When we come back to our KTMs, it’s not rare to find people staring at them or taking photos. Throughout the trip we got used to this sight. But when it’s the president of BMW’s GS Club International standing there completely mesmerized, it’s special. Is this the look of a convert?
We left Khyargas Lake and hit the road again. After 130 kilometers of asphalt the road turned into a track again. Much to everyone’s delight. And then, at some stage, Ulli disappeared.
He had taken a different track than everyone else and we were looking out for him for a while. But just when we decided to turn around to search for him, we spotted him riding very carefully on a mountain ridge to our left. If you see a tiny black dot there somewhere, that's probably him.
We stayed the night Tudevtei, where we found a small homestay just before it started to rain. Meanwhile this truck was getting ready to leave town.
The next morning the weather had cleared up again. This family stopped to have a look at our bikes. When they arrived, the kid was sleeping on the bike. It’s always a bit weird when we’re riding these tracks highly concentrate and someone on a little bike like this comes along, just as fast. Sure, the bikes are a lot lighter, but they usually have bad tires and hardly any suspension. Riding these tracks is an adventure that they’re used to.
But not everyone is taking a bike. Apart from the 4x4s and surprisingly many Prius, every once in a while a bus appears. They seem to have great suspension because they’re speeding like hell. Very appropriate for VIPs.
Our next stop was Nömrög, where we got some food. If you look closely you can see a swastika on the horse’s leg. And a stone in the hand of the man. For some reason, he actually did throw it.
We continued eastwards on tracks that did not fail to impress.
Some patches where a bit muddy but nothing serious.
Then, in the middle of nowhere we came to a house where lots of people had gathered. At first we had no idea what was happening, but then someone explained to us, that this was a polling station. Mongolia was electing a new president. For the first time, no candidate received a majority in the first round, forcing a run-off between candidates Enkhbold and Battulga which the latter won on July 7th.
After a lot of memorial photos (including the local policeman) we were back on track. The sand proved to be tricky again at times and a few bikes were dropped again.
No motorcycles were harmed during the shooting of this material. Animals were harmed though, but not by us. And not on this day. They’d been lying there for a little while already.
And then it was time for the very first flat of our tour. Thies’ front tire was punctured. Ulli took the matter into his hands and changed the tube with Flo’s and Thies’ assistance.
It took about two hours before we got back on the way Tosontsengel, with 10.000 inhabitants the first bigger town in days.
We stayed at Tosontsengel’s two-storey hotel called Skyline. We were lucky to get a beer because normally, no alcohol is sold on election day.
The next morning we took a gravel track instead of asphalt road that starts in Tosontsengel. The track led through a landscape looking like the Black Forest.
These kilometers where among the most beautiful we rode in Mongolia. And we finally got to cross some rivers.
None of them proved to be too difficult and no bike got dropped in the water.
But sometimes the hardest part is keeping up the concentration. After successfully crossing a river Momme didn’t pay attention to a sandy patch – one man down.
This bypassing girl seems to know what it feels like:
After about 70 kilometers our track rejoined the track we initially meant to take. From there on it was perfect asphalt again. The yaks by the side of the road didn’t mind us speeding by.
Near Önder-Ulaan, we set our camp by the side of a forest.
The first town we stopped at the next morning was already celebrating the Nadaam festival. It consists of wrestling, archery and horse racing. But mostly, it is one big Mongolian party. Most people had dressed up for this national event.
The first rounds of wrestling were mostly quick ones.
Most people weren’t even watching. The food stands and the kid’s basketball contest were more popular than the traditional disciplines at this time of the day.
From there on it was asphalt only til Ulaanbataar. The Nadaam festival here started a day later. We got there before the big crowds.
At night Chinggis Square filled up for a big concert. Peter and Gerald were excited.
The Nadaam festival completely shut down Ulaanbataar’s business life for four days. All shops were closed. In that sense it felt a bit like Christmas in Europe. In every other sense, it felt very Mongolian.
We stayed in a hostel called Oasis, where many travellers gathered. Most of them were motorcyclists, but also lots of converted trucks were present. Unfortunately, it was time for our little travel group to split. Peter, Flo, Ulli and Gerald had to start their way back home through Russia after only a day’s rest. Safe journey, guys! It’s been great to travel with you.
We left Ulaanbataar after four days, heading towards the Russian border. Smog lay heavy on the land and the temperature rose to 43 degrees – a new record on the trip. Getting out of Mongolia was not nearly as pleasant as getting in. Or crossing it. But riding the A1401 north was a welcome opportunity to think about what we’d seen on the last 2000 kilometers, at least 800 of them off-road. We were very certain, we’ll be back. And we still are. The freedom you get to experience here on a motorcycle is unmatched. One day, we will take on the northern route with lighter bikes. Thank you Mongolia. And see you soon.