Like so many adventures in life this idea started out almost as a lark. “Hey Rob, we should go race in Mongolia. We managed to make it in Nepal so this would be the next most logical step; right?”
That little conversation was soon followed by confirmation that Rob had taken it upon himself to sign us up. He had to do it. Early registration was discounted.
11 months later we were standing in my living room with a scale and 5 large bags. Looking at us you might have asked if we were planning to summit Everest. But no, we just had to figure out how much out bags weighted to avoid extra charges. Trying to hold your bike bag while standing on a scale is no easy feat. Fortunately, after some shuffling of gear we were off to the airport.
The trip started off as smooth as possible. No lines to check in, no lines at security, and our seating was fantastic. Our first stop: Tokyo. A short layover there gave us just enough time to chow down on some authentic ramen before catching flight #2 to Beijing.
5 sleep-filled hours later the Plane landed in China. We entered immigration and apparently we look like athletes because we were ushered to a fast lane for the Track and Field Championship being held in China. I am pretty sure there is not a bike event, but our choices were an empty line or 30 minutes of waiting, who were we to turn down luck?
Needless to say all was well, we found our hotel and had a solid night of sleep. The next day we went to an amazing breakfast and completely over ate. We literally walked straight out of the hotel as the shuttle was leaving and made our way to the airport.
As we checked back in for our final flight to Mongolia we hit our first snag. We were politely informed we had too much luggage and we had a choice: pay an extra $300, or we were welcome to remove our bags from the flight. Nothing like being extorted, “of course we want to take our bikes.” Good thing they take visa in China…
A quick two-hour flight over the vast expanse of China and Mongolia and before we knew it we were landing. Until that moment we had been in our comfort zone, but stepping off the plane we were truly heading into uncharted territory.
A long wait in the immigration line gave us time to get excited, but our luck finally ran out when we hit baggage claim. Both bikes promptly arrived, as did two of our gear bags, but the final gear bag, with most of Rob’s equipment, was nowhere to be found.
After lots of gesturing and some broken English communication with a burly Mongolia baggage handler we filed a report for missing luggage. With nothing more to be done we climbed aboard the hotel shuttle and truly entered Mongolia for the first time.
Be sure to follow our journey on Instagram: @slmcoaching and @primalwear