The next day the trails smoothened out and the Pilgrims travelled full speed towards White Lake. The track soon transformed into asphalt and the ride was for once focused on the transforming landscape. The road lingered around large hills, sometimes even tree clad. Finding the White lake not so white, the Pilgrims continued straight to the fire mountain (volcano) Khorgo Uul. The climb was an opportunity to get some relatively high intensity workout for the motorcycle bound Pilgrims, and the view from the top of the crater was sublime.
Meanwhile, Toast discussed the riding around the UB area with a french/swiss motorcross group that were on an organized tour on unloaded yamaha wr250r. The Pilgrims looked on a bit jealously as they swiflty took off with the foot on one peg and then swinging the leg over when rolling. Lightweight is king, especially here in Mongolia.
The Pilgrims then improvised a route to the neighbouring ice cave. The route consisted of a final steep hillclimb, which neither of them made.
As Toast dropped his bike in the steep section where he had been slipping the clutch, air inevitably got into his lines from his master cylinder, which must have been a little low from the constant leaking. The pilgrims helped each other to push the bike the last bit up the top of the crater, and decided that a finer spot for a clutch bleed would be hard to find.
After some fruitless searching for the actual ice cave, and the hidden geocache in it’s vicinity, the Pilgrims left to setup camp by the White Lake. Here, the evening was spent with some good humored Germans who had arrived on hired Dayun 150s. It seemed like they had winged the trip in the last couple of weeks, buying airplane tickets from Europe, which is a pretty impressive feat. One of them was pretty bandaged up after a recent crash, and did not quite know how exactly he was to continue the trip. He was no less happy for this.
The following mornjng, the Pilgrims stopped by the yellow dog cave on their way out from the area. It had rained during the night and early morning,, so they had not been in great hurry. As usual, they decided they would attempt to minimize the number of steps taken off the bikes, so naturally they had to drive all the way through the extremely rocky volcanic terrain. The final bit consisted of an extremely technical trials like parcour. It took probably 3 times as long as the walk would have done, and 5 times the effort. But the Pilgrims successfully made it to the edge of the cave.
And although they had ridden slower than walking pace, Toast had nevertheless managed to put a big bend in his homemade 8mm thick aluminum skid plate, while ”surfing” over a big rock.
As he was jumping up and down on it to try and straighten it out enough for it’s mountjng bracket to line up with Gina’s attachment points, an ingenious Frenchman turned up with the saying “il faut savoir copier comme un chinois, et etre [intelligent] comment un africain”. They then figured out a way to stick the skidplate down into a crevasse and get sufficient leverage on the potruding part so that both of them could brute force it back into shape. Toast was as impressed with the idea as he was about the concept of this frenchmsn speaking french to everyone he met, even complete strangers who most likely would not understand a word of his language.
His wife and english speaking daughter who had been chatting with Filipz then showed up. It turned out they were on the road in a self converted Ford Ranger, and had done Siberia and Baikal on the way here. Naturally, highpoints and trip recommendations were exchanged. He and his wife were both quite impressed by the sight of the ktm out here. Not because of the technical path taken to get here, but mostly because of the distance travelled on such an unreliable bike. True connoisseurs..
He then askes a local to take picture of us and the bikes from various angles. All in french of course 😀 I’m hoping they will comment on this post with a link to their camper build blog, which seemed of great interest.
The ride then continued towards Tsetserleg, through a beautifully hilly landscape, partially covered with pine trees.
Fairfield guesthouse economy ger was to be the pilgrims next nightly sanctuary. They hung up tent and sleeping bags to dry from every improvised hanger that could be made out. The get now looked more like the aftermath of some battlegrounds. The french medicine student couple who had to share their ger, was surprisingly tolerant and understanding towards this practice. In fact, they got along so well they would try to make book a guide and horse around the Mongolian nearby mountain range together for a few days. Unfortunately, this was not to happen because of booked out guides and horses, but contacts were exchanged for a potential future bike trip. Touchingly generous, they gave Toast tips and a big half of their well assorted stomach medecine reserves of ercéfuril. It’s these moment of out of the ordinary selflessness that stick with you for days..
They had only been a couple of days into their own trip, and were very likely to require the pills on their own later on. Their way of thinking was just so different from the “you have to make it out on on your own, or by the competence within your team” school that often goes with remote extreme sports, and that Toast had been firm believer of at the beginning of the trip. Preparative risk analysis and minimization is up to each and everyone who wants out of the hamster wheel, and so is living with the consequences of bad luck or ill preparation. 4 weeks of diarrhea, stomach pains, bread and water diet, and losing 10 kgs (rough visual estimate) were part of the package deal. Whining (apart from on this blog^^) or refusing to adapt are showstoppers. Such had been his perception of Enduro, and he had accepted his situation. In the East however, people consider this selfrelying mentality a silly western practice. Getting help from neighbours and passerbyes is necessary and so much easier, when your next closest neighbour or help is hours away. Anyways, we are disgressing..
This happy couple spotted outide of Fairfield had previously ridden from India to Europe on a Royal Enfield. They were now riding the bike that had taken Patrik though Mongolia, another swedish rider from Lund that the pilgrims had previously been in contact with. His 690 enduro had acted up in ölgii, so he had bought this chinese 150cc instead, and sold it on in UB. The world is small.
Fairfields helped the Pilgrims find another horseback tour into the Eight Lakes district, in Orkhon Valley. The Pilgrims were happy, for 80 euros each, 4 days of horsing, guide, pack horse, sleeping and being fed at gers along the way was included. Booking in Mongolian probably helped to avoid the classic tourist fees. Toast stocked up on 5 carrot breads in Fairfields bakery, this would be his gasoline for the days to come.