First Steppes, from which this extract comes, described the final recce of the Green Raid, a driving event that was intended to open up some of Inner Mongolia's wide plains and forests to four-wheel adventurers.

First Steppes

You won’t believe it, but there was a moment when the whole of Inner Mongolia belonged to me. No, really. It was during the special section on the second day of the Green Raid recce, and I’d decided to leave the lowland trails and the French, German, Dutch, and Spanish teams who were chasing from waypoint to waypoint through curtains of dust and afternoon shadow. Following a track that ran along the crest of a low, whale-backed hill, I found myself overlooking the steppe that rolled away in all directions like a sea: westward, behind the setting sun, lay Mongolia; beyond the northern horizon was Russia; while spreading out to all other points was China. Beneath the famously wide dome of the Mongolian sky the mown grasslands shone jade and gold in September’s pale light. And nowhere was there another living soul to be seen: Inner Mongolia was all mine, I tell you!

Well, almost. Beside me, Simon Pavey was taking a turn in the navigator’s seat. Looking up from the GPS, the Australian Dakar rider gave one of his antipodean yawps of surprise at the view, which was so arresting I’d swear that Aaron Shi – the Chinese observer who was suffering in the back seat at the hands of our Hautai Galloper’s weary rear dampers – actually stopped mid-bounce.

Our ownership was only fleeting, of course: the light was slipping away, and taking with it the tracks that switchbacked over the prairie’s gentle swell. So as I urged the Hautai back into its wallowing gallop, Aaron collided with the back seat; Simon began plotting a new course around the fenceline that had baulked our cunning short-cut; and I traded a panorama that had once belonged to Genghis Khan for an enthusiastic welcome from the locals at the finish...

Following a track that ran along the crest of a low, whale-backed hill, I found myself overlooking the steppe that rolled away in all directions like a sea

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© David Roberts 2019