Sunday, June 2, 2013

Peking to Paris 2013 Update #3

Heading into the Gobi Desert things have gotten tough. The sand, very deep in places and there are really are no roads to speak of.  They have been able to manage that, along with the sleeping conditions. However they've had a left front suspension failure. I'll let Stanley tell it in his own words. Read on...

Time for a tow out of the sand.

Stanley with some of his Mongolian Winter Wear...telling the story.
"Since today is a Rest Day in Ulaan Baatar (known as UB), the capital of the Republic of Mongolia (or Outer Mongolia, as I learned it in grade school), I thought I would reflect on what we've seen so far. We spent the last two days crossing the Gobi Desert (about 800km, of which 90% was on dirt tracks; can't even call them dirt roads). It is a very large plateau, where the wind never stops howling and where the few people who live there do so under the most difficult conditions. Every 100km we would come to small village of 50-100 people, who either live in yurts (round structures with no windows) or small brick houses. Although the yurts look a little like an American Indian teepee, they are much sturdier in order to protect the occupants from the cold and wind. These villages have dirt paths and every family has an enclosure for its animals, made mostly of mud and straw. The people are friendly and interested in the cars. The most amazing thing about these people is that as poor as they are, everyone has a cell phone with a built in camera. They are ubiquitous in Mongolia like everywhere else in the world."

"While driving through the Gobi we saw shepherds tending herds of cattle, goats, sheep, camels and horses. I think most of these people must be nomadic, as they are always looking for the next area of scrub brush to feed their herds. It must be very difficult to feed these animals with such a minimal amount of vegetation.....and it must be an even harder way of life. On numerous occasions during the rally we had to stop to allow a herd of something to cross the dirt track we were driving on."

"On one portion of our drive we saw a big herd of deer (Brant thinks they were deer; I think they were Antelope). They were running at high speed trying keep up with the cars."

Our Mongolian Motels
"Now for the good news/bad news. Our car could not be fixed in Ulaan Baatar. The broken part is made of a composite material and the Mercedes garage (which was first class) did not have the expertise to weld this kind of material."

"At 4pm today, I asked the opinion of Brant, the Chief Mechanic and the Foreman, if they thought it was safe to drive this car through the Steppes of Mongolia as is. All thought it was very dangerous and recommended against this. At this point I was ready to call it quits and head for home. As you might imagine, this was a great disappointment (should I say failure). Everybody had advice, but the most salient advice came from Annette Rolner, one of the competitors."

"So here's our plan.......We've hired a flatbed driver to take us and the car tomorrow to the Mongolian/Russian border. Brant and I will try to clear customs and immigration. We are searching for someone on the Russian side with a flatbed to take us to Novosibirsk. We've asked Andy Prill to hand deliver the parts we need to our hotel in Novosibirsk where Brant will install them. The logistics of doing this are immense, but the alternative is quitting which is just not my first choice."

"Finally, there is one more wrinkle. Our Russian visas to get into Russia are not valid until June 7. That means that we will have to spend three extra days in Ulaan Baatar before we can go to the border with a flat bed truck and driver. Once we get across the border, we have 1700 km to Novosibrisk."

"It is cutting it very tight that we will be able to get in on the 9th, fix the car on the 10th, and rejoin the Rally on the 11th when it leaves Novosibrisk....but we are going to try (what other alternative do we have?)"

"Not sure whether we'll end up in a Mongolian or Russian jail, but we're doing everything to finish in Paris." -- Stanley.

I doubt, as mentioned in the last post they've been able to look for the "Mongolian Death Worm" yet. Think I'm making that up...Google it.

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  1. WOW ... these fellas know the spirit of endurance rally .
    it is written " if one wants to win a race , run a sprint..
    if one wants an experience , run a marathon "
    we are pullin' for 'em
    giddy up, Carson

    1. Yes they do Carson...I'm getting daily reports, they're trying to get into Russia early to repair the car.

  2. Just recieved an email: "The left front strut cap broke."

  3. Rocky Kuonen emailed: John:
    I can't believe it but I was just looking at some of the posts & I found the one
    from 2010 Peking-Paris. the more things change, the more they stay the same..