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My first adventure trip Ireland to Mongolia and back
My plans for travelling to Mongolia are as follows:
Leave Ireland and get ferry to the UK. From there travel to the Chanel Tunnel and cross over to France.
Travelling north through Belgium, Germany, Poland and heading toward Estonia, where I plan to cross into Russia and then head straight across the Trans Siberian Highway to Ulan-Ude and travel into Mongolia
Return via Ulan-Ude to Ufa and then travel south to Sochi into Georgia and cross into Turkey. Head to Romania then cross Europe to get Eurotunnel back to the UK before heading back to Ireland.
Simple enough on paper . So here comes the bike related bits
Planning on using a Pan European ST1100. Will have a belly pan made up and as I have a single seat and hump get some kind of rear carrier made up
I have a Delorme inReach SE and will upgrade to the new unlimited plan. I have a TomTom rider v5 and an iPhone with copilot live with european maps. Bike has 5 ram mounts and I have ordered a PDM60 to power all the gadgets. Bike has the police 45A alternator.
Equipment wise, I have a Jetboil stove, mummy sleeping bag and looking at a Terra Nova Competition tent or similar. I have a tent but it is heavy. I also need a pump and repair kit.
I will be carrying 3 or 4 sets of fork seals, 2 oil filters and an air filter. Tyres have not decided as to what to do there. I also have a Linux based netbook and a second cheap phone in case I get mugged, they can have that along with my older wallet
Should I invest in something like a Garmin GPSMaps 60CSx or similar or would that be a waste of money. I will bring a lightweight bike cover and an alarmed disc lock as well
This is my first long distance trip and since joining this site I have notions of heading to the US and touring there for a few months in a couple of years. So bear with me and all the questions. One day I hope to give words of wisdom back.
I do have a rough itinerary worked out for heading out, nothing really done on the return journey as yet as that is changing almost weekly
My trip is partially a charity event to raise money for a children's hospital but only the outbound journey. The Return is what I want to do.
I will more than likely add more questions as the time gets closer
I'm heading out to Russia and Mongolia myself in April (Land Rover, not bike).
I think you'll find that your regular Tom Tom won't have mapping options for Russia or Mongolia. I opted to buy the Garmin Monterra so that I could download the (free) Open Source Maps (OSM) for Russia, Mongolia and 'the stans'. The Monterra will be supported by four paper maps of Russia as well as paper maps for Mongolia and the Stans. Bertrand has a good review of the Monterra that you might want to take a look at. Of course, you could opt for the non-techy method and just use paper maps.
I also have the inReach and am very happy with it. It's very useful for staying in touch with family when out of cell-phone range and it allows them to track your progress for peace of mind.
With the greatest respect; if you are planning on going off~road in Mongolia, the Pan~European will be a bit of a handful. That said, road building in Mongolia continues apace, but I would seriously research the road conditions/existence before setting off.
I am not planning any off road excursions I have never been a fan of off road so i guess that is why I waited till now to travel across Russia, a trip I have wanted to do for years. Given that the TSH is fairly complete I am guessing that the road from Russia to Ulaanbaatar is better now. But I do respect the advice. I have thought long and hard about this trip and have been planning for almost a year at this stage but only now being vocal about my questions
The Garmin GPSmap question is not about off road but simply that there is no maps on tomtom of Mongolia. I was thinking that if I took a wrong turn I would have a trace back to where I took the wrong turn
I have read somewhere that even Putin doesn't rate the tarmac quality of the TSH much above a farm road, so tyre choice is likely to be key. Driving in Russia is, in our experience, interesting ... Admittedly, we have only driven from Ivangorod to St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg to Moscow and Moscow to the border of the Ukraine, via Orel, so we have no experience of the TSH. We used the same border crossing at Narva as you propose. You will need to buy a 1€ queue ticket at the toll station 2km out of town. But don't worry about the queue, if you're on a bike the border guard will wave you through the barrier onto the bridge ahead of the queue of cars.
A lot of the roads that may appear to be marked as motorways are actually 3 lane roads with changing priorities in the middle lane. You'll know when the priority is about to change when you see a truck hurtling towards you! The roads are pretty badly maintained and the driving is appalling by our sanitised Western standards. In fact, when you get used to it, the general rule is just fast and defensive.
You will hear lots of complaints of police corruption and generally obstructive behaviour, but we never had any problems at all. The best piece of advice I can give is to be observant and respectful - especially when it comes to police check points. They are always marked a few hundred metres ahead with a small sign marked 'ДПС' (DPS = Dorozhno-Postovaya Sluzhba). Slow right down and make eye contact.
If you can learn a few basic phrases in Russian, so much the better, but sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. By all means learn Hello and Goodbye and Please and Thank you, but the most important thing is to learn how to pronounce the Cyrillic alphabet. People will tell you it doesn't matter and all the road signs are in 'English' as well as Russian, but it isn't always true - and I would imagine that the further East you go, the less English you'll encounter. Once you can master the pronunciation of the Cyrillic characters, you will find that a lot of Russian isn't that 'foreign' after all. Макдоналдс is great for a burger and free wifi, for instance!
It's tarmac all the way from Ireland to UB, so you'll be fine. One can do it (and it has been done several times) on a Harley so the Pan shouldn't give you any problem at all.
And about all the fancy GPS stuff, if you stick to the TSH and the road to UB, really, I'll leave tomorrow without any gps. There's only one road, hard to miss it... And worse case scenario you ask "ulaan baatar" and they'll point you to the right direction should you be confused.
We only used a GPS (62s) for the offroad, everything on tarmac is easy and a no brainer. I am not even going to bother to take a gps on our next trip as it won't be hardcore offroad anymore, and then the bulk and € of a gps doesn't add up for me. I love paper maps and at least it makes you talk/interact with people instead of just riding through a country... but that's a personal point of view.
As for your visa, you'll need a business visa for Russia and a normal tourist one for Mongolia.
Choice of bike has slightly changed in that I have to choose between my Varadero 1000 or the 1100 Pan. I am planning on wild camping as much as possinle, searched and aware of the dangers but it is a must and I prefer to sleep under the stars.
Not overly interested in seeing the sights of the big cities, so will be riding as much as possible. Plan is still petty much as before except I am returning via Ufa, Volgograd, Georgia and Turkey As I say not into off road stuff so "main roads" as far as possible.
May throw a thread later on into seeking a companion for part of the trip
I've just returned from Mongolia. I rode back from Ulan-ude to Moscow and then onto Latvia. I was on an XT660Z, roads generally not a problem. Some nasty potholes can
catch you unawares. There are also sections of roadworks where you are diverted onto
a gravel track that circumvents the roadworks. Most of these detours are quite short, but
a few were longer and rougher. Had one nasty situation, had ridden on fairly decent
roads for a 100km or so and suddenly noticed the road seemed to end. Quickly
jumped on the pegs and gave bike full throttle. Someone had dug a 100m section
out of the road, and it was like suddenly riding through a large litter tray. Bike went
crazy with huge tank slapper, but managed to get out the other side unscathed. There
were no road-works signs or any indication a chunk of road was gone, so just be wary.
Also I wouldn't have fancied being on a very heavy bike, I am sure I would have crashed.
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