First Steppe: Mongolia

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Joe Motocross, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. trackhead

    trackhead Utard Wankster

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    Nothing..........love that kind of terrain. AKA (Wyoming grass lands, west desert, etc)
    #81
  2. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Little delay with the report. Had to get reacquainted with the big bores.
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    #82
  3. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Day 9
    Another awesome sunrise on our desolate camp.
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    We did the morning routine of coffee, noodles and a hard boiled egg then hit the two track. The riding is so good!!
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    The weather was perfect. We got a little off track and had to cut across this field to get back on the route going through the pass in the distance here. The terrain is so smooth that even with the minimal suspension our bikes had it was still a pleasant ride across.
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    Back on the route. It's funny that this type of road is actually marked on a map.
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    Soon we came into a valley and were waved in by this nomad family.
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    They were so nice!! All they wanted to do was share some tea and cheese with us. We noticed that a lot of the mongols are a little funny about getting their picture taken especially inside the ger. This is a classic scene right here; ger, solar panel and chinese bike.
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    We stopped for supplies in the next town. Slim pickings here and then we noticed it was a dry town!! No beer or vodka. We found this quite odd.
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    There are still a few of these beasts running around. They are a Russian built two stroke pig that has the unreliability of the Royal Enfields. They were the bike of choice a while back. The Chinese bikes are phasing these things out.
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    We started down a large valley and were hitting all these great sections of single track along side the standard two track route.
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    The single track was incredibly smooth sailing.
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    So typical; nomad, ger, solar panel, chinese bike. Check out the bird on the post.
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    The birds we were seeing were really cool!
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    Mmmmmmm, single track!!
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    Next thing you know, we come across this group of three bikes, one with a flat. His friends are all standing around talking and laughing. He's got his shirt off and is sweating and getting filthy as he's working on the flat. It's so funny because this is the EXACT same scene that happens to us in The States - someone flats out, everyone else finds a comfortable spot to heckle and watch the victim struggle.
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    These guys didn't have any patches or glue so we helped them out. He had three holes which were classified as a "single class 1 patch failure" and a text book "class 2 snake bite". This group was just yucking it up!!
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    One of them was riding this Mongol "full dresser". We were jealous.
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    After the flat episode we decided to clean up in the river. Very refreshing.
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    It was getting late in the day when we passed through the next town where we found a bottle of vodka and some other supplies for our Steppe Stew.
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    Then we found the "hutag" to fill up our water. I love the guys peeking out the window, controlling the flow of water.
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    The days ride couldn't have ended any better than with this buttery section of two track.
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    We find another perfect camp site and start in on the Steppe Stew.
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    Pretty soon we have a visitor. He's just heading into the hills toward his ger we suspect. He's riding the same bike we have.
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    He had some bolts that came loose on his rack so we pulled some out of our spare parts and bolted it back together. Remember, no english with any of these guys!! Another awesome day in the remote territory of Mongolia.
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    128km for the day.
    #83
  4. kahlgryndiger

    kahlgryndiger Been here awhile

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    Are you sure?
    I own a couple of those IZH Planetas here in Germany. I ride one with a sidecar as my everyday ride in winter. 1000 km per month with no problems at all. I use that russian bitch also for long distance rides in winter. 500 km a day is really no problem ...

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    And my Enfield. Build in 2005 it has more than 45.000 km on it. I rode 35.000 of them. No mayor problems. Everyday in the summer and as usual for long distance rides ... :D

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    A motorcycle is always the result of its mechanic. It might be different in Russia and India but basically they are not that bad :huh
    How ever. Just my two cents and I really like your RR. Keep on riding! :freaky:clap
    #84
  5. DerViking

    DerViking Shred

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    Amazing country. Not what I though Mongolia looked like at all. On a really good year our country around Flagstaff AZ looks a bit like that, just not often.

    I respect the go light approach, I have a lightweight backpacker tent I carry in addition to your kit. Love the Big Agnes, small, yet comfy, and gets you a good deep breathing excersise every evening.

    So, camera? What do you carry, and where to you carry it. I put my Canon G11 in a front pocket of my Flak Jacket, but it has nearly cost me broken ribs a time or two. Please don't tell me all of this beautiful photography is with an IPhone.

    Thanks for a great report.
    #85
  6. trackhead

    trackhead Utard Wankster

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    Best day of your report yet. Amazing photos and terrain!
    #86
  7. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Heh, heh, heh. I don't really have anything against any particular brand bike, I just like to poke at some that don't have the best reputation to get you fanatics to come out of the woodwork! Sorry. I really do like all kinds of motorcycles and can appreciate that most have a purpose.

    The camera is nothing too special, just a middle of the road point and shoot. I prefer a decent brand like Cannon, but it has to have a 12x optical zoom lens. It helps greatly to know how to really use them as most of those point and shoots can do much more than most people know about. We wear them on the shoulder straps of the backpacks.

    Trackhead, we'll end up doing a ride sooner or later as it seems we have similar tastes.
    #87
  8. stickman1432

    stickman1432 Crusty Adventurer

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    Outstanding write up...........The Vodka must be much better than the water I would assume. Keep it coming the valleys are so vast and pretty.............:wink:
    #88
  9. trackhead

    trackhead Utard Wankster

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    Yup. The little kid that entered my life put a temporary hold on my moto days, but I'm going to start riding again next summer.
    #89
  10. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Day 10
    We woke up and talked about where we were in the trip and what we wanted to do for the rest of it. It was decided that we would like to see the Gobi Desert, so, we came up with a new mantra; "Get to the Gobi!" That was our new mission. The valley we were camped in was desolate exceptÂ…..
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    Here comes our first visitor of the day with his heard. He was very curious about our scene.
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    He just walked around our camp checking things out, then, off he rode, tending his heard of sheep.
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    We packed up and took off, instantly stumbling onto a great section of single track!
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    Then up a wide valley on smooth two tracks. We were trying to get over a medium sized mountain range by an obscure route.
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    We came across another Soviet era resort with hot springs again in these little buildings.
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    These were a little more appealing but it was early in the day and we had our mission; Get to the Gobi!!
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    Some locals were just leaving and they liked the iPhone gps mounted to my handlebars. They had a stereo system mounted on the front of one of their bikes and the owner proudly kicked it on with a remote control from about 10 feet away. Too funny!!!
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    Now things start getting interesting. The route is getting thin and we come to a difficult river crossing which doesn't go well for Minxter.
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    She goes down in the middle of the stream. The boulders were very large, too much so for the suspension on our bikes.
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    We pushed forward crossing the stream a few more times. We resorted to just creeping through with our feet in the water to steady the bikes. Minxter needed a hand with this being only 5'4" tall. Then the route ended.
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    After exhausting any possibility of advancing, we had to retreat to the last intersection back down the valley where we studied maps and eventually flipped a coin (actually a rock) to decide our fate.
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    The rock toss had us backtrack to a better mapped route going through the range over a less intense pass. This turned out to be the best choice as we looked back and saw the clouds lower and start raining along the high country.
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    Meanwhile, we enjoyed buttery two tracks along a beautiful river.
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    And of course, nice little sections of single track.
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    Late in the day we come into this logging town and restock. The weather doesn't look to good as we head out of town.
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    At the edge of town we stumble upon this little ger camp with hot springs. Bingo!! We're in!!
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    We settle into the ger for the night.
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    Not exactly a natural hot spring but this suited us just fine!!! The camp uses thermal springs and pipes it into this rock basin that they built. They filled it as soon as we showed up. I can't tell you how much we needed this!!
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    There was a light rain while we soaked in the tub and relaxed. This stop couldn't have been any better. We really needed it. Perfect!!
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    We decided to get dinner at the camp rather than cook our Steppe Stew and we weren't disappointed when they brought out our Buuz, which are steamed goat dumplings. Another beer and a couple shots of vodka and LIGHTS OUT!!
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    125km for the day.
    #90
  11. harcus

    harcus Long timer

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    A beautiful report. Thanks for sharing. I am envious. Beautiful scenery, helpful & curious people. A great combo.

    The GER camp was a high point I am sure. Much like an Oregon wagon train coming upon Lava Hot Springs a few years back.

    You've touched on many details of the trip. Mention money. Did you exchange cash in the larger towns? I can't imagine an ATM out there but...?

    Again, thanks...:D
    #91
  12. trackhead

    trackhead Utard Wankster

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    NOT FAIR!
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    #92
  13. jrou111

    jrou111 Stair Climber

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    Sanbano!

    Awesome RR! I love Mongolia. Got to stay there for 2.5 weeks in U-B and a couple hours north in the countryside working with and NGO this past July. I would love to go back and do what you all did. When we were out in the country I did notice that EVERY nomad had one of those Chinese bikes.

    BTW, that spot you ran across with the bikes at the ger...

    From my time in the city talking to the translators, alcohol is a BIG problem there. Not only is vodka cheaper than water, but the Mongolian men have a genetic disposition to alcohol and their liver can't break it down properly. The men will often drink till their stumbling or passed out drunk. I saw many of them in the ger district in U-B passed out in the ditch. If you stared at them, they would get up and come after you to try and fight you, but most of the time would just fall back over. Good call on just riding on by and not stopping.
    #93
  14. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

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    Minxter cleans up nice don't she:clap:clap:clap
    #94
  15. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    As far as money you had to be careful to have enough in the smaller villages. Only the larger ones had ATMs. Some of the smaller towns had banks where you would be able to exchange money. I just added our expenses up for the trip last night. Not including air fare it looks like it cost us about $1100 per person for the whole trip, bikes, gas, food, booze, taking our friends out to dinner, gifts, etc.

    We'd heard talk of the same problems with Mongols and alcohol. Still a little unsure of that scene at the drunken ger camp. There was at least one women lying in a heap on the ground as well.

    A lot better than Buuuuurrrrt in my opinion!!! Sorry for this one boys!!! Maybe the ladies will like it!
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    #95
  16. Paratrout

    Paratrout Been here awhile

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    Best line I've read in a long time!:roflYou're right about those old russian beasts as long as the mechanic knows what he is doing then they will run forever.
    #96
  17. Joe Motocross

    Joe Motocross Been here awhile

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    Day 11
    We pack up early and bid farewell to our hosts. We need to start getting some distance in if our new mantra is going to come to fruition; GET TO THE GOBI!!
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    We immediately pick up a little section of single track right out of the ger camp.
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    It wasn't a real long section, maybe a mile or so, but what a great way to start the day!!
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    We liked these single track bridges also.
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    As far as we could see, the Russians helped ruin some of the Mongolian "culture" or "flare". We were told that during the Russian era, the Russians would literally blast apart Mongolian temples and monuments. We found a few heaps of rubble like this that looked like they were a temple or monument at one time.
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    The route was smooth and we made good time in the morning getting up over the pass and down into the next valley. We started to skirt a large lake when I realize that we're on the wrong side. Crap!! There goes our fast pace.
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    GET TO THE GOBI!!! We start scrambling to make a plan so we don't loose too much time backtracking. We decide to take a "short cut". You can probably guess how this goes. At first pretty well with smooth terrain.
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    Then we start getting into some marshy areas between two lakes that we're trying to squeeze through.
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    And then the stopper. The river is too deep to cross. Now if we have to turn back we'll loose even more time!!
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    GET TO THE GOBI!! We chance it and keep pushing deeper into the unknown. We're in a huge meadow trying to avoid the marshy areas. We're looking for a shallow spot in the river to cross it or we're going to try to ride along the river all the way up to the bridge we missed earlier.
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    We come to a spot that looks promising and I walk across to check it.
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    I deem it "good to go" and twist the throttle on my all terrain moped. I'm confident I'm going to ride across but then the tires sink into the river bottom and the moped doesn't have enough power to move!! It's deep and the current is flowing pretty strong.
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    The river bottom was a loose fine gravel and not mud so I was able to get off beside the bike and push it. I was impressed that the bikes would continue running in such deep water especially after the plug wire is wet.
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    Buuuuuurrrrt pushes across and I help Minxter. Boom boom!! We're on track and only lost a little time and gained an epic navigating/river crossing session!
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    Now we're on one of the main routes that eventually runs back to the capital of Ulaanbaatar. We though we would make some time here but because the road is so well used, it's totally thrashed!! VERY rough and slow going. This is where we're really missing our KTM suspensions back home.
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    You know, sometimes it seems like the world is really challenging you and making your goal hard to achieve. Flat tires don't help your progress. We decide that we're going to keep our heads together and just work through it and not get mad. The heckling begins as Buuuuuuurrrrrt starts the stop watch to time the repair. The flat was classified as a rear "class 1 nail", witch indicates only a single small hole. Patched and back on the bike in 15 minutes and 30 seconds. GET TO THE GOBI!!!
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    All of a sudden we come across pavement!!! Very unexpected. This is a very rare photo where you can actually see our joy of coming in contact with tarmac. GET TO THE GOBI!!!
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    We ride for another hour and find a camp up on a ridge. Life's good!!
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    We settle in and enjoy another great campsite. We're really into the swing of things at this point in the trip and figure we could continue traveling like this indefinitely.
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    171km for the day.
    #97
  18. lukeman

    lukeman Cool Hand

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    Great report. I so want to do this! Have you had any mechanical problems with the new chinese bikes?
    #98
  19. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Great report, thanks :thumb
    #99
  20. gremor

    gremor RS'er

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    All I can say is WOW!

    Great report!

    :clap