Thursday, July 16, 2009
Traffic was heavy but the road was flat as Markus and I pedalled out of Osh on the road north to Bishkek. Spirits were high for the adventure ahead. We pedalled at a similar speed so it made touring together quiet easy. We got about 100KMs pedalled and camped up by a wheat field. The next day we continued along the main road, till we saw a sign for Alsanabob. Markus and I had both heard of this mountain side village at an altitude of 1600M and we went into a cafe for some tea and discussed whether it would be worth taking this difficult but potentially rewarding detour. After a few pots of tea we decided to climb up to this village which is home to the world's largest walnut groves. Although the village is quite pretty, it was the weekend and was packed full of Kyrgyz day trippers and thumping music. Our plans of pitching our tents in the walnut groves ended with the arrival of a massive downpour and so instead we found a room in a children's recreation centre.The rain didn't stop till 9am the next morning. Now we started talking about going further into the mountains. From our maps we could see there was a rough road up to the town of Kyzyl-Unkur, but after that, it seemed to be just tracks that did not connect and the gradient of the altitude increase was very steep. But it wasn't just the maps that would indicate the road,(or lack of) ahead. At this stage we were so close we could stare up into the mountain range. The main problem was there was a 50KM stretch with little or no tracks through the mountain range. And these mountains had summits in the mid 3000M range. The idea of attempting to take two bicycles loaded full of stuff up and over this mountain range seemed completely impossible. The locals told us it was impossible. I don't know which worried me more; the locals who laughed at us, the locals who looked genuinely worried, or the massive mountains that loomed large in front of us. We were both confident it would be possible, but the worrying part was the level of difficultly it would take to make it possible. The road ended and the track begun. Then the track got narrower. We camped up by a river and had a right sized camp fire. A cold wind blew down from the mountains into our valley. Tomorrow was going to be tough.