The Pamirs, Part 3a: The diary

The Pamirs – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan – Part 3a: The Diary
Sary-Tash to Just beyond Tajik border 47km
Breakfast of two fried eggs, bread, clotted cream and apricot jam. Get cold gear organized.

Met three Poles on bikes heading same way. Across the grass lands on M41. Gentle climb gradually steeper and steeper to last stretch. Had to push last km. Tajik border post much rougher than Kyrgyz – guards and surroundings.

Met German father and son driving awesome vehicle opposite direction to us but then north to Kyrgyz, Russia, then back to Germany
View down from Tajik border amazing. V windy. Took time to cook weird grain with mushrooms. Tied tent down with big rocks. After years living in Shanghai, it feels amazing to actually see stars in the sky.
Epic day.
Outside Sary-Tash
Outside Sary-Tash
German army truck.jpg
weird mushrooms with grains.jpg
Tajik border to Karakul Lake 57km

250m climb seemed like much more. Finally reached the top and had great view on K lake. Looking forward to lunch in the town but bumped into first cyclists – 60yr old couple from England. Been cycling since Nov.
Lunch was rank cabbage soup. Rip off at 30 somoni (£4/5€) for both but ate lots of bread with cherry jam and took 4 loaves of bread away with us. Both v tired so stopped 17km after lunch. Lay down for 1hr before dinner.

Karakol Lake

Karakol lake

Team Road of Smiles were not expecting to meet cycling legend Fausto Coppi in the middle of the Pamirs

Team Road of Smiles were not expecting to meet cycling legend Fausto Coppi in the middle of the Pamirs

Restuarant in Karakul.jpg

Karakul to almost Murghab 90km

Beautiful camp spot, woke to sunrise over the mountain.

On road for 10 mins before came across 5 chaps: 1 NI, 2 Eng, 2 French. Got lots of useful info as they are doing our route in reverse.
Started to climb up to biggest ascent of expedition. Dreadful road bumps. Hard going but felt good. Reached 4656m summit around 4pm and sent a message to our families to share the moment. Decided to head for Murghab .
Amazing valley, sunset, green river banks and mountains all around.
Met Ukranian guy as it turned dark who was going for the Kyrgyz border tonight! Nutter.
Set up camp and ate in dark after deciding Murghab was too far. 88km and another incredible day.
Salt lake
Sergey the Ukrainian, aka "Nutcaseski"

Sergey the Ukrainian, aka “Nutcaseski”

Perfect spot next to Karakol
Almost Murghab to Murghab 25km

Matthieu wakes up with a nasty eye infection. Never thought the eye drops in our medical kit would actually come handy… Merci Papa! Easy 25km downhill. Met one French, one Dutch and one Slovenian cyclists. Very friendly and gave good rec of Pamir Hotel – had a shower so we were sold after 6 days without. Good info on Tajik – Uzbek border being closed on our preferred route.

Met 4 motorbikers, 3 Aussie and one English – all went to Pamir Hotel for lunch of potatoes and lamb with excellent bread and homemade raspberry and apricot jam. Very tasty. One beer then went to sleep for two hours.
Wandered into “town” which was small collection of houses and Soviet monuments. All a bit eery. Finally found the bazaar which was a collection of lorry containers converted into shops. All a bit shit and depressing but bought some Bounty bars, flavoring for water and nail clippers so it served its purpose. Went back to hotel, Matthieu needed to fix his back tire which kept slow puncturing while Oli fixed up six inner tubes.
Ate another excellent dinner of cabbage soup, salad and potato-mutton combo.
Watched Idiot Abroad on iPad – first tv for a while.
The Dolce Vita, in Murghab.

The Dolce Vita, in Murghab.

News of the collapse of the USSR have not reached Murghab yet, where Lenin still has his statue on the centre square

News of the collapse of the USSR have not reached Murghab yet, where Lenin still has his statue on the centre square

Murghab to almost Alichor 57km

Great sleep. Filling breakfast of salty porridge and pancakes with jam, and black tea.
Set off around 10.30am after paying up and collecting a packed lunch of the potato dish. Beautiful stretch of grassland with horses spoiled by swarm of horseflies and wasps following the bikes! They only left once we went up the hill and away from the river but knackered us trying to run away from them up a very steep incline. Felt like the Idiots Abroad.

Did not fill up water in town as there is abundance of mountain streams but took a while for us to find a decent one. All ascent, wanted to eat next to stream so we could wash the pans from two days ago but everything was dry. Ended up eating potatoes off nan bread with chop sticks. Dessert of snickers was a disaster as the chocolate had at some stage of its long life been doused in petrol.

Wind really picked up and it was tough going for the next 4hrs. Only went 18km in 3 of those, uphill but the head wind was so severe it felt like we weren’t moving. Deployed drafting for the first time on the trip which was successful but still brutal.
Thankfully landscape still awesome, now a little like the lake district. Found great camp site on side of hill on the grass.

Water filling.jpg

One thought on “The Pamirs, Part 3a: The diary

  1. Fantastic read. Love the fact that as as crazed as you might all look with your gear and your beards…there are always some that will make you look downright civilized (eg that Ukrainian guy in all white – awesome). Stay safe, and keep riding!

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