Why we suffer.

Chris Jones and John getting through a hot day
Travelling the Silk Road by bicycle is not easy, that’s for sure. If you’re not fighting a headwind, you’re suffering through almost unbearably hot days. Except when you’re in the Pamir Mountains and you have to deal with freezing temperatures and sleet on the bike. Then of course there’s always the possibility of a seemingly quiet town turning into a war zone overnight .

It does seem like quite an ordeal to put yourself through and it’s not always apparent how someone can call this a holiday. But there are experiences that make it all worthwhile and recently we have had a few of these as we head through Turkmenistan.

Take the day when Jan was invited into a cotton field to spend some time with the cotton pickers. It turned into a chaotic 15 minutes where several teenage girls ended up fighting about who is going to take the next photo with our cameras and who is going to be on the photos with us.

Later the very same day we pulled into a Coke stop desperate for a cold drink and an ice cream. Three of us spent some time there after the rest of the group had left to fix a flat and recuperate from the insufferable heat outside when four Turkmen truck drivers pulled in for lunch. It wasn’t long before they had us around their table, eating and drinking with them. There really is no way of saying no to these guys, especially when one of them is the size of the three of us put together.

There is also another cherry on the cake that makes the hard work worthwhile – that feeling when you pull into camp after a hard day on the road or into a rest day after a hard section. The sound of the cold beer when you open it and the banter around the table as everyone looks back on their suffering. It’s not the easy days we’re going to remember when we look back at the trip. This is what it’s all about.

— Catharina Robbertze

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