Episode 17

Mongolia and the Wrecking Crewe

I had an unbelievable time experiencing Mongolia a few years ago. It was so many things: beautiful, stark, hot, challenging, amazing, tough, wonderful, hot, and hot!


I found the one tree in the Gobi Desert!


The trip bonded my fellow motorcycle riders and me. Everything we went through was amazing—but extremely challenging—and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Though there are only 3.5 million people in Mongolia, half live in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The culture of Mongolia is split between nomadic people and urbanites.


There are many different cultures, yet they live in harmony.


In that same spirit, the people tended to be fairly tolerant of different religions though the national religion is Tibetan Buddhism.


Thinking about Mongolia always makes me think Genghis Khan.


What surprised me the most was how the Mongolians regard him. After talking about him with locals throughout the trip I realized that he was revered in all parts of the country. We know him as a brutal conqueror, but Mongolians hold him up as a national hero.

The temperature in the Gobi Desert hovered around 100 degrees during the day and it was hard to escape it. Even the water was “room temperature”. We would ride for a while, and then take a break by laying under our motorcycle to use its shade.

Almost at the beginning of us riding the desert, I got food poisoning. And yet, I pushed through and continued to ride in the heat, glaring sun, and extremely challenging terrain.


I kept saying to myself, “I got this. I got this. I got this.”


One of the things that saved me was a wonderful lady named Biamba. She was with the support vehicle. Under the shade of the motorcycle, she would bring me a wet rag and anything else she thought would help whenever we stopped. We had to keep moving, but she was my Gobi Desert angel. 


When we got back to Ulaanbaatar, I decided to get a tattoo that said “I got this” in Mongolian.


Once in a tattoo parlor, I worked with my translator and tattoo artist on translating the phrase. Well, between not finding an accurate translation and realizing that the tattoo tools were not the cleanest, I decided to pass on getting the tattoo.

At one of the yurt camps, they were having a shaman convention. There was a bonfire with grain alcohol being passed around. The shamans invited our group to join them. We stood around the fire and took turns drinking the small cups of super strong alcohol, just having a good time even though we couldn’t understand each other.


But the most amazing part to me was how the shamans drew us in and accpeted us.


The Gobi Desert was a beautiful but extremely rugged place to ride and I was thrilled to be able to do it. There weren’t traditional roads so often the hard packed earth changed to soft sand. One of the guys I rode with caught a ridge of something hard under the soft sand and it took him down. He ended up getting pretty busted up.

We took care of him the best we could, holding shade over him, until the support vehicle could take him to a place where he could recover.

Looking back, my time in Mongolia was perspective changing. Even through the heat, sickness, and other challenges, I consider it one of my favorite trips.


Get in Touch