Road to Altay

Trip Start May 22, 2007
Trip End Jul 01, 2007

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

This was to be a trying day. We set off from camp at 8.33 and we had 387 km ahead of us as we were to climb to Altay at 2500m. A cold night was promised although rumour control is non existent, we had been promised snow in UB and Altay, but in the searing heat we think this is unlikely despite the fact that distant mountains do have a snow cap. Around 50 km into the route the rear brake line is fractured again and Richard quickly fits a bleed nipple to the T piece and we drive on with only 3 brakes, this costs us around 25 minutes stopped by the roadside in the sun. There are two timed tests today both on a slightly lumpy surface which only becomes bearable over 50 mph. We are becoming expert at reaching a speed which allows the car to ride the bumps but slowing down and accelerating due to bumps, gullies or rocks is a teeth jarring experience. The terrain is open rock desert and we try to maintain the required average speed of 70 kph but this means travelling much faster on straight sections as we often have to crawl through rock strata at the top of rolling hills. Disaster strikes on a double bump which twists the chassis and the rear spring pops out of the front hanger. This costs us nearly an hour standing in the midday sun as we remove the spring and fit a tie bar to hold the axle in place. We are surrounded by the contents of a passing Mongolian minibus who lie on the ground beside Richard watching him undo the spring and fit the link. We set off again but 70 km later the second spring pops out too. Now we will be late at the final control of the day and we will lose our gold medal status and our overall position , we are 2nd! Struggling to fix the spring we ratchet strap a tyre iron in place and after 30 minutes we set off very slowly to fix the problem properly at the end of the day in Altay. We arrive over 4 hours late and stop at the first roadside garage. Here with the help of passers by we remove the rear springs completely and rebuild them correctly. It appears the rear spring seats had been fitted upside down! This allowed them to slid off the mounts on the rough surface. After four hours work by the roadside we drive off to camp and get to bed at 12.30 am covered in dust and with no food.
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