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Korea, Russia, Stans To East Europe (page 51)

Mongolia Sum Up And The Heart Speaks

From Russia to Ulaanbaatar (UB) was rough, ugly road and getting into the city was like all other big cities…just shit.

Getting to River Point Lodge for the Horizons Unlimited meeting was a safe haven away from the monstrosity of the city and meeting like minded travelers too, for me I had seen only 2-3 rider in 7000km so I really was riding solo which sometimes border lonely depending on your mood.

The start of riding wasn’t ideal with the group and bike issues etc however once leaving UB and away from the rat race Mongolia opened it arms wide to me and I fell right in boots and all.

I had a few points I wanted to see and whatever happened in between would become a bonus.

Gobi A desert, I hate riding sand or at least deep shitty stuff and I found a bit of that as you do in the desert and but me the true stunning simplicity of the sand dunes was a golden prize that I could never have imagined to be any better, did I get my desert fix… well partly.

I was stupid enough to go to the north western dunes too which turned into an epic hard ride for which I look back on and appreciate what I did, I also realize if things went wrong out there is would be bad x 10, my fascination for these monster dunes that go as far as I can see still stirs that kid in a sandpit feeling that I cannot describe the lure to another desert still firing up enthusiasm.

Mongolia has an interesting array of scenery, even some rivers and trees and some mountain that took me back to north west Argentina on the altiplano and Gobi B having mountains that are snow-capped all year reaching high to the heavens, the camera for me simply cannot explain the stunning, unforgiving rawness and beauty.

For me so far Mongolia was an absolute highlight on the scenery aspect and riding aspect and the people are very friendly and helpful, I would go back in a heart beat as one month did not come close to doing it justice so yes we are going back and of course a three legged donkey will make it much easy in the soft sands. 

On a personal note for me it was harder as there was so much to see and pretty much everyday I felt sad I could not share it with Ellen, with this trip being the basis of a recce and also one to ride some hardarse stuff which Ellen would not enjoy I had to keep this in my mind so it is mission accomplished and I know where we will not go back to and where we can spend more time lapping up mum natures serving of extra dessert called the deserts.

If you have ever thought about Mongolia….just do it, don’t take my word for it, you will not regret it.        

Kazakhstan Sum Up And The Heart Speaks

Into Kazakhstan was easy enough and meeting Akmaral (the cyclist’s brother) was awesome, we had good fun and he was very welcoming and helpful.

The Police, what can I say I have already had a big whinge about them but they still piss me off, they are in your face corrupt and will even smile at you with a serious look while blatantly lying and trying to defraud you, this started to wear thin very fast with me as I know for a fact if I tried to swindle them out of money they would get shitty.

I had a small highlight which I didn’t realize until a few days later when emptying the camera. I stopped for lunch at a random wee trucker stop kinda café between Semey and Almaty on a back road, it looked pretty dodge but the waitress girl was extremely helpful and she could speak a little english, she was curious and we talked a bit via translate and part speaking, the usual “where are you from” questions etc, saying New Zealand sparked her eyes and she said never had she met anyone from New Zealand, she wanted photo so no worries I did the same.

Now the guesture and smirk caught my eye when I loaded the pics on the computer, there in full view the Korean luv symbol (thumb over forefinger luv heart gesture) so I sent the picture to Wonhee from South Korea asking if I was in trouble to which he replied yes….LOL I have a groupie member.

Seems the waitress took a shine to the New Zealand fossil which made me feel kinda cool.    

Korean luv heart
The guilty smirk (It's ok Ellen you are safe)

Almaty was nice, the guest house people very cool but like all big cities it does not hold much for me, I did have a great night out with the 2 Kazak lads which was cool and I thank them for taking me local which I do enjoy.

Personally, Kazakhstan would not be on my list again just because of the Police alone, but we have friends Akmaral and Nazerbek who I would like to see again so they are my reason but pretty much the only reason.

Of course, you have to go through Kazakhstan if you want to go to Kyrgyzstan overland, having spent only 5 days there I am not sure I gave it fair justice but their lovely Police force has dented my wish to return and deal with their blatant lies and shit.

3 Month Gear Sum Up

This is just my view from my use and what I have seen, it is by no means the be all end all but having used everything a lot it has given me the chance to review it fairly.

The WR250R, firstly, I bought it as a travel bike with no heart felt woody stuff, three months and 23000 km later I hold this bike with the highest respect and regard, if ever there is a unicorn travel bike for someone who wants to go places here it is.

My reasoning, firstly gear it down, secondly look out the window and see the place you have teleported yourself too, not going fast so you can take the place in are the two first important things.

Added value…. small fuel use, no oil use, simple, no fussy technology to go wrong, lite weight, durable, reliable and she is not hard to look at either, 18 L IMS large tank off the showroom floor allowing nearly 600km range, only problem I have had is the left hand mirror mount is a weak point and required welding.

Tyres, stoked with the E07 Mitas rear and will be happy to spoon on another one, I will qualify this by saying a brilliant adventure touring tyre but it did extremely well on The Old Kolyma Road which is one to measure anything against.

The Tracktionator Rallyz front was a total disappointment and I will never spoon another one on again, as a direct comparison to the Golden Tyre GT723 which did better mileage, has better manors both on road and gravel road with great performance offroad, while it cost more it lasts a lot longer and performs better too so does it in fact does it cost more in the long run….no.

Luggage, Alt Rider, not the “big brand” name but I got to ride with a sponsored Reckless 80 rider and Giant Loop rider, we got to pack and unpack pretty much on a daily basis.

While the Reckless is undoubtedly good quality as is the Gant Loop the Reckless 80 is way too fiddly and time wasting/consuming.

I measure time in 2 aspects, spending time and wasting time, setting up camp and packing down camp is spending time, unloading and reloading luggage is spending time but having to take nearly twice as long to tie the same amount down is wasting time and that is why I felt the simplicity of the Alt Rider gear was utterly superior.

I was always packed up quicker and even adding food and drinks etc was undo a roll loop, place food/drink back in roll back up, clip down, simple.

Geigerrigg water filter, bloody good system but something failed in my filter in Mongolia and it just stopped working so pretty gutted about that.  

All camping gear, Helliberg Staika tent, Exped sleeping bag, exped 7 super lite mattress and sea to summit ultralite pillow all get the big tick, none of these are cheap but none of these let me down and in extreme conditions that is worth gold and more, the tent having been through some serious extremes of weather standing up to it no problem, not so for those I was camping with in Mongolia with big winds and heavy rain and their tents failing miserably.

Also the setup and pack down time of the Staika is much quicker with its geodesic self standing design (spending v wasting time again) also in strong winds it does not fold in on you, the 2 things I say DO NOT go dutchie on is firstly your tent and secondly your sleeping bag, there seems to be a competition to have very little gear but if you are travelling in 4 seasons don't be stupid be prepared.  

Klim gear, I can finally say now that my Badlands pants have holed from wear, the crutch starting to feel damp, the inner lining starting to hole and a zip on the leg pocket has failed and stitching is starting to fray from wear.

I will put this in perspective though, it did 1109 days in the Americas, it has done trail rides (noting wet and muddy) and adventure rides in NZ and now another 100 days of severe beatings in Siberia to the Gobi desert and beyond with another 100 days to go.

Say total of say 1250 days conservative (not counting those to come), that equates to 625 weekends riding hard both days, that is 12 years of hard riding conditions every weekend for both days or be a little more conservative it means 24 years of riding every Sunday (or Saturday, you choose), in essence let your first expense be your last as the first cost outlay will be well forgotten the first wet day you have and for mega years ahead.

My Adventure Rally jacket is starting to feel the damp, however the zips and buckles are all still working well, the only thing I have done is stitched new velcro on as it has simply worn out, the actual fabric of the jacket standing up well but is sunburnt and changed colour yet holding up.

Sidi Crossfire 2 boots, simply the best boots I have ever had, while my Sidi adventure Goretex boot are water proof I have been standing in rivers up to my nuts so no advantage, the cross fires let it in and let it out, big deal I normally end up with sweaty wet socks anyway but the extra protection from the Crossfires leaves no doubt in mind as to the value of strength and support to your outer regions, you get one set of legs and feet to stand on protect em the best you can while playing hard.  

Klim Krios, again brilliant helmet, light weight and standing up to it, I am an Arai head so the Krios fits me well and the visibility from the Krios is better than the Arai XD4 and Shoei Hornet both of which are still very good helmets.

Good ol icebreaker, getting holed from being used everyday but still great gear for a stinky adventure rider, after one week the t shirts starts getting manky so a quick rinse and good to go.

Pivot pegs, again they unload your knees, having bad knees maybe I notice them more but they are not wank value but superior comfort and control value and well worth it in my view.

Tubliss, seriously good running these, puncture from nail in Mongolia, pull it out screw in a wood screw coated in aquaseal and it is still there many thousands of km later, no need to remove the wheel and spoon off the tyre and change/repair tubes so to me the perfect advantage for any RTW traveller, also the added advantage these will not “pop” so the chances of having a crash from a from blowout virtually eliminated again that is worth gold.

Garmin 276 GPS, the best GPS I have had with a screen second to none, although the unit is porkie compared to others and certainly not one I would take hiking I use it as a TFT coloured dash that tells me everything I need to know.

Garmin In Reach mini, spendie but worth it (I think), with no cell coverage I can still get messages to Ellen so she knows thing are ok, the technology we have at hand now is awesome.            

I did have an issue with it at Song-Kul lake in the bitter cold and snow and we did actually need it but it failed, I have contacted Garmin so I await their reply and will keep you posted. 

The little Mox chair, very lite and gets you arse off the ground away from ants, cold, wet etc, at first I regretted bringing it as you simply do not sit outside in Siberia or you get eaten alive by mozzies however since then it has been used pretty much on a daily basis, if only going to Siberia then leave it behind, anywhere else where you sit outside awesome wee unit.

That concludes my 3 month sum up, it will be interesting to see at the end of November what is still alive and well.

If you want to know anything more about any of thee products email me at onemotokiwi@gmail.com and I will be glad to help.

 

 

Naryn To Kazarman

Hoping Nicolas and Patricks bike would start and run was the plan to escape Naryn.

With some pushing and shoving we got the XT started, the Chinese junker started first push of the button which surprised us all….good times.

Saying goodbye the lads went north towards Bishkek to return the 2 heaps of shit, I think they will be happy to see the back end of the bikes as they really were bad condition.

Me, south for 90km with my only concern being the feds however I had a pig free day, getting to my turnoff saw me go straight into the hills for quite a few km then the eye candy started again with weird rock formations and colours from different mineral bubbling up from underneath.

Straight from the road
Wicked rock formations

The stark contrast of terrain within meters making for interesting viewing, unfortunately the small camera can not do it justice.

 

Colours coming into play
Very unusual to look at almost looking plastic

No sooner I had left the rolling hills I was straight into the big the girls looking down on me, I had to stop and look outside the window. Taking my helmet of and earplugs out it was time to do a 360 to appreciate the stunning and harsh landscape.

I felt so small and so lucky to be there it was almost overwhelming and to be honest I was struggling to hold back some tears of appreciation. For me it was one of those very “you are alive moments”.

Hell yeah!!
Just stunning

Continuing down the valley there were many river crossings up to about 600 mm deep then it all funneled into a gorge, it would certainly be interesting there in big rains.

The creek crossings
Once fanning out was easier
Cool cutting

As the valley opened up so did the massive array of colours and the late afternoon sun amplifying the contrasting landscape.

Late avo sun making the colours stand out
Wicked red rocks
The entire valley is a massive array of colours

Finally it was back down to reality and pavement and I rocked into Kazarman stuffed, 3 places were all booked out and finally the 4th one had some space, I was the only one there then next thing one more moto, then another moto, then two more motos then an overland truck ….it was weird to have such a gathering in the one place but with Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch and Kiwi we had some cool chats.

I had an interesting “discussion” at the hostel, the girl told me $800 Kyrg for the room including wifi and breaky, no problem done deal, I was the only one there bar a Spanish couple.

As the motos and vehicles rolled in they wanted to fill the other bed in my room and still wanted to charge me the same, I/(we the other riders) said well hey that turns it into a dorm so it should be cheaper, the lady then said to me my room is $1100 kyrg and that is when things got interesting, I stood my ground and said no the price was already set and agreed but she wanted more for the room as people came through the gate. In the end she said don’t tell the others what I paid, I said to her don’t try and charge more and stiff people as everyone knew what was going on and thought pretty badly of her antics....it was quite funny really. 

While writing this my life went dark, with a power cut so that pretty much concluded an awesome and perfect days adventure riding exploring and loving our coolas planet.

Twomotokiwis
Author of this article: Twomotokiwis
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