Read on for the latest post from the Silk Route cycling expedition.
Over the last twenty-five days we have cycled through dirt roads, valleys and lakes, mountain passes, desert plains and some of the most breath-taking scenery Mongolia has to offer. We had the pleasure of spending time with many generous locals who offered up their time, food and even homes to us as we passed through. Every day was the ultimate adventure. It sure as heck wasn’t easy and the riders had their share of challenges along the way. That said, as each day came to an end and we contently watched as the sun melted below the horizon in yet another serene camping spot, everything fell into place and the opportunity we’ve been blessed with to be here was put back into perspective for everyone. The riders experienced a deep pool of emotions as they peddled through the vast landscapes of the country.
“Sheep, goats, and sheep, goats. When I think of Mongolia, I think of adversity. I don’t think of any other section being as tough overall, it was a pretty rugged ride. It may well be the hardest part of the Silk Route, but more shall be revealed.” – Lars, a full tour rider from the USA.
“The most redeeming quality is the breath-taking landscapes and scenery. I think that from a cycling perspective, Mongolia is to be endured; not to be enjoyed. The culture was fascinating. The brotherhood shared amongst the drivers was nice to see, and I was surprised of the nomadic population that is still evident. It’s romantic, but a hard life.” – Mark, a fellow American also doing the full tour.
With over two weeks of cycling through the desolate regions of the country, the riders had the opportunity to witness many nomadic local farmers and families going about their daily business. It was as if we were a ‘fly on the wall’, getting a glimpse at authentic life in Mongolia.
Paul from the Netherlands has been on many TDA trips and has cycled all over the world. To him, Mongolia was “the most exotic place in the world. But after being there, well it’s just another country. The people were nice, the dirt roads were great and it was much more natural than cycling the paved roads. I loved the remoteness and all of the people on horses.”
It is said that ‘a Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings,’ and traversing the wilderness of the country you can understand the truth of this.
Virginia, a full tour rider from Canada, felt immersed in the culture after her time there. “Seeing all the gers, the people on bikes and horses, the sheep… cycling is one of the best ways to explore the richness of it all.”
Dutch rider Jasper had been to Mongolia before and ten years later he thinks it is interesting that so much has changed and, in fact, there are more paved roads! He “liked the hard way. It’s not always easy, but you feel you’ve achieved something at the end of the day. Camping in the wild was amazing, the shepherds with their cattle; free wandering around without fences to confine them, the open skies, just wonderful.”
Mongolia was a rollercoaster of emotions and epic off-roading. It was gruelling at times but ultimately thrilling, adventurous and utterly rewarding. The riders all agree that one shouldn’t come here for a luxurious holiday but most definitely for a gratifying experience and an awe-inspiring way to see one of the most fascinating and untouched countries in the world.
What an exciting start to our expedition through the Silk Route. It’s onwards and upwards from here.