Day 2 in Mongolia

08 September 2013

good morning UBWhat did the morning bring?

Looking out the window to the landscape below my brain was trying to analyse some sort of system or code to the environment.

I've never travelled to a place like this, for those that have visited Vietnam or India would possibly not have been as confused as me.

A Russian vibe, with old USSR structure and regimented design, with a mild Asian undertone and then some Western influence but with a third world backdrop. No matter where I looked, the mixed palete of trends was there. So I just sort of accepted it. Its just really amazing how our brain works trying to find order out of our situations and the more variations we can expose ourselves to the less perplexed we are next time we encounter something that is not our normal experience.

Around 8am we decided to head down for buffet breakfast.
More variations again! I love seeing how the rest of the world exists, and this is no exception.

We have Euro style cold meats and boiled eggs, cold brocolli and even spagetti with a tomato based sauce. Some sort of broth or soup that I left alone. Then we have brioche and toast and even a la carte omlettes being cooked in the room, cereals, yoghurts, fruits, etc..etc...it was all there.

mongolia styleNorm put the bikes together after breakfast whilst I sorted out the kaos that was our baggage and my race gear.
We then thought we would venture out on the bikes straight up with many warnings to watch the traffic. Within a few hundred meters and also realising that there were a few things wrong with the bikes, we would get the bikes looked at instead and do some walking!

We had some goals:

  • buy a spare battery for the camera

  • eat lunch

  • look for a bike shop

  • get a pre paid sim card with data

  • enjoy our time and sightsee

IMG 7112To start with we visited shops that really didnt look like shops, but inside was like actual little retail outlets selling clothes and shoes etc...like a formalised market inside huge buildings.
Then we progressed on to just walking and looking and just soaking it all in.
We found our phone sim card place and got 2 x sim cards with unlimited data for around $60 AUD.
Then came the big long explore. Walking until we needed to eat some lunch.

Norm was the one that wanted to try something from a street vendor, so we had some meat and rice that had been cooked right there over a coal bbq. Actually really good and we did not get ill from it.

Our main search was for the bike shop, 3kms away. Hehehehe, this was a very very long 3km. So in Australia, when you go walking in a city, you have order, you walk on a footpath and stop at pedestrian lights and if you look at Google maps, you can see your way in front of you. Ulan Baatar is not like that. Footpaths are there, but the randomly end or fall away into the depths of the earth without prior notice, and there is so much new construction and old buildings that the piles of rubble just mix in – the old and the new. None the less, we had a great time exploring, we got apples from a vendor, we stopped in a neighbourhood square and just watched people go about life, before moving on to find the bike shop. About 6 or 7kms later, we finally found the bike shop. Not sure what we were hoping for but we got to see a Mongolian bike shop which was not too different to an australian bike shop, just not really anything top end.

This country and city are just learning and embracing the “leisure” culture that us westerners have built into a very healthy economy, so it is good to see this for a country that has roots of a nomadic lifestyle. The country has a new young breed of people that are eager to draw us to their home, to see and experience a totally different holiday – the Mongolia Bike Challenge is certainly a partnership with Mongolia and the race organisers that allows international visitors to ride the landscape they would never venture to on their own.

IMG 7130With our day of exploring done, we finished off with dinner at an Indian restaurant with a bunch of Aussies. Random! Apparently there is around 20% (maybe more?)of the total entrants of this race that are Australian.

Am I excited about racing? Well I havent ridden my bike here in UB yet, desperate to, but we need to get a few things looked at. I really dont know how I will go, there is a lot of strong international competition that have been training their butts off. As this is the beginning of my 6 weeks to fitness for the World solo 24hr Champs in Canberra, I am confident that whatever the result for me, I will get fitter and will start to feel the best form I have probably experienced in well over a year.

Its been a blessing to be asked to be here so as usual my goals for the Mongolian Bike Challenge are ones that I can control.

1 – Be accountable every moment of the race

2 – Never EVER give up

3 – Hydrate and fuel up with a system, follow it religiously

4 – If you are feeling good you arent going hard enough

5 – Remind myself to finish with no regrets that I could have put in more, eaten better, been smarter etc...

6 – Look after my bike, ride on the edge but with respect for the terrain so that I can ride again tomorrow

7 – Be friendly yet not submissive and do my sponsors proud no matter what.

One more day to go, the waiting game hurts too!

 

Tomorrow is registration, bike fixes, ride time and pack race gear.