Arrival in Istanbul. Meeting with other team members in airport. I arrive first, about 1 p.m. Alex and Nathan next from Brussels at 4 p.m. One essential piece of baggage missing. Oleg last at 6:30 p.m. carrying bike boxes and panniers through the streets of Istanbul at dusk, in a light rain, while the call to prayer blares.
May 9-1 1
Breakfast at the Egyptian bazzar. Ripped off on the price. Quoted 200,000 lire each, receive bill for 1.8 million. With the help of Gus, from Aman, Jordan, we pay 1 million and leave. Brandt arrives. "I've slept 3 hours in the past two days." Seeing the sights, Blue Mosque, St Sophia, underground cistern, taking the ferry "to Asian. Meeting Stacy and Mary and traveling to the outskirts to view the Bayram "killing fields"
Following around the underwear salesman in the green suit. Selling excess equipment at the Egyptian Bazzar. "40,000? I'll take no more than 20,000. That's firm."
92. km. time: 5:21
92 km to date
the long route to the Black Sea. through many small villages, each with imposing minaret reaching towards Allah. tea houses "on every comer" and tea in shot glasses, two cubes of sugar. cook pasta on BS coast. travel 10 km more to grassy campsite
Brandt: "I used to have gamma globulin shots every week 'cause I get sick so much
Alex: "You know a campsite is shitty when you can't find a place to piss."
Oleg: "Thees is Black Sea, Ukrainian territory."
88 km. time: 5:20
186 km to date
near Kandira, Turkey
Up early to dew soaked sleeping bags. Brandt looks like hell. Alex and I make "pancakes" with flour, water and eggs with a raspberry syrup. Oleg watches while we cook and pull down camp, then we wait 1/2 hour for him to load his bike. He makes up for his delay by taking off like a bat out of hell up the first hill. At 30 km he asks where we would be camping for the night. Cycle 1 hour, wait 1/2 hour for Oleg.
We lessen his load.
Oleg: "I did not think we were allowed to drink this water from the pumping. Alex, today we camp near river.
Doug: "AIex, today we completed 1% of the trip distance."
Camp behind grassy knoll. Bean (bums) stew for dinner
100 km. time: 5:21
286 km to date
near Karisu, Turkey
Lunch in dusty village. Man speaking German asks me is we want some "shit". no thanks. "You like women"
Doug: (to man standing near a bus stop) "Excuse me, do you know where I can find a boat to Yalta?"
Children: "Where are you from? "Where are you going?"
Camped near river under a delapitated gazebo. Oleg: "this place remind me of Natasha."
92 km. time: 5:20
378 km to date
Camped on roadside pullout. Oleg miserable after sleeping near animal corpse
93 km. time: 6:06
471 km to date
near Bartin, Turkey. beyond Zonguldak
Start day with long, steady climb followed by cold descent. Have cay with Alex at bottom of hill. Nathan bonks near end of day. Farming road for campsite after passing cow corpse in ditch. Oleg helps me prepare dinner then disappears for a bath. I'm about to call him back when I realize I'm faster without him. My knees are on fire. Taking 5-7 Advil's each day. Today I consider whether I'll be able to finish if knees do not strengthen
89 km. time: 6:08
560 km to date
Very steep hills today, especially leaving Amarasu lunch stop. Nap in Memmoy, outside store. Oleg: "this store is like a Russian store." Rubber boots and Ruffles. Camp in city park. I get up and barf at night. Alex: "Doug, make sure you clean the add from your mouth after throwing up."
100 km. time: 7:35
660 km to date
I barf after I km outside storefront. Owner sprays cologne in my face. Lying on picnic table waiting for Oleg and Brandt. Bus stops and woman chucks garbage over cliff. Brandt looks like death and takes a ride. Oleg too. Nathan bonks and takes ride to village. Stays in Pancion. I'm shifting all night camped on riverside with Alex. Crackers and toilet water soup for dinner.
79 km. time: 5:15
739 km to date
Meet Brandt and Oleg in Ineboulu, where Nathan announces he, too will bus to Sinop. Bayram parade in Ineboulu. After town I sleep at the junkyard while Alex makes new stove tangs with curator of yard. Stay at "penal colony" hotel in town, 75,000 lire. Have lamb sandwiches with shifty "teacher" from "next town down" here "on business" with his motorcycle.
107 km. time: 6:00
846 km to date
And then there were two. Cruising by 6:30 a.m. realization of our efficiency in fewer numbers. 90 km by 12:30 and no sign of the others. 5 km from Sinop they pull us over. Ride to docks and find Mitch, the Ukranian destroyer, setting sail for YaHa in 4 days. Time to recoup and gorge ourselves.
Staying at Sami Gule's "Pales Gule" for 125,000 lire/night. Khan, 18 year old English student becomes our guide. Friend of his can't wait to join army to "kick some Kurdish ass". we get a tour of the local museum during "museum week" from Khan's English teacher. Alex meets Kenan, the Turk with the Georgian accent, while shopping for a new bike seat for Oleg. Kenan teaches Nathan about "the mind of Allah" while we drink cay in the Kasim Hotel lounge listening to "Cim" (grass) wail her Turk strains. Multiple trips to restaurant for pudding.
Mitch, circa 1955 Soviet navy submarine destroyer. Carrying now bleach blond, overly made up, cheap jewelry, overweight Ukranain orange merchants. Alex: "maybe we should bring some calculators to sell in Yalta." Mitch's first mate, black beret fought in Angola, shot down from helicopter, asks us if his Ray Ban's are authentic. We're the first Americans to board this ship. 15 hours Iying down with eyes dosed. Rock and roll ride. Brandt pukes when he gets up. Lina, custom officer invites Alex for a swim. My custom guy counts every bill I have.
Nathan and I follow Sergei and I to Lavidia Palace. Sergei rides his bike with a drain pipe covering the top tube and 72 spokes in his wheel. That night presents us with $140 bill, including $20 "accompany charge." I share some vodka with a group of 4 Ukranian cycle tourists led by Anatolly, all wearing the horizontal striped mime shirts. Oleg smiles for the first time since Istanbul, Natasha is here
37 km. time 1:44
883 km to date
Slava escorts us out of town, a keen cyclist with a mop of blond curly hair. Bread sells for 40,000 kupon, at 150,000 kupon/dollar. Brandt is sick again. Stay in a backyard pension. I leave my Swiss army knife on the wharf. Oleg wears a speedo
93 km. time 5:32
976 km to date
Three of us ride. Oleg and Brandt taxi out of Alushta. Strong. Stop at store while good looking woman tries to talk to us. Mafia husband stares at us from tinted window Volvo. Meet in Sudak on Bladk sea coast. Oleg loses his sleeping bag. "Doug, why you make joke me?" He spends night shivering in his clothes
131 km. time 6:52
1107 to date
near Kerch, Ukraine
Begin as Brandt's pacesetter at 15 km/hr. He's hurting. Leave Crimea mountains for Alberta style plains and guys collecting hay on motorcycles. Oleg: "They collect this grass because of rabbits." Leave Brandt at 20 km and break away with Alex. Strong again. Guy we meet in Sudak paces us until lunch in Fedosia. Dill pickles, ice cream and bread. Push final 25 km to small village. Woman at market houses us. Son killed at soccer match in Simeropal. She spends evening crying to us, reminding her of her son. Oleg weeps to himself at night, missing Natasha.
130 km. time 6:00
1237 to date
Frustration in Kerch waiting for Oleg to telephone Astrakhan. "It is impossible." Baby faced Ukranian border guards check our bags while we scarf down bread and honey. They stare at our passports in wonder. Hammer away down perfectly paved highway with howling tailwind. Lose Nathan at Temriuk turnoff, 13 km after city limits monument. Camp near reservoir, mosquitos munch us while we cook potatos in the dark.
168 km. time 8:15
1405 to date
Starkorsunskoye, Russia (not quite)
Begin day with bread truck roadside, loaded with usual Soviet bread and "sweet" rolls. Something different, anyway. Lunch in Slavinsk na Kubani. Alex and I wait for others against magasin, chugging actually tasty raspberry pops. Big market behind bus station. "Piva" tanks, 45 gallon drums with a tap stuck in the bottom hot and thirsty afternoon. Waiting in Krasnodar for Nathan, who forgot to eat. Old Russian uses dictionary to describe his country: "poverty" Oleg proposes to cook, leaves the pack at sunset in the wrong direction. We weave through town, looking for our camp village. Checkpoint guards fill our water bottles, chased out of the field by the motorcycle guy, despite Nathan's mime. Sleep in apple orchard. No Oleg.
140 km. time 7:30
1545 km to date
Find Oleg in bus graveyard. Rest and breakfast next to reservoir in Starkor. Oleg takes shortcut without telling us, ends up ahead of us despite leaving town after. Lunch in Ladzhskoye. Autograph signing with children. Restaurant worker wants Brandt's foamie. I take wrong turn before town, take 1 hour longer to find group at dusk. Train station in Kropotkin. Soldiers embark for Baku.
96 km. time 5:00
1641 km to date
Six km today on "the worst dirt road I have ever seen" we study large billboard map at end, Oleg rides by, ignoring us. Alex and I draft sand truck, l pull out, Alex runs over a dead dog at 53 km/in. Lunch in Novoalexandra. No sign of Nathan. Sidecar family race ahead to deliver note to Nathan. Camp by deserted church. Shotgun a beer with Brandt, his birthday. Meeting with Oleg to law down the law.
92 km time 4:39
1737 km to date
Very tough headwinds. Oleg can't lead a paceline, but informs us not to turn right down the farmer's dirt road. Oleg gets his shoe fixed in town. Fill up with gas before facing winds. Oleg's duty is to find eggs, door to door. Stop beside river and swim with young Russians. Last 30 km tailwind. Into town, checkpoint guy asks me about NHL hockey. Down a jar of dill pickles. Denise has a crush on Alex. Camp in front of run down schoolhouse. Local kids bring vodka. Jane gives me a kiss and demands a postcard from Vancouver.
186 km. time: 8:33
1922 km to date
25 km before Elista.
Wake to find man cutting grass with a sickle. Ipotova for lunch. Women dressed in very formal clothing. Leaving town a wedding party on the same day as Scott Little's wedding. We're invited for drinks.
168 km. time: 7:27
2090 km to date
170 km from Astrakhan
Elista this morning I buy pasta and am given free box of chocolates by Asian looking woman. Before lunch at comer turnoff before small village. Offered shashlik and mineral water by officer and his wife and Russian looking guy, Ivan. Lunch stop swim, Oleg, bare assed freaks out at the sight of a snake. Catch wicked draft off bus and cruise into town. Marijuana smoking locals. Oleg says they're KGB officers following us. Roadside camp, Nathan cooks, bums out our fuckin' mouths
193 km. time: 9:28
2283 km to date
At 35 km low on water, stop at Great Patriotic War monument and break into well. Cruising morning, stop in shadeless desert and set up tent for shelter in sweltering sun. highway asphalt seems to melt in the heat, heaving and slow under our tires. Oleg (totally bonked): "Alex, l must stop and have a glass of milk." The last I ever see of Oleg. Riding four abreast towards town in the failing light and hungry mosquitos. Legendary day. Road warriors, into the city pitch black, find Grecia, directions to only hotel accepting foreigners. 50,000 rubles each per night.
Brandt fires Oleg. Modes of transport out of Russia explored. Dinner with Grecia. Sniper bullet. All staring at the beautiful girl. Grecia opens vodka with film container. Ice cream in high brow bar. Climb in van with two guys to dacha party. Drunk drivers. Out of gas. Taxi home. Telephone calls home. Empty department stores and deserted parks. Andre Maloshkin and the caviar hunt. News reporter with southern U.S. accent. Hotel cheaper second night. Sunday Emenka buys plane tickets.
Aeroflot from Russia. Customs is a joke, no bags checked. Baggage handlers ride our bikes down the tarmac. Pilot doesn't know what to to with Air Canada pin. First look at Kara Kum desert moonscape from air. Niyasov portrait on airport. Customs guards stunned at sight of our bikes. "What you propose is impossible" fax from consulate. Hounded in store to change money. Hotel 6000 Manat 2 nights. Shit splattered on walls of toilet. Restaurant sickly pink. Eat with big russian guys. Brandt says "Jimminy Christmas" with a straight face.
Shopping for food. stores "Swift's Beef and Vafiety Meatmarket," rows of identical vegetables, potatos. "dollars, yes?" Change money at bank, official rate 195/dollar. Follow guy into lade from bank and change at 235/dollar. Plums, cherries, onions, peppers, potatos. Pot stuffers on Caspian coast picnic. Cleanest toilets yet on shore complex. Alex calls Ethan for 5 minutes @ $20.
143 km. time 7:25
2437 km to date
Cycling in blackness by 3:45 am. Experiment day with full dromos, bikes bending under weight. Lose Brandt and 1/2 hr of cool cycling with broken chain. Lunch in bus stop. Alexsi, sturgeon konfrabandiste and side kick show us the proper route. Discuss Turkmen women, NHL hockey, and politics. Town, waiting, kids take Al's thermometer as "gift". headwinds strong, still cycling 2 pm. Camp in shaded courtyard. Kids gawk from over stone wall. Turkmen concert and rain at night.
152 km. time 7:33
2590 km to date
Headwinds kill us early on through Nebit-Dagh. Brandt sick again, and sulking. Waiting at "gai" station. Follow Aman to his home. 8 km along a dirt trail. Cay and lepioshka and a nap as shit flies buzz around our glistening bodies. "Alex, tablet?" for son with toothache. granddad digs Swiss army knife and dromo bags. bathing from his big rusty tank. 3pm Alex and I hammer away to make 120 km before stores dose. average 28 kph for 5 hours. pipeline follows road, spewing geysers along the way. dunes block roadway for 30 m. road worsens, swerving lade-sized potholes to maintain speed. beans, rice, pickles and cabbage for dinner.
143 km. time 5:50
2733 km to date
Posing on the ridiculously large monument outside KazandhikI catch Al further up the road, pulling out of an askhana, "all they had was meat, cigarettes and vodka." Kizyl Arvat lunch, Al & I polish off a watermelon before the others arrive. Drunk man makes us "salat" while Nathan sleeps on the floor, then later shits on the sidewalk. Camp outside town after apricot boots us from shaded courtyard. Dinner in restaurant by cool Russian guy.
92 km time: ?
2825 km to date
Reach town in exhaustion and drink sodas on kiosk, politely declining the apricots covered in ants offered by the proprietor. Brandt and Nathan pissed that they couldn't find us. We're bonked on the sidewalk of the pathetic market. Brandt shops for dinner, ¥there's really not too much here." Smell bread leaving town, follow nose to bakery and get free bread. Search for Geok-Tepe hot springs, rudnick exhaustion breeds apathy. Al is now shitting "frothy green"
91 km time: 3:00 (average speed 30.1 kph-trip record)
2916 km to date
Wake to howling tail. Peak with Al for ten minutes at 45kph. Wailing past the waving "gai" stations. Straight to U.S. consulate and Ben Webber, "you guys, always wear helmets, okay?" Florida restaurant cheeseburgers with "visne" to drink. Margarita, "okay, see you in three days. Please eat this "borsht" soup. it is for you
Change money repeatedly with liquor store owner down the road from Margarita's. Ethan arrives. Cutting through translation time, 3 month Chinese visa extension.
100 km time: 4:11
3016 km to date
Ethan cuts us to the front of the "benzene" queue. Guy in tie gives me shit for taking a picture. Lunch roadside at tractor depot, "operators of the co-op were important people during communist times." Not so anymore. Dying puppy. Brandt: "you keep the cyclometer, I'd rather not know how far I've gone." Fantas on the Iranian border. Tents next to barbed wire. Bathe on leaking canal pipeline.
160 km time: 5:44
3176 km to date
Tedzhen, Turkmenistan (30 km beyond)
Average 33.5 kph over first 80 km. Dusak border guards wave us through. no town, only aluminum
Trailer and canvas lean-to on leeward side. Serinos, three each, then vodka. shit flies all over us. more
vodka. 10 am. parched into Tedzhen market. Iranian orange juice. Scolded for wearing shorts. Kids steal Nathan's sunglasses and Brandt's walkman. Hide from heat in Boris's home while surly wife brings meaty soup.
116 km time: 5:36
3292 to date
Alex and I the sick ones today. Slow start and lots of shits. Hide from midday sun under a bridge and then under a trailer with Turkmen guys feeding me cay, jumping in the muddy but refreshing river.
10 minutes into afternoon ride Ethan is puking roadside, Peace Corps truck pulls up, Ann Perry shows me her cleavage and offers chapstick. Long way to Mary. Ethan hitches, Al and I struggle, eating dusty crackers. Sunset and no Mary, only foul smells from bowels and passing garbage dumps.
June 20, 21
Early morning knock on the door. Ethan is quitting after three days of riding. Cannibalize Ethan's bike and take his peanut butter. Al is paralyzed, two jars bedside. The famous search for a hospital, "infection specialty" centre and ambulance ride
125 km time: 5:24
3417 km to date
Uc Adzi, Turkmenistan
Cruising by 5:30, despite Brandt's coddling, 100 km by 10 am. then scorching, 45 C. Nathan gets nervous, wanting to hide under a tarp tied between two bushes for 8 hours. Find a "kafe" and pull in and crash. Drink King Cola and meat pies. Leave at 6 pm, still hot. nathan sighs, Brandt is sick again, moaning as I make pasta
June 23 149 km time 6:00
3566 km to date
Brandt announces he's hitching. Nathan looks almost envious. Another hot one, l run out of water as I reach town. Meet Rose, 72 year old Peace Corps on her 6th tour! and her silent companion, Moulda. to "apartment X" with Srubar, 61 year old teacher at the institute. "Free advice, farmer to farmer" "chute, for cattle cattle castration" "no horn glue" "one thousand lorries" meet alex and Srubar repeats the stories, B & N are zombies.
148 km 7:15
3714 km to date
Leaving town, crossing the Amu Darya river Brandt slips twice. Line up for border crossing, truckers having passed us days before applaud our precession. Visa problems ignite Al and Brandt. Al gets flat at lunch. Shit hole hotel makes us leave by 8 am. Raisa Gareeva rescues us and puts us up in her a/c apartment.
June 25, 26
Raisa's 17 year old son, Marcel gives us a catatonic city tour. Sit drinking bottomless cay at Labykhaus, with children jumping off gnarled, ancient trees into the stagnant cesspool
158 km time: 6:52
3872 km to date
1 day west of Samarkand
Crank problems leaving town. I break the 32 mm wrench removing BB. Uzbeks shout annoyingly from storefronts. Lunch in empty mud team. Rain pours, we sleep. No Brandt or Nathan, they bus it.
122 km time: 5:21
3994 km to date
Riding quickly, no lagging riders. Farmers pass as we eat breakfast in a grassy pasture. First mountain views since Ascabat. Scenery changes to brown, grassy hills. Pull into empty bazaar for afternoon nap. Into town having ice cream a man recognizes us as friends of B & N and escorts us to house of Yuri Fyodorov
Lunch with the restoration construction workers at Bibi Khaum. Pork kebabs with soldiers at streetside khana.
167 km time 8:07
4160 km to date
Dry, hot mountains through a river valley. Lunch at roadside khana where we abuse female service staff. Camp in field next to dry irrigation flume
139 km time 6:12
4300 km to date
Night in the bank manager's office hosted be Alexi, Boris, and the good looking silent guy smoking 3 sum "Astra" cigarettes. Check in to Turon hotel recommended by German backpackers
Nathan blows out.
129 km time 6:00
4429 km to date
Morning hills and a nap in a shaded park across from the market. Freshly paved asphalt frustrates efforts before lunch. Clean bikes with gasoline while waiting for Brandt.
141 km time 7:17, climb 1515m
4570 km to date
Morning climb up 19 km of switchbacks. Lunch at roadside khana at peak. 40 km downhill to Pap and China tour hats. "I try not to eat beef anymore...except when I want to
149 km time 7:21, climb 940m
4719 km to date
I narrowly avoid running over two children. Al buys Tajikistan Marathon l-shirt at Uzbek border station. I get flat at dusk in tunnel. Brandt fries potatos and boils corn endlessly into the night.
115 km time 6:37, climb 1480m
4834 km to date
Lunch in Karakul. Exchange money with "liquor store guy". Long circuit around Toktogul reservoir. Fish for dinner and storms all around us.
119 km time 8:54, climb 2850m
4953 km to date
top of Toktogul Pass, Kyrgyzstan
Brandt leaves us at Toktugul market. Climb all day, 2850 m ascent today, trip single day record. Weather kicks our ass half way. Camp next to yurt.
5113 km to date
Legendary day. Big downhill with 10,000 yard fairways. Lunch with Kamaz trucks. Stay in Chayek Gastinetza as storms follow us all day. Follow Susamyr river all day.
192 km, peak elev 2700m
5305 km to date
More rain and cold follow. can't find food, only "magazin zakritee" in each town. paved roads disappear
Over 2200 m. flat tire at sunset with town in sight.
153 km time 8:00, climb 1550m, peak elev 3100rr
5458 km to date
40 km before Naryn, Kyrgyzstan
Good start in morning backtracking to Kochkora to head south to Naryn. Rain kicks again at a cay stop.
Drunk guys fight as we take off. Sary Bulak, everyone's chunk
120 km time 6:36, climb 1380m
5579 km to date
100 km before Torugart Pass
Lunch in Naryn at Muhammed's place with Jasamine. Trying to find Out if border is open on weekends. Our city guide, "remember me, Alex.
101 km time 7:08, climb 1650m
5681 km to date
Torugart Pass, Kyrgyzstan
Destroy watchtower dummy. Al breaks spoke early. Drunk guys won't let us pass. We have two days to kill at 3700 m.
64 km time 3:19
5745 km to date
Torugart Pass, China
Border crossing drama with peace corps guys Ben and Mike.
5865 km to date
Pull up into John's Cafe at Seman Hotel. Meet John Hannon, from Vancouver. Go for cay at Uyquer cafe later that night.
135 km time 7:14, climb 1290m
6000 km to date
Leave Kashgar with manager dragging off back of bikes. Want 200 yuan for shower damage. No problem at Ghez checkpoint despite our paranoia.
128 km time 7:17, climb 1745m
6128 km to date
30km before Taxkurgan, China
Pass Kongur and Mutztagh Ata but dust storm obstructs view. Chinese student wants to speak to us but doesn't say a word. Camp in shell of a house, very windy
140 km time 7:02, climb 1100m
6268 km to date
Khunjerab Pass, China
Lunch in Taxkurgan. Charged extra after having eaten. People loner. Gas attack before dinner. Al hears "Free Willy 2" preview on radio
158 km time 9:00, climb 1035m
6426 km to date
Morning crossing we awaken Chinese border guards from trailer. Helicopter circles and lands on Pakistan side. Temperature plummet and rain pours. Cold descent.
6484 km to date, climb 1655m
Monsoon destroys road. Portage bikes and call it an early day. Haider Beg and the Swiss Bible thumper family.
107 km time 6:38, climb 850m
6591 km to date
Al breaks a chain. Tourist cottage and Ohio guy Doug tells great stories. Discover mango shakes in chaotic Gilgit.
138 km time 7:24, climb 1200m
6729 km to date
Starting to wear out. Tires blow out at the sidewall. Long uphill climb to hotel on hillside. First day we start taking Malaria medication.
131 km, climb 1000m
6860 km to date
Dehydration! No energy today. Weakening. Kids block road into down "one pen! One pen!" I blast through and level one child. Keep on riding, no looking back.
105 km time 6:50, climb 1225m
6965 km to date
No sleep last night, vivid Larium dreams. Trucks with permanent horns. Yoda blocks the stairway to street. Extended lunch Iying drinking Coke on rope beds.
7015 km to date
5 Km out of Takot landslide blocks road. Pay kids 50 Rs. to carry luggage. I bonk. Alex rides ahead from Battagram while I hitch with Ahzar, the zealous Muslim.
7073 km to date
Chmologically fucked up. Long R&R in Islamabad. Alex recovers and eats husk.
Bus to Lahore and ride across border to Amritsar. Night "Deluxe Coach" to Delhi.
Taj Mahal, Agra India
The crammed in twice as long return to Delhi.
August 9 144 km time 7:00 7217 km to date Aligarh, India Chaos, din' moist. Gray drizzle leaving Delhi, like the dying seconds of a Centipede video game. Horking snotballs at oncoming buses that don't yield. Dinner "Kwality"
128 km time 6:30
7345 km to date
Last town of the day crowd chases us into small courtyard. We want only privacy and a Coke. Bananas wrapped in nan "ba-NAN-a" main diet. Worst hotel of trip.
183 km 7528 km to date
Free range monkeys, cobra around a dude's neck. Water Buffalo lounge in muck to cool huge, sweaty, hydes. "Tourist Bungalow" a change from last night.
130 km time 5:30
7658 km to date
"Sir, these people are dying." Dinner with overly polite rich kids. 20 km by 1 pm. Cruise after nightmare sending mail and changing money. Chaffing is killing me.
179 km 5:30
7837 km to date
Anive late into town and struggle in dark to find hotel. Star Wars bar scene in restaurant as rain comes pouring down. Ceiling fan fails throughout the night.
7957 km to date
Find the road workers resthouse and are hosted by Hansh, former MP who gives us poverty stats on India. Rickshaw ride into town for dinner.
133 km time 7:10, climb 440m
8090 km to date
After border crossing "shortcut" leads us down mud road and crossing mud rivers on "ferries". Hotel town, have to step over family watching tv in lobby.
129 km time 7:04, climb 890m
8219 km to date
Malekhu, Nepal 800 m
Meet Brett, the ultra flake from Colorado, taking yoga courses and out of tire patches. A goat eats my bananas from my hand.
75 km time 5:50, climb 1450m
8294 km to date
A rough day for me. Totally bonked early on. Spend all day climbing and spinning in first gear. Collapse at the Pooja Guesthouse, rec by Jeff, the Scotsman.
35 km time 2:15
8329 km to date
Bike just enough to test new drive train and get out of town. Immediately leaving town cuisine regresses.
Dine at Snowview hotel with two Gemman sisters.
88 km time 7:00, climb 1865m
8417 km to date
Kodari, Nepal 2060m
Road worsens after 50 km of unexpected downhill. Rest of the day regaining it on marginal to poor dirt and mud.
August 22-23 60 km time two days, climb 3255m
8477 km to date
beyond Nyalam, Tibet 4400m
Impossible to describe the most fucked up two days of the entire trip. Still can't believe we pulled this one off.
89 km time 7:00, climb 1270m, peak 5050m, 5100m
8566 km to date
before Tingri, Tibet 4600m
A single gear day. Head pounds at 25 km. Paranoid, we head south when we see army jeeps approaching. Meet the Bonn to Beijing jeep team for the first time
109 km time 7:00, climb 375m
8675 km to date
5 km beyond Tingri, Tibet 4520m
Checkpoints no problem, guards curious about dental floss. In Tingri fat cat tourists eat at expensive restaurant while we eat cheap, with the workers
85 km time 8:00, climb 111Om, peak 5200m
8760 km to date
Lhatze, Tibet 4240m
Morning slog through 50 m mudhole. Meet Swiss couple on road for 2 years then climb hard to 5221m - highest point of the trip. Meet Hiro in Lhatze.
118 km time 7:47, climb 655m
8878 km to date
35 km from Shigake, Tibet 4200m
Hiro bonks early, seems afraid of me after I throw a shovel at a kid who grabs my bike. Camp with German tour group. I'm exhausted, l lose the shortwave.
130 km, climb 300m
9008 km to date
Part with Alex in Shigake, wanting to take the old road to Gyantse. Rough road, rain pours. Roads flood, rising past axle level. Gyantse "Carpet Makers Resthouse"
61 km time 3:30, climb 500m
9069 km to date
down the road from Lhasa 41 70m
Late start after lunch at Tashi. Bloated, slow and hurting. Horse festival Camp at small village where "pull my finger" joke entertains onlooking children
122 km time 7:00, climb 1185m, peak 4520 m
9191 km to date
20 km beyond Damxeung, Tibet, 4520m
Watch military prepare for visit from important guy in small village. Look for truck ride to Namco Lake. Camp oh hilltop next to prayer flags.
121 km time 7:00, climb 900m, peak 4950m, 4750m
9312 km to date
40 km from Nakchu 4800m
Up and down through river valleys and across parallel mountain ranges. One theater replaces another. Convoys pass constantly, "OKI OKI"
130 km time 6:24, climb 915m
9442 km to date
60 km from Amdo 4835m
Nakchu horse festival, Tibetans chase us through tent city. Meet southbound Japanese cyclist. Big sky, cool nights, we eat in tent bundled up.
117 km time 6:45, climb 1270m
9559 km to date
20 km from Tibet border, 51 80m
Descend 250m in 6km to Amdo, ugly riverbed town. At rest stop guy pulls large knife on me. Shelter in work camp as hail pelts our bikes.
126 km time 7:00, climb 570m, peak 5231 m trip highest pass
9685 km to date
80 km from Tuotuo, China 4775m
Snow surrounds at equal elevations, 4 C. "Road....notsogood" as workers in masks cover potholes.
Lunch Wenquan, halfway to Golmud.
134 km time 6:30, climb 450m
9819 km to date
88 km past Tuotuo, China 4650m
Rainy morning, big tailwind 29 kph then rest at ruined foundation. Tuotuo-men play outdoor pool tables.
Shelter from rain with mom and son in nomad tent.
106 km time 6:30, climb 1000m
9925 km to date
Wuodaoliang, China 4650m
Shiver down morning tea. Pass truck with spilled beer. Temp plummets, l seek shelter in "monestary", settle for Tibetan family restaurant
September 9 125 km time 7:30, climb 620m 10,050 km to date 10 km beyond end of Tibetan plateau pass 4500m Wake to 1Ocm snow. Town of Qumar Heyan is missing. Fade in afternoon. Cleat pulls out of my shoe
151 km time 6:40, climb 380m
10,201 km to date
Golmud, China 3000m
Thought we had only 90 km today, maps fucked. Army guys say 90 more after 60 already. Japanese guy heading up, no clothing. Leave Tibet behind. Haul to town
140 km time 7:20, climb 700m,
10,341 km to date
after Golmud salt flats 3370m
I fight three Chinese guys for my laundry after "banana pancak" at "The Big Yar" restaurant. Pass "Fairest Salt Flat Bridge" into desert, lattice windbreaks.
130 km time 6:30, climb 510m
10,471 km to date
after Ige He river, China 3345m
At 55km looking for lunch in Da Qaidam Zhen, chef stuffs us with salty, greasy spinach. Dry, Turkmen style mountain. Last of the snowy peaks. Lunch on bridge
115 km time 7:10, climb 680m
10,586 km to date
Suhai Hu Valley, China 3020m
First of Autumn mornings 4 C. Roller coaster for 35 km then huge valley. Jianlibao at 80 km at lonely outpost. Road to shit, headwinds pound, trucks choke with dust.
160 km time 8:00, climb 975m
10,746 km to date
Dunhuong, China 1350m
Moming climb up last mtn range. Guys pound truck wheel rim at top, arm numbing descent. Rocket to town, too fast, last spare tire. Bonked, can't eat. 7 yuan hotel.
184 km time 7:22, climb 360m
10,930 km to date
75 km past Anxi, China 1500m
Map is wrong: 82 km becomes 117. Tailwinds bless. Sweet potatos and restaurant meal with drunk official tries to steal our apples. Ghost town water fill, Al dusk flat.
127 km time 6:10, climb 450m
11,057 km to date
before Jiayuguan, China 1750m
Yumenzhen lunch and a new peach drink. Sign hurts: 125 km to Jiayuguanl Road turns south and winds from side. Camp behind sand dune. Tired, sleep hard
88 km time 4:30, climb 600m
11,145 km to date
Jiayuguan, China 1600m
Leisure ride to lunch view of industrial town of Yumen, muddy fragments of possible Great Wall. Road crews wear surgical masks. Overweight lorries.
114 km time 5:45, climb 150m
11,259 km to date
37 km past Jinta, China 1430m
Lunch in market of big noodle bown. Big glasses. Leave agricultural fields and camp behind sand dunes on south edge of Gobi.
79 km time 4:30
11,338 km to date
back in Jinta, China under arrest
Pass "copper mine" and road deteriorates to unridable sand. Rest eating banana chips when tinted Honda approaches. The rest is history.
Jeep and coal truck from arrest point to Jinta (3 yuan)
Bus from Jinta to Jiayuguan (driver wants 100 yuan)
Bus Jiayuguan to Landzhou. 17 hours of hell
Bus from Landzhou to airport, stay with Daniel, jet engineer, watch African Queen
Airplane Landzhou to Beijing
Taxi Jinghua hotel to Beijing train station (checking baggage a 1/2 day affair,
Us, "I have found the end of my patience."
Trian Beijing to Zamen Ude, stay in home of Zanhoo
Chinese student helps
Jeep Zamen Ude to Seinsand, driven by Eggie, "hey mans! That's fuckin great! Jeep Seinsand to Dalanzadagad, sparking dashboard and Choco Pies.
September 30 55 km time 4:30
11,393 km to date
beyond Dalanzadagad, Mongolia
Out of town we take the wrong road and take a straight line across desert. Find proper road at dusk.
106 km time 7:15
11,499 km to date
Frozen water in morning. Follow power lines. Where'd they go. Army truck passes. Fill water in town of children only, camp 1 km beyond.
102 km time 6:30
11,601 km to date
not Huld, Mongolia
Fill up at ger and eat strong, hard cheese and kumus. Sunset camp, wind howls and picks up tent.
104 km time 9:30
11,705 km to date
Toughest day of the trip. Howling headwind blows us off road. Spinning 10 km/in. Lunch at building for wind shelter. Reach town in darkness, monk speaks english. Stuff pillow in broken window frame
ride 19 km 11,724 km to date
Jeep into desert for 150 km
111 km time 5:30
11,835 km to date
WAHOOOOOI awaken to -10C. Frozen water in pots, rice pudding is frozen solid. Bike is dying, down to 4 working gears. With town in sight we stop and eat bread, toasting every person we could think of from the last five months.