#delhimoves Fitness

Training to drive in stark Siberian landscapes

Nidhi Tiwari on an expedition

Nidhi Tiwari on an expedition   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Discover the beauty of landscapes in Siberia, but only once you’re physically fit

Riding a cycle across many miles, from one city to another, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re planning an endurance car journey, you still need to be medically fit and mentally strong, and the best way to get there is through a fitness regimen.

Nidhi Tiwari is the first Indian to drive solo to the Pole of Cold, Oymyakon, Siberia—the coldest inhabited place on earth, where the temperatures may drop to as low as -55 C, and the moisture on your eyelashes freezes. If you are exposed to the elements, frostbite is inevitable. Vehicles and electronics fare no better. Lubricant oils become viscous, fuel lines freeze over and batteries die. The only saving grace is that there is no problem of rarefied air and oxygen levels, unlike on the Everest.

She brings alive such adventures for others with her company Wander Beyond Boundaries (WBB) that she runs with Col. S Malik (Retd), also experienced in extreme terrain in Kashmir, Sikkim and the Congo. The duo aim to make extreme-terrain 4WD-based expeditions accessible.

You’ll need to have off-roading abilities, but in addition, do prep for the road and weather. The fitter you are, the fewer aches you’ll have to contend with. “Strengthen your lower body, core and back to prevent driving-related pains,” says Dr Mahesh Jukar, Mumbai-based sports physician. Also, include a good stretching routine to ease muscle strain. You’ll need this at stops between. Fitness gives you body awareness, so necessary in tough terrain.

Next month, from September 10th to the 20th, WBB plan to head to Siberia with 10 participants, driving from Yakutsk to Magadan (both in Russia), covering distance of 2,500km.

Along the way, there’ll be stops at museums, the road of bones (believed to be built over the remains of Gulag prisoners during Stalin’s era), a reindeer- and silver-fox breeding farm and a possible dip in a hot spring. The journey back will see another 10 participants, and is scheduled from 22nd September to 2nd October.

“When travelling to cold regions, it is best to dress in layers,” says adventurer Ajeet Bajaj, who done bouts of white water rafting in Siberia. Safety must be a priority and the best way to ensure it without compromising on fun is to get to know your team well. “Get good sleep to recover. To stay alert during the drive, avoid food or snacks that make you drowsy,” he says. Staying hydrated is essential to stay alert.

“The expected temperature range is about 5 C to -20 C. We’ll be driving mostly on permafrost. In certain areas, it is expected to de-freeze creating two-foot-deep slush,” says Nidhi, pointing out the need for a tough attitude when dealing with embedded wheels.

Details available at wanderbeyondboundaries.com; ₹6,75,000 one way

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 4:21:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/training-to-drive-in-stark-siberian-landscapes/article28674324.ece

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