Today we rode over four small passes at a fast pace. At one point we wondered if we were doing a ride or in the Tour de Canada? No worries, we just set our own pace, stopped when we wanted and worked to enjoy the scenery and the journey.
At one pass was herdsmen on a motorcycle herding horses into the valley below.
At the pass David realized something was wrong with his bike. The bearings on one of the wheels were failing. He waved over the bike mechanic. We watched as our bike pit crew dumped all the small ball bearings in the grass, looked for new ones, and then failing to find new ones spent the next 25 minutes trying to find the ones they had dumped on the ground. Finally after they found them all they cleaned them and put them back in the wheel which seemed to fix the problem.
Then we descended a long climb into a narrow valley. We met a group of children awaiting our arrival. We shared our candy with them. I don't think they were so accustomed tourists yet that they just expected us to give them candy. They waved as we rode off.
The river valley we dropped into was wide and open with trees lining a river in the distance. We rode through the flat valley for quite awhile. At one stop I could hear the caucophony of cranes in the sky. I looked up to see a circle of cranes flying overhead against a bright blue sky. Beautiful, I thought.
Then we turned up to ride over another hill. At the top was the city of Tsetsereleg in the distance. The most remarkable was the patchwork of colorful roofs against a backdrop of rocky peaks. We descended down on to the city streets. It was our first big town since we left UB. We rode as a pack to be seen by the sometimes erratic Mongolian drivers. After a brief stop at the black market. Apparently one of the staff thought we could get what we needed there we found a store to stock up on junk food and whatever else we thought we needed. An adjacent store even had ice cream.
Then we headed off to find our camp for the night. We rode out of town paved roads turning to semi-paved roads, then jeep tracks. Ahead were trees lining a river. We followed our guide to the river. Then we waited as he tried to connect with the drivers to find out where our camp was. Eventually they showed up and and we made camp in an actual park. Next to us was a young man from the Netherlands. He was cycling across Mongolia from the Netherlands and had been camping there for a day or two. We struck up a conversation with him and invited him to dinner, followed by breakfast the next day. Then he rode with us to the hotsprings, stayed there, and rode with us the following day until we left him slowly working his way through along the muddy roads. Great to have a fellow adveturer on the trip.
David and I brought out our camp chairs and sat by the river enjoying the warm sunshine and reading our books. It was the warmest day we had had so far.
Climbing up another pass.
Herd of horses crossing the road.
One of the few herders we saw riding motorcycle
Another Ovoo. It is always interesting to see the other things people leave on them besides stones. I've seen old tires, vodka bottles, cans, and animal skulls.
Puje didn't have a pair of bicycle pants before we started and these were the only ones we could find in UB. So she was our official Mongolian National Team mt. biker and the only native Mongolian paying to be on the trip.
The bearing hunt. How many Mongolian's does it take to find tiny silver bearings in short green grass?
The kids enjoying our candy.
I love the home made signs. Steep hill. Kind of funny because there were very few signs and I don't know how many steep hills we rode up on our journey
A circle of cranes overhead.
The wide flat valley we rode through.
Our first view of Tsetserleg
The most rugged mountains we saw on our trip.
I love the colorful roofs.
A temple on the mountainside.
The supermarket in town.
the Hohnuur river we camped along.
Herders across the river.
Herding by motorcycle.
John relaxing and enjoying the warm day.
Tim from the Netherland's bike
An offering at a pass for the gods? Not sure.
They made sure they even had something to drink with their food.
Mongolian eagle. They were flying up to eat the offerings left for the gods...maybe they are gods in the form of birds.
Not one but three brdiges over the river and, I believe, our first official bridge over a river.
Another good day's ride and now a great camp.
Tim from the Netherlands.