TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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It’s Getting Dark, Where The Heck Is My Camping Gear?

Posted by TravellingStrom on September 8, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

As normal when camping, when the sun comes up, it is time to rise, and having the sun dry out any dew covering the tent is always a nice thing 🙂 It had been a bit cool overnight, but I had been toasty. The morning views were great, but it was not long before we had knocked back a hot cuppa, a quick breakfast and were soon on the road, track, trail, whatever and riding into the rising sun 🙂

We were not riding as a group, it was more ride your own pace, if someone was faster, then went past if they were slower, you went past. I spent most of my time riding alone, pretty much the best way to go, as it allowed me to stop and take photos whenever I want, like the one I took of these camels 🙂

There were many herds of camels out this way, and it made for interesting riding when you have bad corrugation, sand and a camel herd crossing in front of you.

The riding conditions were good basically, nice fine weather, clear skies, a little cool to start with but warming up nicely. But, the roads were not conducive to fast riding, at some stages I could get up to 60kmh, but mostly it was around the 40-50kmh. This was because the road was very twisty, very bumpy with many large mudholes, some dried out, some still wet. Also, while riding you have many many tracks to choose from as I have mentioned before, but when you come to a choice of track, you make a split second decision of which one to take, in my case it is whichever way my front wheel is pointing 🙂 This can be a good thing or a bad thing, if the one you pick is too sandy or rutted you think of how smooth that one over there is, but if you do get over there, quite often that one goes bad as well, so after a few attempts of changing track, I just plough on regardless. The worst part is the corrugation, the only way to ride this is at around 80kmh, which is nigh on impossible with these roads, which means the bike is copping a caning 😦

A few hours into the ride I entered some hilly country, it was very nice but it was still tricky because the road surface never got any better!

Around lunch time I entered a town where I saw David, Chris and Neil who had passed me ages ago. No sign of Iain, Nacho nor Lorraine at this stage. After fuelling up I managed to check my emails at an internet cafe, the main one that concerned me was from the Drift camera people, they were happy to send me a replacement camera, so after sorting the delivery address in Ulan Batar I then bought a SIM card for Mongolia, which had 3G internet coverage, cool stuff 🙂

After chatting for a while, I hit the road again, there was no need to hang around, we still had a long way to go and because of the locations of the towns, we would not get to the next one today, not if the road was anything like this morning. We had covered 200km or so in 4 hours, which was now what we expected, some sections a bit faster, some slower but an average of 50kmh. There was a road sign outside of town, but I still have no idea where it was pointing to? The basic premise is that every road goes east towards Ulan Batar, maybe not quite in a straight line, but they will all eventually get there, or so I heard. Having no GPS or compass or map made it an easy ride, go east into the sun in the morning, away from the sun in the afternoon.

I noticed after leaving this town that there was a new road being made. In fact there seemed to be large amounts of smooth pavement, but no access to it. The side of this new road had a deep and wide ditch to stop people getting up on it, there were on ramps at some points, but they had been bulldozed closed with large earth mounds. That left the crap roads to ride, hmmm!!!

That was when I noticed Nacho, he had caught me up by riding the pavement, somehow he had got up there was was cruising!!!

It took me a while to find a way up onto the new road and when I did there was no pavement, but it was smooth for the most part and fast, although the work trucks did lift up some dust!!

Then it turned to pavement, cool bananas and the work trucks were over there in the dust 🙂

Eventually the road petered out from graded gravel to loose piles of dirt and spread gravel but stuff that looked soft, so I dropped off the roadworks and back onto the piste. This was late afternoon, around 4.30pm and I had seen nobody from our group since seeing Nacho on the pavement hours and hours ago just outside the last town. I knew the next town was around 400km+ away from that last town, but I also knew there would be some smaller Ger villages in between, somewhere. I came to a major direction change when the trails ran into some hills. There seemed to be one well formed two wheel track going up and over the hills, but most of the other trails went to the left, or north, around the hills. I stopped for a while to see if anyone would come past, but in the end made the decision to go with the main batch of trails, good choice or bad choice, I had made a commitment.

This part of the trail was pretty rough, rolling hills and small valleys, many many tracks to choose from, with the lower sections heavily rutted from water and large trucks, a messy mixture!

It was around this time, 5.30pm that I started to have some small concerns. I had seen a few cars now and then, but no Ger camps, nor farmers. I had no camping gear with me, it was too heavy and bulky to carry on this terrain, so it was being carried by David in the 4WD. The trouble was, I had not seen another bike, nor David since lunch time, and so it looked like I was going to be camping next to my bike in the open overnight, not a pleasant experience to look forward to, especially with the overnight temp hovering around or below zero 😦 I kept on going, and every time I got to the top of a rise, I would stop the engine and look around for a while, hoping to spot another bike in the distance somewhere. We had an agreement that we would start to plan for a camp site around this time and before 6, but I saw nothing 😦 To make things worse I felt very hot and tired, I had not eaten much during the day, because I had not felt hungry but this was something else, it was not until tomorrow that I worked out I was running a fever and a temperature, but today I just thought it was the hard work of riding.

I kept on riding, stopping again every so often, but now I was more concerned with finding a goat farmer or other Ger owner to scab a place to rest in shelter for the night. It was after 6pm when I flagged down a van and I tried to ask the driver how far to the next Ger village. There were a couple of young ladies aboard who spoke excellent English and they advised me that the next Ger village was 80km ahead! That was another 2 hours at the rate I was travelling and getting dark with camels, not an inviting option, but one I would have to take.

But, not so, after I explained that my camping gear was elsewhere, they invited me to camp with them 🙂 It seemed they were 5 workers of a company in Ulan Batar that were heading to the town of Hovd for a demonstration of electronic vehicle trackers. They were intending to camp that night anyway, but rather than go another 10km west, they decided to camp right here and invited me to dinner and would sort out a bed somewhere, what a fortunate encounter 🙂

So, although I was running a fever and not knowing it, I enjoyed a nice nourishing mutton and noodle stew, with bread and meat sangers 🙂 They had this big bottle of ‘beer’ which they offered me, well it was an interesting taste, it was mares milk, fermented. I sampled two cups of it before I decided the first one was not my imagination, it did taste crap, but I did not mention that at the time 😆 The sleeping arrangements were a bit like the Kyrgyzstan border place, 4 blokes in a 3 man tent, it was cozy and warm, but a tad cramped for room. But, considering a few hours ago I was thinking of camping in the open, I was in a very comfortable position, especially as the wind had started to howl through at sunset.

My last thoughts were of, where the heck was my camping gear, where did they all go, I was faster than some, but slower than others, so at some stage I should have passed or been passed by a bike. But, out here all tracks go to UB, some go in a different direction, I reckoned I was on the main road and seeing the trucks and cars on the same section kept my belief that I was on the right one.

Cheers from
TravellingStrom

2 Responses to “It’s Getting Dark, Where The Heck Is My Camping Gear?”

  1. Carl said

    Only you could get lost in the desert and found by two young women,and then be invited to a meal and a bed. Sounds like the plot of a B grade porn movie. Ah happy times.

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