Carhartt WIP Travels: Bikes, Snow & Close Calls in Mongolia

Carhartt WIP Travels: Bikes, Snow & Close Calls in Mongolia
Carhartt WIP Travels is a series where we put the brand to the test, exposing it to nature and the world at large. We get to see how Carhartt WIP holds up in the real world, while also finding out more about the places it travels to. 
For this latest project, Where To From Here set out on a motorbike trip around Mongolia. They travelled throughout the harsh country, getting to know their surroundings and its people, while also keeping an eye out for any skate spots. 

We got to ask Pieter and the team some questions when they got back - check out the interview below! 

 For those who don’t know, who are you and what do you and the rest of the team do? 
My name is Pieter Retief and I manage my own agency called Where To From Here, focusing on traveling/skateboarding and outdoor projects. Mostly conceptualizing, managing and execution projects from start to end delivering photographic and video content. The team for this trip was Albert Retief and Sam Clark, both photographers. Albert focuses on street and travel photography where Sam has roots in the action sports photography, but shoots a variety of stuff. 

Albert Retief

 How did you come up with the idea to travel and try skate Mongolia? 
The concept for this trip was proposed by Albert towards the end of 2018. He’s seen quite a few places around the world and wanted to go somewhere less explored and where you have the freedom to pretty much ride in any direction you wish, if you’re on a motorbike. Wherever the destinations I will always take my board to explore as you never know what you’ll find. Mongolia was a bit of a struggle in terms of skate spots though. 

 Has the Where To From Here group done trips like this before? 
The first trip I did through Where To From Here was a skateboarding trip to Bangkok, Thailand end 2017, that was followed by a cycling and skateboarding adventure through South Africa. This particular trip to Mongolia was a mix between a passion trip and a project in association with Shelflife/Carhartt. 

Albert Retief

 How long was the trip? 
Mongolia allows South Africans a single entry of 30 days, so we made the trip 29 days...haha.

 Where did you guys travel to within Mongolia? Was there a strict schedule or did make your own as you went along? 
We all met up in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia and rented our motorbikes there. The actual riding part of the trip was 23 days. We initially wanted to buy motorbikes and then sell them at the end, but after dong the math, it worked out better to rent. We had a rough idea in terms of which way we wanted to go, but pretty much figured it out as we went. There are no fences in Mongolia, so your options to plan your own route were endless. 

 How did you guys get around the country? 
We rented 3 Chinese motorbikes, Shineray 150CC’s.
Sam Clark

 How did the Carhartt WIP apparel stand up to Mongolia’s harsh weather? 
There’s no gear that can really withstand -11 degrees, except for heavy mountain gear. So on days were it was that extreme we would layer up to the next level. However, the gear we had was perfect for more mellow days. Real comfortable for everyday cuising. 

Pieter Retief

 What were the team’s favourite Carhartt WIP items that they took with on the trip? 

I really enjoyed wearing the black Jogger Pants. Very breathable and dries super quick. Albert enjoyed the brown Active Jacket and Sam was on to the Vega Pullover.

Sam Clark

 Did you find any skate-able parts of Mongolia? 

The capital had some spots for sure, but we never really skated during the early part of the trip, I wanted to feel fresh and not hurt myself before we head out on bikes. We found some random spots in the outback, but nothing easy to skate. I only took one board on the journey and towards the end of the trip it snapped, so we never got to skate the big city again. I mean after a 23 day motorbike trip, your body is pretty beat up and trying to go jump down something is not really the easiest thing to do. 

Pieter Retief

 What were some of the setbacks/hurdles you had to deal with during the trip or leading up to it? 

The weather was very unpredictable, mostly on the cold side. River crossings was tricky because once your feet get wet, your day is pretty harsh. It’s not fun not feeling your toes. We had endless bike issues. From not starting and pretty much run starting my bike every day, to replacing suspensions, broken sprockets and flat tires. Parts are easy to come by, it’s just a waiting game to see who comes to help. We traveled with all the necessary tools, but some things need replacing and not a DIY fix. 

Pieter Retief
 What equipment did you guys use to shoot during your travels? 

I used a Fuji XT20, Albert was shooting with a Fuji XT3 and Nikon, Sam was all Canon.

Sam Clark
 How were you treated by the locals? 

The local people are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered. I had really great human interactions during my trip to Myanmar in 2017 and thought nothing could top that. However, Mongolia was right up there. The fact that a complete stranger would take the time to help you in any given situation and not wanting anything in return, is amazing.

They not only gave their time, but going through the motions to break through the language barrier was a challenge on it’s own. I manage to break the so-called engine protection guard on my bike after taking a slam. Sam strapped it to the back of his bike until we reached a town to try get it fixed. As we took a break to double check the roads a man in a car stopped next to us and just wanted to know what we doing and where we from. I pointed the the broken guard and he told us to follow him back to his yard. He warmed up some soup for us, made coffee and had basic conversations about Mongolia, while we were relaxing one of his workers striped a new guard off an old bike and replaced mine. No charge, a handshake and off we went. 

Pieter Retief

Sam Clark

 Any funny memories or stories you can share? 

I had one pretty rough day, packing up in the rain and navigating the slippery roads was pretty challenging. My bike gave me endless issues, so I could not allow the bike to die as it might not start again. Just keeping the ‘revs’ high and making sure you hit neutral when stopping. I took a slam early in the morning and was riding full of mud, that evening I took another slam as we navigated a steep hill to get to our preferred camping spot. I was so beat when I sat down next to the fire, a smashed a small nip of vodka and was feeling very hazy. When I got to the river bank to wash the bowls and cups, I started sinking into the sand. Sam and Albert came running and just burst into laughter, phones out filming me and just letting me sink slowly. I now had to move my boots around the fire the entire night to make sure the next day I have dry boots to start the day.  

Pieter Retief

 Is there anything in the works that we should look out for from Where To From Here? 

For this Mongolia trip, we putting some photos together to potentially do a show at Just Like Papa (Outdoor store) later this year. I have a couple of projects in the pipeline, so let’s hope they all come together. There’s another Skate/Cycle trip planned, so keep a look out for that. 

Sam Clark
 Any advice to others wanting to do a similar trip too? 

Just get out there and figure it out as you go. 

Choose a solid crew that’s down with anything.

If you have a bit of cash that’s great, If you have time that’s even better.

One thing Albert said, not sure where he heard it, but it’s pretty true. If someone is telling you it can’t be done or that there’s severe limitations to what you planning and they have not done exactly what you are planning, don’t listen to a word they saying. Go and do what you want to do. 

Follow @WhereToFromHere to make sure you don't miss their next trip! 
Sam Clark


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