Holiday in Mongolia

Jan 13, 2013
by Margus Riga  
 
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Mongolia, famous for being the launch pad of the colossal Mongol Empire and its main man Genghis Khan way back in the 12th century, is these days famous for wide open lush landscapes and adventure travel.

The Mongolia Bike Challenge is a ten-day mountain bike stage race that negotiates the barren and beautiful Mongolian steppe.

  Welcome to Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia and the starting point for any Mongolian adventure.

  The Mongolia Bike Challenge is probably the best way to see the country. The race unofficially began in Ulaanbataar, where riders rode out from the city limits and paved roads, to the countryside, where the official start of the race was held.

  Vying for this years' MBC title was Kona/Easton rider Cory Wallace. In 2011 he just missed out on first place to Italy's Marzio Deho.

  The other half of the media team covering the MBC...Aaron Larocque and Nic Genovese. These guys kill.

  Nomadic dress: The Del. Which looks like a thick, knee-length toga. Usually burgundy, olive, khaki, violet, or marine blue. Worn with a silk sash cinched around the waist...usually orange, but sometimes yellow, green or blue. They're more functional than beautiful, protecting the nomadic people from the uber harsh climate.

  Luxurious amenities await you at the end of every day on the MBC.

  Landscape plate #1.

  Morning view.

  Mongolian nomads are some of the most welcoming, friendly and generous people I have ever met.

  Anytime we came upon a yurt settlement the families would congregate and insist you come in for a visit, and enjoy some warm yak milk, bread and cheese...all of which are acquired tastes.

  Western influence is creeping in everywhere since Mongolia's shift in the 1990's from a socialist system to a market economy. The kids no longer wear traditional Mongolian clothing like their elders. They dress more like Westerners. And most children born into a life of nomadic existence long to move to the cities to live a more complex lifestyle.

  Wrestling and wild abandon raucousness are two very Mongolian traits.

  The inside of a typical nomadic yurt, or "Ger".

  Old world meets new world. Dung, working harmoniously with satellite TV. Dung is the main source of fuel used to heat the Ger and cook the food, while satellite TV keeps the evenings entertaining.

  One of the feed stations for the MBC providing replenishment and a moment of respite from the drone of a million pedal strokes.

  The only thing crazier than spending ten days behind bars in Mongolia is doing it double.

  Day two finish line.

  One of the spectacular camps at this year's MBC.

  Start of day three.

  Life on the steppe is harsh. Do or die.

  Two nomad families posing down for the cameras.

  Lone horseman surveying the race from afar.

  Nomadic herdsman and his trusty steed. These guys can handle a horse better than most pro riders can handle their bikes.

  The only thing as sacred as a nomad's horse is his moto.

  Coming in hot to one of many villages scattered amongst the land. For the most part it's non-stop double track and otherworldly landscapes, all day, every day.

  Remnants of era's past littered the landscape everywhere we went.

  Classic Mongolian sheik and phone booth building.

  Two of my favorite things about shooting the MBC: The sunsets...

  ...and the sunrises.

  Camp life.

  Landscape plate #2.

  Traditional Mongolian food...fermented yak's milk, homemade cheese and bread vs traditional racer breakfast. The yak's milk was alcoholic so it wins.

  Another start to another day in the saddle.

  Another start to another day in the modified Russian media vehicle.

  If one broke down, there's always another one standing by.

  It seemed as though some of these vehicles got a full rebuild after every stage of the race...

  ...which wasn't a surprise. Especially considering the terrain they needed to negotiate on a daily basis.

  At one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Mongolia.

  Morning warm-up ride.

  Mongolia has on average two-hundred-and-sixty sunny days a year. This was not one of them. On this particular day the race was called early for the day due to severe cold, rain, and mud.

  The Mongolian race team hung up a Mongolian flag and wolf skin to mark their tents.

  Start of day nine.

  Landscape plate #3.

  In the end it was team Kona/Easton coming in for the top three positions. Cory Wallace, Chris Sneddon and Barry Wicks.

  Back to reality. Stopping through Beijing airport on the way home.

68 Comments

  • + 44
 Unreal Margus! That was a trip to remember for sure! Good times.
  • + 6
 Stunning! Amazing photos of an amazing place. What an incredible trip. Thanks for sharing.
  • + 5
 dudes got talent with a camera
  • + 4
 Margus has outdone himself, that is some National Geographic quality photography
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  • + 35
 Humbled. Margus, absolutely stunning documentary
  • + 11
 Agreed. These are awesome. We may stay for the gnar-gnar but these are the articles that bring new people to Pinkbike. Well done.
  • + 3
 Excellent photos. Nice one!
  • + 6
 Now I have to figure out which one is going to be my background...
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  • + 15
 So rad man, a lot of good times over there!
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  • + 14
 Goddamn Mongolians!!! Always trying to break my city wall!!
  • + 5
 I was wondering whether I would find this in the comments....

It's a city job, but somebody had to do it Smile
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  • + 12
 How is all the grass everywhere that short?They must have fulltime lawn mowers employed by the government to keep the grass so freshly cut and green!
  • + 2
 Marmotts and Sheep
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  • + 13
 What an incredible landscape! Great shots Margus!
  • + 3
 Landscape's incredible overall, great photos for sure. But oh, what a boring track to ride!
  • + 3
 I back up that, a race for roadies in mtb.
  • + 1
 Indeed, the tracks don't seem too challenging....
  • + 0
 Not a lot of people can ride 100km+ a day for 10 days... And those people probably don't troll forums and say how 10 days of racing in Mongolia looks boring.
  • + 6
 Oh, come on, adove. This has nothing to do with my personal fitness or someone being a troll. It's a major performance racing that long and the Mongolian scenery is beautiful, we all agree. Still, the track is rather not challenging from the technical point of view. - OK? Peace.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 All the images look fantastic but the trails seem a little dull ( from an xc point of view ) . No steep hills, no descents, no rockgardens....
Don't get me wrong, i'm sure a 7d marathon is rough but as i said, the track itself doesn't seem to challenging.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Beatiful pictures as usual Margus. Luck you to be in such an incredible place!
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  • + 3
 Fantastic article and superb pictures, but why are all the camera settings 'unknown'? I'm slowly learning how to work my camera and I look at pictures like yours to see how they're taken, I don't want to copy, just trying to learn...
  • + 0
 The Metadata ( camera and picture details embeded in the file) is sometimes not uploaded to reduce file size. I think ?
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  • + 7
 Man, that's a lot of photos...
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  • + 5
 Excellent! Amazing!...It's a Holiday in Mongolia...where people dress in black, it's a holiday in mon.....Oh, hang on. Wrong country, sorry...
  • + 2
 I was going to say it if someone else hadn't. Now you can go where people are one Now you can go where they get things done What you need, my son Is a holiday in Mongolia
  • + 1
 Looks nice. Maybe a good race for a roadie on a cx bike. I slightly rougher stage race but like the roubaix. Beautiful scenery though.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome article, thanks for sharing. Had to laugh out loud at the dung and cable television. Though they probably have the last laugh, as I bet they pay significantly less for cable than I do.
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  • + 3
 Damn good teeth for nomads who live on fermented yak milk...
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  • + 4
 its waaaaay to flat
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  • + 1
 was anyone else looking at the mountains in the background because all I could think of was how badly i wanted to freeride down most of them.
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  • + 3
 A tandem? That's so hardcore.

I don't envy whoever wrenches that.
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  • + 2
 Wow, just awesome! What amazing untouched landscape. Such a big blue sky and those stars! wow... Great photos!
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  • + 1
 That was hands down one of the best photo/write ups that I have ever seen. Great job on capturing the local culture. There are about 10 POD's in there.
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  • + 3
 I'd say the best photography, I have seen on Pinkbike so fare.
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  • + 3
 Amazing photos!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 awesome photos!. thanks for bringing the great cultural and awesomeness of the great mongolian ppl.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 A compelling case for 36ers.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 in the 47th pic from top....oh nevermind
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  • + 1
 i saw a full vid about this with race shot ex.. but i don't remember where... could anyone refresh my mind?
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  • + 2
 Epic! What a pics and what a travel/race!! I'd like to be there Smile
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  • + 1
 Margus, you have all my respect!!! As someone said above, a fantastic picture essay.
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  • + 1
 incredible landscape and culture. The food looks interesting too
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  • + 1
 New to Pinkbike, what a way to break me in ! Absolutely awesome !!!!!!
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  • + 1
 this is why I read the articles.
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  • + 1
 Great stuff Margus! Stunning.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Stunning. Beautiful work.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Grrrrrreat pictures! Marvelous! Thank you, Margus!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Pale blue dot at its best
[Reply]
  • + 1
 How wonderful mongolia is. Never stop challenge!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 stunning photos, incredable landscape, and amazing people ruinned by some guys in lycra riding bikes through the shot....
[Reply]
  • + 2
 anothet WOW moment today
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Fantastic photography! Always great work from Margus!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 amazing pictures Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Beautiful photography.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what a trip!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Fantastic picture essay!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Simply mind numbing
[Reply]
  • + 1
 thats a nice place!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Spectacular photos..!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 hell yeah nice pics !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 wooow,great photos!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 brilliant photos|
[Reply]

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