In February 2020, I spent a month cycling across frozen lake Baikal. The cold, the ice and the snow drew me there. I can’t explain precisely why I enjoy being in these landscapes so much but I feel comfortable in these wintery places – despite the cold, the harshness and the solitude. I love the silence, the muffled sounds, the light, the seeming steadiness that I find very soothing.
Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s about 650 kilometres long and 70 kilometres wide and is located in Siberia (Russia), North of Mongolia. It also is the deepest lake worldwide and hosts incredible biodiversity. During three weeks, I cycled from the North end to Irkutsk, the largest city around it.
Cycling in a cold environment implies many adaptations but the essence of bike-touring/riding/packing stays the same: discovering places, cultures, people. While I was alone most of the time, I also met some wonderful people who brought a lot of happy memories and warmth. How to depict these very emotional encounters when I barely have a photo of them? How to transcribe the intensity of a smile after being on your own for several days? We’re social beings and spending some time alone is, to me, a great reminder of how precious these interactions are.— Gaëlle Bojko