Day 58: Ulaanbaatar , Biking Ulaanbaatar

A red paper cup with a black plastic lid.
Hot cup.

It’s embarrassing to admit this, but my bike has been languishing in Gan’s garage for over three weeks!

It’s criminal really, but the large amount of largely lawless traffic has made the city streets seem too damn risky to ride.

Even so, it’s unhealthy not to ride for this long. Plus, there’s a reputational risk that I’ll be typecast as just like the guy that my hostel mate knows, the one who is so risk averse. But most importantly, I’ll probably be late to class if I walk!

So after some rushed reassembly and a quick test of the brakes, I pack my recorder and spin my way downtown. It’s tricky to merge into the main thoroughfare at the bottom of our hill, and there’s a fair bit of tooting, but what doesn’t kill you does get you to class faster!

It’s great to be back on the bike – such freedom after the slippery walks. I puff away in the cold air and am glad to be getting a bit of practice in before my big ride.

And the slow moving traffic volume has some benefits. For one, once you’re in the flow no-one bothers to push you out; and secondly, most of the slippery snow and ice is melted by the hoard of toasty tyres. On the footpath, there are plenty of walkers but their shoes don’t have the same effect, so labourers need to noisily hack and scrape away at the ice with their spades.

Overall, the traffic isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. The volume is heavy, but it does seem to have some sense of order and it feels a million times safer than Russia. The traffic rules do force me to follow the roading plan rather than my planned route though, and I arrive to class late, once again. The Germans, of course, are on time.

After class I enjoy a hot coffee from the cool Coffee Hut.

With my attention focussed on getting my bike to its destination intact, it’s the only photo that I take all day.