Christmas Snowmobile Procession in Russia (Evgeniy Borodin)
The Ural Mountains of Russia receive remarkable amounts of snow. The region is the perfect place for the snowmobiler and we use every chance to go on a ride and enjoy the winter, especially during the traditional tour around Christmastime.
Orthodox Christmas is January 7 and for the past six years, during the festive week, we pick the closest Saturday and carry out Christmas Snow Procession. On January 12, 2013, 111 people took part in the ride.
The Fan-Club BRP and our friends at the Perm Off-Road Club organize the holiday event. Preparation normally starts a month earlier, by visiting our colleagues (dealers of Yamaha, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Kawasaki, Russkaya Mekhanika) and inviting them to join the mass tour. Everybody is equal in this event.
It doesn’t matter what snowmobile you ride or how much experience you have. We find a place in an appropriate team and everybody enjoys it. This is how it goes.
The event has become famous in the Perm Region, no one wants to miss it. Those who have attended before bring friends, families and regular riding buddies. Although the tour sees many experienced riders, we encourage new riders as well as those who would normally only snowmobile when hunting or fishing.
It’s a festive season to spend time with family and make new friends. A few Muslims even join us for the tour! There are no religious boundaries for such a good event as the Christmas ride.
We meet at 8am at a base in the city of Perm. The snowmobilers receive a numbered sticker for their sled, and are then assigned to a team and set off to ride between 9 and 11. The length of the trip is 80 km. The first to go are the “Sportsmen” and “Skilled” riders.
The inexperienced teams then follow with guides. It’s best to let the experienced riders go ahead and then take your time supporting the beginners and explaining the basics to them. At the rear of the procession are two service snowmobiles. Servicemen are always needed.
Safety is a priority. The organizers use walkie-talkies, satellite and mobile phones to communicate. At the halfway point in Bizyar there is a mandatory GPS check-in. We pitch a tent where participants can rest and have hot tea. The next meeting point is the Monastery on White Mountain in the village of Kalinino, Kungur region.
Six years in the running and the trail feels different every time, it’s never boring. Sometimes there is more snow, sometimes less, and that determines the pace of the ride.
The rivers in January can be frozen entirely or only in part. That adds excitement. You need to see the shining eyes of the participants as they share their emotions!
Everything is captivating. One hundred snowmobiles humming in the forest as we approach the White Mountain, the bright colors of clothing, the feeling we get as we move towards our goal.
Upon leaving the forest we see the monastery covered in frost, like a snow-white meringue topped with golden domes.
I wish you could see how they shine in the sun on a bright, crisp, day! Ahead we are facing a breathtaking ascent, a spectacular view that complements the amazing feeling as we soar up the hill on our snowmobiles. And then the finish line: well done, we did it!
Now we can appreciate the main reason for the journey: the church service, the candles, and the special spirit of Christmas. We are valued guests here. Every time our tour visits we get a church blessing and the Hieromonk comes out to talk to the team.
Very happy and pink-cheeked, the snowmobilers have dinner in the refectory and each participant receives a certificate with his name and the date of the White Mountain visit.
Just imagine, each year the monks fill out more than 100 certificates by hand in calligraphic handwriting, especially for the pilots of the Christmas Snow Procession. Thankful riders give donations to the monastery. Many of them acquire icons for their families, taking them home as a keepsake of this special day.
We’ve had a great time and such a warm welcome. We feel so good in our hearts… it seems this tour is a blessed thing.
We invite you to join Christmas Snow Procession, this year and every year. The modern world gives us opportunities to communicate and visit each other, and snowmobiles give us a chance to feel the flavor of different countries.
Get a visa, come over to Russia and snowmobile with us. You can contact Evgeniy Borodin
Evgeniy Borodin heads the Fan-Club BRP in Perm, Russia and became friends with SAM members when visting Massachusetts at ISC 2012.