Wow, what an amazing camp set-up we have here. I feel like I am part of an “Amazing Race” reality TV show – we were each given an envelope just like on the show and now we have landed in a remote region of Mongolia. My blog-posts are going to bring you the adventurous spirit that this massive 1200km 9-day mountain bike race is shaping up to be. I will endeavor to bring you coverage each day provided I am still alive and functioning after completing each grueling stage.
We flew in this morning on a short one-hour flight to the remote Dalanzagad, in Southern Mongolia in the middle of the Gobi Desert. The Camp was only 500m walk from the tiny airport where the bikes and gear bags were waiting for us. They had survived the 17hour rough overland journey in the vans.
I surveyed the camp, all the tents were lined up perfectly, and each numbered with your race numbers; so it was easy to find your own bright yellow tent. Each rider gets their own personal tent that is large enough to sleep two! I collected my Orbea bike and moved it next to my tent. However, my gear bag with everything inside has not yet arrived. A couple of the vans had broken down on the rugged overland journey and were delayed. I was assured that they were on their way and I would have my bags shortly.
Since I am part of the media crew, I have access to the media tent and this is where I am seated typing this blog-post up on my laptop with full power from the generator. I am impressed with this whole MBC team set up so far, they have thought of everything it seems and everything has run smoothly, just like clockwork. When I was flying in, I was looking out the window for any evidence of civilization, but there was none.; only a rare spotting of Gers (Mongolian tent) and the occasional group of horses and sheep. It is truly far from anywhere and we only have expensive satellite for communications.
Lunch was served pretty quickly – consisted of Italian spaghetti and some kind of Yak meat soup along with salad and bread. It is great fueling food for Stage One that will signify our roll across the Gobi and into the majestic snow-capped Kangai Mountains. I am hoping that my bag will be hear soon that I can finish putting my bike together and go out and check the trail out.
There is quite a range of adventure enthusiasts here. You have about 10-15 full-on top-flight riders including a number of full-time professional cyclists and then you have riders that work 9-5, which make up the bulk of the entrants, and this is their ultimate adventure holiday exploring a new country on a supported bike race. There is a breed of mountain bikers that travel the world doing MTB stage races, with a high number of them having competed in TransAlps, TransRockies, BC Bike Race and other long distance mountain bike events. Most riders here are ultra-endurance mountain bikers and they have come to take on what they consider to be the toughest event of them all: The Mongolia Bike Challenge!
I have spotted quite a few Go-Pro cams mounted on handlebars so there will be no shortage of footage to be found on the internet about the Mongolia Bike Challenge. You can check out the daily official MBC race video footage here. Since I cannot upload my own photos, the best place to view the daily photos would be at the official MBC site where 15 photographs will be uploaded each day.
Tomorrow is the big first day and I am looking forward to and hope that the legs will be up to it as I have had virtually zero riding over the last week. Stay tuned to my site for the updates and also check out Cyclingnewsasia.com for the official race reports.