To the Gate of Time – 2200 kms of steppe,river crossings and empty vodka bottles by Mongolian Moped

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KTMInduro, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    Our first dawn on the steppe.........

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    As we're breaking camp we have our first interaction with a nomad out here. He really interested in all of our gear and wants to know where we're going. I'm not sure what to tell him so just point south.

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    I'm navigating using OSM maps on the GPS and a Mongolian road Atlas.

    I plot a route to meet the Sibirsky trail to the north west. We are already way off where I had expected to be on day 2 .It looks like we'll have to continue south west , then north, crossing a few rivers and then ride across country to finally get back on track.

    All goes to plan and we cross the first bridge. On the track we meet some locals in as pickup who tell us another bridge up ahead is down and the river unpassable. We have to go back.

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    We will have to ride further south before trying again.

    We are coming across more water.
    Trev's first river crossing :lol3 .

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    The steppe is stunning.....

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    We follow a fork on the trail that heads in the general direction of the river again.

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    and we meet the rides first obstacle.I know that this really is the last chance to get back on track. We have to cross this river.
    I decide to wade across to check it out. Its fairly fast flowing and water is soon filling my boots and in mid stream is above my knees.

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    I think its probably doable but after discussion with Trev & Mike we decide not to risk it. It is after all only day 2. We all want to avoid unneccessary disasters at this early stage of the ride.

    I realise that by making this decision the whole plan for our ride now goes out of the window and has to change by 360 degrees. We'll now ride south west meeting up with the Sibirsky trail at Arvayheer 350 km away. From there I hope we can follow Colebatch's trail clockwise, north west to my goal at the Gate of Time up near the Siberian border.
    #21
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  2. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    So onwards......

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    First bit of deep sand . Trev comes a cropper....

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    Lunch stop. We're carrying enough food to last about 3 days so we can be completely self sufficient if needed.

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    Dreid seaweed is light and replaces the need to carry veg which we hear is few and far between outside of major towns.

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    Election campaigning steppe style.......we hear him coming blasting out his message.before we see him. There's a national election soon we gather.

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    Choice of 6 tracks

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    Our last view of the Tuul with Khustain Naru National Park in the distance. Lonely Planet tells me that Takhi, the original wild horses of Mongolia were reintroduced into the park from zoos abroad after becoming extinct within Mongolia in the 20th century. Theres now apparently around 300 in the park . We tell ourselves those must be Takhi we see down in the river. :wink:

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    Empty bottles of vodka are scattered everywhere alongside the track since UB. Swap the bottles for beer cans and its outback Oz in the late 80's.

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    #22
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  3. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    We are low on water and have to find some before we camp tonight.

    We see a yurt off the track in the distance.

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    One of the guys leads us across the marsh for a few kilometres to their water source where we fill all our bladders. Its apparently ok to drink and we test it to be polite - tastes great, although we'll purify it later.
    We now have about 20 litres of water between us plus our camelbaks. More than enough for the next 24 hours.

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    I've got a big bag of kids bracelets from my factory in Bali to give away. This little girl and her sister are the first recipients.

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    The dunes in the distance look a bit daunting. I can only think we must be at the top reaches of the Gobi here.........

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    We search around for a campsite. Trev discovers its not a good idea to put your foot down the hill when coming to a stop...

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    As we set up camp we have visitors .

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    Its beginning to really feel like the wild west out here. Trev gets inspired ....

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    We also seem to have chosen another awesome campsite. Its exposed but the view trumps practicality. Theres not many sheltered spots by the looks of it anyway.

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    Trev & I climb up the hill behind our tents whilst Mike cooks.

    Damn its awesome. I wish I have one of those 360 cameras but this will have to do....

    "King of the Castle"

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    We are going to ride that trail tommorow guys ! How damn cool is that.

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    9 pm and the sun is slowly going down........

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    We begin to realise, the climate out here is something else. One minute its still and sunny, then the wind gets up, its blowing a gale and the tarp nearly gets blown away. We hang onto it for half an hour or so until it passes. We decide that a single central pole doesn't work very well (at all) in these conditions and find an old broken yurt pole to use as a 2nd support to lower the whole structure. Its imperative that it still allows us to cook, hang out and shoot the shit over vodkas.
    #23
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  4. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    We managed to drink vodka and talk shit until at least midnight last night so the new tarp setup works ok.

    I climb the hill again with Mike to watch sunrise. I reckon it got down to about 4 or 5 degrees last night. He tells me he's never been so cold in his life. :vardy .

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    Great improvement Mike ...

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    Onwards..................

    Leaving camp we get lost as we try to make a shortcut across the steppe in an attempt to meet the trail we saw from the top of the hill. Not a good idea as we find the going really difficult as bikes and riders struggle with their heavy loads in sandy and rocky gulches also startling the living daylights out of a a flock of sheep.

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    The terrain changes. Its not so barren, and its getting greener.

    I cannot imagine whats its like to be out here in mid winter at -40 .

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    The Mongolian Cow Carcass Eating Beetle

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    Not for the first time in the past few days, it crosses my mind how nice it would be riding one of my bikes in Bali out here.

    Mike's maybe also thinking : " Africa Twin" ?

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    But you know what ? The stunning scenery and whole experience of just being out here means the bikes limitations doesn't really matter to me. Sure the bike maxes out at 50 km/h , has crappy suspension that doesn't cope that well in the loose gravel and sand, but riding at this pace is allowing me to stop take photos, meet the nomads and smell the roses (or rotting carcasses ) Its truly spectacular where ever I point the camera. I'm having to pinch myself.
    Indeed as many others have said before me and its really true - "Its not what you ride but the ride that matters "

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    #24
  5. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    For the whole mornings ride we haven't seen as many yurts or that many nomads out on the steppe, even though the land looks better than the semi desert we were in yesterday.
    Not sure why. Perhaps there are better grazing areas elsewhere.

    The wildlife out here is making itself more apparent. I'm dive bombed by a vulture .......

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    Its fairly windy and cold near this pass . These horses were sheltering behind the hill , gathered together with their fowls in the middle of the circle to keep warm.

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    At times its like we're riding to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.

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    Its 2 in the afternoon when we get to Buren. Its the first fixed settlement we've seen since we were close to UB and looks like a gulag.

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    #25
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  6. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    Hell of a good Fiftith plan:clap:clap:clap hope to do some good riding when mine comes around. Thanks for getting back after this one, I know all too well what it feels like to have an unfinished report hanging.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures, after the Heatstroke ride 4x4 expedition report a few years ago this should be a whole lot simpler:lurk
    #26
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  7. Spicciani2

    Spicciani2 Been here awhile

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    Love it! ....seems like you're a tad behind in posting but makes no difference to me ;)
    #27
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  8. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    Yes - much simpler - and cooler ! This ride did have its moments so stay tuned.
    #28
  9. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    We ride into town. Quite a sight with all the iron and timber fences. It looks like the Mongolians value their privacy, but the effect is a little grim.

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    We make a D line for the bike store which sells all things Shineray. Our bikes have all had bolts shaken loose and lost in the last few days.

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    The stores has a full range of parts and its cheap. In fact its incredibly cheap - about 20% of what similar items cost in Indo.

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    We are so hungry there's no photos of lunch next door, only the aftermath.

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    Along with dumplings & lamb pancakes we have tea .....with salt , which i can report is an acquired taste.........


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    We stock up on noodles, beer & vodka & fill the bikes with gas then ride back out onto the steppe.

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    #29
  10. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    Cruising along I look behind me to see Trev off track on the steppe going like a bat out of hell with a dog in hot pursuit after him. These Mongolian herding dogs are big , hairy and quite intimidating, and must look at passing bikes as potential sport.
    I've never seen Trev ride his bike so fast. In fact I never realised these bikes had it in them to go so fast. :lol3
    He's completely out of control and is obviously terrified , with the dog in full sprint barking at his heels. He narrowly avoids a big ditch across the steppe before taking off up a hill at full throttle open. The dog having had its fun turns back for home and trots of back across the steppe. Trev continues up the hill oblivious that the dog is no longer snapping at his heels, until he crashes out on the side of the hill. :rofl

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    I'm not sure whether to laugh or not. Mike and I had both told Trev he should get rabies shots before the ride, but he hadn't bothered. Bet he wished he had listened to our advice now :jack
    We're bloody relieved that Trev is in one piece. He could have seriously hurt himself and Mike and I give him a bit of a bollocking. He is pretty shaken up by the whole episode. I hadn't realised that Trev has a such a deep set fear of dogs. Crikey.

    We decide to set up camp and call it a day.

    Even in the middle of nowhere we are spotted and have visitors. We're finding the nomads are are fairly reserved but inquisitive. They come check us out , say hello and then after 10 minutes or so take off.

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    Another wonderful view but this is the most exposed campsite we've had yet.

    My Sidi adventures are still soaking wet from wading across the river 2 days ago and I stick them out in the sun to dry for the second evening running. My cracked sore feet are a testimony that wearing Goretex boots on a trip like this is a double edged sword.

    Right on schedule the wind starts up at about 8.30pm. The clouds look very ominous and are heading straight for us.... not good.

    The wind is increasing with every moment. Its blowing a gale as we batten down the hatches


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    The valley below us dissapears........

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    The tents are buckling in the wind

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    After losing his tent once Mike is taking no chances tonight and attempts to tie his tent down.

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    I pile all my gear into my tent as the storm hits us... I brace my tent with my body as it nearly caves in...its pretty scary.

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    After about 10 minutes the wind eases a little . We all emerge from our tents and it seems w've missed the eye of the storm by about 1 km. Lucky.

    As the storm travel off across the hills to the north, the valley clears. We decide to celebrate with a vodka

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    #30
  11. Spicciani2

    Spicciani2 Been here awhile

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    Cheap bikes seem the best way to do this. easy maintenance and no shipping required then gift it/ sell it when done.
    I'm in for your ride!
    #31
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  12. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

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    Enjoying the ride. Thank you for posting.:clap

    Cheers,

    Dicky
    #32
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  13. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    Looks like fun to me! But about 15-20 years to late for me. Shineray 150 the bike of choice or the only size offered. There are several models engine size in SA. I believe, there is a importer offering sales and possible dealerships in the USA for 250 Adventure model.
    #33
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  14. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    Buying bikes had been my first thought as they are only about $800 new , but after some investigation it seemed like we would probably waste at least a week buying and registering a bike and then another week trying to sell it . Not worth it.
    I then tried buying new bikes through Cheke, but she told me it was much safer to rent bikes from her, as new bikes were untested and frequently were found to be Monday morning or Friday afternoon builds. She had a few stories of riders returning to her place an hour or so after heading off on brand new bikes, with blown water pumps and so on.
    In the end we only paid 14 euros a day for each of our bikes.

    Cheke is as hard as nails but at the same time is very cool and offers a great service if you follow her rules. No negotiation. :bite Highly reccommended

    http://cheketours.com/
    #34
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  15. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    Later on in the RR I will post photos of the "smorgas board" of new bikes we saw available to buy outside of UB. I don't recall seeing any Shineray 250 on the whole ride so I guess Shineray only export the 150's into Mong.
    #35
  16. Spicciani2

    Spicciani2 Been here awhile

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    Thank you I overlooked that. next youll have to tell us about how much you spent for the trip in country.
    #36
  17. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    As it was 2 years ago I cannot remember exactly. The whole trip was cheap though ! As I recall and write the story I'll try and keep a tab so I have a rough figure for you at the end of the RR.
    #37
  18. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

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    I wake up to the sound of a bike. Mike ? Trev ?

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    Trying out the Alite chair. He is amazed when Mike shows him how a 2 legged chair works !

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    Along comes another visitor.

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    He must be about 9 or 10 years old I guess. He doesn't say a word. Just quietly surveys the scene in front of him. I approach him. Hes very apprehensive as I offer him a leather bracelet with dolphins stamped on it (thinking he may never had seen a dolphin before ). He looks at it , obviously wondering what the hell this scrappy bit of leather is for. I then put it on his wrist. His face turns bright red and a huge smile comes over his face. It's so damn cool ! He's still sitting on his horse, then suddently wheels it around one handed and gallops off across the steppe. We're all astounded to see this little boy's skills on horseback as he dissapears into the distance. Wow !

    As we pack up camp I look up to see our new young friend has returned with someone I'm guessing is his Dad. Dad comes over to each of us shaking our hands and is obviously trying to thank us for making his son's day. It's a really awesome moment. He is obviously so stoked that we have made his son so happy.

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    Mike catches the moment - its one of my favorites of the ride..........

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    #38
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  19. IceCreamSoldier

    IceCreamSoldier suffering somewhere

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    Your Borneo RR is one of my favorites. Will be following along on this one. Thank you for sharing your love of adventure.
    #39
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  20. KTMInduro

    KTMInduro Off Road Montster

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Bali, Indonesia
    Onwards...........

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    We follow the steppe telegraph line.........

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    As we come into the small town of Delgerhaan and meet this chap who introduces himself in broken English as Walter.

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    We go to the local shop as always to stock up on a few supplies. Not a bottle of beer or vodka in the store. Walter who is following us explains that there was a big problem in this area with alcohol so the police have banned it.

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    Walter whispers to me to follow him. We jump on our bikes and he takes me to a back street. I leave my bike and am ushered quickly through a corrugated iron gate whilst Walter stands guard outside. A chap emerges from a dark doorway and offers me a bottle of Genghis Gold. It expensive but our steppe parties must continue so I buy a couple of bottles.

    The next stretch of trail in front of us is not marked on my OSM Mongolia map. It is a big blank until the next large town at Arvayheer about 200 km away. We've got the atlas with a track marked but I'm happy when Walter offers to guide us for the next stretch of 40km which he tells us is confusing and will be easy to lose our way.

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    A lady with what looks like a marmot skin........

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    Trev gets the first puncture of the trip and Walter springs into action. He has his own irons on the back of his bike and fits one of our replacement tubes with the speed of an ISDE enduro rider. We're glad to have him along !

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    #40