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Yunnanuni 2011: Unicycling through the mountains of South-West China

Happy New Year Everyone!  If you’ve been following the Mongolia Unicycle Tour, why not join us for the next one in China, August 2011.  It will take in some breathtaking scenery in the mountains of Tibet, starting in the Tibetan town of Shangri-La, and finishing in the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge above the Yangzi River.

Check it out:

Yunnanuni  Unitour

Hope to see you in China!

Parting Shot

Grasshopper Video

A nice video compilation of the Monguni tour by Jason of Grasshopper Adventures:

Monguni Day 12: So long, farewell!

Today was the official end of the tour, with the group all going their separate ways. Some riders were on the first flight out, others will be going down to the Gobi dessert to ride camels.

It was sad to be  at the end of another epic unicycle tour, but we all did something pretty special…being the first unicycle tour of Mongolia.

We’d like to thank our trusty Mongolian support crew, for providing us with delicious meals to fuel our journey, and Scott and Vivienne from Bike Asia for organising the tour, and Jason from Grasshopper Adventures for supporting the journey.

The next Adventure Unicyclist tour will be in Yunnan province, China, in July/August 2011.  We have already got a cheesy name for it: The Yunnanuni tour!

We will be busy getting photos up over the next fews days, so keep an eye on this website!

Monguni, Day 11: Rally cars and injured cyclists on the road to UB

We were woken by a windstorm flattening our tents against our faces. At risk of everything being blown away, we made haste to pack up our tents in the gale force winds before taking shelter in a Ger camp for breakfast.

We bade farewell to our trusty Mongolian crew, who spent countless hours looking after us and cooking us delicious meals.

After packing ourselves into the support vehicles, we headed for the long drive back to Ulaan Baatar.

As luck would have it, we chanced upon one of the rally cars from the Mongolian Charity car rally. The rally starts in London and ends in Ulaan Baatar, and all manner of vehicles get driven thousands of km to Mongolia, where it is then donated. We met a British team, driving a 4WD ‘Ambulance’, although it was making some funny noises when it pulled up nexct to us at a petrol station. It was one of the leading teams, with many more expected to arrive over the next few days.

Not so fortunate however, was a distressed French (bi)cycle tourist who rushed up to us at the same service station asking for help. He and his friend had cycled thousands of km over several months, from France to Mongolia. With their final destination of Ulaan Baatar only a couple of days ride away, a dog had run out in front of them and his friend had flipped off the bike, landing on his head. He was still alert and conscious, but complaining of weakness on his left side, and a big haematoma on his head. We packed their bikes and the two riders into our already crowded support van, and called ahead to the French embassy and the University Hospital.

After a very rough ride for several hours, we arrived in Ulaan Baatar a little earlier than expected, having skipped our lunch stop in order to get the French rider to hospital. We heard later that he had surgery for an intracranial bleed later that evening, and was recovering well the next day.

The final dinner of the tour was at an Indian restaurant, a delicious end to our Monguni adventure!

Monguni, Day 10: To Kharkorum 31km

We took our time enjoying the final ride of the tour, with plenty of rest and photostops. This was one of the most scenic rides, as we follow a ridgeline dotted with monolithic granite formations jutting out of the grassland steppe.

After a steep hairy descent to the valley, we cruised along the sandy trail to Kharkorum, punctuated by curses and exclamations of ‘Wargh!’ as deep patches of sand swallowed up our wheels.

The final hill of the day saw us looking down onto Kharkorum, the ancient capital of Genghis Khan. Today, it is a somewhat bleak shadow of its former self, although we visited a very impressive Genghis monument before descending into the town. Its rough unpaved streets and fenced off houses and Gers and various Soviet influenced buildings made it hard to believe it was once the administration centre for the biggest land empire in history.

We finished our ride on yet another rocky riverbed, and pitched out tents by the river.

A quick visit to the ‘Erdenne Zuu’ monastary- the oldest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, was followed by the local store for Ice-Cream and Beer to celebrate!

Monguni, Day 9: Orkhon River Valley and Mongolian BBQ 30km

We had a delicious breakfast of crepes and fried herb bread before packing up our camp and continuing our journey.

It was more smooth riding along grassland steppe, and we arrived at yet another rocky riverbed campsite.

This time, our Mongolian crew were keen to give us a treat, and they went to the closest Ger camp to buy a live sheep for a Mongolian BBQ. Some of the more squeamish did not stay to watch the sheep being slaughtered, although they expertly and humanely killed the animal, skinned and prepared it for us. It was cooked in a large pot with heated river stones thrown in with the meat.

After our meal we had a bonfire and had to trade singing with the Mongolian crew. Needless to say, our crew won the singing contest, especially as the best we could come up with was ‘YMCA’, ‘Kookaburra sits on the old gumtree’, ‘hokey tokey’, and when we were really struggling…..’jingle bells’.

It was a fun night, and we ended up dancing around the fire to Mongolian disco songs afterwards.

*warning- picture gallery contains graphic images of our dinner*

Monguni Day 8: Cycle Orkhon River Valley 46km

We were a little sad to pack up our camp in such an idyllic location, but after a rest day, were were rearing to go.

We crossed the river and headed back along the valley we came. Although we were doubling back, no one was disappointed as it meant more fast sandy riding and dodging lava boulders.

Lunch was at the junction of where we had turned off up the valley, and another herd of goats came over to see what unicycles tasted like.

We continued along the Orhon River, and climbed up a hill to magnificent views of the river and floodplains below. A small Ger was perched at the top, with a tamed Golden Eagle on display. They are used for hunting, apparently.

We descended a technical sandy trail to our campsite, on the rocky riverbed next to the receeded river. Some horses were a little upset that their favourite waterhole had been taken over by a bunch of people on one wheel, but did not give us any problems.

Another refreshing dunk in the river was a must, to get rid of layers of dirt and sunscreen.

Monguni, Day 7: Rest Day Orkhon Falls

We had the opportunity to sleep in today, with breakfast at 8am instead of an unworldly 7am.

After doing some much needed laundry by the river, we walked to the Orkhon Waterfall, about 10min from our camp. It wasn’t a particularly large waterfall, but plunges about 20m to a deep pool below. We scramble down the lava formations to the bottom of the falls. Daniel and Ashley went for a dunk under the waterfall, although the rest of us resisted the urge to plunge into the chilly water.

In the evening we watched as David W flew his kite in the sunset, followed by some stargazing after dusk. The sky was clear and and the stars were out in force. David gave us astronomy lessons, as we watched meteorites streaking past (it was the start of the Perseids meteor showers), and we spotted at least 5 or 6, as well as a couple of satellites.

Others stayed in the meal tent playing ‘Dominion’ into the wee hours of the night.

Monguni Day 6: Cycle to Orkhon Falls 37km

The day started with a big climb to over 2000m again, but we were well rewarded with the views. A bigger reward still was the epic descent into the river valley below. The terrain was still predominantly grassland steppe, but now there was a large exposed lavaflow as well. We spent the rest of the day riding on sandy ground dodging huge boulders of lava and well as the more ubiquitous horsedung.

We were given some interesting insights into the lava formations by our resident geologists, Daniel and Kris.

David S collected yet more bones along the way, with his Schlumpf unicycle now adorned with bits of jaw, tusks and feathers like some sort of medieval ‘wheel of death’.

We arrived at what can only be described as a very large cliff, with the Orkhon river roaring below. It was a good place for a campsite, even if some of our riders chose to perch their tents just a few metres from the edge of the cliff.

Our camp was invaded by a herd of goats, and we had to chase our bleating invaders away before they ate our tents and unicycles.