" mean something instantly to this "Old Unit" while i have to think a bit about the new units.

Avatar
don_don [149 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Bah, -34? The softie needs to man up a bit..

I'd have taken thick socks, a bit of Kendal Mint cake and a stiff upper lip. And I'd have gone for a swim in Lake Baikal and all...