A Change of Pace
Things are starting to settle in a bit on the 2010 Silk Route. The hectic start is a week behind us, we’ve all had a bit of rest and the riders have adjusted to the routine of the tour. Running a tour with only 10 riders is quite different that running one with 70. Attendance, for example, is a breeze. At a glance you tell who is in camp and who is not. We’ve gotten to know the riders, and their habits, much quicker so it’s easier to predict when they will arrive in camp. Rider meetings are much less formal and can even be done over dinner. We are a bit tight on space with only one van and a smaller support vehicle that we use for lunch. Without lockers for the riders the staff have to pack the bags each and every day which, believe it or not, becomes a bit of a drag after a few days.
A huge difference is the amount of food prepared. Not only do we have 1/7th the mouths to feed but the pace of the Silk Route is much more relaxed than the Africa tour and the riders eat much less than their African counterparts. At first it just didn’t seem right setting up lunch with only two loaves of bread, one jar of peanut butter and jam and half a Kg of sandwich meat. But there is always food leftover. The morning coffee is a big improvement. With only 14 mouths to feed we’ve been using a French press to make the morning brew, a huge improvement over the ‘dirty sock’ method used on the Africa tour.
The route so far has offered some spectacular riding. There have been days on tour that I have felt more remote and ‘in the middle of no where’ than I ever did in Sudan or Ethiopia. The small size of the group and staff make the tour feel much more intimate. Everyone has their own personal story to tell at the end of each day and they are usually pretty unique and interesting.
We are nearing the end of our journey thru Turkey. In a few days we will cross the border in to Georgia where I am told it is much more remote, the terrain gets rougher, the food choices less varied and the vodka much cheaper. Our last rest day in Yusufeli is a good way to enjoy Turkey one last time. We’re camped next to a raging river that apparently host some of the worlds best white water rafting, though the season doesn’t start for another month. Last night we ate fresh trout from the river and washed it down with some Raki. Nadia and I laughed about her ride into town. “It was a tough one”, she said “I cursed your name many, many times! I was so angry that we had to climb all those hills on those narrow roads”. “I know exactly how you feel” I said. “I’ve also been on organized rides where it was so tough I yelled and swore under my breath at the guy who had organized it”. “ But in the end, those days are some of my fondest memories of riding. Days where I pushed myself to the very limit.”
I was glad Nadia was laughing about the day now, several riders has commented that her mood was not too good during the day. She’s been pushing herself very hard for 12 days now. She is determined to ride the whole route every day, despite the fact that she joined the tour in less than ideal shape. She’s mentally very tough, and soon her body will adapt and she’ll get stronger. It’s a transformation that is common on TdA tours and you can’t help but have a sense of admiration for clients who go through it.