<b>An Unlikely Adventure </b>Mixing Genres & Making Memories in Mongolia

An Unlikely Adventure Mixing Genres & Making Memories in Mongolia

Two motorcycle worlds collide as Laurent Cochet & Jorian Ponomareff find themselves together on a Mongolian adventure. No stunts - or pavement - required.
12-12-2018
Adventure

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Laurent Cochet
#REVITRIDER

After working for many years as a journalist for the French Moto Journal magazine, Laurent Cochet decided to branch out on his own.

In 2012, he started creating his own videos about his adventures on two wheels. The Frenchman is known for his imaginative digital content filled with action and humor.

According to his philosophy, riding motorcycles is all about having fun. And it shows. His clips are thoroughly entertaining and enjoyed by millions of motorcycle fans all over the world thanks to his rapidly growing YouTube channel.

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Laurent Cochet

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Opposite definitions of adventure

With over 800,000 subscribers on YouTube, Jorian Ponomareff is a very well-known stunt rider all over the world. Almost a complete opposite of what I do. So, when I decided to get in touch with him to invite him on an adventure with me, it seemed like an unlikely pairing. Our definitions of “adventure” differed somewhat.

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Despite differing backgrounds

Why did I want to do it? Well, I did it for several reasons later to be explained. It wasn’t to make me better known in his community. No, and that's the first thing I told him when I got in touch with him. I like that Jorian does things his own way. Just like me. We soon discovered we had many similarities despite differing backgrounds...

Turning back the clock, I first met Jorian 6 years ago deep inside Sweden. Probably still prepubescent and hairless, he was making one of his most successful clips: stunting on ice ... with a big helicopter and a 4x4 pickup truck.

Today, I can honestly admit that I felt a little jealous. And then, after a period of many big productions, Jorian went "back to basics." He went back to making videos for YouTube. To "vlogs," more specifically. But beware, not just any vlog. No helmet camera, no daily observations, no talking. No. The kind of vlog with a good vibe, a style that reminded me of the king of vlogging, Casey Neistat.

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Horses and motorcycles on the plains of Mongolia
Shrine of a bottle, a bone and a shoe
Photo's for the vlog
Shrine on the plains of Mongolia

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Vlogging

If you don’t know Casey Neistat, he is a New Yorker who woke up one morning, and decided to produce a daily vlog about his own life in the heart of the Big Apple. He’s the guy surfing the snowy streets of New York hanging onto a yellow taxi cab. It’s a kind of a reality TV show but for real. Without fuss, without invented scenes, nothing but the authentic. Without filters, wife and child included in the adventure, every day. And above all, he has an exceptional creativity in his way of filming and he is constantly reinventing himself. Something thought-provoking, intelligent, made with great talent.

For me, Jorian had a lot of similarities and it’s no coincidence... I discovered that Casey Neistat was one of his big examples. "The day I started to follow Casey, I realized there was so much more I could do,” Jorian said. He then gave up stunt training to focus on his videos and created his own style. I will tell you, even if you don’t like stunting, go to his YouTube channel and check the episode where he buys an old moped to completely rebuild it. It will remind you of a time when you were young and you weren’t afraid of anything.

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Crack on the first day or love it

But still, there was something that surprised me about Jorian. The fact that he declared that he almost knew nothing about motorcycles and that he had no real interest in them, except for riding them. It’s a weird thing to say by someone who is that skilled at bike control and by someone who can so effortlessly make a stoppie, both feet over the handlebars, only to take a hand of the handlebars and wave.

I could hardly believe it. So, I decided to trick to him, by proposing a backpacking trip or "road trip." Nine days in the depths of Mongolia with: a bag of clothes, a tent and a sleeping bag.

Riding an old Royal Enfield. A bike older than his first moped. I took a risk, I told myself that either he would crack on the first day or he would love it. And you know what? Jorian really surprised me. He arrived with a bag of clothes even smaller than mine and a backpack full of cameras to film everything. And he also brought his smile, his good mood but also an extreme work-ethic (I'm talking about the filming of the video).

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Mongolian houses in the snow
Motorcycle steer in the cold
Houses in the cold
Motorcycles and houses in the cold

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Plains, steppes, to infinity

I also discovered that he had not lied; he knew nothing about motorcycles. He did not know his helmet size and he had never worn proper motorcycle pants or a jacket! Stunt riding doesn’t necessarily call for it.

I also believe that even today he still doesn’t know that the bike he rode was an Indian-made machine with a two-valve cylinder head. But, I don’t care. It’s not that important. What was important was to get out and ride.

All I wanted was to make him eat miles and miles and miles. Through the eyes, his nose, his hands, his feet and all the pores of his skin. More than 10 hours a day, ass somewhat glued to the saddle, without any wheelies or stoppies. Across plains, steppes, to infinity, everything looking the same.

Sleeping in the tent in the evening and eating whatever we could find. My goal was to give him motorcycle nausea. In a strange way, I wanted to hear him say, "I don’t like riding motorcycles anymore." And at that moment, he would have been right, and I might have understood. Well actually no, I don’t think I’d ever have understood!

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Moments that make you feel really alive

When I cross a mountain pass to discover the next steppe, I just want to say that I never liked riding motorcycles so much. The moments when you’re struggling to stay on your wheels between two ruts, the wind that whips your face, the single cylinder that produces a thumping sound, the smiles of the people you meet,

a raised hand, a young yak that wants to attack you, squirrels zigzagging under your wheels, young Mongolians on their Chinese mopeds, a guy alone on a horse in the middle of a plain… these are the kinds of moments that make me feel really alive.

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Motorcycles in the dessert

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Sense of freedom

I would even say that these moments are the rare and unique moments when my tortured brain (lie down there, it will be 100 euros an hour) stops calculating, judging, analyzing, foreseeing, but only contemplates the present moment. And I think there is no other way of transport that gives such a sense of freedom.

Yes, clearly, no other means of transport than the motorcycle provokes as much admiration, contacts, questions and does not arouse so much interest among the people you meet.

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Fixing the motorcycle
Broken part
Broken motor part
Side photo motor part

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It's my greatest adventure of this year

I am convinced that without our motorbikes, these young Mongolians would never have stopped to ask to try our Royal Enfield. They would never have challenged us to fight (one of the 3 biggest sports in Mongolia), they would never have stayed there with us with these long moments of silence for lack of understanding our language.

I believe that Jorian understood this; he loved each of these moments spent on a motorcycle. How do I know it? The guy had eaten my dust for miles and miles. At each stop, his face was stained with the black sand that our wheels lifted off the ground. And at each new stop, I discovered an extra black streak on his face.

"It's magic, it's my greatest adventure of the whole year," he comments. Jorian may not say it, maybe he does not know it yet, but he loves motorcycles. Not necessarily as an object but for what it can do. Sleeping at the edge of a river one evening and in a snowy yurt the next day. Riding for 300 kilometers to reach the next destination.

Having communicated with people without even understanding each other. Riding in the freezing morning after a snowy night, that too, he loved. Changing a cylinder and piston while the previous day we had already welded the broken frame of the sidecar, he loved these moments. Pushing my side-car that was stuck in the middle of a river, he also loved that. He rode 1,800 kilometers, of which barely 300 kilometers were on asphalt, all with the energy of a hyperactive person... which he really is.

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Thank you, Jorian for these moments we spent together on a motorcycle. Thank you for entrusting me to discover this world together and to experience one of the best ways (there are dozens!) to ride a motorcycle. Now, I just have to learn to drift a motorcycle, it may surprise you, but that is one of my dreams.


~ LAURENT COCHET

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