I left in the morning around 7:30. I couldn’t sleep for too long and somehow lost my appetite. After riding for a few hours, I realized that I wasn’t where I thought I was on the map. Apparently, at one point I missed the main road and took a detour. I was running out of fuel. I knew I couldn’t make it to the next town so I decided to wait there in the middle of the desert. Here, fuel and water are very important. One is distance and the other is time. You have to have at least one of those. I had enough water for one day so I wasn’t worrying much.

Soon enough, a local VAZ van appeared. It was a little hard to convince them to sell petrol to me, but they finally agreed. As soon as they left, another rally car appeared on the horizon. It’s hard to believe but these guys were from Los Angeles. In fact, our houses are only a few miles away from each other. We decided to do the river crossing that lay ahead together. And I’m glad we did.

When we arrived at the river, it seemed impossible to cross. Huge truck were being submersed above their wheels in the deep and fast running water. It would be very tricky on a car, let alone a motorcycle. One of the locals approached us, making an “X” sign with his arms. He pointed to a place further down the river where it was relatively easier to cross. He jumped on the top of the car to take us there. I followed them.

Indeed, this was a place where the river became much wider and shallow. The road was approaching it diagonally, making the current less dangerous. First the car made it across with my panniers inside it. Then it was my turn. My Californian neighbors were kind enough to escort me on foot as I did the crossing. Stumbling here, would definately mean sucking water into the engine, so their help was much appreciated. I promised to take them out for dinner when we got back to L.A. The local guy who helped us did not accept any money. But he seemed interested in the pink inflateable Miss Piggy neck rest the guys had with them. He wore it happily as if it was a fashionable accessory and walked back to the village.

Not too long, maybe half an hour after the crossing, I came across a section with very deep sand that was extremely difficult to cross. I had to power-walk the bike on most parts. Riding was almost impossible. I dropped it numerous times. Once, on my left leg again. Looking at the map now, I realise that this was the northwestern extension of the Gobi desert. Had I known the fact, it would be much difficult to cross.

I arrived in Bayankongor at sunset. I noticed Gale, Craig and the Minivan at the entrance. We camped together once again outside the city. I cooked a delicious risotto that night. We all felt relatively comfortable knowing that the paved section of the road near UB would be starting next day. But Andy received an SMS from a team that made to UB, stating that the sections of the road was closed due to repairs and the detours were the hardest ones so far!

It was hard to believe. Having made about 800 miles so far on various types of bad dirt roads, it was really difficult to imagine what could be harder on the last 200 miles to a modern capital. I was about to find out in two days.