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!)
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.
after an epic seven days to get here that included diahorrea, near starvation at the hands of Kyrgyzstan pasta (made in the pits of pasta hell), no roads, roads but no bridges, and dodgy information. I will try to get all the action updated today, but may not be able to get all the juicy pics up due to slow internet. Tomorrow I head to Osh, hopefully along more civilized roads!
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…
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.
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.
English Summary: Two hours of severe stomach cramps (lie on the ground and moan type) today set the scene for my most crazy bout of diahorrea so far. Unable to eat much for dinner tonight, I am now just passing water. Made the decision to take some diahorrea medicine kindly supplied by Cessna Drug Store in Beppu City, Japan in a hope to be able to at least retain the fluids I am putting in my body. I am sure I can see the top of the pass from where I am camping, so whether to push on tomorrow or return to Karakol is a decision I will need to make in the morning.
Distance / 距離： maybe 10km?
Today’s distance is hard to judge since I pushed and carried the bike for maybe 2km…
Kabrybek not only supplied dinner, but also a yummy breakfast of bread, jam, cream and tea (all home made of course – except for the tea). The cream was interesting – very viscous, kind of like a syrup. It went very well with the jam made from small black currrents from around the house.
Kadrybek drew a basic map of where I needed to turn off the main road onto the ‘road’ that would take me across the Kerege-Tash pass to a road that connects to Eki-Naryn and then to the main town of the Narin Oblast – Naryn City.
According to the owner of the Karakol Hostel, this route is not only great for cyclists, but also has magnificent scenery. What a load of rubbish! I don’t know what he was thinking, but how could anyone want to take a fully loaded bicycle over this terrain?!
Yeah the scenery is OK, but it is totally and utterly unridable. On a light, unloaded mountain bike, sure. But for me on my loaded bike, it is kind of like falling into some sort of cyclists’ hell. On one occassion, where the track was too steep and too rocky to push almost 50kg of bike and lugguage up it, I had to remove all the baggage from the bike, and ferry it and the bike over in three goes.
What a mission. Is this really going to take even two days to Naryn? As I sit in my tent after trying to eat some more tacky pasta (I threw it out half way through), I figure I may as well continue, since I’ve come a fair way, and Kadyrbek and Valentine (Yak Tours Hostel in Karakol) are adamant that many cyclists have done this route in the past. I should be in Naryn in a couple of days.
Distance / 距離： 22km
English Summary:Today I was told that it would take two days and possibly lots of pushing my bike in order to get across the road that I was planning on taking. Oh well, even if it takes more than that, I’ve got plenty of food. How steep can it be anyway?
Distance / 距離： 29.69km
Time / 時間： 2h 48m
Average speed / 平均速度： 10.6km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離： 2187.6km
Still feeling the effects of a sleepless, nauseous night before, I decided to get something to eat for breakfast at the next town. I would have had instant noodles, but I now realise the cause of my diahorrea in China. Those noodles! There is something in the spices in the flavouring that just turn my innards into slime. I was feeling the effects of the noodles the night before this morning. In fact, those effects caused an unplanned dip in the lake to clean up…I’ll leave the details up to your imagination.
So I left the campspot hungry but in good spirits, looking forward to the fresh bread that they would surely have at the next town (there was fresh bread in all the towns I had passed to get to the lake). Unfortunately that hope faded when the next town only had a store that sold pasta and biscuits. They did however have the great fruit tomatoes, so breakfast today was tomatoes and tasteless bicuits. They were sure to have an eatery or at least bread at Barskoon, the main-est looking town on the map enroute to the pass.
The two tomatoes and three biscuits I had for ‘breakfast’ did not last long, and I was just going through the motions to get to Barskoon (which is actually off the main road, slighty up the hill). The monotony of the uphill and hunger was offset however by the friendly local kids who with astounding energy ran all the way through the town alongside me (I was going prtty slow).
To my dismay there was no cafe or bread to be found in the four stores that I tried, so I bought 2kg of tasty-looking pasta, two onions, and a red pepper with plans to make a simple pasta soup using the soup mix I still had from Kazakhstan.
Once again it was slightly past 2pm when I stopped just out of Barskoon up the goldmine road for lunch. This lunch introduced me to the great disaster that is cheap Kyrgyzstan pasta (15 som per kg). Once boiled, it becomes a gloggy, tacky lump of flour that takes forever to go away in your mouth, and sticks to your teeth. The soup mix is jolly good though, and when you add about three or four tablespoons of olive oil to the mix, it is actually quite palatable.
This solid lunch including sugary Fanta powered me up the hill until around 4:30pm. There was still time to pedal, but the barometer was dropping, and some rather threatening clouds were coming over the mountains to the east towards me. Just after I had found a recently hay-harvested field (less chance I would be woken early in the morning by workers) and had put the tent up, the first drops of the down-pour started. A cookup of cream of tomoato soup, onions, paprika, olive oil and paprika waited until 6:30pm when the rain had stopped enough to cook outside the tent.
Once again the pasta was uninspiring. In fact, it was worse this time, as soft blobs of flour in a creamy soup just made the impression that the soup was lumpy, inducing the occassional retch when a ‘lump’ would get stuck halfway down my throat. This pasta really is a disaster. What are they thinking? Someone needs to take pasta making lessons. I guess you can’t expect much however when the pasta comes in sacks…
I left half the lumpy soup for breakfast tomorrow.