Sunday, January 12, 2014

On The Road to Baganuur....

So here is the story of a bracing 5 day ride last spring that I did to get in shape for the Gobi Gallop,( the annual fund raiser for the Children of the Peak)....just found the blog post written and never posted..hmmn I wonder how that happened!?  Anyway, I know it is the dead of winter, but Gobi Gallop Two - Back From Arhangi- 700 kms in 10 days! is coming up faster than you think, and I'm sure there will be another "warm up" ride to get in shape for it!  If we're lucky, it will be as terrific as it was riding to Baganuur...and back last spring! 


5 days to go 300 kilometers over mountain and along the steppe enduring some of the windiest conditions I've ever experienced.  The destination?  Baganuur.  The reason...mostly just for fun, but also to get ready for our next epic endurance ride (next week!!), The Gobi Gallop to raise money for the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project.   Our longest day on this ride was 72 km - the quickest,  54 km in 3 hours 20 mins. On the way we got to see some things....

 Like teeny tiny baby goats...

 ...and gorgeous wide eyed little blonde Mongolians...
 ...and a sulphur spring that bubbles up when you...
 And yes, it does taste like eggs.  We were all game to try a sip - no more!
 You can't miss any owoo ...
 and, of course, the locals were amazed and confused to see dell wearing expats galloping across their steppe! Especially on the few occasions when Baagii was a ways away!
 Cowboying it up!
 Hard at it - we galloped ( cantered for the purists in the crowd) for mile upon mile upon mile.....beautiful!
 We enjoyed gorgeous scenery as the steppe is just waking up from winter and green shoots are popping up everywhere!
 We knew we were close to Baganuur when we could see the dumps from the coal mine - the largest coal mine in Mongolia.  The dumps seem to go on for miles!  That's them behind Baagii - not mountains!
 It was SUCH fun riding clip-clop through town!  Caused quite a stir I have to say.  I remember when I first moved to Mongolia how very "National Geographic" it was to see people riding their horses through the city - kind of weird to be on the other end of the situation!  While we were in a local restaurant eating our saddles and saddle bags garnered as much attention from passerbys as we had when we were riding along!  We had a Mongolian Saddle, a modified Western Saddle, and English Saddle  and a Russian Saddle....and one horse with no saddle...just for good luck!

 This is the trip where I (Finally!) learned to stand the gallop - Mongolian style!  I think... it feels like I'm doing it right and I had quite a lot of input from our fearless leader so I think I'm pretty close.  It is a pretty easy way to eat up the miles out there on the steppe!
 Trying out the face wear that we'll need for the Gobi was SO windy this day that we all needed them!  

 The team...including Saraa who took the easy way out and rode in the car!

Lots of spring happening out there - baby lambs, yaks, horses....all of it , everywhere.  The steppe is teeming with life!

 ...and it's a good place to catch a cat nap after a brutal morning's 5 hour trot / canter / gallop!
 ....The support crew, Saraa & Bayaraa - could not have done it without them!
 And of course, the guy out there putting up with the weather...and the women!  
 Day four - the long LONG climb from 1,400 meters to 2,000 meters ( yes, that's about a 2000 feet difference in elevation!!  )  Poor horses!  However, the people in the crowd did get a boost from Sue and her wonderful Heart Shaped Chocolate Marshmallows!
 And the horses got to snack too!
It's always smile time when you're riding with Sue!

The scenery is just so amazing everywhere you ride here in Mongolia, and this ride was no different!  Lots of exercise and fresh air and stunning mountaintop and steppe vistas that stretched on and on as far as the eye could see...and I can tell you that when we did ride the Gobi Gallop , those of us fortunate enough to have had this ride to Baganuur ( and back!) as a warm up were definitely the lucky ones!!
......So now all that's left as I look so longingly at these pictures of   riding without snow is to wait and see who is going to be intrepid  ( and generous!!) enough to join the Gobi Gallop 2  in June. Those who do will get to enjoy another unbelievable  and exciting ride I'm sure.  I know I'll be there...and I'm pretty sure my cohorts from this picture will be too!  Will you?