26th of august, 2012.
Click on the image to see map
Last day… maybe. According to the maps, I had some 160 kilometers ahead. Never cycled so much in a day, no need to mention unpaved roads… So maybe I’d need to stop somewhere half way through. But I was going to try to get to Bulgan. Of course.
After an easy (and very sunny!) start, once you cross the river it gets VERY sandy for a while. Then it’s ok again. But it gets uphill. All this area looks a little bit more Swiss at the beginning, and more Icelandic towards the end. Nice. The road, unpaved, is good, the climb is very slight, it’s just a nice ride that requires some effort.
I had a bad experience halfway through. Met a very drunk guy on a motorbike who tried to stop me (and actually he managed to, on the second attempt; on the first one he asked/yelled at me to stop, but I just smiled and kept going. Then he followed me with the motorbike and cut my path). He said (by signs) that I either give him money or he’d take to jail. He even showed me a military uniform he was wearing underneath his usual mongolian clothes. Said he’d take me on his motorbike. I tried to smile and just leave, but he pushed my (very heavy) bike and threw it to the floor. The guy was clearly drunk.
No car passed by at that time. I guess if they had they wouldn’t’ve been of much help. Anyway, when the bike went to the floor and I got angry, he started to look quite agressive. So i basically handed him the pocket money I had (that’s some 2 euros, I guess), and he just left shouting who-knows-what in who-knows-what-language. Whatever.
Kept on cycling. A little bit uneasy, since these things are never nice. Anyway.
I arrived to km 77… Where suddenly the road turned to be paved!!! I was quite tired by then (about 60 kilometers or so in the morning, mostly uphill, and the heat, were destroying me!!), and I needed lunch. Good place to stop that town! Perfectly located!! And it was full of restaurants!!! I was quite sure I was going to make it to Bulgan!!
Still, the 77km sign was a pain. That was a big number!! 77! And me tired! Still, I was going to try of course.
Left the place, and the road went up. That was hard. Paved roads can be fast, but going up is hard on long climbs. And that one was hard. I had to stop cos it started to rain (where had the morning sun gone!!!), so that just delayed me even more. But I had to try.
The climb happened to be much longer that what I expected. Lots of ups and downs towards the end as well. But had to keep on going.
The downhill wasn’t that long neither, even if it was helpful. It started at around 40 kilometers to Bulgan. But stopped when 25 were left, at which point it started to go up again. Must say, last 2 kilometers before the pass were really hard. Save some force for that part if you can!!
And finally, with 16 kilometers to go, when it was mostly downhill, it got dark.
I’d never cycled inthe dark before. Not on a trip, I mean. Not in Mongolia, of course. And this was a paved road with cars. I had to choose: either camp there, or cycle by night.
Guess what I chose?
A lantern front and another one backwards, and there I went. It was just great. An experience I’ll never forget.
Arriving to Bulgan on the other hand wasn’t nice.
Every single hotel in the guidebook was closed. Forever. Crap. Asked around, nobldy knew any. Only a drunk guy offered himself to take me home. He was so drunk it wasn’t even funny. I left as soon as I could.
I stopped for directions couple of times. It wasn’t easy in a city with almost no light, where you don’t even know where you are, that desn’t have great looks, and when you’ve spent 3 weeks in the fields.
One of those times, some other guys stopped me again. Half joking, half serious, they said I waasn’t moving until I pay them some money. They were not believing their own words too much, but it was late and I was tired, and needed a place to sleep; I was very unconfortable.
In the end, while they were looking at my bike, I just got on it, started cycling and just smiled at them, pretending I couldn’t understand what they were saying (which, in a way, it was true). They followed me with their motorbike, which wasnt easy for them since they were 3 on it, but when they reached me (obviously, I wasnt going very fast by then) just shouted and leave.
The last hotel I found was open but full. So I played my usual trick; I didn’t move, said I had no clue about want to do. After couple of minutes, they offered me a room full of stuff, but enough for me to sleep. No shower, no toilet, but I needed to be safe. It felt great.
Even those two weird experiences couldnt hide what a great day it had been. How many things i had seen, how many people I had “met”, how many places I had cycled through. Definitively, a great day to finish a great trip.