A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

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

  1. Manifold

    Manifold Long timer

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    I think rain and cold are the biggest test for a rider on these trips. Once you get wet you get cold and miserable, and it can beat you down very quickly.

    I did a trip from Denmark through Germany a few years back. Started raining in Denmark and continued to the ferry and was bouncing down by the time I landed in Germany. Turned out to be the worst storm they have had for a few years and by the time I approached Hamburg it was getting dark, I couldn't see shit for the spray and rain on the Autobahn, my gloves were soaked, water had found its way in at every cuff and gap and I was making bad mistakes of judgement.

    Pulled into a gas station, got a coffee, looked up the nearest decent looking accommodation on Booking.com and booked it there and then. It was about 25km away by minor roads and that last stretch was the worst of my riding experience, pouring down, couldn't see a thing, frozen cold. Found the place, got booked in, hot shower, dry clothes, they rustled up some late hot food and a beer for me, and I watched the skies pour down under the street lights outside.

    It's an experience you will not forget, young man :)
  2. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    WOW this story just keeps on surprising! That last bit had me holding my breath! Thank you very much, once gain for continuing this amazing story.
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  3. dancingweasel

    dancingweasel Virtual Tourist

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    Yes, you will remember this trip always. As Pink Floyd say 'the memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of the man in his prime.
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  4. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Next morning, the weather was still cloudy and windy. I took my time to get ready, trying to dry the clothes as much as possible with a hair drier in the room. I lost much motivation to continue but I had to keep going, there was not much of a choice. The time left I had was running out, and besides there was no reason to believe weather would be getting better in mid-September around this part of Europe. This is what I signed for and hence, I was subject to accept this responsibility.

    Rain seemed to be contained and so I thought my strategy to at least move a few miles west, at least, until rain started to appear once again. In that case, I promised this time to just stop as soon as possible and not be exposed to the rain element. They say strategies can change but the objective must be firm. I had trouble digesting this in short term situations like this one.

    I said goodbye and thanks to the family and started my first 15 minutes in the secondary roads leading back to the motorway. I stopped for a few minutes in the junction just before entering really thinking if I should do this again. It was not nearly as bad as yesterday but I had now more respect for this road. Wind was quite strong and once again I would not be able to exceed 80 kph which meant trucks would be passing me. My bike choice was clearly an awful one for European infrastructure, so I had to manage psychologically my exposure to danger in heavy-traffic motorways. A game of patience, just like when enduring deserts, awful dirt roads and other perils along the way.

    Just a few miles from the junction I found a good truck area restaurant and I stopped for breakfast. The upper clothes were still a bit wet and I need to get some heat with hot food. I still remember those delicious Polish soups as I write these lines. Luckily the skies cleared a bit more and today it was just a battle against the wind. As I crossed into Germany this got even better and so I thought to carry on in as much as possible. When the skies were completely cleared it was impossible to resist stopping in this rest area to finish drying the boots. I had a few coming thoughts to pitch the tent there as this was the best part of the day by far. Seeing the sun gave me more energy than all redbull drink so far. IMG_20190918_164103.jpg IMG_20190918_132103.jpg IMG_20190918_132147.jpg

    I did not plan any accommodation but I saw many signs advertising "zimmers" on the way approaching Berlin. Not that it was my intention to enter the city due to a lack of time but the GPS made me deviate from the motorway which was certainly a relief. The first two ones I tried were full, so I searched on booking one more time. I was tired and instead of booking for today I must have confused the dates and ended up booking for the next month. Arriving there and realizing this mistake was another blow. Now it was dark but things were not that bad, at least there was a clear sky and I was in a rural area with little traffic.

    I found another room in the town of Parcher one hour and a half away from where I was looking. I had to ride through a secondary road to get there. The place was great to finally dry all my clothes and take another re-comforting hot shower. I spend the last minutes checking the maps and forecasting an ETA home. Best case scenario two days, and worst four days. Tomorrow I would try to reach Belgium and spend some time with one of the Mongol Rally participants with whom I said goodbye in Mongolia. It had only passed 17 days since we last saw each other. Time flies in my side of the equation. I was looking forward to hearing how other have processed this experience so far.

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  5. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    In the morning I studied once again the map to see which route I would take from Belgium to Spain. As much as I had the time of my life doing this trip, I was sick of cruising Europe on a rush. Motorways looking like death-traps and putting more hours that the average lorry driver on the road were just not fun. Looking so much at a map was a signal for being homesick and wanting to put an end. Besides, I was missing the surprise factor; Europe was way too predictable in these staged. Creating expectations was something I should avoid though, even though the remaining distance was not too much, the weather could still turn around in a flip of a coin and make it a challenge in the two days I estimated I had left

    IMG_20190919_092027.jpg

    After breakfast I attempted to start the bike but surprise! the battery was out. Like many others say when it comes to adventure, solutions seem to come sometimes without even looking for them. The owner had an old-school battery charger capable of reviving the battery in a matter of minutes so after waiting some time, battery was now able to crank the engine just fine. The weather was also great and all I had to do was basically ride for 9 hours on a straight line crossing briefly the Netherlands and into Belgium. Petrol prices were insane no matter where I looked, this time I refueled in a Shell in the Netherlands next to the motorway. My brain was just too tired to process financial information at this point. It seemed like the battery had recovered on a half day of riding. While I had daylight, I turned the main light off to allow it to charge a bit more just in case. I would not stop to change it unless it was strictly necessary and at this point I knew I could even crank it in first gear by gaining just a bit of speed.

    I arrived at Kortenberg still with daylight and spent the rest of the day with my friend Sissy. Going back to the routine can be difficult to process she explained me. I did not put much thought into this, I guess I would experience it myself in two days. It couldn’t be too bad, instead of uncertainty now everything would seem much easier, there was nothing wrong with that. What it was true at that point is that now that riding had become a habit it would feel weird not to use the motorcycle every day for long distances.

    It would be exactly 70 days at this rate since I left home. Looking back now I was full of unfounded fears and overprepared. I would have likely carried less things, especially spare parts. On the other hand, most of the stuff I took I used at some point, though not everything was used consistently throughout the trip. I might have camped 35% of total days. This might not seem like a lot but some of these places were unique in its own sense.

    Now that I was about to finish the trip, I can confirm what I once heard from another overlander. With determination, you will get there regardless of the bike brand, bicycle or even on foot. Determination must be your driver, and this, I reckon, is what got me going in the toughest stages. Many thoughts like these came into the conversation and it truly was one good night catching up with all things rally related.

    With a few beers and a good dinner, it was not difficult to reconcile sleep. The last thought of the day was that tomorrow might be the last day of this adventure and that soon I will start to deal whether I liked it or not with going back to the routine.

    Attached Files:

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  6. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Woke up the next morning and had some nice breakfast with Sissy. Yesterday and today´s morning was quality time and after finishing breakfast, I said what was likely the last goodbye in this trip. Even though I had good quality sleep, this day was going to be energy consuming. Google Maps let me know of around 14 hours to Burgos. It was doable, I have been exposed to this kind of riding many times in this trip and besides, today was good weather.

    But, for some reason, as I passed Paris my energy started to go down and decided I would camp somewhere in the middle. I could tell when stopping in the petrol stations my focus was not right. Paris traffic was too heavy but cars are aware of bikes and let you pass with lots of space. I tried catching some toll roads but it was a bad experience. The cabins were automatized and they had to read my license plate when exiting the road and because it was too small and from another country they would not let me go occasioning a traffic congestion right behind me. Finally a person had to come to my help and lift it manually. After this I decided to just go on the free secondary roads which besides had a nicer landscape.
    IMG_20190920_180726.jpg
    Manu who I was in cntact with, wrote me from Moscow and let me know I could pitch the tent in the rest areas in the French motorways and I was willing to try this out. However, when looking for a good area, I also found signs for a camping post so I followed this instead. It had good reviews in maps.me and it was next to Lussais, a good distance commitment for tomorrow. I even had some hours of daylight to enjoy. The camping was almost empty for tents but had activity in the pub. It turned out it was owned by an Englishman and his clients were mostly English as well. I completed the remaining diary entries and after a good dinner and beers, it was time to have my last tent night.
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  7. Nissedasapewt42

    Nissedasapewt42 n00b Supporter

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    When heading home after a trip the worst bit is always the last few stages - you're tired, there's nothing to look forward to, you want to get back but also you want to be heading in the opposite direction, things you would have dealt with earlier in the trip as a slight inconvenience are now a major hassle. I'm not surprised you were slowing down - the body and the brain were both slowing down after all the energies of travelling and I expect you were thinking more about the next few weeks than the next few hours. Good decision to come off the motorway - they're no place for a driver/rider who doesn't want to be there!
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  8. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    Yeah, I've never liked French toll roads. And they're expensive!
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  9. BadPoet

    BadPoet Proper grammar is over-rated

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    Well it took a while but finally I am all caught up. Great report. Well done. You have a great style of writing and traveling. However I recommend you go back to using the word “ deposit”. Tank is just too boring . Thanks for including the map each day as it just added to my enjoyment being able to expand and contract to track your progress. There is a book I will recommend that I think you will enjoy called “On the trail of Genghis Kahn” by Tim Cope. He rides a horse 10,000 km from Mongolia to Hungary. Along the way he delves into the history of the Mongols. Fascinating read.
    Keep up the good work. I look forward to the next installment and the next adventure.
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  10. Motón

    Motón Adventurer

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    Supongo que ya estarás en casa. Gran aventura.
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  11. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Programmed obsolescence hit my 10-euro Chinese inflatable mattress as I woke up feeling the grass on where I pitched the tent. This was a good investment but now that the trip had come to an end, I took the garbage can at the entrance of the campingn as a sign to dispose of it. The same would happen with the saddle bags. They had withstood loads of stress since Tajikistan where I had a close one against a van and were ripped from the costure. I would dispose of them as soon as I arrived home as they were no longer water resistant. I was pretty satisfied with the low-cost gear I have brought with me though. For the next trip I would look something more premium quality but still soft.

    The morning started with fog and humidity, but I was positive and I was already visualizing home as I put my helmet on. Some of the English people around in the camping came to say goodbye interested on the bike as I finished packing. We had a few words while cleaning some of the sand glued to the tent still in there from the Volga river. I continued then on the secondary roads parallel to the main motorway. The tiny Varadero engine was running perfectly fine and as I crossed into Spain I started to have a few flashbacks of all it had to go through. Despite of bad petrol, constant abuse in the red line and engine knocking, it idle great and there was not even a leak of oil in the rocket covers. The only major problem was the front disc which by now it was fried, the rear brake cylinder now replaced, and a rear bulb. That was it. I still did not know what to do with it as it felt like an extension of me at this point, but this kind of bike doesn’t make much sense with the motorway infrastructure in Europe and so to travel or commute the power delivery makes it not the safest option out there.

    I had some lunch in Irun where prices for both petrol and food were a bit more economical and then continued to Vitoria Gasteiz where I would meet with my friend Pablo for a beer. It was something different to see familiar faces from people after 70 days. The whole experience felt great, he had been following almost every day of the trip in social media and had many questions. I then found out it was difficult to explain many of these experiences and was once again grateful to have written the diary entries down every day. I have never been good at summarizing events so all I could tell him was fragments that randomly appeared in the flashbacks i had on my way there.

    Writing this story in Advrider it has been one good way to keep all these good memories alive while sharing it. I still have to decide whether if I would add an extra layer of detail and try to present it as a book project, but at least the biggest part has been taken care of.

    From Vitoria to Burgos it was just one hour. Seeing the sign that delimits the city of Burgos was something it was taking me time to digest. I had passed through this same spot thousands of times but I felt the need to stop and reflect a bit. It would be the first night after 70 days that I did not have to look for a place to sleep, nor all the details that that only decision implied in the process. I had just riden 30,000 km through 27 countries. If something, this trip has been about social interaction with other people and confronting the stereotype of the dangerous unknown. From the last family in Mongolia that gave Jorge and me shelter, to all of the friends they had hosted me in Europe, and passing to many surrealistic experiences like random Russian strangers giving me rubble notes or food, I must thank all who made this trip probably the trip of my life and had taught me so much about life as such.
    IMG_20190921_194218.jpg
    My family was the last checkpoint in today’s list. They were the first ones not too keen with this whole idea but after 70 days it was an emotional meeting. I had no time to chill much, we caught up in a well deserved dinner and tomorrow I would be heading to Madrid directly, I had to pack all my stuff to make it back to the routine.

    Psychologically it was going to take some time for me to process all the experiences lived like Sissy mentioned. I was not too consicious about it until I met Pablo and the family. Going from the overlander reality to the "old normal" was going to take time to process. I am not a fan of social media but I must say many days it boosted me spiritually and emotionally, reading all support messages from close friends and even some of the people I got to meet along the way. Shortly after, I went ahead with the decision of deleting social accounts because I am still struggling to accept how social engineering is taking this both as an input and output in our society.

    I thank you all who have been following this thread for the comments and feedback, it has been an interesting experience, specially to write it under COVID. This made me appreciate much more the trip and the final decision to start it back in 2019. I thank also all people and supporters that donated cash for the Mongol Rally´s NGOs. Thank you all.

    Attached Files:

  12. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Couldnt have put this in better words myself... indeed a strange feeling and a hard one to tackle not to enter in a pessimistic spiral

    Thanks for reading it, Im glad you liked it. I take note for the book, cheers!

    Gracias y si, llegue a mediados de septiembre de 2019. No ha llovido ni nada jeje. Tenía los diarios hechos pero lo quería estructurar mejor y por eso empecé a escribirlo aquí en diferido. Saludos.
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  13. mrsdnf

    mrsdnf Long timer

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    Firstly thanks for sharing this amazing trip of yours guerreronegro.
    Secondly I admire your abilities in all things.
    All the best on the future trips of which I will follow along with great interest. :clap
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  14. nutmagnet

    nutmagnet Long timer Supporter

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    Totally awesome ride report.What an adventure you had!
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  15. Geezerguy

    Geezerguy In the shadows Supporter

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    Thanks for taking us along on your amazing adventure. Even though it was long over when we read about it, you did an excellent job of documenting your trip and making it seem like we were on the trip with you.
    All the best in whatever you do.
  16. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

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    Great story and glad you finally took the time to write it.
    Thanks!
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  17. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

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    Thank you for taking us along on this adventure GN. Mongolia is a very special place for me too. All of our trips end, sooner or later. I really loved following this one. Good on you mate!

    Tahoe
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  18. Nissedasapewt42

    Nissedasapewt42 n00b Supporter

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    Thank you, I've really enjoyed your trip report and enjoying seeing a new post land.

    I just found this video after browsing the Mongol Rally website which you and others might find interesting:
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  19. Old Codger

    Old Codger Been here awhile Supporter

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    WOW I hate to see this ride report end what an amazing story. you will do well in the future with this kind fortitude thanks for taking me along. :clap:clap
  20. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    BRAVO!

    Thank you so very much for continuing this fantastic report to the end. It was one of the absolute best reports ever of a epic trip!
    Cheers, and be well.