70 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: From Karakol Lake to about 30km past Aqbaytal Pass

Distance / 距離: 78.65km
Time / 時間: 5h 49m
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 3293.2km

This daily report is being written in Murghab, after the actual day. The reason being that a headache all but disabled my every function towards the end of day 70.

As with the day before, the day began with sore legs. Maybe it was the altitude, perhaps lack of proper rest, could be due to not enough food, or the wrong food? I think it was more due to a lack of a rest day (the day in Osh was too busy with getting food, updating website etc) than anything else.

Towards Aqbaytal Pass, Tajikistan / ウクバイタル峠へ向かう途中(タジキスタン)

The road up until a non-existant town called Muzkol was the best I have ridden on, perhaps ever. A thick layer of tar meant that the road was smooth and silky. After this however, the road deteriorated into non-avoidable corrugations that just kept on going and going and going, right up until a small plateau half way up the pass at 4300m. This stretch of road was perhaps the lowest time of the trip so far.

Aqbaital Pass, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

The scenery was blank and cold, and not even one car passed in those whole two hours. The situation was not helped by the fact that I was out of snack food. Nothing to eat to give me energy…

Just let anyone else take over right now, and they’d do such a better job than me. The average speed would be better, their photos would be better, they’d be able to get up this pass without having to stop. I’m not built for this. My condition right now proves it. I’m not a cyclist. What the hang am I doing here?!

These negative thoughts continued with me all the way up to that small plateau. It was at this plateau however that the wind died all of a sudden. I was huffing and puffing, and my head was achy, but all of a sudden I was stoked. I was doing this. I was making it.

A door - Aqbaytal Pass, Tajikistan / ドアです(タジキスタン、ウクバイタル峠)

I saw this old door on the side of the road, and it reminded me of a true story:

There was an Englishman, Irishman, and Scotsman in the middle of the desert. Their jeep had broken down, and they realised that in order to survive in the heat, they had to start walking to the next oasis. In order to be able to walk fast, they decided that each one of them could take only one item from the jeep. The Englishman chose first. A bottle of water. “Why did you choose that?” the other two asked. “If I get thirsty I can drink the water.” the Englishman replied.

Next was the Irishman. He chose an umbrella. “Why did you choose that?” asked the other two. “Well, if I get hot, I can put the umbrella up for some shade.” he replied.

Lastly the Scotsman grabbed the jeep door and ripped it off its hinges and started carrying it. “Why did you choose that?” the other two cried. “Well, if I get hot, I can wind down the window.” he replied.

Looks like that Scotsman carried the door for a long way before giving up.

And did you ever hear the one about a New Zealander who rode his recumbent bicycle up a 4655m pass in Tajikistan and got a really, really sore headache?

Yeah, I laughed too.

The absurdity of it all...4665m pass on a recumbent - Aqbaytal Pass, Tajikistan / ドアです(タジキスタン、ウクバイタル峠)

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3 thoughts on “70 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: From Karakol Lake to about 30km past Aqbaytal Pass

  • Uncle Peter

    You haven't lost that sense of humour, but that doesn't change you from a biker rider (sometimes) to a cyclist. Stick with it. You're made of sterner stuff.


  • Aunty Les

    Don't be so hard on yourself, Rob. You're doing amazingly well so high up in the world. Many people conk out because of altitude sickness, so a headache is a minor inconveience, really, all things considered.