I learned that Gale and Craig are also part of another organization and they will be donating their motorcycles in Ulaan Baatar just like the other Mongol Rally teams. I think this creates a difference in riding style because they don’t seem to care about the vehicles. Both of their suspensions are broken. Their fenders have cracked and fallen off because the rear wheel had been banging on it for so long. The engines were leaking oil all over. They were pushing very hard on the washboard and sand. I suggested going slower but they seemed to think that it wouldn’t make a difference.

Before noon, we stopped by what seemed to be an accident site. There was nobody around. Just a rally car with a broken axle on one side and a pile of stuff on the other… It was Berta, the same girl that rolled over on the first day. They finally had to pull out of the rally. Bad luck. She was kind enough to leave all her usable equipment with a huge sign that read: “PROFIT FROM OTHERS MISFORTUNE! GUILT FREE!” Apparently nobody was hurt. Everyone was soon digging into the pile trying to find something of use. It looked like we were the first ones to come across it because there were many interesting things. Hairbands, suncream, cable ties, petrol, a watermelon, a tent, old maps, octane booster, engine oil, notebook, etc… It felt like we were scavengers in a post apocalyptic computer game. Everybody was stupidly happy. One of the guys said: “I don’t feel bad! I think she would be happy to know that we are the ones to take this stuff!”

16 kms before Altai, we noticed that Craig, Gale and the Minivan were not behind us. We went back for about 10 kms. Craig had had an electrical problem on the bike. It took him about an hour to fix. I also noticed that my suspension was giving up so decided to separate and go at my own pace. It didn’t make sense to go so fast only to lose hours waiting for each other. They didn’t seem to care anyway. Still I was surprised to meet them numerous times on the road to UB, because they would be stopping for mechanical problems and falls… This really helped me understand an interesting fact. It really doesn’t matter how fast you go when traveling long distance. What matters is how long you can keep on riding.

It took me more than an hour to cover those 26 kms to Altai. On the road I kept thinking about a solution for the suspension. Building shorter dog-bones to lift up the back end, or fitting in some rubber… I filled up in the station at the entrance and headed to the center looking for a place to work on the bike. Luckily, there was a repair shop waiting for me right there.

I spent the night removing the suspension and wrapping some rubber inside and between the springs, hoping that this would slow down the movement. The dog-bones were not a good idea because they wouldn’t be hardened steel and could snap off any moment. The mechanic tried to find some parts to build a new shock but there was nothing other than old car springs and lightweight Chinese dampeners laying around.