Photo Epic: Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge

Dec 22, 2013
by Erik Peterson  
 
You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
The Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge is a mountain bike race that covers some of the most intriguing landscape on the planet so when I was presented with the opportunity to photograph it I obviously agreed immediately. I'm currently living in Uzbekistan, which made travel to the race a little more complicated than if I were at home on Vancouver Island; I decided to embrace the crazy travel options and flew to Beijing where I met up with friends for a few days before taking the Trans Mongolian Railway up to Ulaan Baatar.

The new seven day race course is shorter than previous editions but retains all the challenge of racing in the middle of nowhere. This is not simply a race, it is an adventure and a truly unique experience. It is not for everyone though; travel is difficult, shelter is rudimentary, weather is extreme and the days are very long. That being said, if this is your idea of a good time, it doesn't get much better than this!

Mongolia Bike Challenge
A Canadian living in Uzbekistan flies to China to get on a train to Mongolia...

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Even though Beijing is huge and very busy I found it strangely easy to find peaceful moments there.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
The Great Wall is awesome, even when it's 46 degrees and humid as hell. That's a whole lotta stairs!

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Amilal is an ex-pat bar in Beijing that specializes in whiskey and craft beer. Perfect!

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Found some BCBR racers also hanging out in 'the Jing' before heading to Mongolia.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Bikes are found everywhere being used to transport everything; they're all in various states of disrepair.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
The Trans Mongolian is a ride few get to experience. We arrived at the train station super early to try and negotiate a way to fit the bike boxes in our cabin - turns out we were the only people in our entire carriage and three of only a handful of foreigners on the entire train.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
The highrises of Beijing quickly turned into dense manufacturing plants and clouds of dust and smog that, even with the train windows shut, still found a way to coat everything inside. Eventually the plants turned into small rural cities and villages which in turn led to rich green steppe.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Mongolia uses the Russian gague rail size, which is different than China's. The Soviet Union originally used a different width rail system so that if anyone tried to invade, they wouldn't be able to roll in with their own trains. In a small town on the China/Mongolia border the train carriages got hoisted on these huge hydraulic jacks and the entire wheel and undercarriage assembly was switched for a slightly smaller one.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Ulaan Baatar is a wild town; a huge expansion due to a sudden influx of foreign investment in mining is clashing with a traditional nomadic way of life. Land Rovers, Hummers and G Wagons idle side by side with Lada's and UAZ's in the horrendous traffic between Ger (yurt) slums and Armani boutiques. We checked out one of the largest bazaars for deals on fake Nike's.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Everybody had a different idea of the perfect bike for the race. The unboxing and re-assembly of bikes is an exacting process for many.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
The UAZ 452 - the ride of choice for the MBC.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Mongolia still revers Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) and his influence is everywhere. The race started at a huge statue and museum dedicated to him owned and operated by the race's title sponsor, Genco Tour Bureau; I drank a pretty significant quantity of (very good) vodka named after him.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Mongolian skies are the most beautiful I've ever seen; the clouds slide across the sky letting pockets of light dance across the contours of the landscape.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Ger life.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
The man, the legend - Jammer - taking off.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
As incredible as the 452's are, they require constant fine tuning. Each driver knew their vehicle intimately and could diagnose and repair almost any problem on the spot with a ridiculous assortment of tools, old oily parts and bits of string.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Who said there were no trees in Mongolia?

Mongolia Bike Challenge
I have been to some big places before and very little compares to the scale of this place.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Ger's like this dot the countryside.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Horses are everywhere in Mongolia. Some are very comfortable with humans. Others, like these two, ran as soon as they heard me.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Media 1!

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Every day I had the luxury of stopping to photograph scenes like this and spend time chatting with Mongolians while racers spun past Ger's, yaks and horsemen.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
On day three the mud started getting tacky early into the route but quickly turned into full on swamp.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Stage three was neutralized when a routine river crossing was deemed too dangerous to attempt after intense rain the night before (also the cause of the swamp). Riders were put up in Ger's while they waited for the 452's to come pick us up.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Not everyone rode the race on a brand new carbon frame!

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
There was only enough space in the vans for the racers, so the course officials, volunteers and media crew stayed at the Ger's till the shuttle vehicles returned from the race camp. This is our new friend Norgema making mutton noodle soup for everyone.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Meanwhile, her husband took me into their living yurt and showed me his dog-eared Mongolian to Russian and Russian to English dictionaries. He writes out words in Mongolian and translates them into Russian with one dictionary, then, using his other one translates them into English; he has over 90 pages of notes! Between my crummy Russian and his crummy English he told me that he's upset his son has moved to the big city (Ulaan Baatar) to pursue western dreams. "Young people only care about cars and movies now, nobody reads newspapers anymore." He also shared an intense homemade vodka, made from fermented horse milk. I drank half a liter out of politeness - big mistake...

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Can you imagine if this was how you met your friends to catch up on the latest gossip?

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Dinner...

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
When you've got enough of something, you should definitely line them up.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Morning warm-up rides don't get much better than this.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Racers routinely spun past scenes like this; while some were there solely for the race, many stopped for a few moments to snap a couple quick pictures. Fortunately I had a little more freedom and was able to spend some time chatting with people and exploring their lives.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Feed zone frenzy.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
While not overly technical, the longer stages were still brutally difficult.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Willy Mulonia - the founder of the Mongolia Bike Challenge. Legend has it that he rode over 10,000km throughout Mongolia looking for the perfect route for the race.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Every bike race has a dedicated team of mechanics who work late into the night every night of the race. The MBC is no exception.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Finish line - Day 7.

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Champ Corey Wallace (right) and Jason Sager survey the finish line.

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
A pretty spectacular number of supporters made it out for the end of the race!

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Some stoked finishers!

Mongolia Bike Challenge

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Overall winners - Corey Wallace and Catherine Williamson - will they be dethroned next year?

Mongolia Bike Challenge
We were told there would be a small bonfire to celebrate on the last night...

Mongolia Bike Challenge
Sunrise over the final camp - not a bad way to cap off an amazing week of racing and exploring in Mongolia! Are you coming next year?

51 Comments

  • + 23
 Awesome! What a beautifull place!
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Amazing scenery (and photos), but from everything I've seen about this race, both here and other places I have looked, I am left wondering what qualifies this as a 'mountain bike' race? I'm not asking that to be a dick, but am asking seriously. Almost every riding shot I've seen is on double track or some kind of road (that a well set-up cyclocross bike could do well on?). Is there much single track/technical trail in this race, or is it something you do mostly just for the scenery/experience as opposed to the trails? As I said, not asking to be a dick, I just see all these 'mountain bike' races around that are predominantly double/atv track if not on some kind of access/forest road with a very minor amount of actual single track.

I don't know, but when I want to go 'mountain biking;', I want to be riding technical trail, and not stuff where only those with the highest VO2 win...

That all said, this race looks like it has some absolutely amazing scenery and experiences, and looks to definitely still be a gruelling race! Respect for sure!
  • + 3
 My thoughts exactly, Mongolia looks like a beautiful country in places but I could never take part in a race like this. Riding across such huge flat expanses can't be all that fun...
  • + 1
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=irIXRM9mmso

According to the Olympics roads can be considered mountain biking. In fact, the roads here seem much less maintained than that xc track.
  • + 7
 I thought the same thing before heading over there Mike! I think a talented/well equipped CX rider could probably ride some of the stages as the riding isn't super technical but riding well over 100km for 7 days straight really justifies a full suspension bike. The micro terrain is pretty crazy and even on the doubletrack the ride isn't very comfortable. That being said, I drove the whole thing in one of those vans, so I'm probably not qualified to answer your question accurately!

As you said, to me anyways, it's a mix of experience, scenery, long hard days and physical/mental challenge. Different people want different things and this is just another option out there.
  • + 5
 You definitely need a MTB. While its mostly fast double track, CX bikes with skinny and fragile tyres wouldn't survive. There were some really rough sections and a few days had some technical riding. HT or FS is debatable though. HT is fine, but FS would certainty be more comfortable for such a long race. MBC was epic, I loved it. If you want a race that doubles up as a unique experience I can certainly recommend it.
[Reply]
  • + 10
 what if Genghis Khan rose up an army of mountain bikers instead of horse riders? I'd join
  • + 2
 id ride with my bow
  • + 3
 "And my axe!"
  • + 2
 and my vuvuzela !
[Reply]
  • + 9
 My scroll is broken
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Raced it this year and as a Canadian mountain biker, it was not what we call mountain biking.. My downhilling skills were not exactly needed there! It was a road race on rough, dirt, and gravel roads for the most part. There is no chance you could race it on a CX bike.. much to rough.. I used a Scalpel 29er. Lots of washboard, loose gravel, etc. I was destroyed after the race obviously as it was brutal and I vowed to never do it again.. Saying this, after time went by, I missed it and would probably go back.. It's an experience like no other! So many different challenges, not just the pedalling part. I loved it...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 this is absolutely stunning. The addition of the landscape photos really brings the whole thing together. It'd be interesting to read / hear what the countrymen have to say about all these cyclists in their habitat.
  • + 3
 In my conversations with locals, they were very keen to show off their country to us! They were exceptionally welcoming and as interested in us as we were with them.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great photo set, that race looks like a lot of fun. I rode an 8 day off road rally by motorcycle there a few years ago and the immensity of the wide open country is amazing. This race could be another good adventure for sure.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 This is amazing. Well done sir, great photos.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 So beautiful! Really EPIC! Was so cute to see our UAZ^^
[Reply]
  • + 1
 bike, bike, bike, horse, bike, horse, bike, bike, camel Looks like such an awsum place to go get lost, definitely going on list
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Where do I sign up?
I did the Trans Mongolian Express in March '09 but the other way, this looks the the perfect excuse to do it again!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 If you can somehow afford it, do it! I have ZERO regrets! Thanks for the photos Erik!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 instagram filters allover, apart from that EPIC!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Riding Mongolia is going right next to riding The Great Wall of China on the bucket list.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Amazing place and people. Well done. Thank you.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Stunning stuff.
  • + 1
 Thanks Matt! Appreciate it!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing work! Such a timeless style that captures the extent of the adventure and the vastness of such a beautiful place.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 photo shotting with standard skills
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wow, I wonder what a trip like this costs to go on!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 F..k... and I was going to the office!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Do you think you'd be ok doing this race on either a Solo or a Tallboy LT?
  • + 1
 Tallboy LT would be fine. What do you mean by Solo?
  • + 1
 Sorry 5010 haha Either of the two I'd love as my next bike and if they could take me on an adventure like this all the better. I really want a capable trail bike that would also allow me try my hand at XC stuff.
  • + 2
 5010 or Tallboy LT would both work fine.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The "Darma Project" all over again...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The place is very nice but looks boring to ride...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Come and challenge yourself folks! Wink
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Fantastic photography..............stunning
[Reply]
  • + 0
 The article was a bit wordy for me...next time try more pictures!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Big Willy!
  • + 1
 wow what a trip.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Welcome to Chinese!!!
  • + 0
 大哥,China才对
  • + 1
 不知道哎,百度翻译的
  • + 0
 那是外蒙古
  • + 1
 有北京的图!!
  • + 1
 什么外蒙古,就是蒙古
[Reply]

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2014. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv16 0.038685
Mobile Version of Website