Steppe Out: Travels Around Mongolia, Summer 2014

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by live2ridetahoe, May 22, 2014.

  1. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Hi all. I'm 40. I am not married. I have a daughter, a Bay Area mortgage, and a full time job. Like a lot of you, I log in here to ADVrider and read about people on trips to far away lands. My mind drifts. I imagine myself on a motorcycle, riding through the Alps, through the steppe, over the Vitim Bridge... My mind drifts back to reality. I finish my coffee and look around and realize that where I am in suburbia is so far from where my body and soul wants to be. I decide to do a trip to Mongolia. I make calls and send emails: who wants to go somewhere and ride motorcycles and camp and meet people and have an adventure?


    Crickets.


    Everyone I know is caught up in their lives, jobs, families, kids soccer/swim/baseball, etc. Well screw you all! I'm going anyway...

    A little bit about me before we get too deep in the thread. I am a transplant to the Bay Area of California from Boston and via Lake Tahoe where I lived for 8 years. I am a RN working in the ER of the trauma center in Oakland, CA.


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    Although I am happiest when I am snowboarding, riding my motorcycle, or spending time with my now 6 year old daughter, I really enjoy the work I do and love helping people. I don't consider myself much of a writer, so bear with me during this ride report. I am not one to really wax philosophic(ala Antihero in his threads), so I don't intend it getting too deep. I just always wanted to post something I had done in the Ride Reports section of AdvRider and thought this would be a good one...

    I would have to say that my fascination with Mongolia started when I watched "Long Way Round" about 10 years ago. I know, I know. I can hear you all groaning now. Truth be told, I was inspired by it. I still watch parts of it on Netflix when lying in bed at night. It's not how I would do a RTW trip, nor the bike I would take. But seeing that scenery, the countryside, the sky, traveling with a good buddy... I figured I had to get there.

    Fast forward to a year or two ago, I am following some threads on AdvRider. I was deeply inspired to go to Mongolia by reading Walter Colebatch's Sibersky project, Noah's RTW trip on a 690 KTM and Joe Motocross's First Steppe trip. That was it. I had to go.

    I am not going to be sending my bike over to Mongolia(way to expensive and wrong bike to take IMO). I will not be buying a bike(problems with registration and the hassle of selling it when I leave). I will be renting a basic Chinese off road 150cc bike such as the Shineray Mustang. See the above thread called "First Steppe" for more details/photos of the bike. From what I have seen and heard, it is what the locals/nomads ride. Parts are available just about everywhere. I contacted Cheke Tours and now have a bike waiting for me in UB when I get there. The owners seem to be very nice. They respond very quickly to emails. From what I have heard through another inmate, they are very detail oriented and really want westerners to have an amazing experience in their country. I am really hoping this will work out.

    My tickets are bought. I am currently putting together my gear for the trip. I am hoping some inmates will chime in on what I should bring/what I should leave at home. I would say my traveling style is somewhat minimal. I wouldn't say as minimal as Joe Motocross in the above thread, but I honestly don't need much. I will be bringing my moto camping gear. I have travelled quite a bit on the several bikes I have had. I did a 6 week trip around the USA in the fall of 2004. I have been to Baja 3 times(of which all 3 trips back were in the back of a truck/trailer for one reason or another...). I usually get a 3-5 day trip at least once a year and a few overnights here and there. I am comfortable outside, at least where I have been. I have some mechanical knowledge from working on my and other's bikes and cars.

    Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading. I'll post updates soon.

    Cheers!

    JG
    #1
  2. cristiano

    cristiano Been here awhile

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    When will you be doing this?
    #2
  3. Scubalong

    Scubalong Been here awhile

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    Safe travel and keep the RR and photos coming :thumb
    #3
  4. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    This is happening last week of July. I'll be there for three weeks.

    JG
    #4
  5. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    So speaking about the bike... There is no way I'm going to send my Triumph Tiger XC over to Mongolia. It is the wrong tool for the job. From my backpacking days, "fast and light" was the motto. I did Half Dome and Mt. Whitney in a day with just a Camelback and a Mountainsmith lumbar pack. If you have the right gear, you don't actually need that much. While I love my Tiger, it ain't coming...
    She'll stay in the garage.


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    This is more what I'll be riding:


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    I goth the name of a place in UB that sells KTMs from a famous inmate here. Having owned a 950 Adventure and having being stranded in Baja twice, I am a bit apprehensive. I am also traveling on a bit of a budget. I have a mortgage in the Bay Area and a daughter in Catholic school, so I'm not going hog wild. Renting from Cheke is 13 Euro/day. Nice. I can swing that.

    When looking at my gear, it was clear that I needed some updating. Most of my gear is 10+ years old and was purchased on proform when I worked part time at a ski shop in Tahoe. The past few years I have been working part time(one day a week) at a ski shop here in the Bay Area. I love to tune skis and snowboards and have a passion for racing Snowboardcross, or Boardercross.


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    Having access to proforms again, I decided to update a bunch of gear. My North Face tent was fine, but the seams on the fly were failing and I thought a new tent was in order. I had had her for almost 10 years. I replaced it with a new tent from The North Face. Retail was almost $210 USD. I got it for $58 USD shipped.


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    My headlamp had a crack in the housing. Fine for around-the-house stuff, but I'm not bringing it half way across the world. I replaced my Petzl for a Black Diamond Revolt headlamp. It was on sale at REI and I got to use my dividend. It has rechargeable batteries via a micro USB. I plan on putting a Powerlet charging system on the rental bike, so these batteries should last well. I'll bring an extra set of AAAs with me as backup.

    I have a 20 degree down sleeping bag from The North Face. No need to replace. I did want to upgrade my sleeping pad. I have been suffering for years on a Thermarest.


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    It might be an inch thick when inflated. Not good enough. With my hookup deal, I sourced a new pad from Big Agnes for under $100 USD shipped.


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    It is 4.25 inches when filled. Much better than the other pad.

    When it comes to traveling on the moto with my camping gear, I learned from a buddy in Tahoe a great way to pack it. First you take your sleeping pad and form it around the sides of your dry bag. Then you stuff it with the things you want, remembering that the last thing in is the first thing out. For me, from top to bottom, is tent, fly, clothes, sleeping bag. Tent poles and stakes slide down the side in their bags, which help prevent popping your pad in case of a drop.


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    This system has worked out extremely well for me. I have been caught out a few times, but have always had dry gear going into the tent. The next morning is sometimes a different story...

    To be continued....

    JG, aka Tahoe
    #5
  6. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    :lurk Sounds like a great ride.
    Jim
    #6
  7. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Been here awhile

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    Preach it, brother. Don't ever wait to go find adventure.

    Sweet, another backpacker moto rider!

    Good luck and enjoy your trip.
    #7
  8. Bandaids

    Bandaids Adventurer

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    Like you I am 43 years old , with a 9 year old girl. Like you I have spent the last 12 months reading over and over all the same threads. Like you have always been captivated by Mongolia and Russia. Like you I have lived and worked in ski fields in OZ & around the world. I also work in medicine (Advanced Life Support Paramedic). I will be traveling to Russia then Mongolia next year beginning in March (London) and riding across to Magadan. Like you I am traveling by myself as I to sent out the call for travel companions among my many riding friends , I have a dirt & a road bike and like you received ….. Silence. Like you I am currently putting together my gear, mainly so I can test it over my winter June –August on long ride in the Victorian Bush.
    Posts like yours make me realise and the end of the day we are not alone and are very similar in our pursuits. This gives me the confidence to keep planning my trip.
    Good luck & take care.
    Kind regards

    Scott Douglas (BANDAIDS)
    #8
  9. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Glad to have you along. Steppe outside and do it. I have been prepping my daughter for my time away. She has known all year that dad is going to Mongolia. I told her I was going on an adventure and going to be looking for dinosaur fossils(she's into dinosaurs!! How cool!!).

    Keep planning, and keep posting. It keeps you on track...

    Tahoe
    #9
  10. mountainJ

    mountainJ I wanna RIDE!

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    Congratulations on making this happen. I think too many of us FF's live vicariously through the ride reports of others with a coffee cup in our hands... I know I do. Two boys under 3 years old and a wife worth sticking around for keep me from doing this right now. But the boys will grow up and the wife...:rofl. Well, I know she wouldn't miss a trip like this on her own bike, once the boys are older.
    I look forward to hearing how the bike rental works out as if I ever get to do something like this it's probably what I will do.
    I'm in!
    #10
  11. The Guru

    The Guru Adventurer

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    Looking forward to this.

    Good luck.
    #11
  12. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

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    Awesome start Tahoe!:clap You are my hero :D

    Don't worry about riding alone. Its scary to some.. Maybe the fear of being stranded or maybe the fear of being alone. Once you get past that and you get comfortable in your own head, you can genuinely experience the journy. There is no one else in a bad mood to bring you down. There is no one else in a good mood to cheer you up. It is just you and your bike. If something happens to her and you get frustrated, upset, or worried... she won't fix her self. Don't be scared of the solo travel. You will surprise yourself time and time again with how good it is. And that day when its shitty rain and you have had 2 flat tires, and you are freezing cold.. You just have to remember "At least I'm not at work".. just look around and see the beauty in the new part of the world you found.
    #12
  13. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Thanks Noah, that means a lot coming from you. Thanks for the inspiration...

    Tahoe
    #13
  14. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    That is such great advice for all of us here. Thanks again Noah.

    Tahoe
    #14
  15. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    I'll update soon. 12 hour shifts in the ER are a killer.

    I do like the longer days tho. I got to take the "Long Way Home" with one of the ER techs who just switched to 0700-1930. We rode Shepard Canyon, Skyline, Grizzly Peak, Southpark, Wildcat, Bear Creek, and Alhambra Valley all the way back to the East Bay.

    It was almost dark by the time I got home. I did get to see one of the larges bucks I have ever seen. He crossed the road well beyond dusk quite a ways in front of us. A quick whiskey and I'm down for the count. One more day at work and I'm off for four days. Not bad schedule this week...

    I did get some surprise packages in the mail this week. One company said when I ordered that this item was backordered until the end of June. I am glad they weren't...

    Photos to follow.

    Cheers all,

    Tahoe
    #15
  16. nomad guy

    nomad guy A legal alien

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    Go Jeff :clap:clap:clap
    #16
  17. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Thanks Guy!!
    #17
  18. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

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    Tahoe, had the same urge in 1991 just as the 'wall' was coming down to do E/W Berlin and parts of Russia.

    I did end up with 2 others as you will see in the rr below.

    You will have the time of your life, you will have a great adventure.

    ride smart, gale

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=572583
    #18
  19. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    The one piece of gear I really did not want to "upgrade" for this trip was my stove. I have had my Brunton Raptor for a few years. It is compact, lightweight, elegant, easy to use, maintenance free, and worth whatever I paid for it and then some.

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    My only issue is that it uses screw on canisters for fuel.

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    I have no idea if these are available in Mongolia. I have been emailing a fellow inmate who is now living in Ulanbataar with his family. He says he can find other fuel canisters, but not the screw on ones I will be needing. Since you can't bring these canisters on the plane, and they are too big to smuggle in my ass, I decided to get another stove. I bought the same stove Joe Motocross used in Mongolia...

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    I am not super stoked about going this route, but it will run on the same gas the bike runs on. That is convenient. I had a MSR Whisperlite for years and it served me well. I always eventually got it going and I can say I have never burned a tent down in the process. I do remember Joe Motocross saying it had two temp settings:


    Off and weld.


    Great. If anyone here does have a lead on threaded canisters in UB, please email or PM me. I would love to return this and bring my Raptor.

    Cheers all,

    Tahoe
    #19
  20. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Alright, I just want to make sure of one thing. What are the visa requirements for getting to Mongolia?

    I have read on the web that there are no requirements for US citizens. You just show up, get a stamp, and you are in.

    I am going for less than 30 days. I will get a tourist stamp, right? I want to make sure I get this right... the first time!

    Tahoe
    #20