Alex Races from North to South Mongolia on a 50cc Monkey Bike Raising £2,485 to Help Kids Code

Alex Yepifanov, our Head of Data Science, just raced from North to South Mongolia on a 50cc monkey bike raising £2,485 to help kids code and for climate change! Read about his journey below…

I’m doing something totally dumb and figured I’d monetize it for charity.

It started out as a COVID boredom-fuelled, travel-nostalgic, cheeky scroll on Instagram, and culminated in promises being made and money being put down. It’s two years away right? How bad could it be anyway?

A month to go, I’m taking part in the Mongol Monkey Run and I’m terrified. The Mongol Monkey Run is a ‘race’ from the south of Mongolia to the North of Mongolia among a poorly defined route (that won’t be released to us until closer to the time (and will be released on paper) + I don’t think the Google cars are particularly equipped to navigate the Gobi desert anyway) where there is no fuel, food, water or accommodation support. You kind of just have to figure it out yourself. If that wasn’t all, you’re doing all of this while riding a 50cc monkey bike (please google this) over 12 days. There’s a slight snag to this which is that I’ve actually never ridden a motorbike before (unless scooters count). It’s the only event that the organising company does where you’re required to keep a GPS tracker on your person, and this is the first iteration of it (so they don’t even know if it’s possible).

So anyway, please help me raise some money in memory of this totally stupid event for a cause dear to me.

I have chosen the Raspberry Pi Foundation because anyone that knows me, will be aware that I very much care about bringing technical education to as many kids as possible. In an increasingly digital world, familiarity with programming, computer science and related subjects is becoming as important as familiarity with a keyboard was in the earlier part of this century. It’s not about making every kid a programmer and is totally about ensuring that every child is fluent with the high-level concepts relating to this new, computer and AI focused world.

Things I’ve learned:
1. How to camp and put up a tent
2. How to ride a motorbike
3. Motorbike maintenance (ish)
4. How to deal with aggressive guard dogs
5. How to pack more water and food than initial estimations
6. Expert-level charades
7. Monkey bikes suck off-road
8. English-Mongolian Google translate doesn’t work without network/service
9. Milk-filtered Chinggis Vodka is unrivalled
10. Ger etiquette
11. This is apparently the hardest monkey run of them all
12. Befriending mechanics with a full tool set is a winning strategy

Things that have happened that were great:
1. Mongolia has some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever come across
2. Mongolia is beautiful. We saw rolling steppes, fields of flowers, a desert, a volcano and much more. No light pollution means views of the Milky Way!
3. Hot springs after riding in the freezing cold for 10 hours

Things that have been challenging:
1. 30+ crashes/falls
2. Stranded off-road with dwindling water and food and a barely-operable bike
3. Receiving an older, weaker monkey bike with a restrictor hole that’s half the size of the newer ones (so it runs at almost half the power)

Durlston Vax

To support Cool Earth and the Raspberry Pi Foundation for kids to learn coding, please click the links below:

To donate to help kids code you can click here.
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