Day 890 – NEW ZEALAND: Re-discovered

Some readers may recall that way back in Uzbekistan, the un-thinkable happened. I was using a small portable hard drive to back up all my photos and videos, and on the very day that I decided I would back the drive up (all 20GB of it), it stopped working ( I thought all was lost, until the other day, my brother Chris calmly and confidently ripped the hard drive to bits, exchanged the small 1.8 inch hard drive from my portable unit with the 1.8 inch hard drive in his Ipod, and promptly proceeded to download all those lost-forever photos and videos onto my computer.

So here is a wee taster for what is to come. When I get the inspiration and time, I’ll put a couple of full edits together. Most of the footage is not particularly good (I have come a long way in video skills), but should make for some interesting videos.

Youtube version here:

Day 98 – Panoramas!

I have installed the Photo Stitch software that came with my camera onto this computer, and have put together a few panorama photos. They give the best idea yet of the kind of terrain I covered in Kyrgyzstan and recently through the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Enjoy.

  • Click on the photos for the bigger versions (you will be directed to – the place where I store all my photos)
  • Place the mouse pointer over the picture, and the title will appear

Near Kerege-Tash Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Kerege-Tash Pass, Kyrgyzstan

West of Urumqi, China

On the way to Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

On the road to Kazerman, Kyrgyzstan


Aqbaital Pass, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

Near Alichur, Tajikistan

Khargush Pass, near Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan

Day 64 – In Osh

Ugh. Slow internet. Internet that doesn’t work…

But finally I have found an internet cafe with decent internet. Once again, the photos are uploades, but I don’t have the time to put them into posts. But do check them out in the Photo Gallery section.

Right then, tomorrow I head for Tajikistan. At least 3000m altitude gain, 220km to cover. I have 5 days left on my Kyrgyz visa. It will be a mission, but it will be done. I doubt my ability to be able to do any updates for up to 15 days as I cycle the Pamir Highway from Osh (Kyrgyzstan) to Dushanbe (Tajikistan). But you can be assured that there will be some major adventure to read about once I do get to Dushanbe.

By the way, thank you all for your great encouraging comments on the site. They are really appreciated, and I am torn up not to be able to answer to all of them. I am looking forward to getting to Uzbekistan, where I can take it a little easier and spend more time on the website. At the moment, the highlands of Tajikistan (altitude 4000m plus) are on my mind and with cold weather approaching, it makes me all the more keen to get through the big mountains as soon as possible!

If you need something to mull over while I hoof it over ‘the roof of the world’, then take a look at this post and let me know if you know the answer.

Till my next post…

Day 63 – From Jalalabat to Osh (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 119.51km
Time / 時間: 7h 20m
Average speed / 平均速度: 16.3km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2914.2km

English summary: Feeling the pressure of my Kyrgyz visa end date (in 6 days time) I pushed for Osh and actully made it. Stoked.


Drying sunflower seeds on the roadside, on the day to Jalalbat, Kyrgyzstan / ひまわりの種を乾燥させるキルギス人(ジャララバッド町付近)

Day 62 – From the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass to just before Jalalabat

Distance / 距離: 102.59km
Time / 時間: 6h 53m
Average speed / 平均速度: 14.9km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2794.7km

Once again amazed at the strength of this bicycle. Absolutely bombing it down the pass at between 30 to 40 km/h, hitting some fairly chunky rocks, and not a scratch…the suspension really comes into play in these situations. There have been many times on the trip so far that I am certain I would have bent a rim or broken a spoke if it had not been for the suspension. Also, even though the bike has abou 35kg of gear strapped to it, you’d never know it. It is extremely nimble, and the disc brakes are a real bonus too – you stop when you want to stop.

What is that creature? Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan / なにものだ?!(カルダマ峠、キルギス)

As for surroundings, I feel as though I have dropped into another country all together. Lush valleys with apple trees, walnut trees, and then wide valleys with sunflower plantations.

Shed under tree in valley after Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan / 木の下の小谷(カルダマ峠のあと、キルギス)

Day 61 – From just past Kazarman to the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass (Englis Summary)

Distance / 距離: 34.31km
Time / 時間: 3h 45m
Average speed / 平均速度: 9.1km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2692.1km

English Summary: Stopped early at a good campsite at the foot of the zig zags. But more importantly, time for you mathematicians to put your thinking caps on. The question of the day is, can you work out the gradient of a road using the variables ‘velocity’ and ‘altitude gain’. Example: I am cycling at a speed of 5km/h, and I am gaining altitude at a speed of 8 metres per minute. What is the gradient of the road I am on? I thought it had something to do with the amount of fies buzzing around my head divided by pie….mmmmm, pie…


The local lads, near Dodomol, Kyrgyzstan

Foot of Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan

More local Kyrgyz blokes that insisted that their photo be taken - Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Day 60 – Dodomol to just past Kazarman

Distance / 距離: 76.80km
Time / 時間: 6h 01m
Average speed / 平均速度: 12.7km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2657.8km

My hopes for a nice long dowhill to Kazarman were dashed with a big fat pass in the middle. This did give me reason however to continue to marvel at the incredible piece of engineering that is this bike that I am riding on. The roads here are appalling. Very rocky, very bumpy. However, no matter how hard I ride the bike down these steep steep passes, the bike just laps it up. I am quite convinced that it is most entirely indestructable…

Meeting the Naryn River again - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

A Kyrgyz bloke trying the recumbent - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

I sleep with no tent tonight. Just because.

Sleeping out near Ak-Tay, Kyrgyzstan

Day 59 – Jangi-Talap to just before Dodomol (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 59.79km
Time / 時間: 5h 38m
Average speed / 平均速度: 10.6km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2580.8km

English Summary:Big 2800m pass with gravel road with big stones made for a big effort today. Sheesh, why do I choose these roads? (Because flat sealed roads are no fun!)


Zig zags, near Dodomol, Kyrgyzstan

Soft stone cliffs, near Dodomol, Kyrgyzstan

Day 58 – From Naryn to Jangi-Talap

Distance / 距離: 99.75km
Time / 時間: 5h 48m
Average speed / 平均速度: 17.2km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2521km

Generally downhill alll day, but a stiff headwind slowed progress slightly. Rain in the middle of the day made today the first day with rain since the downpour in Korea. This is a very dry place. I am amazed at the change in landscape here. The foothills seem to be made of dry mud, creating a miniature version of the mountains behind.

Hills - Jilal-Talap, Kyrygzstan

Day 55 – KYRGYZSTAN: Archali to Tash Bashat

Distance / 距離: 78.49km
Time / 時間: 6h 33m
Average speed / 平均速度: 11.9km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2387km

Low hills around Archali settlement, Kyrgyzstan

Downhill? Despite the fact that the river I was following was flowing in the same direction as I was cycling, I spent most of the day slogging it up an incredulously steep road that went up and down to avoid the many bluffs that the river had carved into the valley. The river had gone from meyandering wide river to a narrow deep gorge, forcing the road sometimes 150m or so up from the river.

Just before the Kichi-Narin river goes into gorge-mode - past Oruk-Tam, Kyrgyzstan

It was here in this gorge that I really began to sense the change in season. The trees had a definite tinge of yellow to them. Tajikistan with its 4600m passes came to mind. With this little wee adventure over the last week, my arrival in Tajikistan is sure to be much later than I had expected. Hopefully this won’t mean too many hassles with snowy roads…

Back to the present, today’s breakfast was dry pasta. Lunch was…well, lunch wasn’t, actually. At around 11am, I was invited in for tea and a small snack by a farming family, but apart from that and the last quater of the jar of Nutella, nothing. I’m not sure what has got me to Tash Bashat, but I think it was the rumour of a well stocked store. Tash Bashat would become the first place that I could buy food in about 6 days of travel.

The family (plus extras) that invited me in - near Oruk-Tam, Kyrgyzstan

Actually, I lie. In Eki-Naryn, a small town about 5km before Tash Bashat, I was able to buy some potatoes from a farmer who happened to be digging them up just as I was passing by. After some bartering, he agreed to sell eight medium sized potatoes to me for ten som. He originally wanted fourty.

Take my picture! - Eki-Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

Unfortuately Tash Bahshat did not have the cheese and butter that I so dearly wanted to go with my spuds, but at the small store I was able to buy some cheap fizzy cordial, three eggs, six carrots, and some chocolate. The chocolate by the way just wasn’t worth it. Cocoa flavoured lard is how I would describe it. Another Kyrgyzstan taste disaster.

Armed with these ingredients plus a fruit tomato that I was given by a woman as I passed, I made the most delicious vegetable soup/gruel I have ever tasted. Seasoning was thanks to that great Kazakhstan soup mix that I still have a mass stock of. For the first time in seven days, I ate my fill. An immense sense of satisfaction is floating around my head right now. Maybe I can manage this backcountry cycling thing after all…