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Old 07-08-2011, 04:53 AM   #31
racki OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Sydney
Oddometer: 171
Day 9 – Belogorsk – forest


Like every rider should, we paraded through the city on this lovely Sunday morning. Rain was gone, sun was shining and we were in good spirits.


Our hotel





Way out of town:





Jonathon got used to the idea of long riding days, we figured it will be better for him to lead and dictate the speed and stops. There is just one road, no navigational skills are required so it’s pretty straight forward. Road is in great condition – it could be anywhere in the world. Wide lanes, new bridges, overtaking lanes on uphill sections. Infrastructure is still a bit underdeveloped, but they are getting there. It’s clear that this is a completely new road, few years back there was dirt super-highway. Judging by the amount of maintenance teams it must be a priority on local government list of ‘to do’ things. We even saw a team of few guys trimming weeds on the shoulder, some 100 km from the nearest city! That’s a bit too much in my opinion, but I reckon they need large teams to maintain the road during winter, so they ‘invent’ work for them during summer as well. Anyway, it’s a truly impressive piece of road, and quite a long one too – some 2000 km, out of which more than half is already upgraded.







During refuelling we were passed by Frenchies – it was good to see them few days after we saw each other in Vladivostok.







We camped together that night – the plan was to find a good spot with two hours of daylight to spare, by our first attempt was a failure. We picked a spot near the river, but there were a lot of local people. Normally it’s not a bad thing, but we spoke with two nice guys in their 50’s and they advised us to leave as there is some population of Chinese workers, who like to enjoy their drinks at night at this spot. Not being sure if it’s truth or some sort of local fight between Russians and cheap Chinese workers, we left.



It took few tries to find something decent, but we had a good strategy – I was scouting every side track from the main road and after some 20 km we found abandoned quarry. After some sort of dinner and a few drinks we went to sleep by the sound of Trans Siberian train. After all the main road goes along the tracks so there was no escape form that.


French extreme mosquito protection:






Our spot for the night:





Stats:





Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306297


Bart
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racki screwed with this post 07-08-2011 at 09:12 AM
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:02 AM   #32
racki OP
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Day 10 – Forest – Riverbank



This wasn’t a good day for me – personal life got in a way. I know it’s a bit too early in the trip for that, but I’m a kind of guy that prefers to hear the bad news first, so the sooner the better I guess.


I’ve got the best wife in the whole world and there is no argument about that. She’s beautiful, smart, and oh boy – she knows how to run a home. Without Her I would be still living in a cave, eating cat food straight from the old paint can. We’ve got two fantastic boys – the best kids in the entire world too. They are just like my wife, but they don’t know how to run a home. I love them and I miss them already but that was to be expected and comes as no surprise. I was allowed to go because she loves me too and she knows how important this dream of mine was to me. I must have been good to her i reckon.


I received a text form Madzia that our car broke down. It’s a piece of junk, we were supposed to buy another one before my departure but we chickened out, not being sure how our finances will look like after my return. My trip costs a lot of money after all – if I stayed it wouldn’t be a problem to buy a bloody car. She needs it to get to work and deal with the family stuff. Of course I feel like it’s all my fault now. But that wouldn’t be a problem – Madzia is tougher than that.


The real problem is that some fucker among our friends or family has made a comment about me checking out Russian chicks. I know Madzia and she knows that’s just a joke – I’m just a travelling idiot sharing my observations with other people. Every time I spot something worth looking at I’ll share it with you. There might be some single rider looking for wife too – who knows. I might be a good Samaritan after all, good travelling Samaritan, wandering through the cities and villages in Russia, just curious and willing to help. But some stupid cow (come on – bloke would never make such a comment) thinks that looking at other women is a sign of marriage crisis. No, it’s not. Rooting other girls is a sign of crisis, but it’s completely different level of interaction. If there is wife that thinks her husband is not looking at other girls – she simply lives in denial. All guys do that and that’s how they met their wives. They checked them out and still do the same – old habits never die even if they have no real purpose anymore. So now Madzia feels like she is a bad wife, I’m a bad husband and our marriage is worth shit just because some idiot wants her to feel that way. Some pathetic creature thinks that it will excel through misery of others I guess.


So here is what I’ve got to say – I love Madzia and my boys. If anyone, ever, will make a comment that will hurt my family, I will get back and will put end to it. There is no place in our life for such a person – she serves no purpose and she needs to leave now.


Some of my friend’s wives said, that they would never let their husbands for such a trip if he wanted to go. Well – let me tell you something now. You don’t love your husband, you don’t trust your husband and you treat him like a pile of shit. Your marriage might not be worth anything and your husband is a softcock on top of that. Now go and deal with your problems as I don’t plan to touch the subject anymore. It has ruined my good day of riding, so thanks for that.


So guys – give some verbal support for Madzia, as she is the real hero behind this whole project. Madzia – you know I love you and you know I will love even more after my return. I’m a good guy after all... There is not much I can do now, so here is a photo of the best looking piece of meat in the entire Siberian forest - I’m sorry it looks a bit like a cheesy Swedish gay porn from 70’s, but I assure you – there is nothing better than that over here!





As for the riding – we finished with the main road and turned into some minor gravel/poor tarmac road. It led through some run down villages, forest disappeared and open, grassy hills were the main feature of the scenery.









At the end of the day we spotted nice camp site at the bank of the river. Bikes were hidden in the bushes, we were not visible from the road. It’s not about being paranoid – it’s just better not to be visited by locals. They are friendly people, but to them we look like a space invaders with all our gear and shiny stuff. It’s better not to intimidate them and keep the low profile to get a good sleep.







Of course some young guy rocked up on his sidecar Iz looking for fishing spot. I told him that here is no good and Jonathon said not a word, suggesting that when he speaks, his fists do the talking. I’m just kidding of course – Jonathon doesn’t speak Russian yet.


Stats:





Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306298


Bart
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racki screwed with this post 07-08-2011 at 05:15 AM
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:22 AM   #33
racki OP
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Day 11 – Riverbank in Russia – near Khokh Nuur in Mongolia


Our morning routine is taking more and more time. We managed to learn how to set up camp fast, but breaking it seems to be beyond our capabilities. It takes no less than two to three hours. First is the leak, that begins the ceremony. If one leaks – other can’t resist. So we are up, it’s time for coffee. Jonathon brought some fancy espresso thingy, I’ve got stove so in spirit of good cooperation we are making coffee. It takes about 20 minutes of mostly intense looking at it. Morning hygiene takes about 20 seconds top. Then I make some sweet love to the bike. It’s my substitute lover for some time and it requires some attention. The same way I enjoy making my wife coffee in the morning, I enjoy spraying some chain lube here and there. Well, not really – I just want to get rid of this mother-of-all spray can and join ‘no lube’ club. There is still a lot in it unfortunately. This day I also dropped front sprocket by one tooth – bike was struggling a bit climbing slopes yesterday. Packing up is a monster task. I never know what goes where so every day is different. I try to put everything into main bag and the rest into duffel bag, and what amazes me is that every day size of duffel bag is completely different. Putting this on a bike is also tricky – after all those days there is no perfect way of strapping it yet. So far I managed to burn a small patch of it on a muffler – it was too far left and a bit too far back I guess. That’s of course nothing compared to spider web Jonathon is constructing every morning. He went through 20 designs so far, and he always needs to adjust something after first 10 km. Then his gear desintegrates – his backpack is just a dry bag now, so that requires another refinement of strapping. Putting gear on is last on the list so for quite a long time we keep running around in undies just to delay that – it is really hot here.





So we left our spot around midday. Gravel road that sometimes changed into narrow and really bad tarmac with a lot of potholes led through some poor villages and eventually we landed on Mongolian border.





I wasn’t sure if that’s the spot, it looked like some sort of shack that sheep whisperer would hang around in - but with a lot of barbed wire, couple of military guys with guns and few other bits. It took nearly three hours to get out of Russia, at some stage we just cut a power nap waiting for god knows what. And it’s not like they were busy – we were the only ones crossing. It’s the smallest Mongolian border crossing and we could see why.


Spy photo of Russian side:





Mongolian side was easier – just ninety minutes and we were free to go. Nice people – one lady was speaking English, one guy was once in Poland and was happy to say few words in Polish to me. We were also saluted by guy who operated gate. But that’s nothing yet – at the end we managed to sell some Russian money and get some Mongolian from the officer that was doing our paperwork. Nice touch.


Straight after the border we took some fuel – Jonathon needs more fuel range, so we got jerry can in the last Russian town. It was quite bad – started to leak straight away, but Mongolian pump operator came up with solution – he put some plastic bag under the cap and it works. The thing that doesn’t work is another strapping solution. There is no way he can put it in a way that doesn’t make him look like a Gypsy.


Five minutes into the Mongolia and it started to rain super heavy (that was taken on Russian side yet):





We had no other choice than to ride through it – landscape is basically a huge lawn. There are no visible features – it waves a bit up and down, but in general it’s just flat land with short grass. It was raining so hard, I couldn’t see Jonathon who was riding some 30 meters in front of me. It was slippery – rear end was doing Swan Lake routine and steering damper was working overtime. It saved my ass couple of times today, that’s for sure. It stopped after about 20 minutes, which gave us a chance to enjoy riding. I felt like a pig in a mud – it was awesome! Two track dirt road winding through massive lawn.





We had enough daylight to get 30 kilometres into Mongolia, where we camped few kilometres short of the lowest spot in the whole country. It was super tricky to set up camp as wind has picked up and all our gear wanted to leave us in a hurry, but we managed somehow. It’s really nice here, I’m grinning while I write this.





Stats:





Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306299


Bart
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:30 AM   #34
racki OP
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Day 12 – Khokh Nuur – 60 km west of Choibalsan


Jonathon says it was the best day in his whole riding career. I don’t blame him – it’s pretty high on my list too, but I have a bit more riding days under my belt.


Morning bike-love was a bit extended – I discovered fuel leak somewhere around the engine. Nothing serious – just a breather hose from main tank repositioned itself a bit and was too low to create a siphon, so it was just draining all the fuel that was higher than that in the second tank. It required taking second tank off. Then Jonathon spotted one of the rear rack bolts missing on my bike. Good spotting! It must have become loose and damaged thread in the process. A bit of epoxy fixed the problem for now.





Riding was nothing short of great – two-track dirt road with tracks deep enough to create a bit of berm that could be ridden fast in the corners. That is the exact kind of road I first learned how to ride a motorbike.

John is a bit of a rebel:





After some time road changed into Mongolian road of multiple choice – there are few dirt roads next to each other, criss-crossing all the time and you can pick your favourite.


We arrived at Choibalsan not knowing how big the city is. Being complete idiots we had no Mongolian money left nor could speak any word in local language and there was nothing on a map that could suggest fuel, ATM or anything. Luckily they had ATM, few restaurants and all you might need. The city was a bit dodgy-looking, but people were nice and happy I guess. Whenever stopped, we gathered crowd of thumb-uppers. There was always someone with a bit of English to speak to, so our underdeveloped Mongolian was not a huge problem. We are so bad, we don’t even know what’s the name of local currency... I can read the signs, but can’t understand them.

Local bikers:





We draw some attantion:





Road west of town was a dirt multiple choice super-highway. We took it for some 60 km and then turned south towards the river. Very nice spot – we can see few yurts, herds of goats and horses hang around nearby. River is fast flowing and muddy, so swimming is not recommended.





Stats:



Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306302


Bart
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:32 AM   #35
Muddler
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Bart, you sound 100% normal to me, and you sound like you have a good wife too. I think most of us advriders do, those that dont only get to talk about it and then they get back to the mowing.
Enjoy your ride!!!
As for the photo, Aaaaarghhh!
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:34 AM   #36
Lion BR
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Bart,
I'm with you on all you said about what makes a great relationship. And by your account, you have a great one. But man, do we have to see this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by racki View Post


Anyway, you are on a great trip, you are sharing great photos, and writing a great story. Looking forward to more! And because of the above picture, you owe us 10 pictures of girls to help erase the above photo from our minds.

Lion
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:26 AM   #37
racki OP
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Day 13 – 60 km west of Choibalsan – Ondorkhaan

We packed up in the rain. Groudhog looked out of his burrow:



After few k's Jonathon’s jerry can came off and got burned right through on the exhaust. I was surprised he didn’t catch fire – that would make for interesting photo! Instead I've got camels:




It would be another great day if it wasn’t raining most of the time. Road was fun – dirt super highway of multiple choice again.




When dry it’s super fun to ride – there is washboard on fast sections, but it’s enough to go about 110 km/h to avoid vibrations. Roughly the same speed is required to go over puddles and potholes. It’s beyond Jonathon’s capabilities (and his bike...), so most of the time I shot ahead and stop for couple of minutes. Other option is to go slow cross-country. It’s smooth enough and there are no stones to bent rims, so I can entertain myself waiting for him.

When it rains it’s much less fun. On sandy sections it hardly makes any difference, but there are clay sections too – slippery like greased pig. It’s almost impossible to control the bike – front has got no grip at all, every small rut is grabbing it. Sometimes we just have to go off the road, but it doesn’t help much as grass on clay is slippery as well.




There was national day celebration in one of the villages we passed through. Wrestling, archery and horse riding competitions took place. The entire village gathered on the hill – people were friendly, admired our bikes and were happy to have their photos taken. And so were we - smiling, admiring their horses and posing for the photos. Not much communication as we suck at Mongolian still.















Other interesting experience was to stop at some sort of a roadhouse – couple of shacks in the middle of nowhere. Heavy rain was coming so we thought about something hot to eat. We entered something that looked like somebody’s house almost – there was stove, couple of sofas, bench and a table. About 15 people were already inn and let me tell you – they don’t mind staring. If there was staring competitions – they would take all the medals. We stared back, but we are far from being pro and we were outnumbered. One woman spoke Russian, so at least we could order stuff and tell about our trip. The same woman saw us crossing the border two days earlier, now she was travelling to Ulaanbaatar (or UB as they like to call it). Food tasted suspiciously, but did the job. No photos taken – it was raining, inside was super hot and lens fogged-up straight away.

Finally we arrived at Ondorkhaan, after just 273 km today. It was cold, I had wet hands and Jonathon had wet everything – we were ready to check inn to some hotel. The third one we saw look the least bad – it had no showers, cold water only but was 10$ each and had a restaurant. Ordering food is always risky, luckily this time local meteorologist was having dinner with her Emergency Services officer friend. She spoke very good English so it was a good opportunity for us to ask a lot questions about this city, Mongolians and their country. Interesting stuff. You have to come here yourself if you want to know it though, it was too much to report.




Data:



Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306555

Bart
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:24 PM   #38
horseman474
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Loving the pics

Great photo's ..
Those roads through the plains of mongolia look like an awesome ride.

Doing a trip like this could not happen sucessfully with out the support of ones family...
For your wife to let you do this proves she is an awesome person who is standing behind you and and letting her partner follow his dream.
Us fellow ADV riders love the pictures of the eye candy and it shits me that some people may use it as an excuse to put doubts in your partners mind.

Anyway after that undies shot of yours I dont think the local ladies will be fighting over a dirty bike rider anytime soon...but as for the lonely truckers

Keep the rubber side down

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Old 07-08-2011, 04:58 PM   #39
racki OP
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Anyway after that undies shot of yours I dont think the local ladies will be fighting over a dirty bike rider anytime soon...but as for the lonely truckers



Horseman
The only living cresatures firghting over me in Russia were insects. Tons of them. It might be smell related. So far no truckie apporoached me, but that culd haove been one shave too close. Luckily we are out f othat country for a while. No insects in Mongolia! And what's more important - very little truckies!
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:16 PM   #40
racki OP
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Day 14 – Ondorkhaan – Ulanbataar


This was an easy day – tarmac all the way, although by the end it was so poor quality, I would rather prefer dirt road.


Nice views, mountains started to grow. Even though peaks are getting quite high, it’s not visible as we were getting higher too. At some point we were above 1700 metres.

Day wasn’t packed with excitement, but we still managed to squeeze few moments. First we left our hotel:





.
.on a freshly painted street:






Views were getting better and better:











What's left of multiple choice dirt highway:





Mongols changed horses for motorbikes:






We came across another national day celebrations:







That was seriously big:





A bit of poultry action:





Finally in UB:





Stats:




Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306556


I'm up to date, but next installment might come from as far as Almaty, so be patient and watch the Spot.
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:27 PM   #41
racki OP
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Quote:
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Bart,
.... But man, do we have to see this?


Lion
Yes, you have to see that. There is price you have to pay - it's called collateral damage.
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:18 PM   #42
LC8TY
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Great stuff Racki I love the pics on the plains and it's a good read too.

On the women thing, my girlfriend says that it is allright to look, thats normal and everyone does it. If I didn't look every now and then she would start to worry about me.
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:18 AM   #43
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Keep it coming
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:48 PM   #44
horseman474
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Bluhduh

I'm laying at home on my coach and will be for the next 2weeks as I just had surgery due to an unexpected double hernia
and reading your report and loving it. Cant even ride my bike at the moment.....
Your photo's are fantastic so much so that my better half is even showing a slight interest in looking at them as well.
Would love to know a bit of detail on how your bikes are going and your opinion on the bigger 2cyl vs single and has it's weight been an issue at all.
And whats the fuel octane levels been like.

Keep it coming Bart !

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Old 07-09-2011, 06:40 PM   #45
wachs
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Excellent images and tales to match -

'Multiple choice dirt highway' looks like so much fun!
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