Meneghina Express’ numbers:

12379 Kilometers in 44 days

350 hours riding

297 batteries recharged

12 countries

4500Kg Co2 reduced vs. gas

Day 12 - Mongolia flag - June 21

From Bogd in Bayankhongor: Fasten your seat belt

The night in Bogd hasn't been the best: offensive odors, wooden planks on which we have rested ours tested backs; mosquitoes and insects, and a few inches for stiring. But, the dogs growling through the door, a fist fight between them and barking all night, those not! You cannot fall asleep at midnight and five hours later you must be on your feet.

Epic.Today's stage has been a marathon against time: twelve hours of traveling with strong winds in the morning, hints at sun, then mighty rain in the afternoon and once again warm, until sunset. A stage that has shown quite a lot of test to be faced and overcome. We came out of the desert from the bottom uneven. Until yesterday the GPS was really useful, because despite it didn't show the way, however it allowed us to know that by following coordinates and the cardinal points, we would have arrived at destination. But if between the starting point and destination, there are rocky mountains that reach up to 2000 meters above sea level, rivers and streams to be waded across and crevasses that we could never cross not even with a tank, then the story changes. A lot.

We drive, the first one hundred and thirty kilometers in a desert that slowly turns into meadow: everything is immoderately large, but there is no more fine sand. There are rocks and stones, green tufts and a few flowers of the desert. The crickets and quails have no longer brown livery clear, but colors similar to the environment. An eagle wing span of at least a meter and a half, exploits the thermal currents above us, and when it flaps its wings seem to see a hang glider giant. Then in the distance we can see the profiles of jagged mountains unknown. It reveals the sand dunes. A sharp contrast and eye-catching, we are on the prairie, in the green, but on our left rise sand hills and ridges move with the air.

Nicola and Valerio are uncontrollable: as the thirsty runs toward the source and don't think about anything else than calm their thirst, the two pilots speed up and inaugurate their personal amusement park.
 Up is down, doing wheelies and jumping, on an even keel and still swoops and climbs. Their motorbikes, in terms of supply power, are not worse than those with internal combustion engine. However, the stresses are high and a drive belt cracks.
Never mind: we work hard to pull the Nicola's bike out of the sand - who don't lose heart, but just never, trying to solve every problem.

Nicola let him be dragged along by Valerio and how two good friends even among difficulties, we come back to "base camp" where we have parked the pickups.
 While the riders dismount and remount the crown and all the rest, always assisted by Giorgio, they know how to fix everything, we think that if only were missing one of the person that make up our team, we would be ruined. Everyone contributes and, as described in the previous days, you invent what you would have never imagined to know or to do. Become so, this experience like a “Matriosca." Boxes that are one inside the other, until you get to the heart, the origin, which is the desire to succeed, to arrive to Italy full of enthusiasm at the right point.

We prepare some sandwiches with what we have: tomatoes, cans of tuna, salad, carrots and onions: a Swiss red Army knife that cuts everything correctly. We mix it in a bowl, add a little 'soy, and our rations are ready.
 Loads of energy, by about 1 p.m., after a couple of hours of rest among dunes, we are ready to drive again.
 Fifty Km later, we are contemplating the lake named Orog nuur, for ten minutes, captured by the apparent tranquility. We know that there are still hundred Km: not very many, so despite the strain, we look forward to make a relaxant rest in the next town where there is a hotel with rooms equipped with bathroom and shower, which is everything we needed after days in the desert without compromise.

But here is that the tracks start to become sloped, they suddenly rise and fall and in the middle there is water or sand that gives way. It is to fasten your seat belt, which in truth are always fastening, but in this case must be tightened well. The rain is increasing, we are under tension: without realizing it we arrive to the mountain, between crumbling roads and dozens of trails that wind through the hills and plateaus. Only that each of these hills precludes the view to the next hill. It is not clear what is the way to go through, because if you follow the point indicated by the GPS to the north-west, in that part there is a precipice. We drive as never happened in life. But we have not yet lost because we know where to go.

And here we discovered the most advanced support that we'd never think we could find in this bad condition: the human being. She is a woman, a lady in her forties who lives in one of the rare Ger that arise at these heights, to which we turn for guidance. She dumps goats and chickens, along with four little girls, jumps aboard his scooter; load the youngest daughter down with her, and as in a dream, pulling us out of the valley where we left off stuck. And it opens the most intimate dream of Mongolia, its best showing to date: a long road with gentle ups and downs, which will come up to Bayanhongor.

We travel at sunset with the certainty of arriving at our destination, we raise the volume on the radio, and on the right and on the left, we admire plateaus and mountains with a breathtaking beauty. If someone would have told us that a few km from the steps on which we had lost the way, there would have been landscapes of this kind, we'd have lost the bet. Maybe in these twelve days of travel, this was by far the long, hard, tiring and exciting. It's as if we had lived in a single day five days. We need, therefore, a rest equal to five times that earned up to today. Tomorrow morning we will sleep without an alarm clock, and then, after a morning devoted to the accommodation of motorcycles, vehicles and anything else that we carry, inside and out, we’ll start to head for Altay.

Text and photos by Flavio Allegretti

Path traveled today