Environmentally friendly commuting
14degrees off the beaten track
home | about | route | blog | photo gallery | vids | gear | FAQ | links | contact | 14degrees off the beaten track in Japanese
Day 64 - In Osh
September 25th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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…

   permalinko   comments (16)

Day 63 - From Jalalabat to Osh (English Summary)
September 24th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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.


   permalinko   comments (1)

Day 62 - From the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass to just before Jalalabat
September 23rd, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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.

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.

   permalinko   no comments

Day 61 - From just past Kazarman to the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass (Englis Summary)
September 22nd, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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…


   permalinko   comments (9)

Day 60 - Dodomol to just past Kazarman
September 21st, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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…

I sleep with no tent tonight. Just because.

   permalinko   comments (2)

Day 59 - Jangi-Talap to just before Dodomol (English Summary)
September 20th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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!)


   permalinko   comments (1)

Day 58 - From Naryn to Jangi-Talap
September 19th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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.

   permalinko   comments (1)

Day 55 - Archali to Tash Bashat
September 16th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

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

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.

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.

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.

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…

   permalinko   comments (2)

Day 54 - Downhill at last (English Summary)
September 15th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

Distance / 距離: 62.46km
Time / 時間: 4h 38m
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2308km

English Summary: Dry pasta for breakfast, lunch and tea made for another tough day physically, but oh man, check out the scenery (in the Photo Gallery). Just massive. Quite definitely makes all that hard work worth it.





   permalinko   no comments

Day 53 - Making it
September 14th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories, Kyrgyzstan

I sit in my tent tonight at the top of the pass (3910m) an exhausted wreck, but relieved and overjoyed that I have made it through one of the most mentally and physically challenging days of the trip so far.

I awoke from my fitful hungry rest since the night before still hungry. No longer able to stomach the pasta cooked, I crunched down on it raw, washing it down with the last of my Gatorade powdered drink mix. As I packed up my sleeping bag and organised my gear for the day, I was torn between going back the way I had come (it was downhill, after all) to get to somewhere with real food, or to push on to the top of the pass. The terrain over the last two days and slow pace had taken its toll on my phsyce and body. I have lost much weight - how much I don’t know. The diahorrea was still at its worst this morning. I cracked and the tears flowed for an instant when an unexpected movement ended up in my pants…

Right, that’s it. I’m going home. Home to New Zealand.

Don’t be so hasty, I told myself, and decided to decide once the tent was all packed up and the bike was loaded.

I stood there with the bike leaning against me, and looked back the way I had come. Two days to get back to where there were other humans around to help if things got tough. Stores where I could buy potatoes, cheese, and all the other things I craved. Out here, there is nothing. No one. I haven’t seen another person in two days.

I also looked ahead. The top of the pass seemed so close. The slope leveled off too - perhaps I could actually push the bike without hinderance of rocks and steep gullies. As much as I hated the pasta, I knew that I would not die of starvation for at least another four or five days.

I in no way decided there and then that I was going all the way to Naryn, but I did decided to do the same as I had done yesterday - detatch the lowrider panniers, leave the bike, and walk uphill for an hour to see how things would pan out. I decided that after an hour of walking with the front panniers, I would either give up and turn back, or drop the panniers and go back for the bike.

Walking up the pass with my panniers, I lost the track at least three times, and each time ended up walking over large streams of big boulders that would have been impossible to negotiate with the bike with its heavy rear panniers. However each time after crossing the boulders, I would notice the track heading down and away from the obstacles. I saw that the track was actually quite smooth and definitely negotiable if I had stuck to it.

Finally I walked up and over a small hill to see a massive high plateau stretch out in front of me. Then I saw it. An old tractor tyre. That was the sign that I was going to be able to make it. If they can get a tractor up here, then it is guranteed to be terrain that is at least half cycleable. Sure enough, ahead in the distance were two perfectly parallel tracks in the grass. After almost three days, I had found my ‘road’.

I dropped my panniers close to the track, and headed back down hill for the bike. Just as I arrived at the bike, a lone hearder on his horse trotted by, uninterested. Watching him as I pushed the bike, I saw where the track was supposed to go when crossing the numerous small streams. Two and a half hours later I reunited my bike with its panniers. From here I could actually ride the bike along the tractor tyre tracks.

The top of the pass was however much further than I had anticipated, and the further up the plateau I got, the boggier and wider the river crossings got. They were never deeper than knee height, with a river bed that consisted of rocks with mud in between, pushing the bike through them was tough going.

At last, after three and a half days of pushing, hauling, carrying and cursing the bike, I was now at the top of the pass. Due to the ferrying of lugguage and bike, I had effectively walked the track three times. Anyone wanting to know about the conditions, I can give you a detailed account, I assure you.

Dinner was again dry pasta, but this time washed down with a salty broth made from the soup mix I have. Add to this the compulsory three or four tablespoons of olive oil and it makes a perfectly palatable dinner. Not at all filling however.

   permalinko   comments (2)