Sonya Looney Rides the Mongolia Bike Challenge: Part 4 – Bonfire and Shaman Dancer

Race Coverage Travel

Post Race Report

Everyone was ready to celebrate their finish of the Mongolia Bike Challenge. The restaurant Ger was beautiful with intricate design.

Genco and MBC went all out to entertain us that night. The video is better than any photo. It was pretty cool!

Video: Mongolia Bike Challenge 2013 – Closing Ceremony. Video courtesy of Mongolia Bike Challenge.

I’m so proud of Matt. He took 3rd overall in a tough category. His first podium, his first international stage race, and his longest race ever.

2nd overall for me in a stacked international field. I rode my ass off and did my best. I’ll take it. It was an honor to race with such great women. Great attitudes all around.

There wasn’t a lot of food to eat, but wine out of dixie cups was great. We got the last bottle. I can only do so much warm Tiger beer! There was an enormous meat plate for the table to share and a little bit of rice. We were all ravenous – need more food for a dinner after a 7 day race!!!

I also thought it was nice that they called up each rider who finished to recognize them and give them a finisher’s jersey. That jersey was hard earned and anyone who showed up to the MBC deserves all the glory. It’s one thing to hammer and finish on the podium. However, the real heroes are the guys and gals who were out there for the long haul. The ones out there the longest. They are the ones with real patience, grit, and determination. Those should be the heroes. They certainly are mine!

The bonfire and shaman dancer (seen in the video above) were interesting.

The next day, breakfast was at 8 AM and the bus was supposed to show up at 9AM to transport us back to Ulaanbataar. I really enjoyed the raisin bran with hot milk and eggs. AND there wasn’t someone trying to tell me I could only have one egg!

9AM came and went. So did 10 AM. No bus. People were getting restless. 11 AM ticked by. Hunger pains were striking people the day after finishing such a long race. People were doing anything they could to entertain themselves. The vibe was different depending on where you hung out. It almost felt like an episode of Survivor. Some groups were incredibly frustrated. Others were enjoying some archery. Some were watching a few Mongolian teenagers wrestling each other. And our group sat in the sun making endless jokes about the situation to try to make ourselves feel better. Personally, I was anxious and irritated because of the lack of organization and no one seemed to know what was going on. I tried to stay positive and try to have fun, but it was hard. I wanted to get the heck out of there. The hardest part was that there wasn’t any food. 12 PM came and went…the bus was now over 3 hours late and it. The aide station van put out more peanuts and pretzels for us. I was having horrible stage 3 flashbacks.

Matt and I walked around for awhile to pass the time. Then we took photos in the fancy Ger.

Scott Biddinger was one of my favorite new people I met at the race. The guy had such a positive attitude and I could always hear his infectious laughter. One day he was sick in the race and was puking on himself and taking video of it…and laughing.

At 12:30, the bus finally showed up. 3.5 hours late!! After a 3 hour bus ride, we rolled back to the race hotel in Ulaanbataar. Nothing like fasting for 9 hours the day after a stage race! That was it for the Mongolia Bike Challenge.

I also want to say that after chatting with the race organizers about all the mishaps this year, they are taking action to make things better for 2014 if you’re thinking of going. They are planning an alternate route for stage 3, a bit better living conditions, and trying to get a lead moto driver to come to the race.

I’m glad to check Mongolia Bike Challenge off my list. It’s definitely a trip and a race I will never forget!!

Sonya Looney Rides the Mongolia Bike Challenge: Part 1 – The Adventure Begins »
Sonya Looney Rides the Mongolia Bike Challenge: Part 2 – The Harsh Reality »
Sonya Looney Rides the Mongolia Bike Challenge: Part 3 – The Fetal Position »

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About the author: Sonya Looney

Sonya Looney is a world class ultra endurance mountain bike racer. She has competed in the hardest international stage races in the world, picking up several wins. She has three USA 24 Hour National Champion jerseys in her closet, as well as a Marathon World Championship USA team kit hiding in there as well. Her love is for big mountain adventures which helps her excel at her favorite race distance - 100 milers. Sonya's positive energy and love for life would never lead you to guess she suffers in her races and always is laughing with a grin on her face. She also prides herself in her taste for microbrews, red wine, and has a quick witted sense of humor.

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