September 9, 2014
14 days – 656km – 7 x 4900m+ passes – endless river crossings – snow – sleet – ice – heat exhaustion – diarrhea – solo – on a bicycle…
The big orange sticker on the cover of Mountain Biking UK staring down at me from newsagents shelf at Heathrow coach station read ‘Welsh Special’. I read it on the way home and shelved it for when the opportunity arose.
Well that opportunity arose in May this year and I spent a week cycling mostly off-road from Coast-2-Coast (Conwy – Port Talbot) in what proved to be a successful first attempt at carrying all my kit ‘bikepacking’ style. I was ready for the Himalaya…
Surly Troll – Ready to Roll…
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February 2, 2014
It was a slow, snowy, slushy, muddy descent from the pass and I was conscious of the pain in my back after picking my bike up off the ground at the border. Unsure if I had the strength to pick it up again should I fall I descended cautiously through the cloud.
After negotiating several switchbacks I came to a group of buildings surrounded by numerous trucks all with their bonnets open and presumably in various states of repair. I was approached by a guy and asked if I’d deliver a 1.2m long steel spike to some guys that were working on the road further down the mountain. I agreed, but failed to see that one end was covered in a thick, oily deposit that slowly found its way onto everything – including my tent!
I dropped the spike off and continued along what must be the longest ‘no-mans land’ I can ever remember crossing. Eventually I came to the Kyrgyzstan border where the first guard looked at my passport and sent me to the immigration office. Within seconds my passport was back in my hand having been stamped and I was ushered off to customs. I found them eating lunch and expected to be in for a long wait. All I got was “You go Osh?” “Da” I said and was told to “GO…GO!” I’ve never crossed a border so fast!
Back on tarmac after entering Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan
…read the rest of Chapter 33