The Mongol Rally is an event where cars and motorcycles test their skills through an enduring 50+ day adventure from London, through Central Asia and towards Mongolia and Siberia. So bringing a bicycle along for the journey may have seemed like an odd thing to do. But for us, taking along our trusty two wheeled steed proved to be as useful as it was enjoyable.
There’s nothing like arriving into a city or town and exploring by bike. Especially when you are a time poor traveller, 2 wheels trumps 2 feet –that’s evolution right. Winding through cobbled stone streets, whizzing in and out of alleys and passages through amazing cities in Turkey, Azerbijan, Russia gives you more time to see more. There’s also something satisfying about traversing an entire city in 2 hours, and being able to revisited the spots you actually wanted to spend time in.
We took along a Reid SSCXbike, a great value single speed bike capable of on road and off road rolling. A steed like this makes sense for this journey, as it lets you explore both the expansive and varied terrains, but also get around a city quickly. Moreover the single speed gear reduces maintenance issues.
The bike wasn’t only a treat to explore with, it came in handy more than once. While broken down beside the road in Khazakhstan miles from help with no phones, we sent out Mark to hunt down some help. Surely enough, 30 minutes later in the distance we saw a car rolling along with a bike strapped to the top. Mark had found a miracle man, who promptly went to work on our car. We also found ourselves stranded in Uzbekistan with no petrol due to the petrol restrictions in place. This time Kaster set out into the wilderness with one of our jerry cans. He stumbled upon a group of workers who agreed to swap 10L of petrol for a pen and a sticker from Brazil.
Perhaps the greatest thing the bike did for us was introduce us to a bunch of great people. Children, grown men, security guards, border police, mechanics and everyone in between loved the bike. People would come up to us, ask for a ride, whiz off and come back beaming. It’s a great experience for people who have never really had a go on a bike of this quality. Once we gave an Azerbaijani border guard a ride, who then let us skip the queue with a smile and hi 5. Another time we were set upon by a troop of small Mongolian children who played with the bike as if it were a treasure trove of Haribo candies. There’s something special about seeing kids play with perhaps the first bike they have seen.
Our trusty steed was a faithful companion, and a highly recommendable addition to anyone’s journey by car or any other means. The best of both worlds really, as some times you want to take it slow, and then otherwise you just need to jet along. The car made it, strapped atop our 1997 Toyota Corolla, 16000km and 13 countries later where we finally let it rest at a children’s charity, awaiting a whole new set of experiences.