So here we go……the details
The Chonda Challenge is so simple that it actually requires quite a bit of explaining, so here we go:
The route: Mongolia to the UK.
The total distance will be approximately 7000 miles. Riding through Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and then some sort of Europe.
Time scale: 8 weeks from start to finish, running from the beginning of July to the End of August. Exact dates to be decided just after Christmas.
Cost: £4000 + £500 entry fee / deposit. What you get for your £500;
Riding in this group can give quite a few advantages:
Each person only needs to carry a twelfth of the spares needed, as we’re all riding the same bikes.
Security: If we have to rough camp somewhere, you won’t be alone.
Hotels: Save money on hotel rooms by sharing with someone if you want.
Discount on bikes: I’m sure they’ll give discount if we buy multiple bikes from the same person.
But the main reason is you’ll be riding with someone who has done this before and knows what to do. After all, when I wasn’t allowed into Vietnam with my C90, I left her at the border, got a taxi into Saigon and bought another C90 within a day and carried on riding. It’s easy, but can be daunting. So I’m allowing people to ride with me to experience the adventure and do it themselves, but with the safety net of knowing their with someone who can show them what to do.
I’d love to not have to charge the £500, but the fact is I can’t share my way of traveling with people without charging a small amount per person. I’m going to have to quit my temporary job to lead this trip and they won’t fully employ me because they know I’m doing this trip. There’s also the planning and website work etc. I won’t make any money from doing the Chonda Challenge either, I’ll start with nothing in the bank and return with nothing. This isn’t a violin-backed plea for sympathy, it’s just the truth, which is always my policy. £4000 to me, £1000 goes to Richard Walby for his admin and planning to. Richard also has to quit his job too.
The £4000 will be your own money, I will not be spending a penny of it. This is the estimated cost of the total trip including bike, flights, hotels, food and fuel etc. In theory it could cost less if you only eat beans and sleep in hedges every night. But it isn’t recommended and shouldn’t be done. I would also advise some reserve funds to cover ridiculous situations. I can’t think what they would be, but they should be allowed for.
Now the difficult part: what to expect.
There will be 12 people in total; Myself, my mechanic / morale officer / camera man Richard Walby and 10 lucky (or unlucky 😉 riders in search of adventure.
We will fly to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with only hand-luggage and a sense of adventure. Once settled, we’ll then head off to the local bike market and each buy a small, cheap and simple Chinese Honda, AKA a ‘Chonda’ for around £500.
Then we’ll start equipping the bikes and getting ready for the road. This will be up to you. I’ll probably be buying some soft panniers and a cheap waterproof topbox, and get the frames welded up at a local shop. I’d advise doing something similar and keeping the bike light, but what you do is up to you.
This is where we’ll also buy the tools and other equipment for the trip; camping stoves, tents, sleeping bags and spare parts for the bikes. These are all so cheap out there that it’s not worth taking it on the plane. Plus I really enjoy the idea of getting back to the UK with a genuine Mongolian jumper and bike pump and being reminded of the trip every time I use them. Not to mention having a Mongolian motorcycle to ride around too.
We’ll need to ‘prove’ the bikes before we set off so I imagine there’ll be some sight seeing around the city and little excursions here and there.
Once we’re all happy with our bikes and kit, it’s out on the open road. It works out to be an average of 100 miles per day, which can sound a lot, but at 33mph that’s only 8am-11am. This also means that if we ride for 6 hours one day, we get to rest the next. This is NOT an iron-butt endurance ride. It will be fun and relaxed, taking in the scenery and spending time getting into the culture of where we ride. Expect to ride at a moderate pace for 4-5 days and then rest for 1-2 days. This will change depending on scenery etc, but it’s a good idea of what to expect.
Hotels will not be prebooked and might not have internet access etc, they might not even have water. There might be nights where we can’t find a hotel and we’ll be camping. This needs to be appreciated. If there’s a cheap comfy option, it’ll be taken, but won’t be guaranteed every night.
The rest is basically just riding and seeing what happens. To have an idea of what could happen, you need to understand the general idea of the trip.
The idea of this trip is allow people to have a ‘proper’ adventure without either having to 1) do it totally solo and without backup or 2) spend £10,000’s of pounds for a 2 month trip with a tour company.
The entire reason this trip came into being was through people telling me “I saw your Malaysia trip and I’d love to do something like that, but I’d be too scared doing it alone, but I don’t have the money for the motorcycle tour companies”.
It will be a proper adventure, I don’t really know what to expect, but I know that no matter what problems I find on the road, I’m calm, usually unfazed and able to think of how to solve the problem.
So here’s some of the problems that could in theory occur:
Bikes breaking down: If your engine stops, you’ve got two mechanics who can help get it running. If your engine explodes, out comes the tow rope and you could get towed until we get somewhere it can be repaired. If the bike breaks in half, the two halves go on separate bikes and you ride pillion on a third etc
The bikes can’t get across a border: If the bikes can’t get across, then we sell them at the border, walk across, and buy new bikes the other side. This isn’t expected but it needs to be considered.
Insert unforeseen problem here………but follow the same logical and cheap problem solving ideas.
It will also be getting filmed with a dvd planned to be made afterwards. This also gives me the opportunity to have some fun and think up some challenges and other carnage. And yes, I’ve already started planning a music video to be filmed……whah ha ha ha (laughs evilly while tapping fingers together 😉
Are you right for this trip?:
Motorcycle adventuring of this type takes a certain kind of person. They need to be calm, collected and have a passive non aggressive personality. There will be face to face meetings with the expected participants of this Chonda Challenge to ensure the right kind of people are going, but there are some simple tests you can take to decide if you are right for this trip:
When you on a night out, drunk or sober and someone is staring at you, if you respond with “What the F##K are you looking at?” Then this is not the right trip for you and you will not enjoy it, and the other people will probably not enjoy your company.
In a similar vein: If someone bumps into you as you’re walking down the street and you respond with “Sorry mate” rather than “Watch it!” then you are probably right for this trip.
And the final test: If you’re a fighter when drunk then please to do not apply for this trip. But if like me, you just start giggling and eventually fall over and maybe wake up in a hedge, then you’re probably what we’re looking for. I’ve yet to be proven wrong in my theory that alcohol brings out the real ‘you’.
This needs to be understood by all people taking part;
Neither myself, Richard Walby or www.c90adventures.co.uk will be responsible for you or your belongings at any point of this adventure. Everything that you do while on this trip will be your own decision and yours alone. At any point you will deciding to either ride with us or turn around and go your own way. The only insurance available we will your own personal travel insurance. The £500 entry fee is only to provide you with verbal consultation of possible solutions to problems encountered while on the trip. Whether you follow this advise or ignore it will be entirely your decision. You are not under any obligation to follow any advice or instructions given at any point by myself, Richard Walby or www.c90adventures.co.uk.
If you want a trip where everything goes as expected, you have a planned itinerary and nothing surprises you and has support vehicles, then you should not do the Chonda Challenge. The ultimate idea is you’re basically doing a solo trip but you’ve invited me along to make you feel at ease and give advice. Watch my video updates from my Malaysia to UK trip and you’ll get a good idea of what to probably expect.
That’s basically it. This is the part where you decide if you want to ride with the Chonda Challenge. Feel free to send any questions to email@example.com The answers to these questions will also be getting added anonymously to the bottom of this page in a Q&A section to help other (should you not wish them to be added then please state this in the email)
Ed and 90
The dates are the 13/07/13 to 9/09/13. This may be subject to tiny changes, for example if the flights on 14th July are half the price of the 13th then we’ll probably fly then and make the day up somewhere. Once again, this is a very fluid trip.
Rather than put the details up here for the world to see, I will send them to you via email. Simply send an email firstname.lastname@example.org asking for them and I’ll reply with them along with answers to any questions you have.
Q: Can I take my soft luggage with me? For me it does ruin the appeal of buying everything there. for instance I’ll be buying the bike, panniers and all there. If you really must then I guess it’s OK. But also bear in mind, if the panniers look good, they’re more likely to get stolen or opened up.