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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I figured I'd place this info in a thread of it's own. Originally posted at my other thread, detailing how I managed to bring my bike from NY to Mongolia without incurring a single baggage fee!

As requested, here are some select photos from the race. I actually found a post here on MTBR advertising this race in 2007. Glad it's still kicking!

It's a 3-day stage race covering distances of 45, 45, 85km. On the first two days, there are beginner races that cover 20-25km only...

I met up with my brother in Suzhou where he's working--it's about 2h from Shanghai. He's a cat 1 roadie, and managed to very randomly meet the Specialized manager for all of China on his first ride in China. Anyway, they hit it off, and now they're both on the Specialized amateur cycling team there. There's a team shot below.

Because I was traveling with the team, and the team has a manager, I definitely didn't have to deal with ANY logistics with this race--meals, transportation, hotels, etc, were all arranged by the team manager and/or the race organizers.

We loaded a ton of bikes in the Specialized van in Shanghai, and headed to the airport. Most of the guys were using bike boxes as their shipping containers. Note how tiny my suitcase is! I felt like a pro traveling around with this entourage...

After a transfer, we finally made it to Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia. The airport was tiny and felt like something out of Indiana Jones. They were in the process of building a much more modern terminal right next door though. Evidence that we were traveling off the beaten path: Our flight crew hadn't even heard of Xilinhot!

We then took a bus the ~2 hours to Wujimqin--aka Xi Ujimqin Xi. Our bus driver got a speeding ticket on the way...he was not happy!

The hotel almost all the racers stayed at was surprisingly nice given how remote the area is. They do hold (world cup?) XC ski races there in the winter, so I'm sure that has something to do with it.

We took an evening spin...

The next morning, we took a spin to prepare for day 1--45km, which started at 1pm following an opening ceremony at a pavilion they set up just for the race.

Team photo:

I strapped my camera case to my stem/steerer tube. I came to experience Mongolia, not to suffer!

These girls were smokin

Me and my bro at the start:

We had a police leadout (by all-female motorcycle cops!) that took us one lap around, then we were off!

Me leading the charge (I think they all dropped me eventually...) Thanks to the photographer, Limon Tou (lemon head). For that matter, all photos with "" on them are his.

From my perspective:

Day one finished at a touristy mongolian yurt village, complete with Mongolian wrestling, archery, horse back riding, and lamb roast feast.

That's a bathroom in the foreground...In which all but one of the urinals was cracked. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that until I started feeling a splash on my feet...


They were blasting Michael Jackson (who passed away that week) absurdly loud here.

Probably the most incredible moment was when someone was passing me, we had a quick chat. I'm originally from Buffalo, NY, and currently live 1h away in Rochester. Of all the places to meet a fellow Buffalonian, I would have never guessed it would be on the trail in Mongolia! Especially considering there were fewer than 10 Americans at the race, Buffalo fielded a good chunk of the American contingent. Let's go Buffalo!

Anyway, I finished day 1 way behind the leader...Eric, from Specialized, got 3rd for the day.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Day two started off with a ~40 minute bus ride out to the starting line. It was at a little yurt village. The course was a point to point race, with the finishing line in "downtown" Ujimqin. Immediately after stepping out of the bus, we felt a 30mph wind. Thank heavens it was a tail wind for almost the entire course!!

Note how the flags are being blown perfectly horizontal

Here's the view from the starting line. The trail quickly turned off this main road into dual-track. There were a few technical sections thanks mostly to rain washout--enough to send some of the less experienced riders to the ground.
The winning time was 1:14 for what was officially 42km. That's an average speed of 21mph!! Thanks to the wind, even I managed a respectable 1:33...

Unfortunately, I didn't take ANY pictures from the trail this day. We were going too damn fast!
The finish line was in the center of town, and quite a few of the locals turned out to watch. Never having road raced, it was quite an experience to have huge roads shut down for us, with spectators lining the final mile.

Two days down, with the last big one to go.

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
This is the day I was worried about, and finding out that the wind hadn't let up AT ALL didn't make me any less apprehensive...

The race started at the previous day's finish line in Ujimqin. There was to be a short, 15km loop that took us out and around before setting off on the long 60+km loop--some of which was an overlap from the day 1 race.

I'll give credit, once again, to Limon Tou and, because I didn't get many photos myself this day either thanks to a hail storm! More to come on that...

The small lap from the start went straight into the wind. The pack quickly formed a peloton and I found myself in the middle of it all...for a bit anyway.

Lead group, ~7km in

This is the girl who won. Fast!


Check out the mid-air waterbottle.


Pretty early on, we started hearing cracks of thunder. Seeing as there wasn't a tree in sight, and we're all sitting on metal (minus the CF folks), this wasn't good...As soon as the downpour began, I stashed my camera in my Camelbak. So, this is where my photos of the day end.
I took some photos of the ominous clouds:

Limon Tou's are better, though...

The winner:

The podium--it's a whole production

So the wind was pretty much a straight up headwind for the entire first 45km. This is good, because the final 40k was almost entirely with a tailwind. Had it been reversed, I doubt I would have finished.

Probably the coolest part of the race was the motorcycle police (woman) escort I got for the final ~3km of the race through town. Huge 4+ lane roads were entirely shut down and intersections were blocked off as I pushed my way to the finish, a lowly hour + after the winner! Pretty cool that they did that, and it definitely gave me quite a bit more energy than I thought I still had at that point...I wish I had a photo/video...

All in all, this was a great experience. Thanks to Eric and the Specialized team for taking me under their wing, everything went very smoothly. The scenery in Mongolia is stunning, and since the trails we rode on were all primarily trails for cars/trucks, I imagine there's no shortage of trails to ride, and you could probably do a whole tour of (Inner) Mongolia on them.

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Gary Fisher lust

So the most popular brands I saw were Specialized, Giant, and Trek, by far. There were a bunch of bikes I had never heard of (UCC, Canyon?), and a few I was surprised to see (Santa Cruz, Yeti, Litespeed). One thing that caught me by surprise was that I had the ONLY Gary Fisher! As a result, my bike garnered quite a bit of attention. After seeing more people checking out my bike than the souped up Specialized's, I thought it would be funny to take some photos. This is just a handful of the people that were checking out my bike. I can only imagine the looks my Hifi 29er would have gotten...

I ended up putting a "for sale" sign on the bike for the final day. I was selling high, but didn't get any takers. Though I did get a lot of astonished looks from the locals when they say my asking price (~$1000).

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh yeah, so probably the most impressive thing I heard is that a guy who finished (in very good position) all 3 days of this race then ran the grassland marathon the very next day...and finished in 2:40! That's ridiculous time for any marathon, let alone one set on dirt trails AFTER completing ~180km of cycling the previous 3 days...

Anyway, for more info on the race, go to:
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