Monday, September 16, 2013

The Gobi and Leaving Mongolia

July 19 to 23. UB.
We stayed up late drinking beer every night. We ate fried food every meal. We slept in late. We said we would leave tomorrow but something always kept us from leaving. The Oasis is awesome but it is a black hole. You will never understand it until you stay/live there. We found a gem of a motorcycle shop in the northern part of UB. It is located at 47.968347, 106.90721 It is an “unofficial KTM” shop but they had 2 990 ADVs, an 1190 ADV, a 390 duke, a 690 duke, a 350 freeride, 2 530 quads and a handful of 450/530 motos... all new. There were about 20 other used bikes there in various forms of repair, sale or disrepair. There were 2 that really caught my eye. A factor ktm 640 rally bike and an Aprilia 450 RXV. I am not sure how or why these 2 bikes were in Mongolia but they were definitely not appreciated. He also had a whole lot of KTM parts, accessories and clothing. Plus a 40' container full of brand new MotoZ tires and tubes. If you need dirt tires in UB. This is the guy to go to. This looked like a KTM shop but it was not the official KTM shop in UB. Kurts bike had been sitting in UB for over a year and it had some problems with the cooling system. The water that was in it corroded one of the pipes and the radiator to the point that there were pinhole leaks. The shop sold Kurt one of the radiators from a brand new 990 ADV. When we were running the bike and we saw water leaking from the radiator, we thought he was screwed. But 1 day and $500 later, he was back in business.

Kim's Dakar with the rear suspension off. 

I want it. 

Sad that it is sitting out side. 

Freeride 350. I really want one. 

The owner. 

The guard doggy. 
A group of Britts on Cub 90s riding from Mongolia back home

I had a dented rear rim and an Austrian had a messed up hub from a 950 Super Enduro. I thought about switching the with mine.. but they were different. 

July 24. UB to Camping on the way to Gobi. 229 km
I left the Oasis late in the afternoon and rode out to the giant Genghis Khan monument. It really is quite large.. and shiny. It was interesting to see. I snapped a few pictures and got down the road. I was riding south on a new tarmac road but I knew it was only a matter of time before it turned to dirt. I didn't want to be on a main route when it turned. Many times it had slowed me to 30 or 40 km/h because of all the potholes and washboard. There are no smooth routes.. only 10 or 15 twisting shitty small roads that cover a 1 km wide path across the Mongolian landscape. I enjoy the less traveled roads much more. I much perfer to pick my way through the maze of 2 track. Even on the twisty or sandy ones, I can keep my moving average above 70 km/h. Plus, I don't beat myself and bike to shit. About 150 km south of UB it was getting close to dark so I found a nice place to camp.

Almost looked like someone was starting a motocross track. 

July 25. To Gobi. 610 km
I was on the road early and eating breakfast Mandalgov. A pile of noodles with “meat” and a fatty sauce on top. I use the term “meat” because in Mongolia, you never know what it is. It is never high quality. They use all of the animal. Fat isn't cut off, its no different from the other meat. Cut it up and throw it in the pot. I had about 300 km to Dalansadgad. The first 50 or 60 km were brand new paved road. This is great because the food was still heavy in my stomach. Bumps would not have been my friend. Soon enough the road work stopped and the GPS map was no longer useful. Point in a direction of the town you want to get to, pick a track, and when it starts to turn away from that town, find another track. It was late afternoon when I got into Dalandzagad and I was considering staying in a hotel but I ended up driving around the town and not seeing anything appealing. A quick fuel stop and I was deeper into the Gobi. I came upon a family in a small car with a flat tire. Again, this was a new car with no spare tire. There was a mom, dad, grandfather and a few small kids. We used my pump to fill the tire and the puncture was found quickly. I knew the only way I would be able to patch it would be to take the tire off the rim and put a patch on the inside. I had the patches and glue, but I had a feeling the Mongolians didn't want to do this fix. Plus, I couldn't talk to them so I let them patch it Mongolian style. I watched in amazement as the dad ripped a rag and jammed it into the tire with a screw driver. A primitive plug you could maybe call it. He would push it in and it would stop leaking, then push on the tire and it would start to bubble. He quickly put the tire back on the car, filled it once more and it was a Mongolian fire drill to get the kids and all the crap back into this tiny car. They left and I didn't know how far they made it. It was at least 20 km to Dalandzagad. The guy even forgot his sandals. At this point I needed to find a good camp spot so I kept heading west. I camped north of Bayandalai. The road I was on went into the washout of a canyon. It went up this washout for 15 or so km then there was a plateau. Down the other side in another washout. I guess that is the easiest way to make a road. Let the water smooth it.

Perfect road. 

Traveling light. 

July 26. Gobi to UB. 684 km
It rained throughout the night and I woke up to clouds in the morning. I had about 50 km to Bulgan where I ate breakfast. Some sort of meat dumpling. Every central Asian country has some form or another. In Mongolia though, they are much more gamey. I was curious what the “dinosaur” way point was on my GPS so I went to find out. Apparently at one point there were fossils here but they were probably long gone. The fire cliffs were cool but I did not understand how this is a tourist destination for people coming from UB. There were 6 or 7 different Ger camps for tour groups. Luckily it seemed like I was the only person around. The road north was great. Sand and fast. I passed through a dry lake bed. It was very interesting to ride. ½ inch of crust and 3 or 4 inches of soft underneath. The road was about 8 inches of rutted soft crap so riding it was out of the question. Riding out of the track, if the front tire broke through it would give you the wiggles and push hard. Scary stuff. I had to stand up and shift my weight as far back as possible, 2 and 3rd gear high in the RPMs. This worked pretty well but I didn't dare push my luck and go for any speed records. I was getting very low on fuel when I got to Saikhan Ovoo. I had used my front tanks and main tank. I was down to 5 liter in the spare rear tank. I like to keep this as a reserve. It gives me about 100km for emergencies. I pulled up to a line of a few cars at the pump and I wait for 5 cars. There is 1 more in front of me when the power in the town dies. No way to pump gas now. I wait for 15 minutes in a group of about 15 cars now. It could be 1 minute, it could be 1 hour, it could be 1 day. No one knows how long. I get out my map and point to another town. The lady says there is benzine and they say it is 100 km away. So I throw common sense in the trash and head north into the desert again. My fuel light comes on about 25 km from Adaatsag and I ride in with about 1 liter to spare. When I get to the pump, there is no one working. This is common in small towns in Mongolia. Soon a guy pulls up on a scooter. He starts looking at my bike and I tell him I want fuel. Soon a truck pulls up and stops. After another 10 minutes the guy shows up an a Chinese copy of a Chinese copy of a Japanese motorcycle. I fill up with 80 octane, put some octane booster in and head north. Soon i'm back on the same road north of Mandalgov. Its newly paved and I get a false sense of confidence. I'm thinking good, I can burn pavement back to UB. Wrong. After 80 or so km the pavement ends with no warning. I hit was day dreaming at 120 km/h and managed to slow her down to about 80 km/h before launching off into the dirt. I was awake again time to stand up and stretch these legs. The next few hours were horrible rutted, bumpy, overused “gravel” roads heading to UB. I got into UB just before sundown and went back to the Oasis. Beer and fried food were waiting.

Lady who made me breakfast

Apparently there used to be "dinosaurs" here. 

Fire cliffs. 

Fun sandy road. 

Sinking in a crazy dry lake bed.  

July 27. UB
In the time I was in the Gobi, Kim's new suspension parts had gotten in and he had his bike back together.
Kurt's bike had been sitting in UB for over a year and it had some problems with the cooling system. The water that was in it corroded one of the pipes and the radiator to the point that there were pinhole leaks.When we were running the bike and we saw water leaking from the radiator, we thought he was screwed. But 1 day and $500 later, he was back in business. The unofficial KTM shop sold Kurt one of the radiators from a brand new 990 ADV. We would leave for Russia the next day. I went back to the KTM shop to get heavy duty tubes.

July 28. UB to Camping near a Yeroo River. 308 km
We left early afternoon and headed north. Near Darkhan we went to a river where I thought I lost my fly real. No luck finding it. It had been over a month and a local had probably picked it up. Soon we found a good river and followed it west about 20 km. Kim and I wanted to fish so we set up camp next to a big bend in the river. All I could catch with the fly rod were small chubs but Kim caught 2 nice perch and a trout. We ate fried fish then noodles in the dark after a beautiful sunset. We would hit the Russian border in the morning.


Thanks Kim! They were tasty!

My last Mongolia sunset. 

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