Osh to Mountain Camp
After a good rest day in Osh, with all the usual, hand washing clothes, reorganizing gear and of course, taking your bike into Shillingtonâ€™s bike shop (bike and drive train must be clean or no service) and for better service bring a coffee, and of course checking out the local sights, we were all ready to get away from the flat roads and start climbing into the mountains.
This is where the real biking began. As soon as we were out of the city limits we were climbing. The roads started out ok and then quickly deteriorated as the construction that started over a year ago, is still getting started. We found ourselves riding almost the whole first day on rocky bumpy gravel road. The first 64km was almost all uphill, mostly gradual though and then the last 40km was mostly steep all terrain downhill â€œYeehaaw Conanâ€
The mountains were breathtaking along with all the rivers that flowed down from them; we also saw our share of Kyrgyz cowboys, yurts, mountain goats and wild horses. Max managed to trade his two wheeled carbon horse for a real horse and herd cows for about 20mins this French Canadian knows how to experience the local culture!! The end of the first day landed us at a perfectly flat plateau beside a fresh, cold river with a panoramic view of the mountains. All the riders put there fat tires on this night, knowing what bad roads, steep climbs and unpredictable weather lay ahead.
Yesterday was probable one of the toughest days of the expedition, as far as challenging terrain, cold weather, steep climbing and serious consecutive dog chases goes. It was only an 85km day but we had to climb over the Taldyk pass which is at an elevation of 3615 meters!! The roads were 100% rock, sand, gravel, pot holes and busted up pavement. The start of the climb up over the Taldyk pass started at approx 57km from camp and ended at 67km.and the road conditions didnâ€™t get any better on the climb up either. I think the toughest part psychologically was looking up about 2000ft and seeing a huge transport that looked the size of a childâ€™s toy car starting its long slow steep descent down and youâ€™re just starting your long slow steep ascent. You could also see the many switchbacks zigzagging back and forth across the pass leading up and you knew it was going to be two or three hours before you made it to the top!!! It took most riders on average about 3 hours to top out on the summit. Great views from the top and the best part was that it was all steep technical rocky road descent for the last 15km (one short climb in-between) all the way down the other side right into camp, that is what made it all worth it. As we entered into the small village of Sary Tas the huge snow capped mountains of the Chong Alau Range came into view just like a photo out of a National Geographic magazine. We spent the night sleeping in a Yurt, what a great experience, especially after seeing them scattered all over the country side.
Today was our last full day unfortunately in Kyrgyzstan and our last day on the rough roads (all the riders with touring, cross and road bike are happy) We luckily woke up to clear skies, but it was still crisp and cold, the riders were all bundled up in layers this morning planning for the worst of weather but hoping for the best. Once again the snow covered mountain vistas were unreal and seemed to give you an extra flow of energy all day long. We got a excellent clear view of the famous Lenin Peak(7134m) this morning (the most climbed of all seven thousand meter peaks) Although the roads were rough once again today we only had 57km to go. We are camping tonight in a beautiful plateau with a great view and we are only 20km from the Chinese border. We are hoping for a smooth transition out of Kyrgyzstan and into China tomorrow morning.
Every border seems to be an adventure and everyday is another epic!! You will hear from us again in Kashgar.