it was 4:30 pm when we were all settled into the accommodation Rod mentioned above. I thought I had a pic or two of the place, but apparently not.
Our host shot off at one point and came back with a Dutch couple in a 4wd. They were offered another room in the compound.
I had been looking at the weather, which had by now stopped raining. And consulting my calendar. Starting tomorrow morning, I had just 4 days to get to Irkutsk 3100 km away, to get my flight to see the girlfriend. That includes 2200 km (1400 miles) in Mongolia, about 1500 km (950 miles) of it on earthen vehicle tracks.
I made an on the spot decision to leave the group. Immediately. I had to get to Irkutsk. And it was going to be damn tight to see I did. I had no more than 2.5 days to get to the border at Altanbulag, and I was at Olgiy in the far west of the country, 2200 km away. I quickly repacked my bags, grabbed my damp clothes that had been drying by the fire, and said farewell to Prutser and Beamster who I would not see again on this trip - they had flights booked back to Holland from Irkutsk.
I was hoping to catch up with Rod and Terry in Irkutsk.
To get as much headstart with my ambitious schedule as possible, I decided to leave Olgiy immediately. By 5:30pm I was refuelled and making my way through town. I had about 5 hours hard riding to Ulaangom, via a track I had nicknamed the Khotgor Track a few years ago. I had about 3 - 3.5 hours or so of daylight. I would be riding in the dark for a bit. But a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.
Leaving Olgiy, the track seemed in good shape:
But there were a few mudslides over the road that were very tricky to negotiate alone. An hour or so out of Olgiy I reached a familiar sight ... a sign in the middle of nowhere that I had stickered up a couple of years previously:
I was on a mission, and powered on making very good time as I passed the lake Achit Nuur, and the 3 yurts at its south eastern tip.
I stopped in at the village of Khotgor and pulled into the general store to grab some chocolates and some nibbles. A petrol 4wd was there too and I asked him if he knew where I could get a few litres of fuel. I probably had enough to make it to Ulaangom, but riding alone and with darkness coming, it would be prudent to have and extra couple of litres. He said the fuel depot in Khotgor was shut, but he would sell me 5 litres for the going rate. Then he posed for a quick pic with his son.
So with a fuel top up and an energy top up, I headed north towards the pass. I was still making good time. The pass was freezing and covered in a thick fog that severely restricted riding speeds. But it was still only around 8pm when I reached one of the two main tracks across Mongolia - known colloquially as The Northern Route. (see below)
My aggressive riding paid off. By the time darkness fell, I was just half an hour from Ulaangom, and on a rare stretch of asphalt road. In Ulaangom, I pulled into a big hotel by the side of the road, and was directed to a garage around the back, where I met two Russian bikers, on Africa Twins, who had arrived 5 minutes before me. It was 9:30pm.
After showering, I met the Russians in the hotel restaurant and we swapped details on road conditions ahead before I went upstairs to sleep. I wanted an early start tomorrow.
So far I had done 300 km since Olgiy in just over 4 hours, including a fuel and food break, by riding like a complete redneck. I was being brutal with the bike, but I HAD to get to Irkutsk and catch my flight.
My Mission to ride solo across Mongolia in 2 and a half days was ... so far so good.