Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Considering giving up :(

MSaturday 7th of June - Sary Tash ( about 110  miles)

We left Osh and started climbing into the mountains. In a valley, we got drenched as we rode into a storm. As we continued climbing we left it behind. 

Our plan was to turn west and ride a small part of the Pamir into Tajikistan, before turning back to Osh and continuing east toward Mongolia. A detour, but as the Pamir was closed when we were in Samarkand, we thought to ride a bit of it! 

Sary Tash, our destination for the day, was only about 110 miles but very high in the mountains. Then the border pass would take us over 4200m....

As we got close to Sary Tash, we came across a road blockade. Not sure what the problem was, but we had to take our bikes down by a river bed to continue. 

We then got higher to a pass at  over 3600m, our bikes weres truggling, and Alistair's bike did not feel quite right, gasping for air more than mine and slower than mine. I was on 1st gear and barely managing 20mph up hill! 

We finally got to the village and quickly found a home stay for the night. It was a simple house, with several rooms, all set up with beds and mattresses for travellers.

There was a sink in the entrance, with icy water, while the toilet was about 100 m down a track covered in sheep and horse droppings,  in a tiny mudbrick building, with a floor platform above a deep hole.... I made sure not to drink water!  At least with the cold it did not smell! 

Dinner was simple, a stew of pasta and potatoes with tiny bit of cabbage. And a fried egg on the side. 

After dinner, there was not much to do, so we went to bed, fully clothed, due to the cold ( no heating!) and the fact that the bed must have ben used by many travellers. The mattress was covered in a blanket then over a big quilt. Not sure any of that get washed often! 

Sunday 8th of June - 110 miles - Osh

Without curtains, we woke up very early. A I opened my eyes i saw through the windows, the next building's roof all white, and white fluffy stuff falling down the sky. I closed my eyes and suddenly reacted! White fluffy thing!?? " is it snowing?" I could not believe it! It was! 

After a while we got up and investigated the outdoor! 

After breakfast, which consisted of bread and gren tea ( and some unidentified brown spread that i did not tried!) we talked about what to do. 

We did not think the bikes could make it through the high pass. They were struggling too much at only 3600m! 

We decided to wait a bit and see if the snow would melt. The house was near a fuel pump, that had no fuel, due to the road blockade. We spotted a spanish biker there and went to talk with him.

We then had two swiss couples coming from the border, on two camper vans. 

By 10 am it looked like the snow was clearing. We decided not to tempt fate and go back to Osh, then get on our way to Mongolia! 
So we got on our way, climbed the pass, again at barely 15 or 20mph and 1st gear, then down to the valley across the road blockade, through the storm in the valley, back to Osh! 

(Road blockade)

Steffan, our german friend, was still there. He was setting the next day for the Pamirs. We had dinner together and went back to the hotel, after a detour for an ice cream. After the cold of the mountains, it was good to get down to a warmer town. 

Monday 9th of June - 240 miles - Toktogul

We left Osh once again, determined not to come back. Time to get to Mongolia! 

We made good progress until we started to climb into a first mountain pass.Then we   hit another huge storm. I never had so many storms in my life! What is going on? We were also close to the lightening, so we  decided to take cover and wait a bit, in a deserted Chaihana. There were no places to stay for the night, so after a while we continued under the rain, as the storm was moving away.

we got to Kara-Kul but again nothing there for the night. So as the weather was a bit better, we  decided to continue to Toktogul, about 60 miles further.

By then Alistair's bike was playing up, like when you leave the choke on and it gets too much fuel and choke on it! 

As we rode around a lake, it got worse and then the bike stopped. That was it, it would not go anywhere.

We were on a busy road, all straight, along the lake, no village around. We tried to change the spark plug. The new one came out covered in black after a minute of running the bike.... We did not know what to do. We had no phone signal to call Patrick...

We thought about camping, but there was no way near that spot, to set camp and be discreet from the road. We were only about 30 miles from Oktugul. 

It was almost 8pm by then. We decided to hide the bike and luggage ( mainly camping gear) on a ditch and ride two up on my bike to Oktogul.

So we got into town and found a place. A bit of a sh*thole but no choice. 

After that, we  looked for a place to eat as we did not have any food since breakfast. We found a bizarre place with few teens around, but they served food. With the help of the Point Itbook we   got some salad and chicken.

At 10 pm, the teen in charge of the computer and music turned off the light, turned on the disco ball and the volume! Few teens got on the dance floor, with a couple showing off, the guy was actually quite good! 

Tuesday 10 June - Bishkek - about 200 miles

We woke up at 5:30.... Worried. We had to get back to the bike before someone on a horseback wandered   around! As we got packing and dressed, Alistair got out, the door of the house was locked. We could not get out! By 7 am, I started banging on the door or the owners' rooms.

Eventually a sleepy teen, came out and as i explained that all our lugagge was still in the room but we had to repair another bike, not sure he understood, or cared. He got us out at least. We rode with my  bike to the spot. Alistair had saved the coordinates on the GPS. That was lucky as it was not easy to find the correct ditch! 

We found the bike, untouched. We found some sort of derelict bus shelter, about a mile away, so we pushed the bike there. It was not safe to work by the side of the road, as the locals seem to use the long stretch of straight road to race each other! 

On advice from Patrick, over the phone, Alistair attempted to get the carburator open to check if it was ok. Maybe something got off while being rattled in the truck! 

Alistair battled with the carburator. One screw was totally rusted and would not come off. As we were about to give up, he used another tool and somehow, got it out. It was nerve wrecking! 

However nothing looked wrong with the carb! We were tempted to swap with mine, but as my bike  was the only one working, we did not want to run the risk or messing it up!

We did not know what to do. Abandon the bike? Hide again somewhere and go back to Osh buy a new carb!? 

We were very depressed, i even suggested to give up! 

Alistair put the carburator back, and tried to start his bike. It started with no problem at all! We were puzzled! But we did not question, just got back to the hotel, took our stuff and got on the road, just praying the bike would not die  before we  got to Bishkek. I had contacts in Bishkek with bikers and a good mechanic! We would need one! 

The ride to Bishkek is stunning, via several amazing mountain passes and high valleys were the Kyrgyz bring their horses and sheep to high pasture in the spring season, we saw many yurts and horses.

Unfortunately, with the stress of the bike ( when will it break down again!?) and the stress of the crazy drivers in this busy road, we did not enjoy it as much as we should have! 

Without breakfast and lunch we were also quite hungry! As we got closer to Bishkek we finally found a service station selling some food. Awful sandwiches but we were hungry. 

Finally we  made it to Bishkek, and while the bike was playing up and going slower and slower, we still made   it to a hotel, without it dying! 

After getting changed, i got to the reception area, the only wifi zone, to message via facebook my local contacts. Sergei called us back almost immediately.

He came to pick us in his 4x4, for dinner, and took us to a new place being built for bikers, localsand travellers   alike! It will also have a hotel and campground attached, plus tyres and parts for sale! Biker paradise! 

He got in touch with Ali, the mechanic, i could not do it direct as he does not speak english. 
Sergei was very reassuring, Ali  had plenty of experience and would be able to help us! 

We had a beer and some salads.Then as   other bikers arrived, a fire was lit up and we all ( about 12 of us) sat around the fire, roasting sausages, while one lad took his guitar... What  a great night after so much stress! 

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