I have had a particularly hard, but also amazing week. We conquered our first high pass, 3252 m! But put ourselves and our bikes through some rather tough ups and downs on some very gravelly, unpaved roads.
But I started the week with an incredible day. We started properly climbing our first climb, on very rocky gravel, winding along the river through a very mountainous ravine. We stopped in a little village to find a shop, and found out it was Eid, as we swiftly got invited into a lovely garden for a massive spread of food and cake and sweets.
After eating our fill we continued climbing, up onto the mountain side where it was all grassy, following huge hairpins round each mountain peak. We got amazingly high, and could see the mountains around us for miles. It was so incredible. Finally we reached the top, and found alot of landmine warning signs and a bus stop/col sign. This was slowly followed by 30km of gravelly downhill. Unfortunately too gravelly to do at any sort of speed, but winding through some amazing rock formations and some great hairpin roads.
We arrived in Quali-kum to find Tim’s back rim was covered in cracks, and for me to swiftly get food poisoning from the hostel breakfast, so spent a day sorting out a new wheel/recovering, before getting back on the road. From Quali-kum we followed a massive river which was the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The road surface was marginally better but the road was pretty hilly.
It followed the river between two massive rocky mountain ranges, occasionally the valley widened out enough for a village and some trees and fields on one side of the river. It was interesting seeing the less-developed afgan villages compared to the slightly better off Tajik ones. We followed the river all the way to Khorog.
I turned 27(!) On the 24th, and enjoyed a nice days riding, a birthday bike (instead of chair), some edible presents and a “cake” of two snickers bars with some candles. When we arrived in Khorog I got my usual birthday curry at possibly the only Indian restaurant in Tajikistan. Unfortunately I am still feeling pretty ill so we have two days off in Khorog hoping I start feeling better and waiting for Tim’s new wheel, plus mending his rack. I think I’m just over-exhausted so hoping the days off will sort me out.
Tomorrow we head off onto the Pamirs. We will climb up above 4000m! High enough for altitude sickness! And it gets alot less inhabited, so we need to go back to carrying more water and food. As always, the adventure continues!
Jim’s words – Gravel, Crack, Turkeys, Slog, Placid and Loaf