Georgia to New Zealand - My Journey Home (page 6)

What a brilliant day to be out riding through the Altai today. Perfect weather and nearly all of the 375k was really nice smooth roads. I would normally prefer more gravel and dirt roads but if you have to get to a border and it's your only option I would rather have this than the potholes of Kazakhstan. The views were also really fantastic. I love my mountains and they were out today.

We ended up in a little town called Kosh Agach about 45mins from the Mongolian border. After we found a place to stay I put on that Michelin AC10 cross rear tyre. I can't believe I got 11000k out of that Motoz tractionator adventure tyre. It’s like the RallZ but not with the offset blocks and a little closer spread. Lots of gravel k’s on it and I never felt like I was trying to “save” the tyre. There were also some long 500k days in the heat on tarmac slabbing through Uzbekistan. Admittedly I would of changed it earlier if possible and my rear end was all over the place when I got on the gas but the fact it would still get you home if needed it to on a long trip says something. There were some cracks showing and they appeared quite early on which worried me but never caused any issues.

The border crossing took a bit of time but I think we got pretty lucky because as soon as we passed the line of cars and stopped at the front only a minute passed and they opened the border gate. Little bit of a scam on the Mongolian side as they want 50 Russian ruble for disinfecting the bike yet they don't do anything. You have to pay to get a slip of paper which later gets stamped. Anyway we were in and after 114000k I had finally made it to Mongolia a place I had thought about riding in for so long and also country number 50 for the bike I was pretty stoked. Who would of thought, huh?

At the border I got some money changed and I was surprised the guy took a 50 euro note I had had for a while because normally they only want US dollars. I went and got a sim card and then as I was about to put my helmet on and the guy came up to me and said "we have a problem" and waived the euro note in my face. I said "no problem" and continued to get ready.

All he kept saying was we have a problem and pointed to the edge of the note.  It wasn’t ripped but it was ruffled up. I’m guessing he went to change it and he couldn’t. He kept trying to hand me the note back and saying we have a problem but I wouldn’t touch it and said nah mate you made the deal so no problem. I looked over at the others that were 5 mins away from been ready and said I’m splitting. I guess looking back I feel a little bad but hey he was happy to take it to start with at a shitty exchange rate so to me a deal was a deal and again it wasn’t ripped or that bad.

I took off and waited a few kilometres down the road.  Not long after the others came along and stopped yelled at me to go and pointed back down the road. There was a car coming and I guess the guy was still trying to give me the 50 euro back.

The road was a dirt-gravel mix and with a new rear there wasn’t a shit show he was catching us so we all put the hammer down. About 20k up the road was a bridge and a couple guys were standing on it trying to wave us over. I’m thinking they were mates of the guy in the car and he had called ahead but good luck stopping us. Another 10k and another guy tried the same thing.

Then there was no sign of anyone for the rest of the ride to Ulgii the first little city you get to about 100k from the border.

We stopped and got gas and I said hey I’m sorry guys for causing you guys some stress with the guy chasing but they said no problem and apparently it wasn’t all me because something happened to them as well at the border where they had a disagreement with some other guy and got out of there quickly like I had.

We got the first decent meal in a while in Ulgii and after that we headed towards Lake Achit.  We stopped on the way to camp by a river but the mosquitoes were so bad we continued on towards the lake. They were still fairly bad but the lake was a little higher in altitude so it was a heap better and bearable. We didn't have much choice anyway as we had had a long day and it was getting late. Riding towards the lake was absolutely amazing.

Such a buzz finally been here and riding in the vast openness of Mongolia seeing the mountains and picking my path through the open plains looking over to the left and right seeing the other guys do the same. I was tired but grinning from ear to ear in my helmet. The scenery was stunning.

The next morning we headed to Ulaangom which was about 175k and 140 all gravel roads and some slower going pretty rocky parts and river crossings. The few river crossings that had been marked on Osmand were all dry. It rained a little the night before but it's been pretty dry and all the snow has melted in the lower hills/mountains so we didn't have any issues.

We stopped in a little town and had some breakfast but I have been struggling with most of the food through these last countries.  Goodness knows what type of meat it is and half the time it’s not just meat but everything in the dumpling or what have you.

We also got gas and it has been easy enough to find but sometimes it’s only 80 like at this place so I only put in a few liters. I probably had enough anyway to make it to the next town that might have 92 but I hate the feeling of wondering if I have enough gas. My bike also hates 80 though.
We arrived in Ulaangom with the wind picking up and rain starting.

The forecast for the next day looked really bad so with us all doing some long back to back days we decided a day of was in order which worked out great for me as I needed to do a oil change, change the air filter etc.

So yeah, roll on Mongolia. I couldn’t be happier at the moment.

We left Ulaangom to link up on the Northern route.

There are three main routes through Mongolia. The northern which is the most remote with river crossings and not paved; the middle which is a bit easier and starting to get paved and the south which I believe is mostly paved.

There were some pretty dark looking clouds around so I decided to put on my magic rain gear hoping it would keep the rain away and luckily it worked but after the day before of heavy rain we were a tad concerned about the river crossings.

We came to the first road wash out only about 10 mins out of town but there was a very easy work around.

The “road” for the rest of the day in my mind was great. If anything the rain had made it a little tacky in places and there wasn’t the dust to deal with.  Lots of puddles but most you could avoid if you wanted to. The biggest mistake of the day for me was timing my passing move on Ronny just as he hit a big puddle so I got covered from head to toe.  The river crossings were dry so no problems there either.

Holger had one crash when his front wheel tucked in on him as he hit a long puddle so he and Janet went for a little swim but no one was hurt.

We ended up in a small town and found a room with no running water but with it being Janet’s birthday the vodka was pouring consistently so noone seemed to worry about that little detail.  Two days without a shower isn’t out of the norm when travelling through countries like this.

The next day I got cocky and didn’t put on my rain gear. It came back to bite me and we got hit with a pretty decent thunderstorm about lunchtime.

Early in the afternoon Holger crashed again with his front wheel digging into some mud. He is a solid rider but that 1090 loaded up with gear and being 2-up is a lot of weight and I watched the front sink into this mud and tuck in on him and there was little he could do and it was all I could do to dodge them.  One of his knuckles looked like it had disappeared and we suspected he had broken his hand (later we found out he had).

Janet went on the back of Ronny’s bike and Holger carried on but very slow as unfortunately that day there was a lot of sand. We only did 100k in 6hrs.

They decided they would head to Ulaanbaatar (UB) on the easiest route so I had to decide what to do.  I ended up deciding to carry on by myself.  The next morning I packed up and got a early start after saying my goodbyes.  I’ve travelled mostly alone but I have to say I was a tad nervous setting out on this section alone after having the comfort of riding with others for a while.

Author of this article: Aaron_Steinmann