Tour de Mongolia - across Mongolia by Pedelec. More information during the daily presentations at the ExtraEnergy stage at the ISPO BIKE fair in Munich.
The founders of Pedelec Adventures – journalist Susanne Brüsch and expedition leader Ondra Veltrusky – arrived back from their pedelec expedition through Mongolia just in time for the ISPO BIKE fair. During their tour through the breath‐taking steppe and mountain scenery, the Berlin‐based team truly put the fast Bosch eBike System in the pedelecs 45 from the German brands Kreidler and riese and müller to the test. The adventurers traveled from the geographical center of Mongolia to the old capital Karakorum in an entirely self‐sufficient way. They charged their bike batteries and other technical devices with solar trailers. With up to 50 kg of baggage, river crossings and steep upward climbs were a real challenge. The bikes also proved their strength while racing against horses.
Hills and valleys, heat and hail were all part of Tour de Mongolia! We rode a brand‐new cross bike from Kreidler and a touring bike from riese and müller which were both equipped with Bosch’s most powerful pedelec system. With extra 350 – 500 watts for a support up to 45km/h we traveled down all kinds of pathways, straight across meadows and fields of stone, through brooks and moun‐ tainous territory and through marshes and sand. Flooded paths after severe thunderstorms were just as much part of the scenery as dusty roads on dry days. We navigated with a map and compass and took advice from natives time and time again, even though we usually could only communicate with our hands and feet.
Our equipment traveled along with us in panniers on two trailers. Loaded up with clothing for any weather, camping equipment, water, food, cameras and other technical devices, spare parts and replacement batteries, each of us had about 50kg of baggage. The all‐terrain one‐wheel trailers from tout terrain served as our »mules« and mobile charging stations. They were specially equipped with swiveling solar panels for this trip by ecomo21. With the panels always tilted towards the sun, we were able to cover almost our entire energy requirements from the sun during the entire tour – despite frequent rain clouds.
The drive systems, bikes, trailers and charging devices withstood every challenge without any major breakdowns. With a traveling speed of up to 30km/h on good flat paths, we quickly became Tour de Mongolia accustomed to the extra‐watts of the e‐kit! What seemed to be so easy to do on our own efforts, quickly turned out to be a strenuous and sweaty endeavor, as soon as the battery was empty or the engine shut off. Time and time again, we were astonished by how smoothly we could master difficult routes with all our baggage and some practice. With a normal bike, for example, we would have avoided a steep incline of over 1000 meters with the same speed transmission. Here, we really drove the powerful pedelecs to their limits, not to mention ourselves.
Besides offering the toughest of all Tour de Mongolia test courses, the region around the old capital of Karakorum had much more to offer: the Erdene Zuu monastery which was built in 1586. The striking monastery walls once surrounded 60 to 100 temples, of which only three survived the Stalinist purges. Even though the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia is nowadays only a shadow of what it was during its golden age, the historic site still captivates visitors from all over the world. However, on the day of our visit we don't know who caught more attention, Erdene Zuu or our vehicles!
During the entire tour we were surrounded by Mongolians who were curious to learn more about our project. Luckily, the typical deal did not require any words and was easily negotiated: a pedelec in exchange for a horse or motorcycle. And they all came back with a smile! It was also an unforgettable experience when we zoomed up a mountain pass face‐to‐face with Mongolian horsemen. We could easily keep up if the horses just trotted, but when they started galloping, we indeed lacked a few watts to keep pace! Either way, sprints like this were a lot of fun!
Apart from »racing«, you quickly learn to slow down in Mongolia and let autarkic life flow at its own pace. This included visits to gers (the wooden yurts used by Nomads) in order to gain mutual trust and become friends. While Mongolian tea is served to greet guests, no long encounter ends without a bowl of airag (ferment‐ ed horse milk) being passed around. Immersing ourselves in ru‐ ral Mongolian life was a wonderful experience with many facets and unique stories to tell. We will be telling some of them during our daily presentations at the ExtraEnergy stage at the ISPO BIKE fair and, of course, in our tour blog.
>> ISPO Academy: E-Mobility Know-how presented by Extra Energy e.V.
Copy: Susanne Brüsch (Pedelec Adventures)
Online Publication: Angela Budde
10 August 2012