A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

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

  1. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    From all the things I carried I should have taken one extra with me, didn't think about the scarcity of parts while traveling. Later on, I damaged the rear brake cylinder, and riding this thing would be quite a thing.
    And yeah, never tried Couchsurfing until this trip and it proved to be the way to go to find accommodation in the bigger cities where camping or maybe a hotel wouldn't have been the same.
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  2. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    The hot balloons started early in the morning, at around 5:30 AM so I woke up early and without dismantling the camp I went up the hill with the motorcycle hoping to see the famous stamp of Cappadocia. It turned out that the balloons were canceled due to stronger wind than usual. Feeling a bit disappointed I had no option but to keep riding towards my next destination. Once again, I would have stayed easily an extra day, but the tight schedule wouldn’t allow me to do so. The first lesson learned from this first time riding long distances is to not have time constraints. Difficult to find a balance unless you ditch some obligations.

    I met the team “we are all Mongolians” of Romania doing the rally on a Suzuki Swift. We all had a coffee together in a cafeteria with the views of the national park. We then departed ways and I returned to the camping to pack everything up again. It was still quite early, around 7:30 AM or so but I had one of the longest days ahead. I was aiming to reach Erzincan and the plan for tonight was to wild camp somewhere on the way.

    Like other days it was hot like hell and I soon had to get rid of the jacket. Normally I would wear long sleeve shirts to avoid sunburns but today this also had to go in favor of comfort. There was a dry lake with what appeared to be salt on top, so I deviated from the main road to see it. The surface looked firm and dry. I decided to give it a try and go to the middle of the now-empty lake to take a nice picture. Bad decision, as soon as I started to get to the centre it started to turn extremely muddy and I ended up falling and the bike completely stuck in between the grease furrow I just made. With the heat I had to take all of the bags of the bike and manually take it out which took me a good half an hour. When returning for the bags the bike fell again as it wouldn’t stand not even on the central stand. Once again, I had to return to the bike lift it up and ride it while walking next to it, to get it to a firmer surface. Less from being frustrated, it served as a good reminder of what this bike is and that I should be changing tires soon. At least it wasn’t too heavy to lift.
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    When getting back to the main road, I started to notice a bit of resistance as if the bike had less power. The mud was now so thick and solid that the chain was struggling to move in the pinion shaft area. So, I stopped at one side of the road and took the tools out to dismantle the plastic cover and manually clean the mess. While doing this operation two trucks stopped to make sure I was ok and if I needed help of any kind. This never happened to me before! I then started to feel not only more comfortable but confident that if I had a major mechanical problem, I would be likely more able to put a solution to it by contacting the locals rather than calling my insurance. I was exhausted after all of this, so I stopped in the first village looking to find something to eat and a car wash. I thought many times on this trip that I was quite a lucky guy, this was again one of them. In the first restaurant, I stopped the guys there told me they had a pressure washer and that after lunch they will come with me to make sure both the gear and the bike were clean. The language we used was again German. I was also starting to get familiar with the Google Translator which worked surprisingly well. When some people back home asked me if I was ok riding solo, I always told them I was barely alone during the day. Maybe the only time I would miss the company would be only when camping at night but up until now I found the perfect balance as I was able to go at my own pace, visit what I wanted and be socially active with either locals or other travelers.
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    I had a pizza which was again really good and cheap and then we went with the guys to another house in the village where they had the machine. They let me use it as I wanted to wash all mud from the boots, saddlebags and the bike. They didn’t want any cash, but I kept insisting, this time with success. We had a group picture and I went back to the road. I still had much terrain to cover and if I was to get closer to Erzincan I had to take the main road. To my surprise this was not a boring road, it crossed some mountains and had nice views. I only had to stop every now and then to get hydrated and take some pictures. On one of these occasions, I stopped by mistake next to a military compound situated at the top of a mountain and when taking the camera the military came to me to make sure I deleted it.

    Then up ahead I met again the Romanians now with Valentin, a guy also doing the rally solo in a Dacia. He had a nice project for the trip which was to capture 1000 people smiling on camera. The guys were helping an Irish team with one of the latest RWD Volvos having trouble with the ignition. I needed a break so I stayed with them until they got it going. Plus, Valentin had camperized the Dacia and had good coffee ready so it was certainly a boost. Going on the bike required a SWAT kick as it was too loaded. Most of the times I will go on without a problem but this time I missed, and the bike went down due to the uneven surface in which I had stopped. I was starting to feel tired, luckily the guys helped me bring it up, and off we went riding in a convoy for a while.
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    It seemed that the Irish kept having more problems after an hour or so. They had already changed the condenser and the distributor cap so it might have to do with fuel delivery. Without a clear diagnostic, they decided to keep going slowly telling us to keep moving forward. They would be stopping in Erzincan to find a mechanic shop to take care of it properly. The road was getting deteriorated over time and it now had some loose gravel on top making the bike unstable, so I had to slow down as well. The sun was going down and I needed to find a place to pass the night. There were plenty of good places to camp but if I could find one with a source of water I would go there even if I had to ride a bit at night. I opened the iOverlander app to check if someone has done the homework for me and voila, there was one only 20 minutes up ahead.
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    The place turned to be perfect, with a good network, water, a nice flat surface behind a hill protecting the tent against the wind due to the high altitude, and a sky covered in a million of stars. I pitched the tent and prepared the fuel stove to cook something. I still had a bit of daylight, so I went to the top to check the landscape before it was completely dark. Then I got a hold of Simon asking for my coordinates. He was still a bit far away but the guy was a warrior, he didn’t care much about driving at night. So, I waited for him and I made some dinner and prepared tea for both of us. Simon ended up coming an hour later and after pitching the tent and drinking some tea we crashed on what probably was one of the best camping places in the trip.

    Attached Files:

  3. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    Yes, different types of riding. This is not a touristic sightseeing trip.
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  4. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    Bulgarian roads were confusing constant change of speed limited with traffic police and camera's everywhere
    I travelled from Sofia to Vidin and encountered over a 100 traffic police armed with speed camera's but once you are off the main roads they disappear
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Damn @guerreronegro, 300+ miles is a long day in the saddle; especially if you had to pick up the bike a few times and did some off-road segments. Really cool shots of your time in that village, so good to read about the continued hospitality you're shown as you travel. And that camp spot you have is fantastic; what a killer place to call home for the night.

    Glad you were able to get your bike out of that dry lake bed, that stuff is no joke.

    Appreciate the update, much needed respite :-)
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  6. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Yes, its almost as if they made it on purpose just to cash in. This would be also the case up ahead in the Stans but within rural areas.
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  7. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    Well I suppose they have to get the money from somewhere, there is hardly any functioning industries out there, when I was driving through there in 2019, most of the heavy industries looked abandoned and stripped of all metal and machinery lots of small villages is almost 50% abandoned compared to Romania and then there is the different opinions about what happened post Soviet era.
    Favourite drink in Bulgaria was Burgas 63 Rakia
  8. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Thanks again for the great update Guerrero!, I remember in the Stans we had to resort to our cargo of 60-proof galician licor café (Coffee-liqueur?) to make overzealous cops more relaxed :photog:rofl
    Oh and I also remember being amazed by turkish hospitality (outside of Istanbul).
    Keep it coming please!
  9. arkmyle

    arkmyle Adventurer

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    Not the worst kind of bike actually - super light and good mileage. 125cc twins tend to suffer from their additional internal friction though - barely any power advantage compared to 125cc singles unless you rev them like crazy.
  10. Speedtrap

    Speedtrap Adventurer

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    Really enjoying, thank you for taking me along.
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  11. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Lol, yeah I can get the picture haha. I was only pulled over like five times, more up ahead. I must have looked to them really miserable because I could get away both times without any bribing of any kind. They were more like the kind of guys willing to take a picture with you and check out the bike.
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  12. +venture

    +venture Been here awhile Supporter

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    A truly incredible read.
    Thank you for taking the time to share. Reading this is making my day.
    very inspirational. Keep it coming!
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  13. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    For the first time in this trip was I going to ride with someone for a few days. Simon and I got along quite well since the beginning. Plus having someone made me more confortable riding at night if ever, and we could apply economies of scale to go into a hotel. I was going to have plenty of days to ride alone so I was grateful to have some company during this part of the trip. We would separate ways in Georgia as he needed to be in Yerevan, Armenia, to get his Iran visa. Me on the other hand would continue towards Azerbaijan to take the famous ferry into Turkmenistan. I would have loved to jump in but I already felt I was going faster than what I would like to, to cross Iran in just a few days. When planning this trip, I thought if I ever was to visit Iran, it would be also almost as a separate trip due to the high bureaucracy costs of the carnet de passage and so on. I knew now from Simon that the carnet de passage was something that could be obtained at the border from a guy named Hussein. It seems to be the case that the guy can get you a temporary document equivalent to the carnet de passage in Iran but the price differs drastically whether you cross the border from Turkey, Armenia and Azerbiajan being Armenia the cheapest by far. At the time it looked quite shady to me but most of the ralliers crossing into Iran did it this way so I guessed it worked out just fine.
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    Anyways, we woke up with the sun as usual and prepared some breakfast taking advantage of the water supply to wash dishes, replenish water, etc. I couldn’t be happier with the fuel stove I bought online. I only had to take some fuel from the deposit of the Varadero with a hose and I was to cook in a few minutes. We decided we would try road D915 also known as the death road. The name due to the high drop from a really narrow unpaved road surrounding a mountain pass sitting at about 7000 feet.
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    We started our way stopping every now and then to take pictures. So far, I was loving Turkey and its variety of landscapes. Simon’s bike had a bit more trouble going up with a power difference of just 5 horses roughly I was able to climb a bit faster but it didn’t really matter. I waited for him enjoying the stunning landscape or adjusted to his speed. He had a lot of courage doing it in a bike like the Pulse Adrenalin. Whereas the Varadero had a strong sub-chassis, I could carry weight without much trouble. He, on the other hand, had a leather hand-made (by himself) saddlebag touching the plastic fairings on the rear against the exhaust. This, in the morning, would make us stop a couple of times as the plastic was burning at a fast speed, surprisingly the leather was withstanding the heat just fine. It seemed one of his cords had broken and now the saddle’s bag weight rested directly against the fairing. We stopped in a petrol station and had some tea while trying to see how to fix it.
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    The next stop was in Bayburt. We found a motorcycle shop where Simon could get and elastic cord to tilt the saddlebag in another angle. I took the chance and asked just in case they had a rotor that perhaps could fit the Varadero but it was a lost cause. I had tried to mend it with an adjustable wrench to stop the friction where it was warped without success. At this point I could see the precise point in which the disc was touching the pads and they were wearing at a higher rate. I was just hoping I would be able to find a solution on the way as I didn’t have any more spare pads for the front. The Georgians had got back to me saying they might have found something that could be adapted from another motorcycle. For now, I already had adjusted to brake with the rear wheel most of the time. Simon was also interested in getting a SIM card so after getting the punchy cord we went to a cell phone store nearby. The town was not too big so we would have to wait until the coast town of Rice.
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    We had some food in a local restaurant and of course some more tea. I realized that the word bathroom is the same in Turkish than in Spanish, “Lavabo” and wondered which language borrowed from whom. While in the restaurant I learned that the Turk language extends quite far away to Azerbaijan and most of the Stans being somehow intelligible by a native speaker. Some people there even said that it reached to Mongolia confirming also what Neyazi told me in Ankara.
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    We kept moving, the worst part was about to come. The tarmac from perfect it turned to gravel, and from gravel to just a path, not beaten yet not comfortable to ride. Going up we left some mist and clouds down leaving place to an incredible view. We had to go against the wind and you could feel how the bike had lost some of its power due to the altitude. Each turn was a different experience, going to the right felt as if I was towing 800 pounds whereas going right felt like having a turbo. For Simon this was even worse, but as he pointed out this was good training for the Pamir mountains with altitudes of more than 14,000 feet.
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    Going down to the other side of the mountain was a different story as the mist was quite dense and loaded with extreme humidity. The mist blocked most of the views, so we were just limited to focus on the tiny path and some of the upcoming traffic going up. I didn’t put my rain gear on because it wasn’t raining but I should have done it as I ended up soaking wet. The path got muddy making the sharp hairpin turns incredibly challenging with my road tires. Luckily this didn’t last long and after a few more miles we got back to the tarmac which wasn’t much better due to the condensation. We stopped in the first area with houses to rest a bit and look for a place to sleep as it was already getting dark. Rice, seemed to be only 30 minutes from where we were so we decided to go there in the look for a hotel to have a shower and put the clothes to dry. A local came to us curious to know more about ourselves. Again, the language barrier was an impediment and here the translator didn’t work due to the network. He was interested in knowing about our religion for some reason. He seemed quite hospitable and he insisted in inviting us to his house for something to eat I deduced. We kindly rejected and tried to explain to our best that we needed to get going to Rice before it got darker.
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    Saying goodbye to our new friend we continued going down the mountain and feeling how the bike regained back its lost power. We ended up riding in full darkness. I got to test the auxiliary lights which really made the difference in that last section. We made it at 9 PM and after checking a few hotels we found one near the city center. We parked the bikes with Simon’s lock together and checked in. After putting all clothes to dry in the balcony and a shower we finished the day with a delicious kebab. I missed a beer to drink but hopefully tomorrow I’d be having one once in Georgia.

    Attached Files:

  14. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Awesome trip, love your photos of Turkey! I think it was wise to not hurry through Iran but keep it for a separate trip.
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  15. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    It's from French - they have a lot of French words in Turkish. I see lavabo is a wash basin (that's a new Turkish word to me, cheers). Tuvalet is toilet pronounced the French way and duş is a shower. You've probably seen some Jandarma, and you can stay in a pansiyon and have your hair cut at a kuaför.
    Interesting that you use deposit for petrol tank, almost the same in Turkish - depo. I always say "depoyu doldurun lütfen" for fill the tank please.

    Yes, Turkic languages all the way. Except Tajikistan which has a Persian based language.

    Good to see you took the D915 - still on my to-do list.
  16. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Really interesting, I didn't associate it back then but now makes total sense
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  17. OierXT

    OierXT Freedom-searcher...

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    Hey guerreronegro, what an amazing trip you were having so far, thank you very much for your great writting and pictures. I've been to that part of Turkey in the past, riding my bicycle or my motorcycle, and have some really good memories of those times.

    By the way, I saw in some pictures that you carry some spanish military stuff with you, such as those beans you ate during that camping night. So, are you a soldier, or is it just that someone brought that to you? Just curious...

    I'm enjoying this fantastic Ride Report!
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  18. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Let's just say my last sponsor was the Ministry of Defense :D:D:D. I am not serving, but some friends gave me some rations to carry on the way. I always heard they tasted good and indeed, I should have taken more.
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  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Very much enjoyed the update @guerreronegro, the ride over that mountain pass looks like it was incredible - even with the clouds and mist that hampered some visibility. Looking forward to what comes next :-)
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  20. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    As an English teacher trying to learn Spanish I got curious, so looked it up:

    Pre-French: it's from the Latin "lavar" to wash, and then it's pre-Roman (Latin) "Italian"...but then go back a longs ways further to Proto-Indo-European. So at first it looks like the Romans spread it but then it turns out they may have inherited it from the same place the Turks inherited it...or perhaps *both* spread by the Romans (to Iberia, thru Europe...then to Turkey (Syria, Israel etc. et.) *and* met as familiar when they got to all those places. :)

    Loving this thread!