Ulan-Ude - August 10, 2015

Back in Ulan-Ude after crossing the border back into Russia. Pretty straightforward process once again. Got my Mongolian Tegrets exchanged back for Rubles at a very good rate. Checked the official rate once I arrived here and found that the Ruble has crashed again. Woohoo!

Anyway, a bit of an exciting day as I got stopped by a cop for speeding. Got caught in a bit of a speed trap as it is just north of the border and there is a police station by the side of the road. As you come down a hill in a sweeping right turn, the speed limit suddenly goes from 80 to 30. He got me on video radar slowing down but not fast enough. I crossed the 30 sign at 61 and dropping. Made me sit in the back of the cop car and with the chorus of Alice's Restaurant running through my head and wondering if this will keep me out of the draft, he let me go with just a warning. Would have been a $10 fine otherwise. 20-40km over is 500 Rubles. Guess he didn't figure $10 was worth all the paperwork.

So I'm at a different hotel now as the old one was out of town a bit. This is just a block away from the largest Lenin's head on the planet apparently. Gotta see that! Was going to leave tomorrow but it is supposed to rain 40mm tomorrow. Another downpour. So I will wait that one out as it should be clear behind it.

I've been doing a few calculations. I'm getting the sense that I am way behind in time, although it is interesting to note that it was only a month ago today that I was in Prison Camp Magdagachi. Now that seems like a LONG time ago. So if I look at what's happened in just the last month, including getting here the first time, sitting in UB for a week recuperating and then touring Mongolia, simply getting to London in the next month seems doable. And the numbers seem to bear it out as long as I don't dawdle too much.

I've traveled about 9300 kms so far, and assuming my most likely route to London, via St. Petersburg and Estonia, I have another 8900 km to go. Aiming for a Sept 15 date, that requires a daily average of 252 kms/day. With all the down days, my trip daily average has only been 158 km/s day.... but on days I do ride, I've been averaging 316 kms. So I don't need longer days (T.G.... my back!) but just fewer down days. That's OK. There's not a lot I really want to stop and see between here and St. Petersburg really. Even Moscow doesn't hold that much attraction. I'm sure I'll need rest days as parts of the trip are just mind-numbing but I'll just have to watch that I don't take too many of them. If I had planned better, I would have skipped the day off in UU here and tried to outrun the storm. Now I'll actually have to take an extra day here. Oh well. It could be worse. This place has a nice bed and a lie-down bathtub, with lots of hot water and a buffet breakfast. Life is good.

I'm also below budget. My daily lodging (camping and hotels) are within $0.11 of my estimated costs, but food and particularly fuel costs are much lower. Gas is about $0.69 CDN/liter or roughly $2 US a gallon. All these should go up sharply once I hit Europe, but Europe is small and I won't be there long. So even budgeting liberally for shipping the bike and my plane ticket home, I'm just below my projected of $14,800. T.G. for the credit line, and T.G. the Twilight Project is almost over. I might need a Forthcoming Darkness project, but I won't think about that now.

So maybe I'll wander out and take a picture of Lenin's head to attach to this. Also, I'll see if I can get out a Spot. He didn't want to go yesterday from the hotel window. Bike ran OK yesterday. I did notice that when I was having problems, it was during the stinking hot parts of the day when I could see the fuel boiling in the clear fuel filters. Yesterday was cooler, with no boiling. And the bike ran well. Wonder what that's all about...

No yaks here, so more skills that go unused. What a waste.

Sam

PS... OK, I've added Lenin's Head although he doesn't look his best in the morning. The light should be better later, suggesting that he is more an evening person. I see that UU is the finish of the Mongol Rally. Hence the cars in the parking lot last night. The Mongol Rally is described as:

"The Mongol Rally thunders 10,000 miles across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia each summer. There’s no backup, no support and no set route; just you, your fellow adventurists and a tiny car you bought from a scrapyard for £11.50."

It's a charity run apparently. I have enough trouble just following my GPS.

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