A day before our ride from Ulaanbaatar to White Lake could start, the tour leader had a briefing in the conference room of the hotel we were staying in. One of the riders inquired about the state of the tarmac roads in the country. The tour leader replied, “The roads are pretty good. But on our route there is one bad section where we ride over a mountain pass. You will need to be very careful there”.
We hit the mountain pass on the second day of the ride. We had stopped for lunch and as we were getting ready to head out the tour leader came to us and said, “We now ride over the mountain pass. The road is very bad and there is a lot of oncoming traffic. Please be very careful and ride slowly.”
I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve ridden the crowded high passes of Ladakh on an wretched Royal Enfield. I think I should be able to handle whatever is ahead of us on a glorious KTM 450 EXC”.
These pictures are in chronological order and do a good job showing the “bad” state of the road on the mountain pass, which by the way, was all of 3 kilometers long.
As I crested the pass I was laughing deliriously in my helmet. I could ride this road blindfolded. I actually wanted to pop a wheelie and ride up and down the entire pass on just the rear wheel.
But truth be told, this was indeed the “worst” section of tarmac that I rode in Mongolia. So you can imagine what that rest of the tarmac was like. Before I flew into Mongolia, I had some preconceived notions about the roads in the country. As each riding day passed, these notions were meticulously shredded to bits.
Now this may sound a little weird, but I believe the roads in Mongolia are best suited for cruisers. And by that I mean big ass Harleys. Just take a look at these pictures. Long straight roads with little to no traffic. You can ride 20 kms and then a car may pass you. Then you can ride another 10 kms and a motorcycle may pass you.
As my butt was being tortured by the painfully thin seat of the KTM 450 EXC, I kept my spirits high by imagining myself sitting on the wide seat of my Fat Boy, legs forward on the foot pegs, back pressed against the high back rest, hands outstretched resting on the wide handlebars and my nose pointing above the horizon as I inhaled the most pure and fresh air anyone ever could.
I was completely blown away by the roads in Mongolia. What I thought they would be and what they actually turned out to be.
Mongolia had got to be one of the best countries to ride a motorcycle. I mean you have the best roads for cruising and the best tracks for odd-roading. What more could you ask for?