Russia, Mongolia, Stans & Beyond - On a GSXR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 7days1shower, May 21, 2019.

  1. MJS

    MJS Long timer

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    300 km a day was about our pace across Russia also. If you just wanted to do big mileage days you could've come to the States and blasted across the interstates. Sounds like your trip is going okay. Best advice I can give is to relax and go with the flow.

    I'm enjoying your reports.
    #41
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  2. steingar

    steingar higher life form

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    So nice to see someone doing a big ride without some mutant dirt/touring bike hybrid. Could do violence though, knobbies on a GSXR? In for a penny, in for a pound says me.

    Steingar, who rode everything seen in this report and worse on an unmodified Honda Hawk 400 with worn street tires.

    Still, utterly epic ride. Good luck to the OP.
    #42
  3. willibauer

    willibauer Been here awhile

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    great report, thanks for taking the time and posting this.
    Quite a trip with that bike..with any bike. Maybe if you can do this, i can too...someday...
    #43
  4. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Leaving Mogocha following morning was a slow start but was back on the road, tagging along with Alexei and Ulya for a bit whilst the 2 Ukranian bikers took off towards Vladivostok.

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    From the left; me, Sasha from Iron Angels Mogocha, Alexei, his girlfriend Ulya, the 2 Ukranian riders

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    Another fairly uneventful ride to the small town of Chernyshevsk which was my halfway stop before Chita the next day. I did meet another Russian biker, Denis, on the way who was also headed to Chita

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    I had been working towards Chita for 2 reasons. Firstly, since Vladivostok, the road signs had the furthest distance listed as Chita so I had been seeing the numbers slowly tick downwards from over 2000km. Secondly, the NZ biker I had met on the ferry, had a tailshaft failure 3 days into his ride and was now waiting out the parts arrival at a bike post in Chita.

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    So when I finally arrived at the bike post I was very happy to find not only Mehmet there but also Alexei from the Mogocha bike post and Denis who I had met on the road!

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    Getting to the bike post was an absolute headache though! It was good in a way that I didn’t hve to cut through the traffic of Chita city in order to get to the bike post as it was on the outskirts of town. However, it was 2km down a dirt road.

    As my luck would have it, Chita had gotten some extremely heavy rain the day before so that dirt track now had some huge puddles.

    I did try to go around some but at one point nearly dropped the bike as the sides were still muddy and slippery but also on an angle.

    And for the biggest one that couldn’t be avoided, I just went for it. Although I did realise later that I made the mistake of putting my foot down right into the puddle when I lost some balance. That foot could’ve gone straight down into the mud and things could have ended very poorly.

    A photo of the trail the following morning, the puddles were much worse but you get the idea

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    The bike had been in past the swingarm into the mud now and was a mess I’d try to clean up in Ulan Bator where; simply couldn’t be bothered now.

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    The bike post was a lot bigger than the last one but also in a much worse state. But again, if you needed a place to rest or work on your bike; this was it.

    Denis’ regulator had burnt out so they rigged up a new one in a location with more airflow…under the footpeg!

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    The other point worth mentioning about Chita is that since Vladivostok everyone (mainly Russians) had been saying to be careful in this area because of ‘bandits’. This included a local female biker I met in a café while having a meal. The only response I had was that I have to believe people are good
    I suspect a lot of weight is given to this point due to the death of the Japanese motorcyclist who was murdered in this region in recent years; an occurrence pretty much everyone seems to know about

    The girl in this pic rode a 300 Ninja and told me to watch out for bandits...

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    Thinking that this would be a quiet night, I turned into bed at 1030pm. How wrong I was
    At around 11pm, I heard my name being yelled out from behind singing and music. I chose to ignore it…at first. Figuring I could always sleep once I’m back home, I ventured out to find 2 new additions to the bike post; A Russian girl and Argentinian guy couple whose van had its frame snap 200km out of Chita. So now, here they were.

    Again, out came the vodka and before I knew it, it was 3am!

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    Biker generosity

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    Unsurprisingly, I didn’t leave till 1pm the following day. Whilst most people did the 600km to Ulan Ude, I again did a 300km stretch to a halfway town of Khilok

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    As I rode in, yet again, a biker flagged me down and helped guide me to my gastinitsa simply because he felt it was his duty to help out another biker

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    This is in addition to the numerous times I’ve been stopped or approached by people in cars who come to tell me that they are bikers too and show me photos of their sportbikes….maybe it’s a sportbike thing and the Gixxer gets their attention?

    During dinner in Khilok, 2 guys staying in the same gastinitsa started up a conversation with me (one an engineer and the other a soldier both travelling for work) and it turns out it was in Khilok that the Japanese biker was murdered!

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    Onwards to Ulan Ude! The last city before the border crossing into Mongolia. The original plan was to visit Lake Baikal from here but to be very honest, I’m just too tired to be bothered. Plus, I’m also about 3 days behind on my rough schedule although that’s not such a big deal

    I even thought about staying along the highway instead of coming into Ulan Ude so I could just carry onto the border the next day.

    However, after battling traffic and crazy roads to get in, I was very happy with the room and a chance to get clean and rest. Plus I wanted to see the big Lenin head!
    #44
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  5. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I’m now in Mongolia!

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    I was supposed to get here yesterday but I woke up in the morning and every part of my body just hurt too much so a rest day it is! I also figured I’d been riding every day for 8 days so it was about time

    Crossing into Mongolia was much easier than expected too. I had been told to expect a 4 hour crossing so I woke up at 430am with the intent to leave by 530am…which turned to 630am but I was still done with all border formalities within an hour!

    An extra hour was added to that by the insurance lady being off for lunch so had to wait for her return
    I had planned to stay in the town right after the border but decided to push on another 100km to the next city where I “accidentally” booked a far too fancy hotel.

    Ulan Bataar tomorrow! Finally going to take a couple of days off and get the bike looked at. I’m told theres about 15km of roadworks on the way so hoping its not too bad a ride…

    I met Vasily when I stopped at a bus stop for some water. He had gold teeth and was very friendly

    We had a great conversation in Russian and I gave him kangaroo keyrings of which I’m carrying like 100 to hand out to people

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    A Chinese biker with whom I had briefly ridden in the morning so when I saw him pulled over we had a chat

    It was so strange to meet someone that didn’t use the regular borders since he could enter and exit China !

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    Passing through small towns with houses in the Buryat style

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    Around Ulan Ude

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    On the road to the Mongol border. Much more peaceful than the Trans-Siberian

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    First photo in Mongolia!

    People had been telling me about crazy times needed for the crossing but I got it done in less than an hour. Just had to wait an extra hour because the insurance lady had gone home for lunch...

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    #45
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  6. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Sydney, Australia
    230km to the capital city of Ulan Bataar via the main road from the biggest border crossing; how hard could it be right?

    What I’d been told about the roadworks was most definitely true.

    Right out of Darkhan the main road had been closed and a diversion was in place; about 10km of gravel and rocks. Slow and rough going but not the worst. As it finished, my first thought was, “What had all these people been complaining and warning me about to watch out for the sand? There was barely a few traces of sand along the edges”

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    So, back on the main asphalt road for about 10km before…another closure. Again I diverted off but this time, before I even realised what was happening, my front went into a deep patch of soft sand and the bike whipped side to side 3 times. I thought that surely this is going to be where I drop the bike. I had gotten lucky in the mud in Russia but this was it. I hope it wasn’t going to smash up the fairings too badly.

    Somehow, the bike stayed upright. Each time the rear stepped out, it would grab traction again and keep on going. I strongly believe that this is attributable to my tyre choice. With a road front and rear the rear would have spun out and the front would have washed out. Subconsciously my throttle hand kept it steady without rolling on or off so the tyres were able to keep grabbing.

    What came for the next 10 km was the nastiest sand I’ve ever seen. There were patches of gravel which I attempted to stay on but the cars blowing by me on either side through the sand ensured that every inch of me got covered in the powdery stuff.

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    Taking a selfie while being aware of an approaching car that’d bathe me in sand

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    Back on the road again but I use the term road very loosely. With the amount of potholes and cracked surfaces it was near impossible to go more than 40kmh so I decided to treat myself to lunch with one of the only things I could read in the Mongolian script and translate; goulash.

    After lunch, I spotted a rider coming towards me from a distance and as usual gave a wave…until I realised it was Luigi from Queensland, Australia!

    I had first met Luigi at a Horizons Unlimited meet in 2013. When most other had not been interested in socialising with the young guy on a sport bike, Luigi and I had struck up a conversation and remained in touch ever since

    Luigi actually started his trip a few weeks before me but had been resting up in Ulan Bataar for a few weeks which allowed me to catch up. We had planned to meet in UB at the Relax Guesthouse but the day I was arriving he would be leaving…by train. So there was no way we would meet unfortunately.
    I had been looking forward to meeting him and his partner Suzanne but everyone has their own trip.
    So I was extremely surprised to see him. Turns out, due to the national holiday for Nadaam the trains were carrying passengers only so he was riding back to the border!

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    We had a great catch up for 10 minutes and as a parting gift, he told me about ANOTHER 10km patch of roadworks, although, no sand on this one.
    So I continued on towards the city and as a final test, about 10 km of road before the guesthouse was also rocks and gravel.

    Families camping and having picnics along the way due to the national holidays for Nadaam

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    *play Old Town Road*

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    I was relieved to get to the Relax Guesthouse which is run by a Japanese former Dakar mechanic but also thought, the main road into the capital was so rubbish so what was the way across the country going to be like….

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    Sunset over UB

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    #46
  7. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    182
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    First rest day in Ulan Bator turned into more of a work day. But still easier than being on the bike!

    Given it was still a public holiday due to Nadaam, the mechanic wouldn’t be available till tomorrow so I decided to start on the bike myself

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    First up though, I had to decide if I wash the bike! It looked so adventure-y and I know many people are against washing their hard earned stripes off but I was so glad I decided to give it a good power wash

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    Underneath all the mud I found my swingarm had a big gouge in it. The culprit, the rear of my bottle holders which being made of steel, ate into the aluminium swingarm every time I hit a large hole and the swingarm travelled up

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    I have to admit, I had heard a sound but had assumed it was my loose chain slapping the swingarm. The damage didn’t look so bad though, maybe 2mm deep and no cracking as far as I could see. I’ve now spaced out the bottle holder and paint the damage on the swingarm so if there is any further fouling, I’ll be able to see it

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    Next up, the chain was thoroughly cleaned and lubed and seems like the tight spot is not so tight any more. There is a very slight variation in tension at one point but it is tolerable. Just going to keep it very well lubed going forward. I have a tyre change coming up in Barnaul, Russia so that’ll be another opportunity to assess further

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    I must have bottomed out somewhere too as a lower fairing is broken with a bracket bolt missing, no big deal, its still holding together and at least I didn’t bottom out the sump

    Thinking I was all done, I was about to wrap up till the owner of the guesthouse/mechanic Koji asked about my coolant

    I said, yeah I’m sure its fine, but he insisted on at least checking the overflow tank. It was empty….hmm. Opening the rad cap revealed a lot of brown. Ok, time to flush

    When I drained the coolant it was much more brown than green. This ones totally laziness on my part as I had no done a flush before leaving which I probably should have from the bike sitting there for 2 years.

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    A 2nd flush with water and it came out looking a lot better.

    I think I’ve been lucky it hasn’t overheated in traffic or the slow offroad stuff with that ruined coolant in there.

    All set to get on the road again!

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    A hard earned dinner with Yosuke from Japan who is doing the same trip on a Honda Monkey! I shared my research with him and he is now following the same route although we are both doing our own thing

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    #47
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  8. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    This update was typed sitting in a tent while it rained…

    Although I gave myself one more day in UB, news of VERY bad roads leading to the big Gengis statue along with thunderstorms meant that I just spent an evening into the city and back again with a view to rest up to leave the next morning.

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    With rain forecast in Ulan-Batar for 11am, I wanted to get out by 930am but as always, slowly getting through breakfast and packing turned that into 1030am.

    I had hoped that I would miss peak hour traffic by leaving a little late however some traffic light failures meant the main road out of UB was bumper to bumper with 15km taking almost an hour!

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    Once out, I decided to stop for lunch however the problem I’m facing in Mongolia is even though I can read most things, I don’t know what they are!

    Thankfully, some guys in the café helped me order a dish of grilled meat and veg topped with egg; delicious!

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    Luckily, a passing thunderstorm also rolled through while I was eating. Unfortunately I didn’t brush the seat off before getting on so enjoyed a good hour or so with damp jeans after that

    The plan for the day was to do 370km to Kharkorin, the site of Gengis Khans capital, however I decided not to push it and find a place to stay about 100km before. This would also mean that my following day would be an even 200km instead of a shorter 100km to Tsterleg.

    Whilst the road is paved, it doesn’t really allow for much more than 70-80kmh due to the quality of the road and a LOT of potholes to be dodged.
    This slow pace meant I was able to take in some of the scenery as well as see the wildlife; sheep, horses and bactrian camels!

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    When I got to my intended place to stay for the night; a “tourist camp”, I was a little shocked to hear they wanted $165 for a night!!! The manager came down and offered to knock it down to $115… yeah nah

    A quick check on iOverlander showed a great place to camp 2km back. So, camping it was.

    In front of the tourist camp there was a 24 hour café and toilet. So, a delicious dinner for less than $5 and a place for breakfast as well as a toilet in the morning! Perfect!

    The campsite wasn’t hard to find but it was only after setting up that I realised that I probably should have gone in a little further from the road (about 100m at the moment) .. will do that better next time

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    Ever since I packed my bags in Sydney I was wondering what was the point of carrying all this camping and cooking gear… I think that question got answered today

    Now just to hope this rain is another passing sprinkle and tomorrow is a bright and sunny day to head on to see the Erdene Zu Monastery at Kharkorin and onwards to Tseterleg!
    #48
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  9. Canadatriumphrider

    Canadatriumphrider Old guy on a young bike

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2014
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    Just found your report and catching up. Awesome so far.

    I love reading reports from people who take non "adventure" bikes and use them for adventure riding. A favorite from a few years ago was a guy who went from Alaska to Ushuaia on a Harley Road King.

    And bizarrely the spell check on this sight somehow doesn't recognize Ushuaia.
    #49
  10. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    182
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    A bit of a sleepless night but surprisingly I woke up well rested! It rained through the night and a slight drizzle in the morning but cleared up enough so that I didn’t have to pack away wet gear

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    By 9am I was all packed and first stop was the café 2km down for a hearty breakfast and using their toilets to brush my teeth!

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    On the road, the scenery was quite nice although it was necessary to be vigilant to look out for wild animals but also a LOT of potholes.

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    As my research proved though, it was entirely paved all the way through to Kharkorin!

    At Kharkorin, I stopped to see the Erdene Zuu Monastery which is the oldest in Monglia but more to my interest, it is the last remnants at the site of the Old Mongolian capital of Karakorum built by Gengis Khan.

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    It was also interested to see how far Mongol influence reached as till now I had only heard the name Karakorum with reference to the Karakorum Highway in Pakistan!

    At the monastery, I was also lucky enough to see some Nadaam games!

    Nadaam is a national festival which goes form 11-15 July. The original plan was to get into Mongolia to catch this somewhere but I fell a little short; so this was extremely exciting. Furthermore, I also got to hear some throat singing!

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    Back on the road towards Tseterleg for the night stay, it continued to be paved but the quality seems to be deteriorating. Tomorrow I plan to do another 200-300 and may camp again but all depends on the weather and road surface!

    Mongolians love posing on the bike!

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    #50
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  11. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    A short day but good day from Tseterleg to Khorog; 170km

    I was a bit disappointed with the stay in Tseterleg; place was touted to be an overlanders oasis but just lacked big time in customer service

    Leaving Tseterleg

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    Once on the road, I found myself stopping to get some photos as the landscape was changing for the better. Even got the drone out twice although being like the 3rd time ever I’ve used it, my skills are quite lacking

    Potholes galore

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    The slow pace also suited me as my right hand wrist is starting to hurt at the point where the pressure lies when sitting on the throttle. Will take some painkillers tomorrow and see how that goes

    Also bottomed our the bike for the first time on a particularly big hole in an unpaved section but thankfully no damage; guessing it was the header pipes that hit...

    Arriving in Khorog I’ve come across the most beautiful place to stay as recommended by Yosuke who was here yesterday

    An option to put my tent up or a bed in a ger for an extra $5 ... I took the ger

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    #51
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  12. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    An amazing days ride from Khorgo to Tosontsengel

    But it didn’t start that way. In my newfound excitement to use the drone I decided to get a video of the ger camp before leaving

    Unfortunately right after taking off, I was looking down at the display and backed it right into my face

    Bit painful but from there on the day was bound to be better!

    Mostly great asphalt with the exception of a couple of small patches of light off-road

    I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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    #52
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  13. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    A TOUGH day and an unexpected twist that almost put my Mongolia crossing to an end.

    Tosontsengel was a bit of a dusty dump of a town and the “best” hotel in town matched. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get a meal for dinner so when I came down to the café I was surprised to see an Australian couple sitting there! Although they were just as surprised to see me there out in the middle of nowhere

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    Turns out they were on their honeymoon and had bought horses to ride across Mongolia, except the horses ran away after 4 days. Then they bought a camel…which also ran away, so now they were just hitchhiking their way across.

    Then to add to the mix another girl showed up, traveling solo, hitchhiking across the country!

    Some people call me crazy for riding a motorcycle here but there’s a lot more crazy out there!

    There was also a young Mongolian boy there who had been born and raised in London and was on holidays with his grandparents driving across the country which made for some good conversation.

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    Now I knew in advance from Yosuke who is one day ahead of me on his little Honda Monkey that there was about 60km unpaved today.

    Once I hit the road, the asphalt was so nice for the first 120km that I knew there had to be some tough unpaved ahead since Yosuke hadn’t reached the city of Uliastai till evening!

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    And right on cue, the road stopped, blocked for construction which means you go off into the wide open steppe.

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    To be honest, using the trails on the steppe is not so bad since if one is bad, you just switch to another. The difficulty lies in making sure the trail you take isn’t leading off elsewhere

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    What really hurts me (and the bike) and is also time consuming is being back on the “in progress” road which is littered with potholes ranging from big to HUGE. And then the whole thing is corrugated just to rattle things a bit more.

    So as I covered 60km slowly over 3 hours I climbed up the small Zagastay Pass only to suddenly see vehicles backed up with trucks blocking the road.
    As I got off, I was being told that the road is closed; how can that be?

    Thankfully there was a woman there from one of the cars that helped translate for me with the construction worker.

    Hadn’t I been told by anyone that the road was closed? Well..no

    It was published in the newspaper since June 20 that this road would be closing … again, I didn’t know, plus my Japanese friend just came through here yesterday

    Ok no, there has been an accident here last night and since then the road is closed, if I have a problem with it, I can go back to the last town and speak to the police.

    I tried pleading via my translator that I didn’t have enough fuel to use the 200km detour he was suggesting (who even knows what kind of road it is or even where it is?!). I tried pleading I didn’t have enough food or water, I am hungry and thirsty, please I just want to pass and rest. No deal.

    He started saying the road was very bad and there was heavy machinery ahead, what if I had an accident or got run over by the machinery, who would be responsible then?

    Clearly this guy was not one to be reasoned with so I decided to just take a step back since all the other Mongolians were trying to bargain with this guy too.

    Suddenly; the lady said to me, ok quick, lets go, he said go!! I thanked her profusely and jumped on the bike and carried on.

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    The blockade opens!

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    I was getting so stressed thinking, ok, if I have to go back, I am just going to find a truck to take me towards the Russian border. I am so deep into the country now that any other roads up here are simply not going to be passable by me. But I got through!

    And what would you know, the road pretty much remained the same and I saw maybe one bulldozer…clearly a guy on a power trip

    That being said, it does seem this road will be closed going forward which will make a huge impact to overlanders using this route!

    It was slow going from there with lots and lots of potholes. I kept checking the GPS to see how far I was. Average speed was maybe 20kmh.

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    As I neared a city, I started to rejoice…but too soon. Again the roads were closed off and I had to cross a river 3 times just outside the city!

    The first time it was only ankle deep, the 2nd through mud but the last I was so worried about as it was knee deep.

    I watched a Prius ahead of me struggle and get through, nearly getting bogged in the mud at the exit.

    I hesitated and was scared…the Mongolians on the other side beckoned me to come through

    Ok, Leeroy Jenkins, lets do this! I powered through riding the clutch in first with no idea if it was mud or rock under me and praying I didn’t get bogged.

    But somehow the bike powered through, grabbing traction with those meaty tyres; I think the surface was silt! I love these tyres…

    [​IMG]

    I booked myself into a hotel tonight paying about double what I’ve been paying last few nights ($32 for tonight) but I really needed a hot shower after 3 days, a good bed and some Wifi to unwind.

    Tomorrow is going to be a much bigger day with 200km of the stuff I did only 60km of today expected.

    But, I have some company tomorrow as Yosuke has stayed back a day so we can tackle this supposedly tough section together.

    A GSXR and Monkey taking on Mongolia; I need all the luck I can get!
    #53
    mb300, Merlin44, dondesmo and 10 others like this.
  14. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,533
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    A Honda Monkey and a GSXR taking on Mongolia. A person couldn't make this up. :clap
    #54
    08StangGT_CS, kwisn, Lukeb and 3 others like this.
  15. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    182
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I'm not sure how the Monkey has been faring but I think he has been struggling a bit too

    I know I for one am a bit of a wreck. It worries me a little how much shock the bike is taking from the corrugations and potholes even though I try my best to avoid them.

    The water crossings yesterday were done completely on faith but somehow the bike manages to keep powering through. The deep one I didn't even take necessary precautions in taking my luggage off first. I was just so tired that I just went for it after making sure there was no other way

    And my bodys pretty battered, wrists especially.

    Hoping todays tough day will not be terrible and the rest of the way to the border will be manageable

    After that I've already started eyeing off airbnb's in Barnaul to take a few days off while the bike gets new tyres. I could use a good rest before the Stans
    #55
    iatethepeach likes this.
  16. itinerant wool stash

    itinerant wool stash Inveterate optimist Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    188
    I like the thought process behind that one. "Yeah, it is the wrong bike for the job. So what? Its the only bike I have and I am going". Awesome. :clap:lurk


    The thing about corrugations is that they become much more bearable above 60 kph. At that speed most suspensions start to "swim" in the sense that the suspension does not unload fully in the depressions, reducing the amount of jolts you feel.
    Riding upright also helps (Legs, Human, Mark I are amazing shock absorbers), even if you only do it some of the time instead of all of the time; but of course the Gixxer's ergonomics are all wrong for that.

    Of course the drawback is the additional kinetic energy on a bike that is probably going to react rather badly to lithobraking.
    #56
  17. Vince

    Vince Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    919
    Yep, just like woops on a supercross track, fast enough to stay on top. But when it goes wrong it's bad. Surely you can get on the pegs, how flexible is your back, loving the pics. From another Sydneysider.
    #57
  18. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    647
    Location:
    Calgary
    This is awesome!
    The spirit of adventure is strong with this one.
    #58
  19. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    182
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The toughest ride of my life; Uliastai to Altai

    I would say it was the toughest day but I didn’t even manage to finish the 190km in one day and had to wild camp. Keeping in mind that I’ve also ridden the high roads of the Indian Himalayas but this was still harder

    Having come in from the east of Mongolia via the central route, I always knew that this leg to cut down south was going to be especially tough. I considered it the fee to pay for not taking the dull and dusty southern route across and getting beautiful scenery and asphalt (mostly) till now

    In Uliastai, Yosuke, whom I had met in Ulan Bataar riding a Honda Monkey 125, had waited a day for me so that we could go together to tackle the way down to Altai.

    Firstly on the way out, we decided that we should find ourselves some police and ask if the route was open! Didn’t want a surprise road closure like the previous day again

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    As we got that confirmation a car rolled up and who should it be but the lady that had helped me at the road closure the previous day!

    Now confident that the road was at least open, we set off.

    The first 20km out of Uliastai ascended up a mountain pass and were fairly decent hard pack gravel.

    From the top of the pass looking back at Uliastai

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    And to the long road ahead to Altai

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    Some luggage re-adjustment on the Monkey drew a crowd even in the middle of nowhere

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    After the summit it started to get a little rockier and then even more rockier till we were going through single trail which was large rocks over dirt with some deeper gravel in places. At least there was minimal sand but the gravel still made for a couple of slidey moments.

    [​IMG]

    One in particular stuck out where I thought, oh, its getting hard packed and started nudging 50kmh till the trail suddenly cambered leaving me in a fairly fast tank slapper which I somehow recovered by sheer luck. After that, it was strictly no quicker than 30kmh!

    The rocky surfaces then gave way to long stretches of hard pack but with LARGE corrugations that we simply couldn’t go fast over.

    [​IMG]

    We were struggling to get an average speed over 20kmh!

    Bridges were closed to cars but we hoped the wood would bear the weight of a bike!

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    We had known that was no food or fuel on this stretch so lunch consisted of a biscuit with a stop every 10km (half an hour) for a sip of water

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    There were discarded animal hooves all over the place!

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    The occasionail road sign to help confirm we hadn't chosen a trail leading off to nowhere!

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    As the day wore on, we were still moving ever so slowly with the sun setting to the side we start talking about the prospect of, ok, what if we don’t make it there tonight

    Just as we were starting to accept the idea of possibly pushing on in the dark, in front of us appeared the darkest cloud formations I’d seen in a long time.

    [​IMG]

    It’s ok, maybe we are turning away from it; we weren’t. And as if to make a point, every minute or so lightning would strike down.

    Ok, the sun has maybe half an hour left on it, we are facing the possibility of riding on bad roads in the dark during a storm; we HAVE to find a place to camp.

    Easier said than done; we were now in the region known as the “Stone Gobi”; so, theres a lot of stone….and it’s a desert. To add to that, it was so windy!

    We eventually found a small clearing beside the road that was a little lower than the area around it and with a few less rocks to dig into our back.

    With the wind, Yosuke and I helped each other set our tents up and not too soon as the rain started just as we got ourselves and our gear inside

    [​IMG]

    Now we hadn’t planned to camp but thankfully I had emergency food!

    Unfortunately Yosuke didn’t have much water left on him and was planning for his dinner to consist of biscuits!

    I didn’t exactly have a lot of food and water on me either but it would’ve been bad form not to share; so, once the rain died down, we treated ourselves to a luxurious meal of hot instant noodles!

    [​IMG]

    A perfect way to end the night with a stomach full of warm food before resting up from a tough day.

    We had fallen 40km short of Altai but the day had really challenged us both

    The next morning we woke up and slowly set about packing up; I mean, we had the whole day to cover just 40km

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As we set off, it became obvious that not pushing on the previous night had been the right choice; the road remained terribly corrugated.

    We continued to stop every 10km but with just 10km to go to Altai the road appeared! Actual asphalt!

    It was the southern route coming from Ulan Batar looking beautiful and smooth. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face and gave the Gixxer a quick hit up to 80; it hadn’t been over 50 in so long!

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    Altai!!

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    A simple celebration

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    For many years now I’ve heard people talk about the southern route being boring and dull and I can see why! The south is desert with either sand or stone! Furthermore I keep hearing about construction in the south which means detours of sand and corrugation. So it beats me why people continue to do it

    We had a beautiful run up through the centre with amazing scenery with one very tough but not impossible stretch as payment for the beauty.

    Would I do it again? Nope. But I don’t regret it at all

    As a perfect was to wrap up this achievement, a beautiful hotel at a great price and seeing as its my birthday tomorrow, maybe a pizza for dinner!
    #59
    mb300, TaMPerer, Merlin44 and 11 others like this.
  20. VTbeemer

    VTbeemer Traveler Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    809
    Location:
    People's Republic of Vermont
    What a terrific report!! Hats off to you guys.

    Looking forward to what comes ahead.

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit my future trip there will be on my run of the mill GS!

    Stay safe

    Dan
    #60