Monday, January 21, 2013

Mongolia X Journal 8 // Unexpected Surprises // Mountains // Bicycle Touring to the music of life // Microadventure by Brian Peric //

Mysterious riders appear on our horizon. Two fair skinned riders with gleaming European touring bikes and full Ortlieb touring bags that looked like they just snipped the price tags off before starting their ride today. Could there possibly be more than 6 of us all moving in one direction from Ulaanbaatar? At the moment, I feel like I am cycling into a dream with all these unfamiliar riders around me, most cannot speak English and others do not even try. It's the start of something brand new for everybody - since we all landed only a few days ago - time, the elements, the terrain we travel upon will all give us a challenge to live up to - some will overcome and others will make their best efforts trying to.

Today, the punctuation marks were having flat tires (Hak Jun, the Dear Leader) and my Camelback podium bottle slipping through my hand and rolling out into the road -semi-flattened by a passing car, seeing an industrial and developing world of concrete and surrounding Ger communities melt back in the Earth's mantle where they originated. Dust and broken bones nearly missing a open manhole today. We ride through smoke and the perfume of Peace Avenue in a melee concerted orchestra keeping a nation together in the global community with pulses of life, controlled chaos of unEarthed cement and tarmac roads disintegrating into ashes which rose the amazing Phoenix of Ulaanbaatar.

Riding higher and above 1350 meters, the city calamity disappears now into infinity - This is remarkable and unmistakable, choosing the fastest way out of the city. Go west I would say! The air quality improves and the ride smooths into pulsing rhythms, the land and the bicycle tourist meet together as one - finally, without the cacophony of other vehicles and roadway dangers to sweep past and swerve to avoid.
I come to Mongolia to ride mountain bikes, to experience a new culture, language and way of life. What I didn't expect was meeting 3 Korean university student bike tourers writing a $9500 US Korean guide book, using a Lonely Planet guidebook as their guide; and 2 Polish cycle tourists who said about 2 words in the few hours we passed each other. They cycled past us, I asked "What's your name?" The gentleman answered, "Peter" and 30 minutes later we are passing them, I ask, "Where are you from?" The same guy answers, "Poland!" And this is the extent of our conversation, like we were fierce competitors in the Tour, or we were out to complete the most impossible endurance race (on paved roads) leaving the capital of Mongolia, or perhaps some cyclists don't like company?

Unexpected Surprises // Mountains // Bicycle touring to the music of life //
This journals title explains a lot and I will finish writing today slightly poetically. Life isn't simple, it's quite complex until you learn to ride bicycles. This is where the problems of life get smoothed out and rolled over - as thoughts and feelings have more time to settle down. Give yourself time away from everything that seems hectic and too important to let go. It takes a few rides to get to know, or re-familiarize yourself again, with the knowing and understanding that comes from moving miles and miles through thoughts, sweat, bottles of hydration added in a purposeful direction.

The music of life is listening to the whirring whip of the bicycle chain while clicking away with the gears - today it only takes a thumb or finger flick to change your speed and adjust to the grade of the road. Sometimes I'm tapping brake levels and listening to the purring rubber tread of these Schwalbe tires making solid contact with the road, while keeping this cycle in motion.  I see and hear so many noises that induce a rhythm or snake charmers trance. I am now on the fast track to adventure and my heart energy is pumping adrenalin which makes a cyclist smile. You can share the road with many riders, it takes a lot less room than a car, and you will always find peace within yourself - knowing that journey is the destination everyday.

Cycling is a freewheel motion, it doesn't require gasoline or internal combustion and can save us a lot money. It requires faith and dedication using a bicycle on a long tour because you cannot step off and leave a bicycle behind  (at least not for long) since it carries your life's supplies and is essential to keep making your daily progress. You can walk together or ride together, stop and take a break together, or rebuild one another. The relationship builds over time, you need to cycle to reach a destination or a daily goal, and the bicycle needs someone to ride it, care for it's squeaks and tweaks and make sure the wheels are aligned -straight and narrow down the road, the trail, the mountain, crossing the stream, over the log in the forest, through the trees, down the mountain. The brakes are adjusted to work efficiently on steep hills, pads to aluminum rims or pads to steel discs. Above all, the bicycle was invented to keep you up to speed with your health, your life, your next adventure.

Bicycles have maintained their poise as an ever incredible invention today, yesterday or 100 years (3650 days) ago. Prices have sure changed, as do the styles and brands people ride. However, beyond the material and shapes and angles, the timelessness of bicycles and the pure joy to ride them hasn't changed at all. The creativity that comes from riding bicycles also makes this machine so special.

Relationships are formed through an introduction, cycle meets cyclists and together they illuminate the hidden, unexpected surprises that happen when this simple machine and the rider come together in motion. The turning of the crank, the whirring and whipping of the chain, the glean of silver light from a clear sprocket, the slapping of the pannier bags hitting big bumps in the dirt roads, sounds and motion. As long as sounds are consistent, the rider can be confident their cycle is running efficiently, smoothly through the gears especially when climbs out of valleys into steep mountain terrain.

When you ride cycles, you see nature and say hello to the elements - sunshine, rain, snow, wind, hail, thunder and lightning, dust blowing in deserts, tumbleweeds leaping across the highway, the roll of thunder clouds, those anvil-shaped heads of cumulonimbus or the whisking high rising lenticular-shaped clouds all characteristic of weather and climate, cycle and rider, the day you ride through. Bicycle touring is a compass to life, giving you better directions to take. It is also a gift that you keep preciously and practice to perfect because only a long road, or a daily commute can give you this kind of focus, the calm, the collected in money less spent while using the bicycle instead of the bus or the automobile.

I commuted to work in Vancouver, British Columbia because I could save the bus fares and empty stares on the bus, of course, cycling is so much more exciting and inviting to try. Most cyclists feel good when they ride, the daily grinding of the crank and the circumnavigating wheel spins 360 degrees in rapid motion, we go places and see faces, see nature up front and center and weather or climate can really give us heaven or hell depending on our longitude and latitude on Earth.

It's simply marvelous and miraculous, the bicycle. And even in the fiercest or calmest weather and climate on Earth - we can prepare for it, endure on our rides even when we are "caught out" without enough equipment and clothing preparation - we can still endure because or body works harder to move and stay warm, generating it's own source of heat through kinetic movement, our calories are consumed, we grow stronger every day in the saddle and consume more water than sitting in a room.

Bicycle life is an essential ingredient of life on our planet. There is plenty to be excited about - it can even give up many Unexpected surprises while bicycle touring the world, I just tried it in Mongolia! Bicycle touring and cycling anywhere is certainly the secret to youth and the best music your body will ever feel. Even if you can't dance, you can find a partner while cycling - never missing a step, because it is infinitely easier to ride.

The mountains are rising but it's a slight grade and the energy put into the legs is consistent, as the wind is warm and Northwest, it prevails to provide a soothing drying effect today in Mongolia.

That's today's journal from Mongolia - I live to ride my bicycle.

More adventure journals coming soon! These are my daily thoughts, reflections and experiences written while mountain bike touring across Outer Mongolia.

Thanks for visiting the Korean-World, a blog about Micro-Adventures, Cycling and Exploring from mountain bikes. Hope you enjoy these experiences too!

1 comment:

Dave Clarke said...

Nicely presented Brian. It would be nice to get more of a picture, through your prose, of how your tour preparations fit into your real needs. I see you have established experience already so maybe Mongolia worked out easier than earlier tours. Maybe a little gaze into tour wants and needs? Do you meet anyone still trying to capture travels on film cameras? How did your Lynskey and components hold up? You obviously hold them dearly.

Please share the free inspiration and adventure cookbook with all your friends and families (:

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

Thanks for visiting my Journal from Asia

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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