Bikers on the iceBack to list
Hermann Tilke will design new Siberian Ring F-3 circuit
Original text by: Dmitry Gvozdev
Translation by: Katya Antonova for NovosibirskGuide
Photo by: Vera Salnitskaya
This is NovosibirskGuide.com's first publication in co-operation with Sib.fm internet journal.
The sound of roaring engines and the smell of burning rubber had been hanging over the Novosibirsk motodrome for 2 days — the best racers from all over Russia gathered here on December 10 to once again find out which of the super league teams rides on the ice faster. Sib.fm watched how their spike tires were easily washing a meter-thick layer of frozen water out of the stadium.
While disgruntled opposition members were protesting the election results on the square by GPNTB Library, happy extreme sports fans were opening the first leg of the Russian Team Ice Motorcycling Racing Championship. According to different sources about 1000 people came to the stands on the second day of the Championship despite the cold. Boys from the motodrome neighborhood and those who considered a ticket for 150 rubles too expensive were watching the show from garage roofs.
While the ceremonial speech is being pronounced and Snow Maidens dressed in colorful costumes are dancing in the centre, the fans are lining up to a tent with sandwiches and hot tea and a soldier field kitchen is smoking behind the stands.
There are a lot of newcomers among the spectators, but there are also those who never miss a race. Being a true lady Zoya Nemilova doesn`t speak about her age, she just says that she is viewer with 45-years experience.
— When I was young once I was a judge of such races – says Mrs. Nemilova - my husband was driving here, all the friends from our yard performed on the ice. Everything was so miserable that days – the guys drove in felt boots and high boots - and now there are all handsome!
Having warmed up the engines and jumped on the seats so the spikes would enter the ice deeper, the first four athletes break from the start. Icy dust breaks from under the wheels. The roar of engines grows. The first turn, second gear and the steel horses lie down on their left side. It seems that there is just a few millimeters space between the rider and the ground at the moment.
On the ice bikers only ride counter-clockwise so they do only left turnings and there is much more plastic protection on this side of the body. The worst thing in the winter race - is not just falling but falling under the 2.8 cm long spikes. There are about 120 such spikes on the front wheel and 180 - 200 spikes on the backward; moreover, most of them are situated on the left side.
— Speaking about injury risk, the legendary "Formula 1" race is just an activity for children if compared to Ice Racing - says aged keen on motorcycle races since 1974 spectator who didn`t have enough time to introduce himself. – There were more accidents earlier; it is safer now, largely due to the appearance of a motorcycle back shock absorber.
— The judges follow not only the race but also the riders` technique - says Sergey Chadov, the first category judge with 30-years experience. – For some time there were many violations associated for example with long spikes on the wheel.
I remember how in the 80s the participants came to the competition, successfully passed the training day and during the evening just before the race we got to know that some spikes were longer than they were allowed to be – all night they stayed up with the files!
The athletes say one cannot see a Russian motorcycle in this sport. All ride vehicles either made in the Czech Republic or those made from various parts of two-wheeled vehicles. However, the engine has been always of Czech production - from the very beginning of ice racing in the 30s of the last century. According to the rules its volume is strictly 500 cubic centimeters (or 0.5 liters). The riders say small volume still allows the engine to accelerate the bike to 70 kilometers per hour but they do not have speedometers. They also have no brakes. No brakes at all.
— One doesn`t need brakes here, there are two gears to control the speed - explains Yunir Bazeev, a junior member of the Mordovia team. – And on the steering wheel there is a valve, the driver puts its string on his hand. If a biker takes off the wheel, the valve is pulled out and the engine is cut off so that the bike doesn`t move on its own and no one is injured.
While snow-clearing machines are cleaning the ice during the break and the cheerful host is running around the road you can hear Russian power-metal music connected with biker theme and the famous hit "Nas ne dogonyat" (Not gonna get us) by t.A.T.u from the speakers. During this time the judges are refreshing the paint marking at the start which has turned into colorful snow dust during three races of four rounds each.
— When preparing for the competition we had to completely remove a layer of ice from the field, fill it and level it again – says Alexandr Zakharov, DOSAAF deputy chairman on Sports and Public Relations. - It should be no less than 40-50 centimeters thick every day of the competitions, this is what the drivers cut with the spikes.
The rounds were prolonged to 3.5 hours but the audience didn`t diminish despite the weather. No one was hurt during the whole race day and there was only one falling off the road - then the commentator wondered why the rider ran into his rival with a wheel while turning.
Six teams from different cities came to Novosibirsk to compete for the title of champion, the holder of which will be determined only in March 2012. There were two teams of Bashkortostan: from Ufa and Sterlitamak; teams from Saransk, Togliatti, Kamensk-Uralskiy and Shadrinsk among them. Novosibirsk team "Siberia-Speedway-DOSAAF" also fought for the prize points but didn`t won much - just 4 against 16 points that Togliatti teams have won during each of the two days.
The tournament coordinators offered guests to compete for the cup of Novosibirsk world-class racer Vladimir Paznikov`s memory after the major races. No one was surprised when Nikolai Krasnikov, the 15-time world champion from the Mordovia team won this prize. The young rider named by the audience "a legend of motor sport" said that he appreciated the organization of races and that he was glad such expensive sport as racing is being revived after the crisis.
Sport teams mechanics are checking iron horses in the garages by the exit to the ice track, the riders are dressing there at the same time. Journalists and fans are not allowed to come to them until the end of races: a security guard kindly explains that many drivers are superstitious – they are afraid to scare good luck by early comments and photos. Apparently someone had taken a picture of Novosibirsk team before the race began.
More photos are available in the original article on Sib.fm (in Russian).