Altai to Ulaanbaatar

By admin. Filed in Adventure Motorcycling, Altai, Gobi, London to Sydney, Mongolia, motorcycle touring, Olgii, Ulaanbaatar, Wild Camping  |  
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Our route Gobi - Mongolia

Our route Gobi - Mongolia

After getting Heathers bike fixed it was time to make our way to Ulaanbaatar. With our newly revitalized selves we headed off to the petrol station.. only to find that nowhere seemed to sell 92 octane fuel. There was no way we wanted to run our bikes on 80.. it would spell disaster… the BMW manuals say never put anything lower than 91 in.. so that’s what we had to find.. eventually we found THE only place that sold 92 in town.. we are pretty sure it was probably some dodgy fuel but at least we had our tanks full and it was time to head on. The road from Altai was a huge improvement on the road coming in but it was still terrible. The sand was now very deep but there was now a distinct Buddhist feel to the route. While in western Mongolia the Kazakh’s are the major ethnic group in the rest of the country the Mongol’s are which means Buddhist is the religion of choice. We are now seeing prayer flags and monuments to Buddha which is a nice change. With Heathers newly repaired frame we can push on with more speed.

Heather Bogged in Sand - Mongolia

Heather Bogged in Sand - Mongolia

Easily averaging 50km/hour+ now we blazed across the first section without any issues completing close to 200km in 3.5 hours which was a record. The road quickly went back to the Mongolian Standard of being very rocky and crap. However we made good time… completing over 250km for the first time in 7 days.. whooo hooo it was time to have an early night and relax.. catch up on missed sleep from the disco hotel the previous night and get some relief from the vibrations.. At least the speed we could travel had now improved. After finding a campsite next to some horse bones we made a fire using horse poo and chilled out for the night…

The next morning we woke to get back on the road early.. we wanted to make it to Ulaanbaatar now so that we could have a few days off and service the bikes. They had been taking a beating and we really needed to give them some love and attention. We left early and got back on the sand dunes with the intention of getting at least half way. A short time after starting Heather hit sand and got bogged down. I had to help her out by pushing as she gave it some throttle.. It was then I turned around to find that my pannier had fallen off while I was helping Heather.. It was just hanging on by a thread… bugger the repairs that we had done in Kazakhstan had finally failed due to the vibrations.. not a good sign.. We ended up having to tie the pannier on using some touratech small tie straps that came with our bottle holders… we would need to look at fixing it properly when we got to Ulaanbaatar… The sand was now very deep and the going had slowed down to a snails pace… that would be if snails existed here.. it seems to be completely lacking anything except camels, mice and eagles…

A short time later after hitting a rocky section Heathers frame again broke, the repairs we had done in Altai had failed less than 48 hours later.. bugger we would have to take it slow to the next big town and get the repairs done there.. after 7 hours of riding and 4pm we rode into town it was now our job to find someone that was open to fix the bike so we could get back on the road to Ulaanbaatar.. we didn’t want to stick around.. we found a guy who had a power drill but his drill was so weak that it couldn’t even drill out the bolts.. eventually the drill got through it after 40minutes and the remaining bit of bolt was removed and replaced with a strong Russian bolt.. to this day its held out 🙂 YAY.. no made in China bolts any more.

That night we camped on a hill over looking a big valley where we could see the cars and trucks so we knew which direction we had to go in the next day.. this was only after being lost twice on the same section of road.. we went along it.. felt it was wrong turned back.. then asked people they said it was the right way… we went along it again then they raced after us and told us to turn around it was actually the wrong way.. bugger..

Eventually we found our way back the next day and hit the road for Ulaanbaatar. About 5km later Heather hit some deep sand resulting in her doing an almost perfect superman/superwoman impression as she flew through the air head first into more deep sand. Thankfully she was okay but her pannier had taken yet another beating. We had been told that paved road would start in about 30km.. it turns out that paved road started in about 120km.. but at least the paved road started. We filled up with petrol again so that we had enough fuel to make it the final distance into Ulaanbaatar… we should be able to make it into Ulaanbaatar by the next morning early now that we could average 90-100km/hour without any issues.. it was a huge relief to see the tarmac again.. it had been 14 days since we last saw any real tarmac in Russia..and oh what a good feel it was. 250Km later we stopped for the night. Setting up our camp over looking the valley below a short distance from the road.. oh what a feeling 🙂

Borken F650GS Dakar - Mongolia

Broken F650GS Dakar - Mongolia

The next morning we packed up early with the intention of getting to Ulaanbaatar in about 2-3 hours time.. We got back on the road and immediately heathers bike stopped running. Every time she touched the clutch her engine went crazy. There seemed to be some sort of short circuit. When we checked the oil it seemed to be empty.. our worst fears were that the engine had no oil and we had just screwed it big time.. but no light came on to say there was any problem with oil and we had checked the oil level the day before… in the end we spent three hours trying to diagnose the problem and found that we could start the bike and it would run but as soon as we tried to ride it the bike would stop.. the battery was not holding any charge so it was not a good situation. Heather ended up hailing down a truck which could take us to Ulaanbaatar.. unfortunately they couldn’t and gave us only a lift to the next town. After strapping the bike down while he tried to get back on the road the bike fell over crushing her only remaining straight pannier… Heather enjoyed the trip with the goat (and bike) on the back of the truck which was on its way to the dinner table. At the next town we found a guy that would be able to put the bike (in pieces) in his van.. In the end we negotiated a price and set off… the guy took ages as he kept driving around asking for more people to give lifts into Ulaanbaatar.. picking up hitch hikers.. racing buses on the dirt sections of road all up Heather was in the back supporting the bike with no safety belt and the guy was a complete dickhead driver.. In the end we got to Ulaanbaatar and to where we had negotiated that he take us.. then he had the audacity to ask for more money.. what a dickhead he wanted us to buy him 20litres of fuel (at $1US/litre) because he felt that he got us to ulaanbaatar (the sign for the city) not where we had negotiated and there was a difference.. what a tosser.. in the end we refused to pay.. they got all the locals to look down on us despite them having people translate in the end he left with his tail between his legs… Finally we had arrived in Ulaanbaatar.. yay.. what a relief


  1. Comment by Henticat:

    Guys – been following your exploits and it’s truly jaw-dropping. Part adventurous motorcycling and part advanced haggling and barter technique its great to see what you’re up. Get in touch when/if you can and safe travels!

  2. Comment by Henticat:

    Guys – been following your exploits and it’s truly jaw-dropping. Part adventurous motorcycling and part advanced haggling and barter technique its great to see what you’re up to. Get in touch when/if you can and safe travels!

  3. Comment by cindyhartwell:

    Hehe, so, no photos of the goat then huh? Heath must have had a blast bonding with goaty at the back! Sorry I missed the Super gal flight.

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