The morning’s track led straight up the mountainside, across dried out riverbeds and goat tracks, towards the much anticipated gates of hell, or Senjit Had.
The view at the top was sublime, and in combination with the unusual rock formations and natural stone port, made it to an epic checkpoint.
Toast immediately started climbing a rock crack in search of the Cosmonauts hidden treasure.
No luck. It must already have been pillaged, it’s already a long time since their space exploration in 2013.
Instead, the Pilgrims resorted to a chilling session on the port top.
Filipz then spent some hours diagnosing an occasional no compression state, when the kick does not pushback arriving at TDC. Meanwhile, Toast was practicing riding up and down a pretty gnarly stony hillclimb.
It all went pretty well, at least until he asked Filipz to film… Too high entry speed and deflecting of a rock, Toast flew off his line and smashed himself and Gina against the rock wall Mr Filipz was filming from.
The rally tower took the whole impact. Oh well, Toast had wanted to straighten it out before, now he had more motivation to do so. Some new aluminum tower frame plates will probably have to be machined at his return to Lund. He then went at the climb a last time, and this time working the clutch to maintain a controlled slower speed. This time sticking to the planned line went well.
The Pilgrims then decided to risk the descent through the Gobi. Tires were deflated to one bar. This was every man for himself. If one crashed or got stuck the other would not be able to stop for assistance, as he too would be stuck trying to start in the deep sand. Momentum was crucial. Every meter of the 1 km sand section ridden, would be a meter less to manhandle the bike out. They sat off, slaloming their way and trying to avoid the deep 4×4’s tracks. Half way through, they surfed past two 4x4s a couple of men trying to tow/push a BMW through the deep sand. They waved to the struggling team of rwd optimists. Their self inflicted situation appeared dumb even to the losely spirited Pilgrims…
They had now gathered speed and were running third gear at high rpms, spraying the sand high behind them.The final tricky section was cleared without too much troubles, and they stopped to celebrate at the location they had abandoned and turned around the previous day. They had made it!
They now felt like very respectable and immensely skilled adventure tourers. Only crazy extreme Russians had done this before them and survived to tell about it!
After a celebratory drifting session and mandatory crashes, they set off in victory the 150 remaining km towards the town of Ulaistai, where Nadem would be celebrated the following day.
Nadem is the mongolian national holiday of wrestling, horse racing and archery. All cities and villages organize their own games and competition in the three sports during the days of Nadem.
Well in Ulaistai, the tired Toast immediately regretted having made it back into civilization and people taking the two tourists for walking wallets. The Pilgrims had been so used to the hospitality and happy to help mentality of the countryside, that were surprised to find out that the bystander Filipz had asked for “cheap hotel” directions, now insisted on getting paid. As Filipz had gotten deep into a phone conversation by the time they arrived to the hotel, the guy now shifted his attention to cheap arse Mr Toastie himself, who had just worked up an unusual cheapness spree, declining both paid locked parking and extra for showers over the 12 euro hotel room for two. With help of Google translate, the stomach grumpy Toast explained that paying 5000 tögrög for directions to an explicitly cheap hotel defeated the point. After some sharades for answer, he made out that the man was to kick his shit out if he would meet him again in the streets. This cheaper option suited him well, especially since the man was not at all of the usual thick Mongolian worker kind, and they parted ways. He then informed Filipz of the state of events, who was quick to hang up the phone and strike a more civilized 3000T deal with the leaving man.
The following morning the games were on. At the city stadium, impressively muscular wrestlers lined up and grabbed each others underwear or arm sleeves for grip to throw the other to the floor. Wrestlers competed against each other independently of weight and age, which made for varied fights. Some adopted more of a similar stance, leaning against each other like houses, others were more athletic and jumped around for the perfect grab or push opportunity.
Surprisingly often the fighters smashed through the small table of the judges as they were pushing each other blindly. After a takedown, the loser got a hat, and the winner also got hat and two handfuls of dried milk sweets, one of which, was always thrown up in the air as an offering to the gods.
Unfortunately neither the Pilgrims or any of the locals could make out when and where the archery and horse riding would take place. Instead they spent the rest of the day with the french land cruiser team they had met a couple of days ago, and a dutch couple, traveling in their home converted pickup truck.