September 2, 2009 - 8/29 – Gobi Desert 1 97m/156k***

Gobi Desert 1
Saturday, August 26, 2009
97m/156k   13.2 avg mph

Just spent 2 days in Ulan Baatar, and will comment on it in a later posting.  Right now, it’s back to the ride.  Lisa’s here!  New energy, new dynamics.  We even rented her a MTB so she could ride along.  The team now consists of Lisa, Bob, Uka (guide) and Dimbee (driver), and we’re off to cross the Gobi Desert to China.  I am curious to see if/how she can work her Lisa Charm on Mongolians…

We gathered at 7a out front of the Bayangol Hotel, got the bikes shaped up, packed up the Mitsubishi Delica (4WD van), and posted for our departure shot.

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Lisa rode the first 10 miles out of town, and a couple more stints totaling 25 miles or so.  Here’s the elevation of the ride today, and the first picture of Lisa riding out of UB.

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First sight of the day today was a train.  They have these quaint signs at RR crossings indicating that the trains produces smoke, but they don’t quite prepare you for the reality of it all.

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There is actually a freight train behind that black cloud.  It seems the engines provide locomotion as a by-product of producing thick black smoke.

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Here’s a shot of me riding up that big 2,500’ climb over the first 39 miles, and a shot of Lisa rejoining me around 19 miles into the day, when we were at a false summit.  The mileage sign right behind her indicates we are 33k out of Ulan Baatar (UB) with only 640k more to go to get to Zamin Uud and the Chinese/Mongolian border.

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Also on the way up we watched the two cattle/bulls go at it for a while, and admired the wandering camels. 

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Lunch is fun with Lisa around.  We (the rest of the team, I watch and admire) prepare a pretty nice meal, and enjoy it.

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After lunch, we took THE OFFICIAL TEAM PHOTO, and I just got back on the bike, rode across the wide-open spaces to the road and head south. 

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Lisa again joined me on the mountain bike.  Here’s what a 60-mile mostly (but very slightly) downhill looks like in the Gobi.

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Uka decided that 6 days in the van was enough to drive him crazy, and he took a turn riding with me.  He’s fast uphill, and is working on his patience/endurance.

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And of course, there were more camels about.

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I don’t think I had ever really seen a camel close up, or maybe at all, until this trip.  Weird looking things with the long, baggy neck and two humps.  Why are there no one humpers here in Mongolia?

Anyway, there’s not much more to take pictures of out here besides roads, free-range livestock,  the occasional train, and ourselves.  After many more hours of riding on what is the smoothest road I’ve been on since, since…. the USA, we started looking for a place to camp.  Most of the ground is desert scrub – rocks, sand and dried up plants, but off in the distance I spied a low lying area with what looked like soft green grass.

Here’ a shot of that grass, and of Lisa taking a break as we start setting up camp.  If you follow the tire tracks back you can see us going from brown to green.

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Then we do the set up camp, cook dinner… I take funky showers from a plastic bag hanging onto the side of the van.  Here’s me setting up, the campsite with some Mongolian clouds, and Lisa about to enter her room for the night

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A good day of riding.  Thanks for coming along.  Comments welcome.

9/3, 3:20p Bob

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