Our last day of mt. biking to Kharkhorum was like a B action movie complete with edgy support staff, lost cyclists, stone turtles, Mongolian wrestling, middle aged stealth ninja mt. bikers, card playing, vodka swilling, and and completed by an ancient, derelict relic of the city Kharkhorum.
The morning started off with the obligatory last day group photo followed by a support crew that wanted to be on their way. The vans raced ahead, the guide raced ahead, 6 of the riders raced ahead. I stayed with Puje to ride with her for awhile on the last day. I hadn't seen much of her on the trip as she was Jen's primary translator and explainer of whether the gummy bears in the shop were hard or soft. It was a tough job and someone had to do it.
Anyway, we meandered down the road talking and watching as the other's disappeared from sight. At a bridge, one road went off the right up a hill and the other continued over the bridge by a fence and a structure. We rode over the bridge by the structure. Along a fence were a dozen or so eagles perched on fence posts just calmly eyeing us as we rode past. We rode...straight to an overlook over a river gorge. This obviously was not the route everyone else had taken. We turned around and retraced our tracks.
We went to the right up the hill and eventually saw the van and other riders at the top. We reached them and they immediately took off and left us. I rode with David from there with Puje slowly falling behind. Again we found our selves at a fork in the road, with no guides or support vans. We saw someone up the right fork so we rode that way. We found John standing there also wondering which way the rest of the group had gone. We rode up to the top of a hill and then saw the group in the open flat land in the valley below that we had just ridden up and out of. We descended back down to the valley to meet them.
John was pretty unhappy that we didn't have anyone waiting to show us which way to go. I told the guide that Puje was also out there and they needed to send someone to direct her. Instead they made her get into the van on the last day she wanted to ride. When she arrived she told them she was very unhappy with the situation. The guide took her slight as personal and chastized her for complaining in front of us in english. Last day, impatient support staff, and weekend warriors racing down the road as if this was a race to the finish rather than a ride.
We stopped a ways up the road for lunch. During that time our young Canadians and Mongolians challenged each other to some Mongolian wrestling. Man to man. Canadian to Mongolian. It was pretty fun to watch men in spandex wrestling with each other.
After lunch David and I decided to put the hammer down. We launched up a steep climb and then followed the road along the river with the speed of a real race. Time to teach the weekend warriors a thing or two about competition. It was by far the funnest day of the trip with lots of rolling terrain, marshy areas, rocks, and technical dirt track. We flew through it. Our tires barely touching the ground. We did, however, stop to photograph a stone turtle on a hillside with not a single one of our fellow riders in sight.
Finally, though, we hit an area with many forks in the road right before the hill to Kharkhorum. We stopped and waited for thirty minutes for the rest of the group, now loaded in vans, to meet us. We really wanted to ride the rest of the way into the city. It was only a few miles a way. Our reason for driving the rest of the way? So that we could get the tour of the monestery in so that we could leave earlier the next day for the Hustai National park and the cook van could get back to UB earlier. Unknown to us the next day was the start of the Mongolian Bicycle Challenge which helped explain why they had sent us out with a guide who didn't know the route from the get go.
Nice way to end the trip Mongolian-Expeditions!
Morning in the Orkhon Valley.
Group photo on last day.
Reva and the cooks.
Along a river.
The bridge of no return...
Interesting wooden arch a long our route.
The gummy worm worrier.
Puje and Reva.
The break away.
The road along the river valley.
Rock outcrops along the ride.
Entrance to the monastery.
The outer wall.
Dogs at the market.
Dogs at the market.
Gers for sale.
bread stalls. The market was fairly small but you could get just about anything there.
Fruits and vegetable stall.
Ger doors, tops, and ornate supports for sale.
View of our last camp.
Ovoo above Kharkhorum.
Wall with mosiac of the globe and Ghenis Khan's empire in yellow.
Driving down to camp.
Evening in camp.