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Introduction
As I write this I am not where I intended to be. At this time (early April 2008) I should be in Yunnan province in China, enjoying my first weeks of cycling, finding my legs, anticipating my entry into Tibet. But as the departure date for that trip approached it became clear recent events in Tibet would make it all but impossible for an independent cyclist to travel through the area . I canceled my trip just days before the scheduled departure date and did my best to mentally write off six months of planning and preparation. While Tibet continued to simmer I sought out other destinations, intent on filling the void with another trip. I quickly settled on Mongolia. Mongolia had been on the "short list" for some time so it was not entirely unfamiliar. At first glance Mongolia is not a country well suited for bicycle touring. There are precious few paved roads. Services are few and far between. The weather is unpredictable and tends to extremes. The dogs are vicious. But for the bicycle tourist who thinks the aforementioned inconveniences (dogs withstanding!) usually merely make a trip more "interesting" it would appear to have much to offer…vast open spaces, varied geography, a rich pale ontological history, a nomadic culture. I can only hope that past trips have sufficiently hardened me that I can enjoy these offerings while tolerating the hardships I will undoubtedly face.
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