Sep. 27: We are faced with a small climb immediately outside town. Am tired and grumpy. The air is full of dust and you can’t even see the beautiful mountains behind us. We get to it though, and soon I feel better, charging the hill with gusto. We reach the pass, which is only 3,550 meters, not even worth a picture at this point. A small descent, another climb, and we have before us an amazing downhill:
From here Kyrgyzstan gets really beautiful. There is grass, and trees! After the desert mountains of Tajikistan we are refreshed by the life in these mountains.
We have an easy day from there, with a lot of downhill. We have some trouble finding a spot to camp, but eventually succeed, with beers in hand. Aleix discovers that his pannier is broken. Fransesc surprises us with some sausages, which we mix with our rice. I surprise everyone with a small bottle of brandy I found in Sari Tash. We have a great dinner and a great night.
We have a leisurely morning fixing Aleix’s pannier, then begin the ride, still descending, into Gul Cha.
We improved Aleix’s rack in Murghab. Hard to find an aluminum welder around here…
“Better than before!”
It is an easy ride, though we have to navigate numerous large flocks that are being driven down the highway. At some point I realize that I am not feeling well: aching joints, and my throat’s a bit sore. I feel like a fever is coming on. This pisses me off, because this is the third time I have been sick in Central Asia. We ride on.
Fransesc is a firefighter, a family man with a wife and two sons. He is on a twenty day vacation, and he started his ride in Dushanbe. He is very fit. In fact, he would be destroying all of us had he been riding longer, but we have been training for 5-7 months, and are stronger riders, which is as it should be! The point is, he is flying out of Osh on the 1st of October. There is one more climb between Gul Cha and Osh, and he was done, he needed time to relax (it’s his holiday, after all) and to box up his bike. So he decided to take a taxi from Gul Cha to Osh. Perfect opportunity. I am feeling quite sick and the taxi won’t cost me anything. I take some ibuprofen and decide to eat some lunch first and see how I feel.
I feel better. I can’t tell whether I am sick-tired or just Pamir-tired, so I decide to tough it out. I lead the climb, not even stopping before two-thirds are done. The air feels thick and my legs and lungs just don’t stop, until I see the last 5 kilometers zig-zagging up above me. From there it is a struggle. My legs are completely shot for the last 2k, it felt like the day climbing the Pyrenees again. We arrive at the top around 5 p.m. and it was as if my sickness had been graciously suspended just for the climb, because as we crested I immediately broke out into violent shivers and began to wilt. It was downhill, of course, and we cruise down in search oof camping. All I have to do is hold on to the bike, and this I barely manage. We find a spot and I am shaking so bad I can hardly put up my tent. Aleix and Stefan help me set up and I crawl into my sleeping bag after taking more medicine. After an hour I feel better, but I don’t leave my tent. Like a worm in a cave, I lie there while the boys proffer tea, soup and chocolate to me. I feel much better under the influence of the pills, they do away with the aching and the shivering and I feel almost normal. But the pills wear off. I try to stay off the ibuprofen in the night to let my body do its thing and end up simply turning circles in my bag, in a restless state of aching pain amid feverish fictions impossible to escape from, too conscious of pain to sleep and too weak to do anything other than get up to pee every once in a while. After hours of half-dreaming about ibuprofen I finally ingest some more around 4 a.m. and then I am able to sleep until almost 9 in the morning. One of the worst nights of my life.
I had been joking that this was bad, but thankfully there was nothing wrong with my butthole. I ate my words in the morning. Sick in numerous ways, I focused on the 45 kilometers of descent into Osh, holding in my watery excrement and drinking water. I made it. We get to the hostel and check in. I have a shower and we grab a bite to eat. I am starving, but when the food comes I can hardly eat and I head back early, take some medicine, and sleep for two hours. Last night I didn’t need medicine to sleep and aside from some lingering diarrhea I feel much better today. Three days here in Osh and then on to Bishkek, or China. Originally I wasn’t even going to visit Kyrgyzstan, but I’m glad I did. It is much warmer here. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired though.
Impressions of Kyrgyzstan: Practicing Muslims, I am happy to hear the calls to prayer again. Men wear white felt hats. Horses everywhere, beautiful ones. Many yurts, massive herds of sheep. Greenery! Red rock. Drunk men early in the morning. One bought me a juice after we had a surprisingly fluid conversation in Russian. Another was fast asleep along the busy main road of Osh, the first real city I have been in since Dushanbe. Incredible.
There you have it, a long post to bring us up to date. There are many more pictures I need only to figure out how to acquire from my companions, but they will come in good time. I have been hearing horror stories about the Xinjiang province of China, a perfect police state, where you need passport verification to buy vegetables, a fingerprint to buy gas (probably can’t buy it at all as a cyclist even for your stove), there are checkpoints every 50 kilometers where you can be stopped from a half an hour to three hours, some sections you can’t ride through and other sections you must ride all the way through without stopping. At the border they dump your fuel and take your knives, even though you can buy as many knives as you want in China. I will hide my Norwegian blade, a present from my Mom and brother. I hope they don’t find it. 600k to Bishkek, where I hope to find a good hiking shop. Almost to China!
Another world awaits, tata for now.