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Archive for September 7th, 2012

I Hate Soft Sand, Groan!

Posted by TravellingStrom on September 7, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

It was a cool cool night, but having the smarts to dig out my thermal gear and beany before bed meant I had a very comfortable nights sleep 🙂 After a basic brekky of a cup of tea and some biscuits, it was time to pack up and get on the road. Once the sun rose and defrosted the bikes of course 🙂 In this desert the flowers seem to bloom in the morning, after they catch the overnight dew.

So, we headed off east into the rising sun, dodging camels as they appeared and were soon in the town of Bulgar. Here we fuelled up and took stock. The road had been paved until now and after we got directions, we headed to the airport and the sandy track beyond 😦 As I had no GPS I had to follow others, this looked like it was going to be a tough day to start with as the first difficulty of the day was this tiny but deep water crossing with steep entry and exits 😦

The local Ger owner helped us along with some fresh melon to cool us down, it was hard work on this track and we had come 2km!!!

Then it was off again and this time we found some real deep sand patches, this was looking like knocking our daily distance to bugger all if it was like this all the way !!!!

This went on for the next hour and I slowly paddled my way through the sand, before I noticed Chris and Neil had taken a side track to the right and were sitting and waving, well suck me dry and call me Dusty, there was a bloody flat paved road over there and it looked like it came from town, WTF, when we asked the way to Ulan Batar, everyone said that way and pointed into the hills, I guess it was our fault for not asking about a paved road 😆

So, this was good, we clocked up the miles on a brand new road that went for another 250km, just what we needed to try and make the required 400km per day.

The plain was covered in Willy Willys, just like back home and now it was just as hot too 🙂

The next fuel stop was a fizzer, no fuel except diesel, which was no use to us. But, after asking the question of the locals, it seemed if we continued for another 100km or so, then turn right(east) for about 20km we should find a town with unleaded fuel. This would stretch the fuel we had each but it should be doable and in the end, what choice did we have?

The paved road only went for another short while, it then stopped and turned to dirt. The only reason it was paved was because there was a coal mine here and the road was made by the Chinese to bring coal back to China. So, now we were on the dirt again and this time it seemed to be good dirt, flat and gravel, but quite fast with only the occasional loose section.

Around 3.30pm we connected with the main road, this was the South road and although it looked like the roadworks were continuing, it was far from finished. The local workers seemed to think it would be paved next year, well, unless they have quite a few road crews, nothing I had seen to date would indicate they would get the job done in time. But, you never know eh!! We gathered here before heading east, now we were on the rippio, bumpy, corrugated, soft sand patches and very rough roads. It seems this is what we were going to experience for the next 1,500km or until we found pavement again.

We all managed to get to the servo to fuel up before running out and as it was near 5pm, we decided we would ride until around 6 or so or until we could find a suitable location to set up camp. Although we were not riding as a group, we all needed to apply for the visas at the same time as we were on the same LOI, or Letter Of Introduction. So, we could ride our own ride but to camp together at the end of the day seemed like a nice idea 🙂 Of course, the roads meant you had to be vigilant as at times there were many of them but in the end, they all went to the same place, then next town and ultimately Ulan Batar 🙂

We found a suitable location, not the best but OK and soon set up camp at a reasonable hour for a change, which allowed us to relax and cook some dinner in the daylight. Most of us were tired, we had done a good days riding, but we knew tomorrow would be like this afternoon, hard and slow. So, we would need an early start and if we could keep a constant 40kmh over the course of the day, we would be able to complete our 400km target. We had high hopes of arriving in UB Sunday night, ready for a Monday morning application, this meant we could get the visas back by Friday and not have to stick around for the weekend, well, that was the plan Stan, but nothing goes to plan, ever!!!! We already had one casualty, Nacho’s top box broke from its mounts and was now consigned to the range Rover and/or seat duties as required, this would not be the last breakage during this section of the journey!!

Cheers from somewhere in western Mongolia

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