The Finish Line
Posted by Gregg at 25th August 2010 at 04:33
We arrived in Ulan Bataar on Friday August 20 midday to the cheers of hundreds of Mongol Rally fans. OK, maybe not, but we did beeline wight for my friend Lubo's Czech restaurant for an excellent meal and then went and registered our arrival at the finish line. All you Douglas Adams fans out there will be sure to appreciate that we were Team #42 to arrive.
The Mongolian "roads" have been hard on the rally vehicles. Of the 55 or so teams registered before the first arrival party on Saturday the 21st, only about 30-35 were driven in under their own power. The others were towed or basically destroyed in other parts of the country. Even our little Toyota that could had its issues. The clutch is failing, the battery is now dead, we broke shocks, helper springs, parts of the exhaust system and the electric doors (which led to having to take a hammer to one of the small windows to get into the truck).
The finish line party, which featured Mongolian throat singing, a contortionist and performances by the CNCF kids, was a fantastic time and was followed by a night of debauchery at the River Sound Club. Everyone looked to be having a great time and the group from our Mongolian caravan definitely enjoyed the evening. Lots of pics to be gone through resized, edited for appropriateness and posted. lol
Posted by Gregg at 18th August 2010 at 04:53
So much for timely blogging.... Unfortunately we have been without any internet access for the past week. It has been a crazy time with more than a couple marathon driving sessions. Between the 925km day on bad roads in Kazakhstan racing for the border because we forgot to register our visas and preferred to avoid arrest, enduring sub-freezing temps camping out at the Russian/Mongolian border after it closed 5 minutes before we got there, destroying shocks, rear helper springs, a window, etc etc we are ready for the relative comfort of UB in a few short days.
Last evening we were racing to get away from a sandstorm when we were flagged down by a Mongolian family who had broken down - we were literally the ONLY vehicles on this path. We stopped and helped them out, which then left us in the northern Gobi desert at sunset. I made a comment to Elisa that if it wasn't for her being in the car, it would have been the most alone I have ever felt. It is hard to explain the complete reliance you have on your vehicle here, with nothing but plains, desert and mountains in site for as far as the eye can see in every direction.
We kept on driving, navigating mainly by our $2.35 suction cup compass stuck on the windshield. The sandstorm caught up with us in the now pitch black night and the road suddenly came to an end near some gers and a body of water. We thought it best to double back and did for a bit, when two trucks appeared and started down the same "road" we had been on. We followed them as they crossed the water, thus ending up making our third river crossing at near midnight. As our English friends would say, "Epic!". The truckers were very friendly, confirmed our direction and let us follow them for a while until visibility went to near zero. We spent a cold night in the truck, riding out the sandstorm off to the side of the road. This morning we continued on and arrived safely in Bayanhongor, Mongolia. Today it's off to some hot springs and a ger camp NE of here for a much needed and deserved rest and then it will be on to the finish line in Ulan Bator.
Khanopies Over Kiev
Posted by Gregg at 31st July 2010 at 13:08
Posted by Elisa Gwilliam at 27th July 2010 at 11:16
Well well well - we are just wrapping up from one of Check Republics best parties. What an amazing night at the castle. Thank you to everyone who made our night much more interesting.
Right now we are at the Drop Zone back in town enjoying some time to get our act together before venturing back out. Prague to our next stop.
Posted by Gregg at 25th July 2010 at 23:23
Arrived this evening at the dropzone in Klatovy, Czech. Should only be about 20 minutes from here to the castle and Czech-Out party.
Last night after the Eurotunnel we minimized our time in France, drove through Belgium, slept at a truck stop and this morning continued on to Luxembourg and had a relaxing break there. Not to mention filling up with the cheapest gas of the trip so far, a mere 1.15Euro per LITRE - works out to about $5.50 per gallon. And as I said, that's been the CHEAPEST gas of the trip so far.
We managed to make our way across Germany with a couple of intended detours to see some really great little villages and then it was on into Czech Republic and a quick shot down to Klatovy. Now it's time to catch up on some sleep before getting some jumping in tomorrow morning, fixing some brake issues with the truck and heading over to Klenova Castle for Czech-out.
Posted by Elisa Gwilliam at 24th July 2010 at 18:10
And we're off! It may not be a very fast start but the journey has begun. We participated in the festivities, made a parade lap around the course and left Goodwood to head to the train in south England.
Making a quick stop for Fish and Chips before venturing into France.
Posted by Gregg at 24th July 2010 at 02:09
Where it all Stands
Posted by Gregg at 20th July 2010 at 22:42
Monday found things improving as both Windy City Wanderers and I were able to collect our vehicles from the Southampton/Liverpool port thugs. The weekend in Southampton was actually really great and I have a mental list of clubs to visit the next time I'm there on a Friday night!
Managed to make a couple of minor vehicle mods before heading to Heathrow to collect a shipment of supplies which Connaught brought over for us and now hangin' with friends west of London trying to figure out where to put all this stuff so as to be able to fit my teammate into the truck... Might be time to start thinking about whether I really need some of this stuff.
Elisa arrives Thursday and we launch in FOUR days. Might be about time to look at a map and figure out how to get to this castle in the Czech Republic they spoke about...
UK Contact Info
Posted by Gregg at 17th July 2010 at 17:21
Well, I discovered something else that our friends here on the NE side of the pond do quite well - Cell Phone Service. Rates are fairly cheap, good coverage, etc. I've popped a UK SIM card into my worldphone and voila, cheap cell phone. If anyone wants to get in touch, try me on 011 44 (0) 7733402220. If calling from the states, just leave off the zero in parentheses. Brilliant!
Now internet on the other hand.... things are much more secure here than back home. But, found a cafe with good coffee and free net access so time to get caught up on blogs, bills and plans.
Truck couldn't be picked up yesterday as planned due to port thugs wanting to make a bit more money, so hopefully Monday will find me collecting our steed in time to perform some additional work and have it ready for next Saturday's launch.
Posted by Gregg at 17th July 2010 at 00:48