We made it back into Russia. Mongolia was wild. Kazakhstan was tough. The conditions these past few days have been unpredictable and brutal for nearly every car.
It was grueling, and pushed all of us mentally and physically, testing the relationship between driver and co-driver at this stage of the Peking to Paris rally. We emerged from Mongolia with a stronger sense of camaraderie, not only between partners, but also between the other drivers who managed to make it through. Through the final frontier of Mongolia, we lost around 40 cars.
There’s a couple thousand miles between us and Paris now, and we’re going to be traveling those miles on broken and patched-up cars. As we cross Kazakhstan and Russia the days are long, and sometimes we're pushing around 700 miles a day. We can breathe a little easier knowing we’ll be off rough roads, but we aren’t expecting our next travels to be easy. All the repairs and fabricated metal on the car can cause a domino effect, and we're waiting for the next stressful problem to arrive.
One thing we found ourselves dealing with was the result of a repair we made in Mongolia. We had eyeballed our alignment from our fabricated trailing arm piece. Despite the warmer weather, we’re still using Russian snow tires, and the shifting is getting tighter and tighter because the plate on the torsion tunnel dropped the transmission. Nonetheless, things continue to move right along, and while we know that a breakdown can surprise us, it does feel like the hard part is over. We do occasionally get pulled over by the police, but as we rush to get our documents it will turn out they just want a photo of the car.
Russian summers are proving to be really green and beautiful with lots of trees and forests. The country is not what we expected and really welcoming. The rally thus far has been challenging but equally rewarding. We have had the opportunity to visit cities we’ve never heard of (Pavlodar, Astana, Ufa, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Zavidovo to name a few) and each day brings new surprises. It feels like the trip has changed now that we have access to hotels and some internet, but the luxuries that civilization brings doesn't negate the adventure. We are still living in the moment and embracing all the new experiences. Soon we'll get to Finland, Estonia and Latvia – with around 2,400 miles to Paris.
Cover photo by Gerard Brown