Don’t be shit

Posted by Patrick in Khovd
15 Aug 2012


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Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 

Well, things have certainly taken a sharp turn since you were last updated...

Mongolia, like a pimp, has been splendid and cruel in equal measure. The landscape and people remain incredible but the driving has become increasingly difficult and the bikes are surely struggling. The past 3 days in particular have introduced both of us to an entirely new brand of shite and have heralded the first sustained period of long, arduous days on the bike. As you may realise neither of us were massively motivated to take out a camera over the last 3 days, subsequently the shots that go with this are somewhat unrelated to the content of the post, you'll just have to deal with that as best you can.

Anyway, 4 days ago, having spent the morning fixing my idle actuator that had given up the ghost once again, we were coming to the end of another days driving just outside Bayan Uul. The road followed a flood plain that had cut through a mountain pass, in Mongolia the roads follow the path of least resistance and this abomination had somehow been classed as a main road despite the fact that the ground was a mix of sharp slate and deep sand. We managed to make it through unscathed and had considered ourselves home and dry as we climbed higher into the range on a harder surface. We had just passed over a small ridge when an enormous hiss sounded from the back of Kieran's bike. Sure enough, we had our first puncture.

We pulled off the road to inspect the damage, the tyre maintained some level of rigidity but it was clear there was little or no air left in it. We put it up on the center stand and spun it once revealing a slice about 2 1/2 inches long between the threads that went right through. Bollocks. Now, the fine people at Wheelcare had been good enough to supply us with all manners of puncture repair materials, bikes rarely have spare wheels so this was something we had planned for. Despite the fact that we had tyre patches this tyre was over and above what you would deem as repairable, it more or less had a mouth now. We both suddenly became very aware of just how remote we were; maybe 2 days drive from any town that could potentially fix it and at least a 3 days drive from somewhere where we could possibly get a new one. Both options involved driving so we pulled the wheel off and mended it as best we could with 2 tyre patches and a little bit of FCS putty, all the while hoping to all that is good in this world that it would hold together until Khovd. We set off the next day sheepishly and within 100 meters the FCS putty had come free exposing the tyres obnoxious open mouth. We were confident that the patches inside would hold but if the slit opened further we were sunk. We pulled off a tie-down-strap from one of the panniers and began to fabricate a band-aid for the tyre, anything to keep the gravel and sand out. The end result was my bike that couldn't go slow as it would over heat and Frosty's bike (now complete with a red band across the tyre) that couldn't go fast as it would burst. This ended up being of little concern, after about 40km of tentative driving and gliding we hit a bog and it became apparent that neither of us were going anywhere soon.

The mix of water and mud allowed gravity promptly succeeded in doing to us what it seemingly wants to do to everything, both bikes were on the deck and the tyres well and truly coated in wet clay. We struggled on independently for 20 minutes, driving maybe 15 feet then coming off again, it was clear we weren't going to make much progress like this so we teamed up, one driving the other pushing from behind (I can hear the joke as I type P. McBride ). This wasn't much easier, as we ventured further along the mud worsened and both bikes and ourselves were tiring in the 32 degree heat. 4 hours later we had barely made it the length of a football pitch, exhausted we left the bikes lie on their side and considered our options once again; the mud continued as far as we could see and there had been no sign of another vehicle since the previous day, help from a stranger seemed rather unlikely. Deflated, we decided to turn around and struggle back through the muck before looking for higher ground and hoping once again our bikes would last a few more miles. About 3 hours later we were 6 kilometers south of where we had gotten stuck but thankfully on firmer ground. We continued on west until the light faded and we set up camp, both tyres and radiators still intact, 75km done in one day and another 230km between us and Khovd.

We got going early the next morning, 230km is easily made on tarmac but the likelihood of deep sand, rutted roads, 36 degree heat and limping bikes makes the task a good deal more daunting. As we've come to expect from Mongolia the roads once again were dreadful, the rutts so bad maintaining even 30kmph was unbearable. The end result was I would plow on through the rutts, let my bike shake itself half to death to maintain airflow then stop before it overheated and let it cool while waiting for Frosty and hope that his tyre hadn't blown. It continued like this for 10 hours. 10 hours of being shaken violently in unbearable heat. 10 hours at 30kmph. 10 hours of listening to your shock bottoming out. 10 hours. At 7pm the rutts stopped, the sand seemed hard and then after about 100 meters a broken white line appeared in the center of the track... we were on tarmac. After another 2km we came to the top of another pass and the great steaming mess that is Khovd appeared below. We drove into the town triumphant, we were through the Gobi and help was at hand, or so we thought.

We have now spent the day trying to source a 17" tyre but with no joy, there are none to be had in Mongolia and little hope of having one shipped in. So, as of tomorrow we continue west, with 340km to the border, a mouth in a tyre and a radiator with no fan. At this point, without disaster, we shouldn't have to track back any further east which is a huge relief. We have 2 days to make the border before it closes for the weekend, it's well and truly time to show a bit of sack and take on the advice I give to others often... don't be shit.

 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Mongolia BMW F650GS

Comments

 

by Thomas and Catherine

Date: August 15, 2012

Comment: #1

Thomas and Catherine:

Looks like you’r inMc Donalds…Mongolia style!!!
Great explorers think on their feet and you boys will come up with something.

 

by Ian Carrigan

Date: August 15, 2012

Comment: #1

Ian Carrigan:

Keep it up lads! Best of luck with the tyre and radiator ; ) When you’re all fixed up, just keep going and don’t go home!

Great adventure!

 

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Date: August 16, 2012

Comment: #1

Mike Hollows:

The stuff of legends….... good luck lads, stay strong

 

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