September 15, 2009 GMT
Destination: Gobi Desert

The mechanic has done a good job and Thelma is restored once more to the slightly battered condition she was in previously- with a bit of a cosmetic surgery job done on the windscreen.
With my route being led by dozens of gerbils all leaping out of the way I mademy way southwards across Central Mongolia.
I made the unfortunate discovery that my limited map of the country does not distinguish between paved roads and gravel tracks and I ended up on 400 miles of gravel and corrugations leading into the Gobi with just one town halfway along it. I have tried to make the bike lighter by sorting through all the stuff I carry- my luggage has been pruned and I only have the essentials with me, though I know others will raise their eyebrows at what I deem are essentials - as this includes a bag of apples, two beetroot and half a kilo of broccoli!

Vegetarians are not well catered for in Mongolia and I have nasty feeling that the Gobi Desert will prove even more so.

I was a bit cautious riding initially (my first journey since the fall) but then with the realisation that if I continued at that sort of pace it would take me five days to get to the Gobi I picked up speed a bit. Which was just as well as the sand started then - as I had been warned, there are quite a lot of sandy patches in the Gobi!
As I'm on my own, I am trying not to take too many risks, but also aware that I need the speed to get that gliding feel across the sand and not be wrestling with it, which isn't easy on a 280kg bike, and I have managed it so far.
Possibly due to this increased speed on rough tracks, the pannier racks on both sides have snapped big time - probably due to earlier damage from the accident two weeks ago and which was not obvious, so I ended up with a Heath Robinson-type arrangement at one point with both panniers piled on the seat behind me!

Luckily, as I have got less luggage now there is only me on the bike, I had left the topbox (AKA pizza delivery box due to its size) in UB so I had a fair bit of room to arrange stuff and made good use of that African standby - strips of inner tubes to secure them with.

I limped into the town of Mandalgovi and managed to find a welder who promptly got to work while a small crowd gathered to see this Englishwoman and her mangled pannier racks.

48 hours after leaving UB I arrived at Dalanzadgad, a one horse desert town (though it does have an Internet cafe). I am staying in a ger (yurt) while I work out which direction to go in next. The town has had no power for five days so even the beers are not chilled but they still taste good after the sandstorms and dust I have encountered to get here.

Posted by tiffanycoates at September 15, 2009 07:05 AM GMT

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