A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by guerreronegro, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. KC10Chief

    KC10Chief Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    148
    Location:
    Edmond, OK
    Well I just spent a few days binge reading this thing. Absolutely fantastic! One of if not THE best ride report I've read on this site. I love all of your interactions with people. It just goes on to confirm my suspicion that most people in the world are good people. I do believe I will be avoiding Turkmenistan in the near future though. I'm eagerly awaiting the next update!
  2. musicman

    musicman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Amazing!
    guerreronegro likes this.
  3. BMWs2Dave

    BMWs2Dave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    Napa, CA.
    Outstanding ride report @guerreronegro!
    I spent a few evenings this past week reading this ride report and really enjoyed it. thanks for posting it.
    So how did you get home after you arrived in Mongolia? Did you catch the train home or fly home to Spain?
    Why did you chose such a small cc bike to ride all of the way to Mongolia? It seems to me that 250cc or larger would have been a much better choice for more power to climb the huge mountains you had to cross.
    I doubt if I will ever do this ride to Mongolia, nor would I want to. Too much roughing it for my tastes. I would like a nice hotel and bed every night, and that was just not possible in these areas of the world.
    guerreronegro likes this.
  4. MJS

    MJS Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,082
    Location:
    Off the grid in San Felipe, Baja
    Not to speak for the OP but the rules of the Mongolian rally have limits on the eligible vehicles.

    And Mongolia is a fantastic place to ride. Wife and I rode a large portion of the Sibersky Extreme trail including Mongolia and we only camped one night and not in Mongolia. While we originally planned to camp more we could have avoided even that one night with a little bit of planning.
    stiernan and guerreronegro like this.
  5. BMWs2Dave

    BMWs2Dave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    Napa, CA.
    That would explain why all of the vehicles I saw pictures of participating in the rally were small low $$ value beater cars.
    I did not see any pictures of newer high $$ value vehicles participating. I thought that was odd.
    I suppose a new Mercedes Sprinter van outfitted as a camper would make things too comfortable and eliminate the risk of mechanical breakdowns, which seemed designed to be part of the challenge with old beater vehicles.
  6. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    The main idea was to flight back home like many of the teams did. The company behind the rally was meant to sort the train transport for us from Ulan Ude to Estonia but this was just for cars, not motorcycles. So after spending a few days in Ulan Ude calling a few train operators I decided the best way would be to just ride back and get to fully enjoy mother Russia.
    Regarding the bike's size it was imposed on us. Some years they would allow a bit more cc as exeptions but this would be very old motorcycles. I was happy to ride the Varadero, it proved highly reliable and comfy due to the two cylinders. In words of the organizers, the cc restriction is meant for the means of transport to have break downs and interact more with the locals. i would only miss having a bigger bike just for suspension upgrades and maybe a bit more power, this ultimately made me go thorugh main roads. I guess this demonstrates that almost any bike can travel the world providing that.
    And with the accomodation thing, almost every day I camped there were alternatives for accomodation, some of them very decent. With the app iOverlander and openstreetmaps you can get almost all choices in real time with an offline connection.
  7. EGUS

    EGUS n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2019
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Barcelona
    Hi Guerrero Negro! just wanted to say I really love your RR, started to read it as I am planning a shorter trip to Mongolia, probably sending the bikes to Georgia/kirguistan, but will have to wait till 2022 due to actual restrictions in the stans... really really enjoyed it and how you solve the situations. big applause!!

    por cierto, coudn't believe on your first day report, as I saw a working mate, Juan!! I remember he just told me about you when you went to his house on your start of the trip, he was as illusionated to recieve you as if he was going himself! love that you made it and want to see how was the returning trip.

    gracias!!
    guerreronegro likes this.
  8. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Got an early start today. After a bad night sleep with the mosquitos and horses, sleeping in this hotel fixed me up for what was to happen the next days. I met Jorge downstairs in the cafeteria and had some breakfast. We decided to skip the main road and take an apparently more direct route into the Gobi Gurvan Shaikan. This route passed through the towns of Biger, Chandmani, and Bayanbulag going in parallel with the main route so in case we would run into trouble, it would be a backup plan.

    After breakfast we went to a grocery shop down the street to resupply. There we met with the offroadpeople, a group of experienced riders from Russia doing heavy off road. One of their members, Andrei, had been injured and was also there. He gave me a sticker to have as a souvenir. They wrote and record a RR with video of their adventure I definitely recommend to check: https://advrider.com/f/threads/incredible-planet-mongoliya-2019.1441730/
    IMG_20190828_100533.jpg

    DSC02866.JPG DSC02863.JPG
    Once out there we soon realized the lines in the map were a funny interpretation of roads. This was pure Mongolia, where multiple paths emerged and followed a common direction only to split a few meters into multiple ramifications. We did not carry any track, so we started to get oriented by a combination of asking locals, following electric posts, and checking the compass every now and then. Soon the terrain started to get very sandy and corrugated. Jorge’s GS had some trouble due to weight and he dropped it a couple of times. Good thing we were together in this as lifting that bike fully packed was not an easy task. My Varadero, even though it was fully loaded was able to pass sand somehow decently.
    20190828_000903.jpg 20190828_010912.jpg IMG_20190828_140323.jpg
    After a few kilometers the sand went away but the corrugation was extreme. I started to try different speeds to see which affected less the suspension and my body. The top case gave out and I had to stop to secure it better. Biger, the first town which was only 100 Km away took 4 hours to cover. Me and Jorge both realized that at this rate we would not be able to meet our schedule commitments so upon arriving to Biger we rethought the strategy. We stopped in a supermarket and bought instant noodles. The same lady there was kind enough to give us hot water to cook them. We again saw the offroadpeople passing as we ate. There bikes could handle this terrain much better, it was a different game for them. From Biger, in the map there was a left turn going to Horhoo which led to the main road, it was likely another 100 km of the same terrain.
    DSC02869.JPG
    makad, MotoSly, Red liner and 21 others like this.
  9. BMWs2Dave

    BMWs2Dave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    Napa, CA.
    I have a better idea to get to meet the locals. Allow participants to ride newer vehicles, and put signs on them in the local languages that say "I am rich and single and am looking for a wife".
    you will receive great hospitality from the locals. :lol3

    If this rally was being organized in the USA, and if someone broke down in a remote area and died from hunger/thirst or cold/heat, the organizers would get sued for exposing people to unnecessary danger forcing them to drive old unreliable vehicles.
    Dibss and guerreronegro like this.
  10. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    The funny part is that as soon as we left Biger we got lost in the labyrinth of paths across the massive steppe. We did make it to Horohoo and crossed a tiny river, but after that it was pretty much an exercise of following the compass northeast to try and find the main road. The gravel tracks were significantly better and not corrugated like the previous ones, so that was good fun out of just riding. I had a close call in an apparently flat surface that all of a sudden had a massive hole in what was a mini-canyon but fortunately nothing happened. Jorge was enjoying his GS much better in this terrain also. We kept following a track that seemed to converge in a main track but in the way it didn’t and soon we realized we got lost.
    IMG_20190828_182525.jpg
    We had two options, to keep following the compass until we found that main road which seemingly was very close by cutting through the crude steppe. It seemed like a good option after spending the last two hours not sure of where we were heading. A main road should be easy to see in the plain landscape we thought, but it definitely was not the case. The other option was to ask, and we got this just on time as a fully loaded van and a Toyota Prius appeared out of nowhere. It seemed to be a family that lived around. They were so enthusiastic to see and talked with us that in the end they decided to guide us the remaining 20 km to the main road. It was by no means easy, there were many tracks each with different degrees of off-road difficult, sand, corrugation, stones, or a lack of consistent trail to later reappear again.
    IMG_20190828_190539.jpg
    20190828_060843.jpg 20190828_065337.jpg
    We finally arrived to the road and soon realized why we didn’t see it from a distance. It was not built yet. Seems like the good asphalt had been cut at some point shortly after passing Altai and they were currently under construction of some of the new sections leading to Bayanghonkor. We were so grateful for this family for guiding us and much like other times sad to see them go. The two men in the picture gave us some milk to have for the night, I gave the kids some of the candy I bought in Olgii. Now with Jorge we had to see were to pitch the tent, so a few kilometers after following parallel to the under-construction road we found a tiny hill where to set camp. It was a good thing to have company, specially after the end of the day. We cooked some pasta and tea while talking contemplating a perfect sky free of light pollution.
    20190828_081907.jpg

    Attached Files:

    makad, DC950, klaviator and 30 others like this.
  11. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    20190828_191832.jpg
    Camping in that place was just perfect, good weather, no wind and completely peaceful. We woke up with the sun and made some breakfast, I had some tea and we used some of the milk the locals gave us yesterday. While we repacked, we talked about yesterday and how the best option to re-route back in the Gobi was to make it first to Bayanghonkor. We would be following what was supposed to be the main road via the parallel tracks. We had both the GPS as a reference and some sporadic construction sites to guide us through, so we didn’t end up lost like yesterday. I also locked the compass direction fixed to Bayanghonkor coordinates as an extra help. The GPS maps would sometimes show the road but it just did not correspond to reality, either because the locals have made an alternative track with their vehicles or because the terrain was just impracticable, so they were no reliable source.
    IMG_20190829_121433.jpg
    Once on the bike, it turn out it was much easier to navigate than yesterday. Sometimes we would have to make corrections implying going back half a mile to get the correct path but other than that it was pretty straight forward. We ran into beautiful scenery, more camels and also some yurts with locals in between. We stopped in one of those small villages to buy some water and refuel. There was a store in one of the yurts but the people here all they seemed to want was just money as they kept insisting pointing at the wallet. Not the most pleasant experience or maybe just a cultural difference, I don't know. I also understood what they told me about Mongolians not having a sense of private property as both childs and adults would jump in the motorcycle without talking to us and even try the helmet on.
    IMG_20190829_113736.jpg
    I was very happy to be riding with company once again but I did not want Jorge to lay behind schedule given the massive difference in motorcycles. He didn’t seem to mind my pace; I struggled a lot with the heavy corrugation of the tracks but I was more agile than him over rocks and sand so that kind of equilibrated the balance. The biggest difference was evident once we hit some small segments of paved road in which I could not pass 60mph. It was very bizarre to see how they were so arbitrarily building the road not as a continuation of a previous paved road, but rather in the middle of nowhere so to made it communicate eventually with the already built bits. This made it quite difficult to navigate as the access was not there just jet and the path converged somehow. We got lost a couple of times figuring out alternative paths to bypass the roadblocks but eventually made it to the next village were we ate something.
    20190829_001526.jpg 20190829_001538.jpg 20190829_002435.jpg
    20190829_022426.jpg IMG_20190829_153418.jpg
    The day passed by trouble free, without falling despite hitting some sand segments, and we kept a good rhythm overall. Physically though I was exhausted. I was very glad I put those neoprene protectors for the suspension forks back in Spain. These were working probably as they were never designed to do so, yet they had no leaks. Most of the things in the back of the top case were extremely worn due to vibrations. Today it was almost 200 Km of pure off-road and while in the pictures they can go disguised as decent tracks, these were in reality truly beaten paths. When we arrived in Bayanghonkor, we took a break at the grocery shop while figuring out the next move for the last 2 hours of sunlight.
    20190829_010904.jpg 20190829_010839.jpg
    klaviator, MotoSly, chilolac and 26 others like this.
  12. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,795
    Location:
    Concord, CA

    The last item on the right for 900 Tugrik: Buuz. It’s a dumpling filled with lamb and onions and then fried. SO DELICIOUS AND CHEAP! I could eat one every day. I think I did try at one point in Mongolia!

    Loving the RR!

    Tahoe
    chilolac and guerreronegro like this.
  13. Manifold

    Manifold Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,473
    Location:
    Earth
    Been following this since you started, young man. You have the right attitude. A smile and a handshake open doors.

    One of the best RR's on AVrider. Experiences, wide open, no ego bullshit. Many thanks.

    One of the lesser known aspects of Islam is that they generally welcome the stranger. Their Prophet encouraged travel as a way to gain knowledge and strength, equal to book learning, and as such Muslims favour the lone traveller and look after them. (Gets bonus points with Allah :) )

    And in general, regardless of religion, foreign travellers are a source of great interest and fascination. It's that human thing. Break bread, exchange cultures. A disappearing trait, unfortunately

    Obviously that doesn't strictly apply in the regions where extremism has taken hold, but thats a whole different subject and we won't go into the why and wherefor here.

    May your travels be long and your memories a lifetime.
  14. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,795
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    Uh... not to discount the hospitality, or beliefs, of many Muslim and Mongolian friends... you do know @Manifold that most Mongolians are not Muslim....
  15. Manifold

    Manifold Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,473
    Location:
    Earth
    Indeed I am. I posted that when I was half way through the thread, pre-Mongolia.
  16. Dibss

    Dibss Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    753
    I suspect the further east you go, the old ways - hospitality towards strangers etc. - are still alive and well, irrespective of religions.

    Come to think of it, from some of the RR's on here - it appears to be a similar story in South America and Africa. I wonder sometimes whether it's more to do with the lack of (on the whole) of consumerism etc.

    Loving the RR tho and the pictures are awesome.
    guerreronegro and squadraquota like this.
  17. svneko

    svneko What?

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    197
    Not to hijack the thread, but this seems to be human nature. The poor generally give more in charitable donations as a proportion of income than all other classes, with the exception of the very rich ( for whom it is very easy to give). And that is just for trackable donations. My experience is that the common man is far more likely to lend a hand or a tool or a snack than the more well to do.
  18. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,795
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    In my travels I have found that those with the least to give are the first to offer what they have.

    I try to be a traveler and not a tourist. I never forget where I am from and try to avoid the stereotype of “the typical”....

    Tahoe
  19. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,395
    Location:
    Out There Somewhere
    Yes yes, this.
    live2ridetahoe likes this.
  20. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Oh we had plenty of those also in another town and yes indeed indeed, they were delicious. They remembered me of China, I had these almost every day when living there, and also Russia on the way back they were a popular choice at every restaurant.




    This is definitely right. Regardless of religion people here are playing a whole different game which gets back to the most basic foundations of human nature. Our game is mostly (or should be at least) about making a living of making products or services other people in society benefit from. Sadly from an economist perspective, all I have seen ever since born, is an artificial monetary supply that has made these products and services oftentimes irrelevant and worst, our society falling prey of capitalism evils becoming more and more artificial in their human relations putting money before the individual.
    In this part of the world, same as Africa, same as any underdeveloped state, they might not have much materialistic staff on property but it is not yet clear to me they even want to, their priorities are vastly different and generally focused at the family nucleus. Realists would say human nature is mean by nature but I find this only applies at a larger scale. Tribal conflict or state conflicts origin due to insecurities at many levels, for which a traveler on a motorcycle does not seem to be too much of a threat, in the worst case maybe a collateral. And liberals tend to be more optimist but because forcing their scheme of doing things upon others without respect for ancient traditions (pax democratica and predecessors). I try to avoid this in as much as possible riding alone as it is basically asking for trouble one way (economic toll) or the other (violence backfire), maybe this aligns with Tahoe's stereotype of the typical.