If you want to do this cycle ride you will need to think about the following things:
This will need to be really strong with good strong rims and spokes, big tyres (Schwalbe Marathon XR or similar) and a sprung saddle (Brooks make excellent ones). We met people with suspension seat posts who said they were pretty useless on these roads. You will need spare bolts and nuts and spare chain links and spokes. If you don't clean your chain every few days you will not make it so take oil and cleaning stuff. We always carried washing powder and a foldable bucket to clean the chain. Your racks need to be really strong too.
We would recommend Koga-Miyata, Thorn or Surly.
Everywhere it is difficult to get water and you will need to carry a fair bit - up to 8 litres. Maps do not have reliable sources of water marked. Our road guides are clear about where the water is. You will need a water filter West of Ulaangom and will need to clear it regularly. East of Ulaangom you can often get away with purification tablets but a filter is advised. Lever action ones are easier rather than the pumps
Not too difficult although between Ulaangom and Olgii you will need to carry a few days of food. We always carry a couple of spare days food. BuckWheat is a great emergency food available in several places - can be made sweet or added to soups. There are very few vegetables available on the route. Why they don't get scurvy I've no idea.
The roads are hard, change all the time and directions are almost impossible to get off people. They just give general directions. There are three bad bits:
- Between Ih-Uul and Tosontsengel the road is terrible
- Anywhere within 150km East of Ulaangom
- The jeep track over Bairam Davaa and most of the rest of the route to Olgii
If it rains you can, as a rule of thumb, double the days needed. If it rains badly then you are stuck and will be able to go nowhere until the roads dry.
We averaged our odometers for our distances and they nearly always matched the markings (if there were any) on the road posts. They don't match the maps.
MAPS and BOOKS
We used a road atlas (with all irrelevant pages ripped out) available from Seven Summits in UB and a Mongolian Phrase book along with the Lonely Planet Mongolia book for the major towns. There is no good small book for this route. Some maps have roads missing!!