|Northern Forest: Incredible Snow-Preparations in the Russian Forest.|
The competition region of the "Baja Russia - Northern Forest 2010" is now closed for access for the participants and team members. Igor Kan, the chairman of the competition's organizing committee, is reporting about the difficult preparations for the Rally.
Igor Kan: Preparation of the route is on fast-forward. Due to huge snowfalls, which have taken place in the St.Petersburg region recently, the height of snow coverage is such that even plows can't cope with it. Even powerful 12-tonnes vehicles can't manage those snowbanks. We had to order special antiskid chains to put on their wheels, hopefully it can help us.
Another obstacle is frost. The temperature's dropped to minus 29-32 centigrade lately, and the peculiarity of the region's climate (NF.ru: it must be mentioned that the race is held close to the biggest lake of that part of Europe) is a high humidity which makes frost feel even harder. Moreover, all blade machines and road graders work on diesel fuel, and plowmen do actually heroic deeds by warming their vehicles. Of course we provide them with different additives and improvers to oil and fuel, which prevent them from getting thick in frost, but we must have already used our year's supply.
But to warm up a diesel is only half a problem, because if the engine starts, it then warms the fuel. But the hydraulic systems, which control the plow's attachments, behave much worse. Liquids get frozen, pipes and hoses crack, joints break. Well, we're still doing our best to warm them.
So, as you can judge by my words, we're actively fighting with difficult conditions. We bring anti-wind face protectors and fur-lined work gloves for our people who work on the route - that's essential, because plows are very poorly heated.
However, many problems are already solved. It all started with the search for available plows, because after those snowfalls all vehicles (and it's understandable) were sent to clean the City and main roads and motorways. Moreover, we couldn't simply employ people who were able to handle graders - we needed specialists with experience of working in the woods, because this work requires special skills.
But we found vehicles, we attracted people, and now the process is looking like this: ahead on a snowmobile is driving the forester who shows the road, because there are almost no waymarks in the snow-covered forest which could unveil where the road is. The forester is followed by the first plow - with a downright knife - which moves the snow to the side, then is driving the second plow with a slanting knife - which widens the road. In the tail there is an UAZ (NF.ru: a small Russian 4WD military car) with mechanics, reserves of additives, spare parts, fuel for bonfires, etc. That's the way we work. And each road section must be passed at least three times in such a manner.
The snow has its peculiarities. For example, a plow cleans a part of the road, 4 metres in width. But before another plow will drive through this section in a few days, the snowbanks will have become so frozen that the plow can hardly cope with it. Previously the first plow was almost always driving only forward, but now it has to move a heap of snow for about 5 metres forward, then it drives backwards and tries to push the snow amain...
In short, it is a desperate battle. More snowfalls and temperature drops are forecast for the nearest days. But it won't prevent us from preparing the route, and what a great route it will be!
2010/02/04 | 15:07 CET | Editor: MR/HS/NF