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River Wide, River Deep!!!

Posted by TravellingStrom on September 9, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

It was a warm night but I did not get too much sleep, as a chainsaw was cutting wood right in my ear. Plus I was a bit fevered up which did not help. The morning was cool but once the sun was up it did not take long to warm up enough to get sorted out for today’s ride. I had no packing to do, a sort of bonus I guess, but I did have some bike maintenance to sort out. I had checked my chain oiler and it was no longer working, when I looked under the seat I found the main pump unit had broken two cable ties and its own mounting system and because it was bouncing around, snapped both wires that supply power to the pump. I managed to cobble together a quick fix with some extra wire and it was working fine after that 🙂 The worst thing I found were some missing bolts and one which holds the seat frame in place bent over with the thread half torn out!!!!

With some extra muscle around I managed to get it half way in, but to do it properly would mean half dismantling the bike, not something I really wanted to do today, especially as I was so tired. Then it was time to say farewell to my new friends, I cannot spell not pronounce their names, I was expecting an email prior to this post with the correct spelling, which has not yet arrived, so I will leave them out for now. Anyway, thanks to all of you for your help and hospitality it was greatly appreciated 🙂

So, once I had seen them on their way west, all that was left was me, an empty plain and a crow, ready to move in for the scraps 🙂

I headed off and was right away into corrugation, no soft lead up for me today. It was lucky I had some caffeine pills because I was severely mentally tired, but they did help to keep my eyes open. The sun went behind some clouds and lowered the temp a lot and it stayed like that for hours.

I was surprised to find that within 5 km of where I camped there was a goat farmer with a Ger, so if I had kept on going last night, I could probably have stayed there, but then I would not have met those nice people, so there you go eh!! I had been riding for a few hours when I came to the Ger village that had been mentioned last night, but when I enquired there was no fuel to be had. They did have drinks and biscuits, and even though I was not really hungry I bought some chocolate biscuits, just in case I needed some quick energy. It is real strange to see such old fashioned lodgings, with a solar panel and satellite dish 🙂

Then I found out the real reason all these Gers were here, a river and it looked deep and wide and very wet, not to mention cold!!!

I watched a few vehicles go through and it looked bad for me, there was one section where there was a big hole and I dreaded dropping the bike in it, over near the other bank 😦 Here is a small video of what I was up against.

I waited for a while, maybe 15 minutes, still thinking I may spot some of the other riders in my group, but I saw nobody I knew. When I queried about another crossing that was drier, they indicated this was it! I asked some of them about putting my bike on a truck, in the end they said yes and it would cost me $60, which I did not have, in any currency, so that option was out straight away 😦

So, I made the decision to walk the course, well I did not get very far before the water was over my boots up near my knees and this was when I understood how fast the water was flowing, I could not ride that without some help, as the water would push my bike over. What I ended up doing was paying two of the truck people $10 each, I rode through very slowly, almost a paddle, and they walked beside the bike and held the bike upright when the current threatened to push me downstream. This did work and although I nearly lost it a few times I did get it to the other side. But, I was so weak I had to rest for 5 minutes until my heart and breathing had returned to normal, the dizziness and nearly fainting was the major pointer to me deciding I had a fever, the wrong time to find out!!!

The torment was not over yet though, I still had two more water crossings to negotiate in this section before I was up on the dry part. Here I stopped for a while to dry my feet and thanks to my cousin Anthony, put on my Sealskinz socks, they will keep my feet warm and dry while my boots were soaked!

So, after that little diversion it was off again amongst the sand and corrugations, it was mind numbing and my bike is certainly not designed for this terrain. If I had been prepared to come to Mongolia before I left home, I would have stripped the bike and thread locked every bolt, but as this was a late change in plan I was not prepared, and the bike certainly wasn’t 😦

The roads finally had their little victory, not a missing bolt, but one of the brackets holding my left pannier on snapped due to the metal fatigue. Mind you, one missing bolt meant this bracket copped more stress than normal, so thread lock may have stopped this particular problem from occurring!

I nearly gave up at this stage, I certainly needed some rest, so after I had removed the pannier and seat to inspect the damage I could see I was going to need to think about this before jumping in feet first. So I lay down and had a bit of shut eye! Mind you I did not get any sleep, there was a fair amount of car and truck traffic, which meant I was on the main road and they all slowed down for a look, though nobody stopped. When there were no cars all I could here was the wind, and the flapping of wings, the vultures were circling I believed!!!

About an hour later I felt slightly better so I returned to the vertical position to see if my ideas had any merit. While lying down I had weighed up my options as to how to go about this repair. One thing I had already decided was that I was not doing 400km for the day. I was still 120km from the next largish town and fuel, that was now my days goal, somehow I would get there and see what my options are and maybe find out where the others were!

Repair wise I had a couple of options, one was using one of my ratchet straps to strap the pannier frame to the bike and at the same time, strap the pannier to the rear seat. This would make the bike a tad lopsided, but if I kept the speed down it should be OK. Another option was some fencing wire and just at that moment a truck went past, so I flagged it down. They stopped and when I tried to show them I needed some wire, they basically said “bugger that m8, lets weld it back together eh!” Or whatever their equivalent is in Mongolian 😆 As it turned out, they were a drilling crew heading out for another shift and they had all the gear, and within 10 minutes, they had welded the broken bracket back up and were off on their way, cheers and thanks from downunder lads 🙂 While I had the time, I had another go at the seat bolt, I did get it in a bit bit better, but it is not ideal, the whole back of the bike needs to come off, so that will have to wait, if worse comes to worse I will find some fencing wire and hold the seat in place.

Once they had left I had another half an hour to repack and remount the top box etc and get back on my way. Once again, although I was on the main road there were still many tracks to choose from, I did slow down a lot and felt more comfortable knowing I only had another 120km to go. But, it had taken me 4 hours to get the bike sorted out back there(including shut eye) so even at 40kmh it was another 3 hours or so, but that should get me there around 5pm or so, not a bad time to arrive! I did eventually see some signs of civilisation, power poles heading towards my destination, so that was a visual bonus 🙂

But, when I was within 50km of the town, more drama, my bash plate lost its mounting bolt again, now this was a Nylock nut, which basically means it is tight and even if it comes loose a bit, it should stay on the thread. Not so, round two to the Mongolian wilderness. Lucky for me I had a tried and proven remedy for this situation, so once I had located my ratchet strap it was an easy fix. But, it meant slowing down further, because the the strap was in danger of snapping if I bottomed out on too many big holes, and there were many of them along here!

A little while later I found another river crossing, this one looked horrible, narrow but deep, that is until I spotted an old buggered bridge, I walked the planks and it looked like it could hold the bikes weight and this proved to be the case which saved another dunking 🙂

It was nearly 4pm when I had my first glimpse of civilisation and it looked like rain was on the way as well, so it was rather lucky to bump into David, Nacho and Lorraine at the servo as I entered town, on my last litre or so of fuel, I had clocked up 430km on this tank, but could have done another 30km or so at a pinch.

Lorraine had been here an hour or so and had sussed out the local accommodation scenario, so it was not too long before we were booked into rooms in a local hotel, with hot running water and clean beds and beer and food 🙂

But, I was crook, I could feel it and as it turns out I had half a beer before giving it up, I ordered some food and ate what I could then basically crashed out real early, I was shagged out, it had been a tough two days and I needed some rest. The central heating was on in the room and it was freezing outside, so I curled up and slept like the dead!!!!

Just for the record. It seems that yesterday afternoon when I dropped off the new road, when it turned to bad loose dirt, these three stayed on it and when we compared my Spot location with Nachos, they were 50km north or where I was, no wonder I could not find them. Although they were a bit concerned about me with no camping gear, the consensus seemed to be I was an adult and would find what I needed to survive, quite correct, even if it was fermented mares milk beer 🙂

They had not seen nor heard from Neil, Iain or Chris, so we had to assume they were ahead of us. It seems also that I had made better time than this group, it had taken them all day to get this far and they had reached town an hour before me, and saw on the SPOT that I was on my way. If I had not broken down and wasted 5 hours in total doing repairs, I would have been another 200km further east and once again without my camping gear!

Cheers from Bayankhongor, Mongolia

4 Responses to “River Wide, River Deep!!!”

  1. great update Rich,looks like you have had a couple of real trying days,but you survived so it all adds to adventure you are on.
    cheers clive

  2. Arnold said

    Tough indeed, glad you made it Rich.
    Time to sort out the bike again.
    Didn’t see oil in the level glass on the engine, does it use any oil at all?

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