Day Twenty-Five – remote meadow to remote ridgeline, via an obscure town or two

The next morning, we ride past fields of stunning wildflowers in brilliant pink, some of the most Hans Christian Andersen flowers yet. Tama goes off to snap them while I do my morning bike yoga, and comes back reporting that all the trees around the flowers are covered with bear-scrape and bear-claw-sharpen, well. A peasant boy on horseback rides up and offers us dried milk curds – Tama doesn’t want anything to do with it, so I take his share, and crunch this weirdly gross sour milk stuff in my mouth as we roll out of the valley heading south. We’re not exactly sure where we are, but we know we’re close to the tom zam (big road). The track leads to a big fenced-in holiday house, then stops. It’s a strange few k’s of following sandy, rocky tracks that just end, past the odd goat carcass and overly territorial pair of ger dogs. At the main road, we hit the tarseal again, and after that – it’s full tit for Moron, 230 kms to Ondorkhaan means about 203 kms to Moron, it’s getting close … the urge to dawdle and detour is dwindling …

So we ride, and riiide, and riiiiide. The hills go up and down, the little kilometres-from-Ondorkhaan signs tick down. We spot the first (and, as it turns out, only) sign to Moron – it’s 172ks away.

Just over the hill. Or, over the next twenty hills. It turns out to be a rather big day, especially as we try to ride about 120kms, I wouldn’t say “to get it over with”, but, kinda … but we baulk at attempting a 400m uphill pass at 7.30pm, especially since we’ve already ridden for ten hours. And we consider, then baulk at the prospect of rocking up to some random peasants’ ger and staying with them. Making three or four hours of phrasebook small-talk is a bit much, when you’re riding this much, and are this crap at speaking Mongolian, and have this (holds thumb and forefinger close together) much energy left for an authentic cultural exchange. So, we slog our bikes up a cunt of a hill and push em across a field. The field opens up onto the most unexpectedly huge expanse of gorgeous bleak hillness – this is real Chinggis Khan country, and I can almost feel it, almost see a young Chinggis riding his horsey armies across the plains, a legendary ghost army and attendant plume of legendary dust, raping and pillaging and reforming the Mongolian taxation system. No one knows where the great Chinggis was buried – people have searched, no one has found his grave – but sitting up there as the sun sets, Chinggis feels close. I wolf down a hearty serving of rice and cabbage dinner, and go to sleep feeling a touch bloated.

About Doiggus Khan

Tom Doig is a writer, performer, editor and moron. Tom has been published in The Big Issue, Maxim and Voiceworks. His plays include "Survival of the Prettiest", "Hitlerhoff" and "Selling Ice to the Remains of the Eskimos". He has an MA in Hitler Comedy and is currently writing a PhD about climate change. "Mörön to Mörön: two men, two bikes, one Mongolian misadventure" is Tom's first book.
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