We Come In Pieces - Budget travels from UK to Mongolia (northern route)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by stickysidedown, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    quote
    Strangely you can ascend the stairs inside Chinggis' body and emerge from his shiny stainless crotch before walking to the top of his horses head for a grand vista
    end quote

    Given the claims on the size of his progeny I understand there might be some purpose to this arrangement. :rofl
    #81
  2. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    The very first venture into the Wild West of Mongolia was actually pretty much anything but, the first hour was a battle through the traffic, as much fighting as it was riding needed, towards the Western edge of the city my bike started acting up before cutting out, It was exhibiting something like a misfire/fuel starvation but then refusing to restart:cry

    Ohh shit, I'm about to head into the unknown back of nowhere and there is something randomly playing up with the bike, My head ran through the likely culprits, I had prepared some spares for the trip which included fuel filter for the fuel pump and spare plugs in case of drowning but I wasn't certain it was a problem that would be saved by either of those things? I opened the fuel caps just in case a vent line was pinched and I waited for Ed to fight his way through the traffic.

    By the time he arrived and I talked him through it the bike just fired up as if nothing had been the matter, this worried me even more, could it have been overheating and seizing up in some way in the traffic? I topped up with the last 95 octane I thought I might see for a while and filled up my fuel cans for the first time.

    The rest of the day went without incident, the road was actually pretty well kept and sealed, but it gave me time to consider the mechanical problem and I had a theory (but I wouldn't be able to confirm I had been right until I hit the commute into Moscow many thousands of kms later) The KTM is very tightly packaged and the front header pipe runs in a small space between the right hand fuel tank and the engine and it gets incredibly hot, more so in the heat of the day in near standstill traffic. because the fuel level was well into the reserve it turned out to be the case that the fuel was boiling quite nicely away in the bottom of the tank and so air and fuel was getting drawn in through the pump, once the tank was full that heat was easily dissipated, or when the bike was on the move for that matter.

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    The weather varied from bright and sunny through to overcast with black rods of rain sweeping as unforgiving bristles brushing across the far vista, I had heard that the sky in Mongolia is somehow bigger than you might expect, and as ridiculous as that sounds it's true, the altitude? the thin air? the lack of pollutants? I have no idea why but I could appreciate why it was called the land of the big blue sky:D

    We met some bikers along the way, a sort of international task force of motorcyclists comprising of a Dutchman on a Honda XR400 'frankenbike' (large tank, motor donated from a quad) A Frenchman on an tricoloured Honda Africa Twin currently sporting a bit of universal fairing fixer (Duct tape) And a German who lived and worked in Sweden riding a predictably immaculate KTM Adventure complete with a little Rammstein sticker, it sounds like the basis of a bad joke doesn't it? three bikers pull up to a cafe, a Dutchman, a German and a Frenchman!!

    They all had one thing in common, they looked like they had been beaten up, wore a universally dour expression and all concluded that our plan for the Northern Route was impossible.:(: This was not what I wanted to hear and looking at the state of them I knew this wasn't just talk.

    They looked our bikes over, gave Ed a hard time about his luggage (quite rightly) and then we all went into a roadside cafe for the only thing they could recognise in Cyrillic (Goulash) which was one thing more than Ed or I knew.

    Their lips were cracked from the Sun, they had fallen over numerous times and felt it necessary to stress how difficult things would be, we would not enjoy ourselves, on smaller bikes, better luggage maybe, maybe the tyres would help, maybe I would be Ok but not Ed (after they realised I had a little clubman enduro experience, but nothing fancy under the belt)

    The Frenchman on the AT seemed particularly keen to pour a pessimistic 'creme Anglais' thickly over my rich optimistic pudding I was about to tuck into, and the more I said, Yes well we can try the Northern route and make the best of it, or Well it is supposed to be an adventure isn't it? the more annoyed he seemed to get that this dunderhead was not drowning in the increasingly poured foreboding.

    I was getting a bit sick of it to be honest, My final rebuttal was seemingly appropriate to his ears though You must understand I am English, we can only be truly happy when we are miserable so we have something to complain about.
    And so by manipulating a negative stereotype 180 degrees we were able to eat whatever the hell it was we were eating thanks to the fellow KTM rider who had at least learnt some Cyrillic:lol3 (Thanks Uwe!)

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    They headed of East to UB, reassured the roads were silky smooth and that I had been able to leave a needed reg/rec for the Frenchman at the Oasis hostel with a Dutchman in a Landcruiser, such is life on the road.

    We carried on West for a short while, pausing occasionally to soak in the scenery, we found a small herd standing in the a flooded field, my first good sized herd though many more would follow. One Horse had collapsed in the water, whilst another was trying to procreate. a free range dog was stood atop the deceased horse tearing chunks from its carcass as a lesser dog watched on, behind that dog were three enormous vulture type birds.

    There's always one joker in every group snapshot
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    I'm so hungry I could eat a...well you get the idea
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    A local stopped in traditional dress, and as we took a photo of him he whipped out his digital compact and started to snap away the same scene we were looking at.


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    The road continued to be excellent, At this point we were on the 'middle route' towards Tsetserleg, the ancient capital of Mongolia but I was beginning to wonder if fitting knobblies hadn't been a bit daft? I was worrying everyone had been talking it up, I mean what if Mongolia was the gnarly offroad experience I'd ridden halfway round the world for?

    we stopped off for a bit of water before making plans to make camp for the night

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    Then I took care of a small job I had promised myself since leaving the UK, Genghis and the Mongols had made it as far as Poland in his time, So I had covered more ground than him thanks to my trusty Austrian horse, oh and globalisation, GPS, Internet etc

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    #82
  3. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    Pass the bottle when you are done :evil I find thinking does me little good past the enjoyment of it for it's own sake, after all the wiser I get the more I realise the less I know :rofl

    One day I shall know nothing and be truly wise!
    #83
  4. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    I wish I could have shared that experience, think mine leaked after 12 mths and various zipper pulls etc have given up on me, but it vents superbly!

    I use a Halvarssons safety jacket for winter work now, that is a beautiful bit of kit provided I dont have to walk anywhere in it :D
    #84
  5. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    It had been a cold night and fierce wind had whipped up, we were still so pleased with being able to ride up hills and camp on them though and enjoyed the views they offered that we never really got out of that habit.

    It's relatively hard to explain the effect of the big temperature drops at night, my bag was rated for around about freezing but I wished I'd taken a warmer one, I use a silk liner which helps but always get cold feet.

    one thing I was glad to remember was to take my empty water bottle in with me at night, nothing worse than waking at 4 or 5 in the morning because of a demanding bladder and freezing cold outside, you know the drill by the time you try to ignore the need for a half hour, get out of warm sleeping bag into clothes, put on boots and take a wander, take a wee and then reverse the procedure you are never getting back to sleep!

    It was another bonus of having taken a slightly larger 2 man tent instead of the 1 man hooped bivi I had considered, even with good quality kit theres always a trade off between comfort and size

    There was some question mark as to how I managed to urinate about 750ml overnight and still seemed to be dehydrated ? but I've always had a big bladder, those little cardboard bottles you get in a hospital ward being exactly not quite large enough when needed in the past

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    Fortunately it was never an issue but really I should have taken a roll of cling film or some giant ziploc bags in case of number twos but there we go.

    After we packed up we were off to Karakorum, this was our reason for not immediately taking the Northern route, it's the ancient Mongolian capital from the 13th century and it was kind of cool to wander round in the footsteps of Chinggis and to admire the Erdene Zuu Monastery

    We hadn't anticipated sand dunes along the way, there was no sudden transition into them, but there they were nestled betweens folds of hills in the landscape,
    The Gobi itself was to the South of the country and our pitiful funds had prohibited a few days to explore them so this eased my disappointment about that somewhat, so definitely on the tourist trail we passed roadside traders looking to sell camel rides into the dunes, we passed them by and turned left off the asphalt and into the dunes


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    Naturally we had a play, sand is a funny surface for me to ride on, not much of it in the UK, too much power you sink, too slow a speed you sink, you steer with the throttle and all the while it goes from soft patch to hard patch to soft again so you find yourself massaging the clutch lever constantly


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    Naturally both of the bikes took a tumble as jerked around getting a feel for these big machines, but I think this was just a case of Ed's bikes sidestand foot disappearing into the powdery sand


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    And so we had to park them the correct way which firstly involves this


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    Leading to something like this, god what a great view :-)


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    After a little while of playing noisily we were joined by a young Mongol lad as curious about our bikes as we were about his steed


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    All in all it was a pleasant meeting, no monies were asked for, it was a genuine little cultural exchange and the whole Dune/Camel thing was great fun


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    And so we headed off smiling into an increasingly darkening sky
    #85
  6. 545x39

    545x39 Old Fart

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    drowning in the empire's legislation....
    You guys get extra credit for finding a RED SOX fan!! :clap
    #86
  7. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    We aim to please :D though apparently the Camel liked the Cubs!
    #87
  8. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    The strong winds made the going pretty interesting, growing up 300m up a cliff looking out into the Atlantic I'm used to the odd gust of wind but this was quite something even for me, every now and then some ice got mixed into the wind and drove into any exposed nooks or crannies around my lid and goggles, I was wet through and it was bitterly cold, nevertheless I've learnt the best way to ride in high winds is to go as fast as you dare and hope the gyroscopic effect of your wheels keeps you where you want to be. With these tall bikes acting like sails in cross section it was hard work but an enjoyable challenge to steer around all the little and not so little pot holes in the road which had suddenly turned into something much more third world than we had seen the previous day.

    Ed hates strong winds with a passion and sensibly took his own time which afforded me the chance for a brief clip of the wind we had that day, I couldn't bring myself to stop when it was raining but could barely stand at all with the wind (being a shortarse meaning I cant flat foot the lofty adventure)

    Sand just shooting across the road like a river
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    As we arrived to Karakorum the weather did a U turn and we enjoyed sunshine in abundance, it was fair to say a strange old day weatherwise


    The usual tourist shops were there along with the vendors of antiquities and so we took turns to stroll around, We bumped into two people offering accommodations to us in their guest houses, one of these actually being Sabine the owner of the Oasis we had just come from! small country, she was out on her annual tour of the country.

    walls of the monastery
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    lovely pair of knockers at the monastery
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    this dog would have been standing guard here for centuries
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    4 HP truck!
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    We left the Monastery behind us and headed towards a place call Tsetserleg, home to a small B&B founded by some Australians and reportedly serving the closest thing to a full English breakfast available in Mongolia??
    #88
  9. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    A Full English Breakfast! Super! Truly a wondrous thing to behold! And to eat! I retain fond memories of one such, at a pub in Ford whilst on a pushbike journey....so filling that I could only make 9 miles that day!
    #89
  10. ChrisUK

    ChrisUK Been here awhile

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    Hi mate
    Dick/Richard here.:D It's fun to read your ride report and the description of the night involving Pyro-Ed. It brings back some fun memories! Definitely the highlight of my time in Ulaan Bataar. Interesting to hear those couple of convict-offspring coppers described me as a whinging pom :rofl. Pot/Kettle/Black?

    Keep up the good RR and hopefully drink a beer or 3 (no vodka please!) some time.

    Best Wishes
    #90
  11. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    :D How brilliant to hear from you Chris (and I see your own ride report starting which I'm looking forward to, I've already found your website on my surfs)

    It was definitely a crazy day and a highlight for me too (as was watching Ed suffer the next day:evil)

    I wouldn't have posted this up if I thought you were the sort of person who'd be in the least bit put out by the opinion of a couple of relative strangers:lol3, but hopefully you can accept the heartfelt thanks from this relative stranger for your time and help once again.

    I have no doubt our paths will cross somewhere down the road and I think three beers sounds about right one for Chris one for Dick and one for Richard:rofl I tell you what, lets put the first round on Ed's tab:wink:

    Stick around to the end of the report, and see what Karma does :lol3
    #91
  12. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    The ride from the Monastery to the promise of a bed and a cooked breakfast was a good one, the road was sealed but in a bad state of repair, the weather was largely OK but improving

    I was anxious as is my way to cover miles more quickly than my riding buddy, but even I could appreciate the good sense in stopping at a few photogenic locations.

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    I guess my sense of urgency on this occasion stemmed from the fact that I was navigating, I wanted to reach the town before nightfall. I was the only one of us with a sat nav or any idea of where we actually were.

    That was something that preyed on my mind throughout this trip, If I had a big off I was in serious trouble. I'd given Ed an old garmin e-trex, a pretty basic and clunky old handheld that I'd had since 2001, it did have a breadcrumb feature so you could save a waypoint, ride off and find your way back along the same route but assuming he had brought it he hadn't ever used it, not sure he even had batteries for it, same deal with his petrol stove, he never tried it before we left, couldn't light his and ended up using my Primus for all the cooking duties.

    The observant among you may be thinking ah, but why have such duplicity of equipment in the first place? Well I shall tell you:wink:

    Psychologically speaking and in conjunction with conversations we had held before departure it was decided it was important that we could operate as two autonomous units, on the face of it I refused to accept any responsibility for Ed's wellbeing, riding, finances, health or anything else, and this meant any help I gave was in theory by choice, but also I reserved the right to just bugger off and leave him behind if he annoyed me too much, something that was a needed for my sanity, and in the next few days something that would be pushed to the limit.

    I was already resentful of having to build my meal times around his cooking requirements, I kept looking at his ridiculous pile of crap bungee'd to the bike wondering how he was so heavily laden (seriously his two main bags must have weighed 60kg) and yet unable to navigate, cook or even repair his own bike without my tools?

    Obviously if you are planning a trip look at every aspect of your kit, and be fully conversant in its use, the same goes for your toolkit, don't just pack tools that look like they might be handy! I'd already made Ed leave a claw hammer with a 6" handle in Poland??

    we got to Tsetserleg just as the light was failing, I had to dig out the co-ordinates for the B&B and I had permitted myself to wonder what a Full English breakfast in Mongolia might contain? I dreamed about black pudding, I doubted its presence amidst the fayre but I was letting myself daydream and salivating at the prospect!

    BIG MISTAKE :cry

    Naturally that meant the B&B was full, Doh! A cursory glance at the nearby hotel in the town told me all I needed to know, Ed lets press on and find a campsite:evil

    The asphalt expired with the light as we climbed up the mountain pass road that wound out from the town, HID's on full, stood up on the pegs, using the throttle to steer from the rear, I was loving it, all too soon we were back on asphalt but the brightness of full beam allowed me to maintain dual carriageway speeds, still standing for a better view of the potholes (my bike is actually set up for standing over sitting) one drawback of very bright headlamps is that every flying critter in a 50 mile radius wanted to make love to the nose of my bike, caught in the eddies of air turbulently thrown from my screen something that felt like the size of a golfball exploded into the side of my goggles, instantly its 'ectoplasm' covered half the goggles lens and went all over my face, I'm just very glad that I didn't have my mouth open.

    So another little of nugget of touring wisdom came in handy, keeping certain items you'll need to access quickly close to hand, for me this meant my waterproofs, my water, and my bag containing tissues among others were always close (In case of urgent toilet breaks) and thankfully I was able to clean up before Ed had caught up to laugh at my goo spattered face.

    After a few miles I sought for some place we could pitch a tent, we were in the bottom of a valley, couldn't really see anything up the slopes in either direction, so just picked a random small track and headed away from the road, the track took us to a stockade and I rode past this until our ascension was impeded by a small quarry carved out of the slope.

    I pitched up in total darkness, I didn't want to be found until I'd had a full nights sleep, years ago touring in Italy every time I'd tried to get my head down, I had been disturbed and moved on, and I've enjoyed similar experiences in the UK and been investigated for cattle rustling in Poland by a shotgun wielding farmer:eek1

    After I had crawled into my tent Ed used the headlamps of his bike as a torch :lol3 LOL completely my fault, I hadn't told him why I was trying not to use a light.
    Shortly after lights out we heard a Uaz jeep drive up close to our position, doors slammed and we heard Mongolians talking clearly through the cold night air, All in all it was like some playing out of a Call of Duty video game except for the fact I don't think anyone was going to try and shoot me, but I was sleeping in the Nuddy and didn't really want to get into conversation with some concerned herdsman

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    We woke up refreshed and I enjoyed a hot chocolate whilst watching Ed assemble his luggage, Today was going to be a good day. The first day of real off roading?, the first time we would leave the main routes and really be away from passing traffic, was going to be fun, I had no idea what to expect and this caused me to smile

    We filled up the tanks and proceeded to our turning along some great roads that took us over 2700 metres above sea level


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    And turned onto the first track leading us towards who knows what??? The impassable Northern route?? Like an artillery round sliding into the chamber I felt the pressure building, I'd been primed for this, I had a bearing, the door of civilisation (in so far as asphalt roads and petrol stations was concerned) was closing behind me and then........

    Boooooom:D

    The peel of thunder as the now baffle-less KTM* roared forward into the unknown, flying over the countryside and my dreams of an open throttle cross country adventure had begun

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    *I had a hunch the Mongols would like a Litre Twin on open pipes :evil
    #92
  13. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    The first experience of off road in Mongolia was interesting in so much as it was flat and smooth when compared to the roads:rofl in fact It was a little too straightforward, Stood on the pegs, leaning forward and thundering along at 70 mph cruise with ease the big KTM felt made for just this scenario, The sky was as big and blue as you could imagine and I was in my element in this beautiful wide valley.

    Locals were friendly - Hairy Coo's for some reason every time we stopped cows would flock around the KTM and ignore the Yamaha, we decided that the bike was like some sort of bovine deity!

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    Later on I came across a boggy stretch of riverbed spanning several hundred metres, and automatically I found myself scanning the terrain looking for the best route through, it was like riding an enduro on a big scale, the feeling of just coming up to and through or over some obstacle without dropping pace just instinctively makes me happy, I don't know why, so I often ignored the sensible advice of stopping, walking a section or a crossing to keep that momentum and the sense of elation and freedom that it brings me, my heart feels healed in these moments:1drink

    I randomly took the opportunity to race up a nearby hillside just to watch Ed enjoy the same stretch of track, and whilst I waited It dawned on me that I had been a little hard on Ed, Yes he was slow, he was inexperienced and he had an amazing amount of luggage poorly strapped to his bike, but you know what?, here he was, in Mongolia!! riding into an unknown off road, and that's quite ballsy, I told myself that I would try and be a little kinder to him and stop being such a dick before descending the few hundred metres back down to meet him.

    We both had high fenders fitted to our bikes to cope with thick clay mud which we encountered at times here and back in the UK, for some reason only on the Tenere this lead to a lot of crud finding it's way to block the radiator fins? I drew attention to it, offering to stop, maybe pierce a water bottle cap to make a DIY water pistol by some river. but as far as I know it never got cleaned whilst in Mongolia, the thin air and sometimes slow pace led to his fan running for ages when he pulled up to a stop, the whirring of his overheating bike and ever thinning oil was like a howling banshee to my mechanically sympathetic ears. but those Teneres are tough as old nails


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    We came to the next river and for our ease it had a substantial bridge across it

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    The track occasionally got lumpier and this had converted Ed's luggage from being mounted on the rear to a sort of pannier arrangement

    As an aside to that I would take the opportunity to rave about the Rok Straps I used and also the Cam Straps now being offered by Kriega, nothing held down by these moved an inch throughout the journey, I had a freakin sweet aluminium rack made by Gabriel at Zen Overland, a lovely guy who had set up in business quite recently and got me the rack sent overnight - weekend courier as it was the preproduction prototype.

    By contrast Ed had a rear rack designed and made in steel by a sculptor who famously crafted bears in the town near to his home, it was erm sturdy but made in such a way that only old fashioned bungees would work with it, by the time Ed had the rack it was too late to do anything else with it.


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    We came to another small river to cross, it was only about 20 inches deep so I simply blatted through and waited on the other side to mark it and talk Ed over it, there was a Ger home nearby and a young child ran over to talk with me, unfortunately after some basic pleasantries he asked me for the time on my watch, at least thats what I assumed, it turned out he asked me to give him my watch?? Errr No you are alright mate next he suggested I could just give him some money instead!, Ed had now crossed the river and so I didn't even dignify his question with a response, just rode off.

    There was a chance to fill up at a small town that wasn't on my map? and we bought some noodle soup from the local shop whilst we were there before bimbling off for a place to sleep
    #93
  14. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    :clap:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3

    That would have been just the ticket, but this time at least we made do with more noodle soup:rofl
    #94
  15. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

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    The next day was just as good, waking up miles from anything like a road, our path being determined by the snaking of the rivers and the height of the mountains around us.

    Something inside me had 'let go' and been replaced with a sense of joy and freedom, this is really what biking is all about surely? everywhere I looked was stunning, not a structure in sight, rarely even a Ger, we climbed over a mountain pass slowly winding up into a magical sunny day that at times seemed almost alpine being surrounded by conifers once we reached the treeline.

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    Ed and I had developed a system, I would ride off at my pace and he would continue at his, if there was some split in the trail, a difficult obstacle or some other hazard I would wait to mark or assist, or sometimes just to talk about something great we had seen

    Just as we reached the Alpinesque area I was attacked by my first Mongolian dog, As the girl from the family it was protecting waved at me this furry scud missile went full speed ahead on an intercept course for my bike, I tried to wave back to the girl while simultaneously cracking open the throttle which had interesting effects on the handling as I broached 60mph leaving the dog in the wake of the Akra's, I asked Ed shortly afterwards how it went for him (suspecting the dog to be faster than his riding)

    He told me he had a different technique of aiming square at the dog and hoping that it would run away at the last minute:D this also seemed to work

    This new freedom saw me blatting off as fast as I dared, my focus was solely on the riding, not once did I imagine the consequences of an off, there was no space in my brain for that, it was 100% focused on picking a line, choosing a track, shifting weight, weighting the pegs for camber and, and well having fun,

    I had now learnt how to combine throttle and body positioning to jump neutrally from the little imperfections on the trail despite the luggage but at one time I was cranked over and steering from the throttle when the front wheel hit a a particularly round stone about the size of grapefruit mid turn, it rolled under my wheel and the front end momentarily became airborne lofting itself about two feet to the left and threatening to send me off down a bank into a boulder field and a river I ran wide and with a strong dab hauled all the weight back into shape somehow, at this point I realised how glad I was to have a big pair of Tech 8's on my feet!

    Once we cleared the pass we rode out onto a perfectly flat plain, in the distance to my right I could see a large blue lake ringed by mountains around it, it was beautiful enough to cause me to stop. I realised my breathing was quickened and my heart rate elevated from the spirited riding, Shit, I thought..How long have I been riding since I last saw Ed ??????

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    I decided it had been maybe a half hour so I took some time to finish off the last of my water, and played unsuccessfully with the panorama function of my little digital camera, after twenty minutes I realised I couldn't even hear him in the distance, I mean there was nothing here, a lone crow flew overhead and the noise of its wings disturbing the air was quite clear (I never knew crows wings have a cadence and sound like a twin bladed Huey as per the opening of apocalypse now)

    As mine was the bike with the thirst I was anxious about burning gas retracing my steps but decided It was futile to wait longer, obviously something was wrong?

    I rode back the entire length of the track to where I had seen him last?? part of me loving the ride, part of me wanting to go even faster in case he was in some kind of trouble or needing medical attention and another part of me reminding myself that the first rule of a rescue is that as rescuer you mustn't become the rescued!

    After I had retraced all my way back I was stumped WTF had happened to Ed? what should I do next? I mean he knew which direction we were headed but not where he was or where we were going and it was over a day back to where we had been. hmmmm I decided to ride back to the spot in that flat plain I had stopped at before, there was ultimately no way for him through the pass where I wouldn't see him there provided the weather stayed clear, I had food for a couple of days, and so I would just wait for 2 days and if he didn't show by then I would have to ride on without him and try to make contact once I was somewhere with a phone signal or internet terminal.

    About half way along I met a young Mongol boy and his girlfriend, they pointed in the direction I was going and tried to tell me something so I assumed it related to Ed and thanked them.

    I wasn't quite sure what to make of the sight in front of my eyes when I found Ed, He was striding topless up the trail waving at me, Shit I haven't seen him for an hour and a half or so and he had gone all 'Lord of the Flies' on me?

    It turned out he had been following me down a path on a sideslope, but there had been an obstacle at one point I'd avoided but he didn't see and it sent him down the slope towards the treeline which is where he was when I had ridden back past. He had moved the bike back up onto the trail the hard way and having stripped it of it's luggage so he could pick it up he had been walking the distance between bike and his luggage as he brought his things up, It had been in the 30's temp wise so he had decided to remove his t-shirt due to being too hot in waterproof trousers and mx boots

    The bike had survived pretty well yet again but the rear brake lever was broken, Ed informed me he had tried to remove it so he could 'hit it better with a stone' but the allen bolt holding it on had rounded out. I dug out my adjustable wrench and used it as a lever to straighten it as best I could for him

    [​IMG]


    The rest of the days ride was pretty peaceful, the only storm brewing in my little Mongolian teacup was the fact we now had to cross three rivers that were on my map as all of those we had crossed before weren't big enough to be a feature on the GPS or map.

    A little stream - not on the map

    [​IMG]



    I was also sensing that the area we were in was getting wilder, less frequently grazed land, rockier and at more altitude.

    We did come to an actual settlement eventually, houses made from timber out here in the nowhere, but not a soul to be seen in this Hamlet, clearly there were things going on here though as we passed an 'Afro' truck

    [​IMG]



    Later on I was waiting for Ed in one small valley to see him overtaken by a local and his girl out on their chinese made 200cc shineray, apparently he had dropped his bike a few moments before and they got off to help him, Ed told me the guys efforts were futile but his girlfriend was like a powerlifter and soon had the Ten righted :-)
    Actually we saw he women were more often the workers, strong and hardy where the men were often less impressive

    [​IMG]



    The day was drawing on when we reached the first big river, and it was a doozy! we rode down a rocky slope to the turf beside it, looking around we could see massive branches and boulders washed down when it was in full flood.


    [​IMG]


    The Question we wanted answering?, how deep was it now and would we be able to cross it?

    Ed volunteered to wade out into it, good lad!


    [​IMG]


    The answer to that question however is a little story in itself
    #95
  16. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14,859
    Location:
    Orchard Park,NY
    :lurk
    #96
  17. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    617
    Location:
    Château d'If
    COYS! Considering the location, it had to be the away kit! COYS!

    [​IMG]
    #97
  18. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    661
    I wont lie, there was an almost cartoon like gulp from me as I looked at the flowing river before us, A local sauntered down on his faithful horse and so before we went any further we attempted to garner his opinion about whether we would be able to cross.

    The short answer was no, but undeterred we tried to extract more information from him without a common tongue, though the word for any vehicle is 'Machina' and we understood if we waited long enough a bigger 'Machina' may be able to help us across for a fee?

    A little insight into the impressive volume of Ed's luggage which still towered like an old French hairpiece was revealed as he informed me he wanted to walk across barefoot so his Basketball boots didn't get wet!

    [​IMG]


    He did however find a sensibly sized stick to help him on his way, and in he waded.

    The first somewhat pleasing fact we established was that the water was surprisingly warm.

    On the way to the far bank he was crossing at a slight downstream angle, his course dictated by entry and exit points the bikes would use, his bare feet made the crossing difficult and it took him about twenty minutes to reach the far egress


    [​IMG]


    The way back was a different story, although only crossing at a slight angle he needed to wade almost 45 degrees into the flow of the water to make his way back, it was sapping his strength, our Mongolian onlooker started to mutter his concern seeing Ed's forthcoming fate.

    [​IMG]



    Ed had asked me to use his camcorder to film him as he crossed and it was a surreal experience to see my mate finally succumb to the relentless flow of water through a viewfinder

    Down he went and was swept downstream by the flow as he swam back to the near shore.

    As quickly as I had lowered the camera the Young Mongol horseman had thrown off his clothing like a comic book hero, kicked off his sandals and his muscular body was now only adorned by his Y-fronts

    At the sight of the athletic underpant wearing Mongolian superhero Ed yelled from the river as he bobbed towards us Whatever happens do not let him try and rescue me!

    [​IMG]


    And so knowing that my friend knew how to swim I dissuaded our Mongolian David Hasselhoff from a rescue attempt. I learnt a lesson, in the time it would have taken me to remove my MX boots Ed would have been a mile downstream, I noted to myself the need to at least unclasp them if we were in that scenario again.

    The Mongol man (I think anyway) told us that he swam here often, and it dawned on me that I just assume people can swim having grown up in a Cornish fishing village where the children all left primary school able to swim at least a kilometre, but we were in Mongolia, a far cry from any ocean, and I hadn't seen much water that was swim friendly around these parts.

    As if to mock our efforts a herd of cows wandered down and into the river a little downstream, their spindly legs unaffected by the fast flow of this river as their bulky bodies kept them weighted in one spot

    [​IMG]


    We were still considering attempting the crossing at this point, after all we didn't want the pessimistic Frenchman to have been right!!! but we would need more manpower, and quizzing our hero though it seemed that the next two rivers might be deeper, he suggested that 100km away there was a possibility to some how go around?

    So we said Da Svedenya to our helper

    [​IMG]


    and looked for a place to camp



    So naturally as slow learners we ascended a nearby hill, choosing remoteness from some Ger tents and a view over our problem river over any shelter from the wind

    You can just make out the white Ger houses down by the river
    [​IMG]



    Here we were quickly joined by two young boys on their 200cc, as it got closer to us you could hear it really struggling with the thin air and gradient that we had enjoyed blasting straight up just moments before, they were fascinated by the bikes, our food and...well everything really, I gave them some Haribo Gummi Bears I'd bought back in UB as I went about the business of settling down for the night and enjoying the views, thankfully after just staring at us for a while they headed down the slope before it got dark

    [​IMG]



    and so I soaked in the last shafts of light as the sun sank beneath the line of hills we wanted to reach on the far bank of the river


    [​IMG]



    And retired to the tent to decide what we should do next in awe of this beautiful land in front of me


    [​IMG]
    #98
  19. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    661
    The next morning we packed up slowly, I decided the next move was to take an exploratory trip, to see if we could find this shallower crossing point that had been possibly suggested by the 'Baywatch' horseman from yesterday.

    Nothing was very certain, it was clear that whilst he was no idiot and probably knew this area as well as anyone he had a limited experience in translating his knowledge of the area through the form of the map I had used to try and get him to show me, and with no common tongue all I'd determined was that something was 60-100km in the vague direction he had pointed (we had resorted to drawing numbers in the dirt)

    It was a risk in terms of fuel range, but it seemed our best hope to break through to the Northern Route! something we were so anxious to succeed in reaching, foolishly I allowed the pessimistic Frenchman we had met at the cafe days before steer my decision process, You will not make it, on these bikes, like this

    I was determined to prove him wrong, For Queen and for country and with a stiff upper lip! what what old chap!

    As we attempted to put away our camp we were alerted to the drone of a squadron of 200cc Shinrays, the Mongol hordes were approaching us! :D

    [​IMG]


    What followed was a surreal orgy of bike prodding and poking, we reciprocated by pointing out the pimped out accessories some of these guys had on their bikes, tassles, LED headlamps and other assorted tat but we were outgunned. All in all a cordial exchange but it took a little while, especially as I had to show them the GPS functions in full including showing them where Mongolia was in relation to where we had travelled from in the UK

    [​IMG]

    The thought of a group of bikers sporting swastikas approaching you would normally be less welcomed by a vulnerable foreign visitor, however one assumes its a reference to an earlier meaning in Buddhism the symbol means 'good' and it was reinvented by the Nazi's as part of their propaghanda

    We rode back along the trail from the day before before blindly taking a smaller track North in the hope it would go the right way, at this point I had no relevant mapping data, not on the GPS nor even a line on the large scale map of the Country, we were taking a wild stab in the dark with nothing to go on, this was pretty exciting:evil

    Somewhere in that day Ed dropped of again, I'd done the usual, riding for ten minutes and then just stop and wait thing, but it soon became clear something had stopped him?

    After nearly losing him yesterday, and all the fuel I had spent trying to find him, I had been a lot more cautious today, anything that could be construed a hazard had seen me stop and wait but we had literally been riding along a flat sand track flanked by grassy pasture? Oh well, perhaps a puncture or something? Best go take a look.

    Turned out his luggage had gone on the offensive, the bulky fleece lined hoodie he had brought along? had slipped the restraint of his bungee maze and been gobbled up hungrily by his chain and rear sprocket.

    The net result had been a rear wheel locked solid, we had to cut his jumper out and remove the rear wheel to free everything up

    Ed's favourite jumper!:D
    [​IMG]



    Blue Steel or Magnum? Ed fashions the garment derelique style as per Zoolander

    [​IMG]

    spot the difference?
    [​IMG]

    Having got back on the road again I was a little surprised that twenty minutes later we had to repeat the incident, lightning doesn't normally strike the same place twice!

    But Ed's the kind of guy to stand on top of the tallest mountain shouting 'By the power of Grayskull,I have the power' whilst holding his sword aloft in the middle of a storm

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein


    This time his favourite T-shirt got reduced to hamster bedding by his rear wheel

    [​IMG]


    He is one of a kind that boy, but we had a laugh about it, after all it wasn't my favourite t-shirt!

    On several occasions we had to go 'off piste' swapping some minor sheep track for one on the opposite hill, crossing boulder fields and riverbeds. The track got smaller and smaller, the sand got deeper and soon we were fenced in by crops which surely meant we were near a river? And then I saw hope in the form of a pale blue UAZ bread bin van,

    It was driving in the opposite direction to us, and that told me that there was 'something' in the direction it had come from, and whats more, if it had crossed the river then there was a strong chance we could also.

    I was a little surprised when I saw the river I'd hoped to be smaller than yesterdays, far from it, it was metres deep and flowed quickly!?!

    But more importantly there was a wooden structure and a ferry of sorts!:clap

    [​IMG]


    Although there was little alternative but to use the service I enquired to the cost of transit whilst annoyingly Chris De Burgh's song 'Don't pay the ferryman' went on as a sort of soundtrack in my head on an annoying loop. "Don't pay the ferryman, don't even fix a price, don't pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side"

    For reference the cost was 500 tugruk each, so about 25p I paid the ferryman in advance and gave the mini CdB that was singing in my head a two fingered salute:rofl

    I boarded the rickety catamaran, there was a sign that suggested this enthusiastic collection of welded together car panels was rated to take 10 ton across the river, I have no idea how this figure was derived, I found it hard to imagine there had been some inspection on this vessels welds or complicated loading calculation made, perhaps they put 11 ton in the last one and it sank?

    There was no engine, just a rudder which was turned so that the flow of the river gently steered the boat each way whilst a cable strung between each bank stopped us from going backwards.


    [​IMG]


    When I first rode off the ferry I realised Ed wasn't behind me, and given that I'd ridden only 200 metres this seemed odd, again I started to wonder if he'd crashed getting off the boat? But there were two Mongols who would pick him upright if that happened, I waited a few minutes, turned out the rear wheel of the KTM had pushed the barge away from the bank and he'd had to wait for the current to bring it back to shore


    Strangely the scenery seemed to change completely on this side of the river, the road became a golden sand and something about it made me think of Africa, in that moment I would not have been surprised to see a lion saunter across my path, But I had a great time on this twisty remote track, muscling the bike around and steering on the throttle with a new found confidence in the tyres, it was a great days riding.

    Q: What's the difference between a tiger and a lion ?
    A: A tiger has the mane part missing

    [​IMG]

    WCIP We Come In Pieces, the title of our project
    [​IMG]
    #99
  20. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,201
    Location:
    Kingdom of Belgium
    A piecefull ride indeed. :rofl