WHEN you have travelled by motorbike from Vilnius to Vladivostok, nothing is too terrifying.
That astonishing journey – check it on the map and let your jaw drop – is just one of the incredible feats pulled off by Karolis Mieliauskas, a Lithuanian 36-year-old dad who seems to be unaware of pain and fear.
That one was 11,000 kilometres or about 6,840 miles, and he has also biked across the world’s biggest lake, Baikal.
Now he’s about to set off across 1,000km of Siberia that are -60°C, along what is known as the Road of Bones because of those who built it, exiled there by the Soviets to do hard labour, many dying as a result.
As far as Karolis is concerned, it is all about questioning what pain really is, and showing how we can meditate our way through 12-hour drives.
Karolis explained what he will get up to in the planet’s most forbidding region.
“We leave Lithuania on January 31 and start on February 4, going from Yakutsk to Oymyakon,” says Karolis.
“I will have a local Siberian support team with me, and a cameraman.
“I think we will have one night in the tent, surrounded by the reindeer!
“Part of my journey from Vilnius to Vladivostok went through Siberia, in the summertime, and I did the 11,000 kilometres in 12 days, solo.
“When I crossed the frozen Lake Baikal, though, that was in winter. I am interested in the mind when it is cold and dangerous, and the mind says don’t do it.
“The reason I do this first of all is to see how my mind plays.
“Who makes the decision to go ahead when it is dangerous – the mind or me?
“I’m very curious about all this. Today, for instance, it is -6°C here, snowing, and I have been swimming in the river.
“What happens in the mind when I take off my clothes? Basically, it screams: ‘No, please, don’t do it!’
“What happens when I step on the cold snow? It screams: ‘No, it is too cold!’ If I then get into the water, it still screams.
“So then I must put my head and my full body into the water. Then it is complete silence.
“This silence is really interesting, and I encourage people to seek it out, enjoy it and explore it.”
This silence, as he calls it, is how Karolis describes the way he can meditate and lose himself in his thoughts when the pain of such journeys would be unbearable for anyone else.
He also reckons his remarkable hometown may have something to do with it.
Karolis doesn’t believe he has a higher pain threshold than you or I but he does admit Druskininkai is a special place.
It is, after all, Lithuania’s biggest spa town, with a unique mix of underground mineral waters, curing muds and surrounding pine-tree forests, which create unusually clean, healthy air.
Druskininkai’s medicinally-helpful mineral waters were discovered in the 1700s, and king’s decree declared the place a health resort.
Today, it is a centre of wellness and good health, so maybe his unique birthplace has helped make Karolis the fearless, painless man he is.
“I wouldn’t say I have a higher pain threshold, but maybe I have some resistance inside, before I will react to pain.
“I have used all the wellness benefits of Druskininkai for body preparation.
“There is the hot sauna and also the big fridge we go in, which can go to -140!”
If he personally feels ready for this latest adventure, he admits his family are less convinced!
“My family know exactly what I am doing,” he points out.
“They know I will not do anything crazy. But if I say they are not worried, it is probably not true!”
Even if he steers clear of danger and does his meditation, Karolis will spend much of the journey shivering.
“Cold is cold but everyone’s reaction might be different,” he said.
For more information, see thecoldestride.com