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Rene

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Rick Morcom

Rick Morcom says he’s had a checkered life. It started in Australia, then to South Africa, up to England for 18 years, and over to rural New Brunswick, Canada and a Family Medicine practice in 2008. Riding, since age 16, has been a constant throughout those moves.

 

Rick Marcom

 

Only this year did he purchase a KLR 650 and begin to ride off-road in preparation for his trip to Mongolia. He took it around local trails, practicing water crossings and mountain riding. Riding of a different nature—Iron Butt Rallies, including last summer’s ride from Halifax to Vancouver—helped him develop stamina.

Rick first heard Rene talk at Atlantic Motoplex about five years ago, and then again last year, when he was one of the lucky winners of a discount on any Renedian tour. He’d never been anywhere like Mongolia so selected it as a destination.

 

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“It’s the epitome of the far distant, unexplored, unknown country,” he says. “I’m very keen to visit places where the language and culture are completely different from what I’ve known. And there was something fascinating about Mongolia being surrounded by Russia and China.

 

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“I thoroughly loved the riding. We spent a lot of time completely off road with no track but the desert floor. The surface was hard and easy to ride on but quite dusty.

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“Riding through the mountains was extraordinary. Sometimes there were tracks but often we made our own through tall green grass, wide-open fields, and mile after mile of wild flowers.”

 

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Even with all the time spent riding, there was time to get to know a new culture. Visits to three operating Buddhist monasteries, walking reverently past monks who were meditating, were awesome. Similarly, the riders soaked up the atmosphere of temples, some dating back 1,000 years and more. Mongolian performers, in venues from formal stages to casual gers, entertained with a Morin Khuur—a stringed instrument resembling a cello, traditional dancing, and throat singing.

 

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Most people, including the group’s mechanic and driver, did not speak English, yet everyone could make themselves understood. Everywhere they went, people were friendly and interested in the big white strangers on motorcycles.

 

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Mongolians have had to be resourceful in order to survive, as Rick attests.

“We came across a young man on a very beaten-up motorcycle, stranded on the side of the hill because he’d run out of gas. We gave him a litre from the support vehicle, but to open the gas tank, he needed a key, which he didn’t have. From the look of the mangled keyhole, he’d had to make do before. He borrowed mine, rammed it in and it opened. I had to unbend the key when I got it back but it was totally worth the experience. “

 

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The group experienced a rare magnitude dust storm on the final evening.

“We’d just got set up in a temporary ger camp and saw this brown cloud appearing on the horizon, backed by black storm clouds. As the cloud grew, people started running around and tying loose things down or putting them in the ger. In spite of the storm, we were able to stand outside and see the sun shining through the dust. It was very surreal. Even the locals hadn’t seen one like that for 10-12 years.

 

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“Mongolia was the trip of a lifetime,” says Rick. ‘Something I’ll never forget.”

 

Photo Credits: Rick Morcom