Today’s distance / ???????: 28 miles / 46km
Average speed / ????: 7mph / 11km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 04m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4217mi plus 280mi (?) / 6786km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 900m
Descent / ??: 400m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44° 34′ 23.00″, E081° 21′ 29.60″
Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 7am.
Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 7:30am.
Dawuli’s alarm clock went off at 8am.
At 8:10am, we all finally started to rouse ourselves. The house was a mud-brick house with three separate living quaters, all separated from each other.
The furtherest one from the road was where we all slept. 50mm thick cotton filled futon-like matresses were laid out for each of us by Dawuli, and we slept under thick, warm, multi-coloured duvets.
The sleeping/dining/communal area was a raised platform – no shoes allowed on this platform. The entrance and cooking area was dirt floored.
Breakfast was a typical nomad Kazakh breakfast of nan-bread and salty, milky tea. After breakfast I was sent on my way, the two boys following me for the 1km of gravel road before the concrete finally began, indicating more reliable pavement.
The pavement remained inconsistent however. Where new culverts were being installed, the road was torn up, and a gravel detour was in its place.
To make things just that extra bit exciting, it had rained during the night. The moisture suppressed the dust, but left my gear and clothes in a mess.
Like yesterday, on the gravel sections, I had to walk.
The longboard and trailer rig continued to draw interest from road construction workers as I climbed the pass.
I gobbled down a mix of powdered soy milk and oatmeal and water for lunch half way up the pass. Further up the pass, the road became more reliable. I was in my element. I love the uphills. They are slow and tedious, but every push is a push closer to the top. As Marija Kozin once mentioned to me…”The reason we do this is to feel the lungs full of breath…”
It is true. To be pushing myself near to the limit, and sometimes past it, is to feel alive. I arrived at the 2200m top of the pass at 3pm. Elated.
At last, I was rolling down. The most perfect situation ever. I cannot begin to describe the amazing perfection of the last hour of skating today. Gentle downhill, roaring tailwind, silky smooth asphalt pavement, and the road all to myself apart from the ocassional slow-moving truck every 10 minutes or so, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and a beautiful azure blue lake on my left.
The lake was half frozen. Icy slush had been blown to the eastern-most end of the lake. As I took the above panorama photo, I looked back at the longboard trailer rig. I had to shake my head. What a rediculous proposition. But so far so good.
Once again the rig got attention. And once again, the inquisitive Chinese had to have a go.
One of these days, someone is going to jump on the board, fall, and crack their head open…
The tailwind was still blowing hard at 7pm when I decided to stop for the day. In the small settlement of Santai (pop. 30) I found a guest house. For the paltry sum of US$5 I got a warm futon to sleep on, dinner and breakfast, and some interesting times with four locals who, after hearing about the crazy foreigner, had to come and meet him.