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Old 08-17-2012, 06:02 AM   #1
Joe Motocross OP
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First Steppe: Mongolia

Well, it looks like we finally got our acts together for a journey through Mongolia. We typically ride dirt bikes or big dual sports around the deserts of Utah but we've done some other journeys as well: Thailand, India, and Bali.

We really like doing minimalist journeys on our dirt bikes that we know everything about and do all the maintenance regularly. However, on our budget, you can't be too picky about your steed when you travel somewhere exotic. In Thailand, I met up with Minxter and we rented a 125cc Honda Dream. Basically, a glorified moped. The reason: it was cheap and all the local folks rode them. Easy to get parts although we only had one flat tire during our 3000 mile journey (two up an that little thing!)

In India, we rented some Royal Enfields because that's what you do when you go to India. After that one (India ride report), I have such a distaste for the Enfields I would never do it again. If I were to go back, I'd rent a smaller Japanese make, like what most of the locals ride. It's true you can find parts for Enfields most anywhere but how many parts do you want to buy on a trip!! OK, enough bashing the poor Enfield.

So now to Mongolia. There seem to be a bunch of really nice dirt bikes available to rent, but, so far they seem very expensive. I'm also concerned about finding parts for a WR way out on the steppe. We've found that you can rent a Chinese built enduro of some sort. I've heard it's what most of the local people ride. We don't have anything lined up yet so we'll spend a couple days in the capital trying to get some bikes and go with what makes the most sense.

Our plan is to take our minimalist approach overseas (well documented HERE). We've got about 3 weeks to travel around the steppe and into the Gobi Desert. Instead of whiskey in the coffee (affectionately called croffee) it looks like it'll be vodka. We've already dubbed it a "Gobi Latte". Seems like the locals eat lots of meat. No problem. A common phrase used before departing on minimalist journeys is "I hope you ate your vegetables 'cause its all meat and whiskey from here boys!" I've heard there's root vegetables to accompany the meat, we'll find out shortly.

So we're winging it for the most part. Got a few paper maps and we're bringing an iphone for a gps. A gps somewhat goes against our minimalist philosophy. We kind of like to wander aimlessly and see what happens. Improvising is our specialty.

We leave Tuesday, August 23rd. We're flying stand-by on buddy passes from Buuuuurt, just our style. There probably won't be much chance to update this report while we're out there but we'll try when we come through more populated places.
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:04 AM   #2
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Minxter will be piloting her own bike on this journey. She's come a long way with her skills over the last few years:

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:27 AM   #3
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Make sure any US currency you take with you is no more than 2 years old and unfolded, un-torn, and un-marked. Or they won't accept it, even in banks. Lots of counterfeit money there.

Get your Tughriks from an atm. That is usually the best exchange rate.

Most medium to large towns have internet cafes. Small towns won't. It's surprising how much cell phone coverage there is.

There is a small paper map they have in a shop in the international arrival area that is better than most. It's about $10 (or was 3 years ago).

These guys have a decent reputation for rentals and tours. Prices aren't posted on the website anymore, but they were competitive a couple of years ago.
http://drivemongolia.com/wp/
You see the Chinese bikes in all of the towns, but we never saw one very far from a town, and they aren't really enduros.

Have fun!
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:12 PM   #4
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We're doing something a bit different on this journey; we're bringing a stove. *No TRUE desert minimalist would be caught dead with a stove. *I've heard that it's frowned on to burn wood while camping over there and I'm not sure what we'll find in some areas anyway. *So we're not happily bringing a stove. *
Dismantled for air travel.


Thanks for the beta on the possible bike rentals. *I'll check into them.
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:56 PM   #5
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So far, xt250 from Drive Mongolia at $100 per day. (ouch! A bit out of our budget)
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:57 PM   #6
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Chinese 150cc model from Cheke Tours at $15 per day.
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:06 PM   #7
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Im in

Looking forward to the reports!!
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:01 PM   #8
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I'm in for this one for sure.

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Old 08-18-2012, 08:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Motocross View Post
So far, xt250 from Drive Mongolia at $100 per day. (ouch! A bit out of our budget)
That's why they don't post their prices on the website anymore! That used to be their price for a Toyota Land Cruiser with 40 gallon gas tanks.
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Old 08-18-2012, 11:19 PM   #10
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Looking forward to the ride report
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:32 AM   #11
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We're definitely doing things a bit different from our normal style. You see, we have a female on the journey with us. This is by no means a bad thing and in many ways a good thing. She will keep me and Buuurt in check so we don't do anything too stupid. *But we're not quite as minimal as we normally would be. *For instance, we're taking a tent. This is unacceptable when it's the boys only. The ultimate light weight shelter is Ambian. *If it starts to rain when your sleeping in the dirt you just deploy the light weight shelter and sleep through it. Wrapping up in a blue tarp is a legitimate minimalist shelter. Using a rain fly from a tent is a borderline acceptable practice*but ONLY WITHOUT THE TENT.

So, we have three items that are frowned upon in the world of minimalists; a tent, a stove and an iPhone.

Meanwhile, two days til departure and we're packing one of the most key pieces of equipment for a minimalist: the Voile strap.
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Old 08-19-2012, 12:08 PM   #12
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See what I mean? Here's Minxter dreaming about bringing a cot along!

Actually, the truth is she is a top notch female minimalist.

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:39 PM   #13
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I'd love to hear *about anyone's experience with the Chinese bikes. I'm a bit nervous about them but it seems likely we're going to wind up riding them. Perhaps purchase new and sell them at the end of the trip.

One reason we decided to finally go to Mongolia is that we have friends living and working there for two years. Minxter also has a Mongolian acquaintance who lives in the capital. They're going to help us get sorted out when we arrive. This is HUGE!
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:32 PM   #14
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heya joe
buying a new bike and selling it later is probably the way to go
look around and see the bikes the locals use
wuyang honda , zhongzhen or some suzuki joint venture bikes
its common to see these with 50k km on them
elctrical problems are usually the worst of it
just take a spare regulator and ignition its going to cost about 10 bucks lol
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:24 PM   #15
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As I stated earlier, GPS units are generally frowned upon. Especially when you take someone on your favorite single track stash and the A hole tracks it and posts it all over the internet!

I do have to admit that I like the iPhone as a GPS. I have friends who wrote the GPSkit and GISkit apps which work well. Many people don't realize that it works off satellite signals rather than cell towers. This is great for bringing it abroad. I just lock the sim card and use the satellites and also wifi when available.

You can download all the maps you want for free. I downloaded aerial views of all the larger towns and cities.


I also downloaded Google Terrain versions of the entire area we're going to travel around.


I guess I look at the iPhone as the minimalists version of a GPS. You just don't want to use or rely on it too much because you'll lose your natural route finding technique.

We leave in the morning.
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