WINTER. EVERY year during these darkest months off-road activity slows down in most places and dirtbikes find their way into the garage where they hibernate until spring. But in other – sometimes unlikely – places, winter is the time when many motorcyclists come to life…

One such place is Iceland where, as the frost increases, the start of the winter season is marked by strange men carefully tip-toeing onto frozen lakes. If the ice holds, a hole is drilled and the thickness of the ice measured. The magic number here is five inches!

By now there’s a rise in demand for steel screws, glue and hand-held drilling machines at the local hardware shop. Just what kind of Mad Max thing is going on? Well, it’s a sport where northern riders get their racing scars – and we’re talking real scars made from cold spinning steel. Welcome to the crazy world of icecross…

You’ll find this unique branch of motorcycling in cold places all around the world – Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada and up here in Iceland, the little volcanic island near the Arctic Circle.

Perhaps the closest thing to icecross is dirt track racing, minus the dirt. Take water, add a deep, bone-numbing frost and you’ve got an icecross track. Next, grab a bike – preferably a specialised MX or enduro machine – add tyres with steel spikes sticking out of them and off you go.

No doubt you’ve seen those strange-looking, specialised ice racing machines, sliding around frozen stadium ovals. Well, in Iceland you’ll also find everyday people turning their everyday dirtbikes into ice racers at the end of the normal summer season – Hondas, KTMs, Suzukis, Husqvarnas, you name it, all get their winter shoes on when things get cold. And it’s not just limited to two-wheels – sidecars and quads also find their way onto the ice.

When getting ready for the ice, tyres are the main thing, so let’s start there… There are basically two tyre choices – home-made and custom-made. Home-made ice rubber starts its life as a normal motocross or enduro tyre. Most will do except sandtyres which are a big no-no because the knobs are too far apart and too tall – they’ll last about five minutes out on the ice. Although it may vary, most go for intermediate tyres with an evenly spaced knob pattern.

Next up you head to the hardware store for a shopping spree. On average a tyre has 200 knobs on it and usually the ones in the middle take two bolts. So in the end you’ll need to get approximately 350 5cm steel bolts for each tyre, a total of 650-700 pieces for both. The knobs are usually pre-drilled to take the bolts and then, just to be sure, everything is glued in. Other than that, nothing else is needed for making your own set of ice tyres – except maybe some calming whale music and a case of beer.