As we sweat in an Aussie summer, Lithuanian motorcycle adventurer Karolis Mieliauskas will be riding 1000km across Siberia in temperatures down to -60C to research active meditation.
Aptly named The Coldest Ride, Karolis says the journey on a single-cylinder Yamaha Tenere across the Road of Bones will be a research exercise into what he calls “active meditation”.
Basically, it’s a way of forcing the mind to meditate by subjecting the body to harsh conditions; in this case, the cold.
For some it’s an absolute pain.
But for others it is an enlightening experience. Some even refer to an out-of-body experience when the mind takes control of the pain and discomfort, divorcing the rider from their body.
Author Robert M Pirsig explored the theory in his famous 1974 book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
“The Coldest Ride is an exploration of the connection between the body and how the mind plays with the cold in these situations,” Karolis says.
“In tough conditions such as these, I have a number of devices to show me where are my theoretical limits and going beyond them is something I think that we should all do.”
He uses the example of swimming in icy water. He says the mind tells us it will hurt and we will get sick, but it doesn’t and the body copes.
“Each time in moments like these, the realisation that not everything the mind believes is necessarily true,” he says.
“I hope that The Coldest Ride will push all of us to challenge our own perceptions of things, whatever they may be.”
This is not his first or most epic ride in the cold.
In July 2016, he rode 11,000km from Vilnius to Vladivostok in 12 days and in March 2017 he rode 785km across the ice of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, with our support, camping gear or a satphone.
“I basically call endurance riding ‘active meditation’ because from early morning to late evening on these trips, I am just riding a motorcycle which is not designed for trips as long as these,” he says.
“As a result, this makes the journey physically uncomfortable.
“However it is a form of self-discipline.”
He says the most interesting part of these trips is when he asks myself “who am I?”
“By continually asking this question and again rejecting all possible answers, I finally experience the truth,” he says.
Karolis begins his ride in Yakutsk on February 4, 2019, and hopes to reach Oymyakon around February 10.
The ride will be filmed and featured on the BBC Travel Show later in 2019.
Have you ever had a similar experience when riding in harsh conditions? Leave your comments below.