Saturday, 7 July 2012

Death of a motorcycle

Yep, sad but true; my bike finally died today.

She started up well enough this morning and sounded so promising, pulling well, the rattles had gone and she positively purred for two kilometres before spewing her oil all over the place and then giving up completely. Poor old thing. Mind you, that wasn't what I called her when I had to push her three kms back to Purvee's mostly uphill. Hard work, and not the best exercise I've ever had.

Don't think it was down to any of our mechanicing yesterday though. We went through everything logically and methodically, but this engine has been trouble from the world go, so I reckon that I was just unlucky and was dealt a rogue when I bought it. But then again, it's rego is LJ12 JNK. So maybe it was an omen; junk by name, junk by nature.

But after a quick bit of butchering, I removed my seat and jubilee clipped it onto Nad's luggage rack, and we were off again, this time two up on a battered 110 cc Chinese scooter, back into the UB traffic to find a bike hire place.

The tourist info office was useless, although the woman was very nice and practised her German on Nadine. So we went to the Oasis Guest house ( rubbish directions in Lonely Planet - no mention of the two roundabouts that also have to be negotiated before getting to it from the church) to see if they could help as it is a meeting place for over landers. The owner offered to rent me her Serow – for $85 US a day. I think not, especially as it clearly hadn't been run for about 90 years and was covered with the dust of generations. Then she suggested a buy back - £1800 US and she'd buy it back for $500US, making a tidy little profit of $1300.00 in the process. No thanks, not in that state, and not even for the $65 a day that she then came up with. Nice lady but cheekily unrealistic and trying it on. Shame.

So we spent the afternoon chatting to Adrian,(Hubb, Romania) and Alec (UK), then the two Swiss bikers we'd met in Kazakhstan ( Alois and Norbert) who pitched up, as well as WWE (Geordie Will). Adrian kindly lent us his laptop to try and find a bike hire which we did, but it was too late in the afternoon by then to do anything, so we'll save that for tomorrow or Monday.

Riding two up is quite a laugh, particularly on our botched machine, but we did OK getting through the traffic and avoiding the craters. It was nice for me too as I was able to sit on the back and film while Nadine did her thing and stopped us from crashing. And she did OK too, although I did nearly fall off the back once when she accelerated when I wasn't holding on.

Family arrive tomorrow on the train from Beijing and everybody is looking forward to seeing them. We're off to Gandan Monastery in the morning, then maybe a quick punt to the bike hire place before heading to the station to meet them – no doubt with the welcoming hordes. We have even tidied the ger in their honour; hope they appreciate it!

As for the bike, well despite it's demise, I remain totally impressed with these little scoots, and they were well worth the dosh we forked out for them. The whole idea was to see how far we could get on two basic and standard Chinese scoots, and the ultimate destination was Mongolia. We both ride bigger and far more capable and suitable bikes back in the UK, both of which would have made it far more comfortably and quickly than the scoots. But that wasn't what we set out to do, and our trip would have been a totally different experience had we ridden them.

But the scoots idea appealed, particularly once the naysayers started, and although we were determined to get here one way or another and prove them wrong, neither of us really expected to make it still riding the same little machines as we left London on several months ago. But we have done just that, and the only things that are new are two back tyres, two valves and one cylinder head, and both bikes have been given a very hard time along the way. And until yesterday, both were still trudging along after 10000kms plus, regardless of the extreme heat and mega piste we have dragged them through and over, despite the river crossings and the bodges en route, despite the rubbish fuel and crappy oil we have used, and the lack of TLC. Both are still on the original front tyres, both retain most of their original bolts, both frames are still intact, both are still on original front and rear sprockets, and only headlamp bulbs have blown. OK, my engine has been more problematic than Nadine's and I probably should have stuck to my guns and insisted on replacing the whole engine in Turkey as I wanted, but that's the way it goes and overcoming the dyed in the wool but well intentioned male focused ' we know best because we're men' ways there was just too boringly difficult; we could have stayed at home for that. So another note to self: trust self and mate next time and don't be railroaded, however nice and well intentioned people are.

But all is not lost; my bike is still structurally better than Nadine's so we will swap the dodgy bits over to pimp her ride. Her rear wheel is more buckled than mine and is missing a spoke, and her headlamp unit is rubbish, so both with make a huge difference, and she should be good to continue on to The Gobi. Hopefully I will find a hire bike though, as two up all the way there and back, via Dardal in the north east might be a bit of an ordeal, especially with luggage!