Mongolia week 2 (long) – 2009 World Tour Progress Report

[Original post by Elliot Mogerman – Transferred from]

Woke up to a rainy, windy, cloudy day on top of a beautiful countryside of untouched land with nothing around to pollute or corrupt it. We pass through all types of terrain today including mud, sand, steep cliffs, loose rock, mountain trails with sharp turns and ledges. I fell in the sand again. Totally sore today. We passed by another French family riding around UB. They had maps and gps and went to cross a river over a road that didn’t exist. So they had to backtrack for a day. We asked them where they started and they point to 100 meters over the river behind us and said that’s where they camped yesterday and spent all day coming back to this point. So we are not the only ones out here experiencing this. Then I was standing still on a hill and had to drop the bike because the pressure on my bad leg was so great I couldn’t hold it up as I was exhausted. We went a record 194 km today. Met some people in towns that spoke English but all the same stuff. How much for your bikes, where are you from, etc. After eating all the good food the last few nights we were stuck with Raman noodles for the rest of our evenings if the camp stove worked. We bought water at the markets as the pump is broken now. We found a good juice and buy snickers and a snack I like that’s like chex with nutella inside it. Moron is the biggest city we have seen so far and one bigger before UB. Hopefully road will stay hard dirt as we are getting closer to the touristy areas of east Mongolia. The stove doesn’t work at all tonight so we ate our snacks and dipped our snickers in peanut butter. If you have never done this it is sooooo good! The night was calm and even had a nice small brisk breeze.

Day 9 we leave camp early and try to stay on the main roads but in an effort to stay on better roads we kept veering off in other directions. You know the roads suck when you ride off-road through brush, weeds, rocks, dirt, mud, and obstacles and it is better riding then staying on the freakin roads. We do a record breaking 256 km today. Great weather, lots of sun, a few puffy overcast clouds. We ran into some dutch cyclists They mentioned the trails are pretty good from here on out and then we will find paved roads all the way to the capital after a certain point if we go north towards a large city. So I start daydreaming about a few more days of spills then smooth riding ahead. Until Siberia anyway. Late morning we were on and off a road that alternated from sand to loose rocks to sand, over and over again. It was for an hour but seemed forever. I crashed and the bike fell on my right foot. We averaged around 10-15 mph then in the afternoon the roads improved and we averaged 35 mph on dirt. Then we came to a toll road and it turned right into sand again. We stopped and bought snickers and crackers in case the stove didn’t work again. When we set up camp early mike worked on the stove and got it working perfect again. As a precaution I found a log, hand chopped fire wood with a hand axe, set up a circle rock pile for a fire to cook over. Since the stove worked, we still used made an awesome fire and sat on the leftover log to enjoy dessert and watch the stars where I’m writing today’s blog. I have been eating and getting full for the last several nights and am very happy my tummy is better. No more meds either. Our camp sight turned out to have another road right next to it we didn’t see. And it was like rush hour Mongolian style. Meaning 2 cars an hour seemed to pass by. Another cold night, already seeing our breath during dinner and my camp fire. It was a long day and I was excited to hang out by the fire and relax and sleep. In the middle of the night I had to pee and it was so cold to get out of the tent. I wish I had an empty water bottle close by. (use your imagination kids) But the sky was filled with stars and lights, very beautiful.

We woke up, July 28th, Tuesday, bundled and ate some soup for breakfast. We rode through a barrage of horrible thousands of deep potholes on hard packed dirt for about 50km outside of camp. Probably the worst ever. Then…..finally…..came to a town with asphalt. I get out and lay on the street for a while enjoying the sun and the feel of real road. And now we expect to have this luxury for the next two days until we reach Ulaanbaatar. We stopped and ate lunch at a café and had this huge rice, egg, beef, veggie plate with an liquid brown oily gravy. There is also an actual highway they are actively working on we ride by all day. Since we have been riding off road our tire pressure was kept about 10 lbs under normal conditions. So once we leave the town we stop to put air in our tires for road riding. Mike’s compressor broke and stopped working. He gets very mad and takes it apart to try and fix it. After about 2 hours he is getting nowhere and I offer some words of advice which he is having none and snaps at me like a battered wife. Fortunately, I understand his frustration as our stuff just keeps breaking and stops working due to the riding conditions day after day. He does apologize and as we are ready to throw our hands in the air and just ride on extremely low tires a truck pulls up behind us. Out pops about a dozen or more Mongolians, middle aged, and with the military. They have an air compressor with a plain tube and fill Mike’s tires against his will because he is skeptical that it will work correctly, but it does. Then I show them my side case from my crash in Kazakhstan. After that and other crashes it is deformed and crushed. I have it tied on with straps and nothing really fits in it anymore. They immediately take it off, get some tools and start banging the crap out of it for an hour in the day sun. Amazingly they almost get it back to waterproof normal shape and construct a new handle, and safety latch. Then they drill a hole and bolt down the bottom so it fall apart with a simple screwdriver. They give us a shot of Mongolian vodka and some type of fermented milk to celebrate and head off towards a famous monastery. We take off and pass two Russian adventure riders on Honda 450 cc dirt bikes. We got some snacks, filled up our fuel, found a camp sight on top of a hill off the main real highway with lots of traffic and call it a night. Pretty view and great weather. Plus we are about 4 hours away from UB! I decide to not use the rain fly again as it is a nice night, good view, and I’m starting to feel a little better from my bruises. Finally have a strong cell phone service and call to leave a message for mom and go to sleep amongst the crickets, and sounds of traffic to soothe me to sleep. Didn’t sleep good as I had 3 nightmares about my stomach regressing from eating so much crap lately, but I still feel good.

Day 11(I think or 12) and we finally arrive at UB! We approach the large city of factories, traffic, hustle and go, pollution, and I actually miss the seclusion of being in the middle of nowhere. We find a hotel, check, get to our room, and shower for the first time in 12 or 13 days. I look in the mirror and holy shit I’m skinny, but not in a horrible way. Weather is sunny, breezy around 70 degrees. We didn’t even have breakfast because we wanted to get here so quickly. Even Mike is happy to be on a regular road again. We visited a Mongolian restaurant for a late lunch and had some good food. Even had chocolate and banana milk shakes. Our first internet access at the hotel was nice to check emails and start uploading videos and pictures since being in Mongolia. We relax and then head out to a very busy Irish pub for dinner. The food was good and we came back to the room, and watched tv on his laptop to wind down. The bed was so awesome and we both sleep very well.