SWR Special – ‘Bikepacking the Himalaya’

September 9, 2014

14 days – 656km – 7 x 4900m+ passes – endless river crossings – snow – sleet – ice – heat exhaustion – diarrhea – solo – on a bicycle…

Prologue

The big orange sticker on the cover of Mountain Biking UK staring down at me from newsagents shelf at Heathrow coach station read ‘Welsh Special’. I read it on the way home and shelved it for when the opportunity arose.

Well that opportunity arose in May this year and I spent a week cycling mostly off-road from Coast-2-Coast (Conwy – Port Talbot) in what proved to be a successful first attempt at carrying all my kit ‘bikepacking’ style. I was ready for the Himalaya…

Surly Troll – Ready to Roll…

 

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Chapter 34 – Silk Roads to Siberia Pt IV: The Western BAM

July 31, 2014

[NB: Distance and time trips not updated this chapter]

With so much going on everyday my diary notes are a little ‘thin’ for the period I spent in Siberia and so I’ve used photo’s and written a daily account of events in a kind of Ride Report style for this chapter…

The Western BAM from Severobaikalsk to Tynda: 1464km of this…

 

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Chapter 33 – Silk Roads to Siberia Pt III – Altai Adventure

February 2, 2014

It was a slow, snowy, slushy, muddy descent from the pass and I was conscious of the pain in my back after picking my bike up off the ground at the border. Unsure if I had the strength to pick it up again should I fall I descended cautiously through the cloud.

After negotiating several switchbacks I came to a group of buildings surrounded by numerous trucks all with their bonnets open and presumably in various states of repair. I was approached by a guy and asked if I’d deliver a 1.2m long steel spike to some guys that were working on the road further down the mountain. I agreed, but failed to see that one end was covered in a thick, oily deposit that slowly found its way onto everything – including my tent!

I dropped the spike off and continued along what must be the longest ‘no-mans land’ I can ever remember crossing. Eventually I came to the Kyrgyzstan border where the first guard looked at my passport and sent me to the immigration office. Within seconds my passport was back in my hand having been stamped and I was ushered off to customs. I found them eating lunch and expected to be in for a long wait. All I got was “You go Osh?” “Da” I said and was told to “GO…GO!” I’ve never crossed a border so fast!

Back on tarmac after entering Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan

…read the rest of Chapter 33


Chapter 32 – Silk Roads to Siberia Pt II – ‘The Roof of the World’

July 4, 2013

Tajikistan

Along with the change of country came a change of weather and as I followed the straight, smooth ribbon of tarmac along the wide valley so there was a storm brewing to the north.

The sky looked ominous as I rode into Tajikistan

…read the rest of Chapter 32


Chapter 31 – Silk Roads to Siberia – Pt I

May 27, 2013

England – Uzbekistan

The long cold winter stretched all the way to Istanbul. The snowline throughout the Alps was still as low as 600m ski resorts normally looking sad and forlorn by mid-April still had plenty of snow and the car parks were full of eager skiers & snowboarders. Even as far south as Serbia I passed through banks of snow on passes only 1500m high. The only respite was the Croatian coast where despite still being chilly the sun was shining.

Along Croatia’s coast road

For a week my heated grips remained on all the time I was riding. During the night when temperature’s fell to 3°C my new, lightweight sleeping bag felt like it prevented me from dying rather than keeping me warm. In fact the only thing warm during that first week was the welcome I received from Mehmet, Apo & Tylan when I arrived at the Kuzgum Moto Adventures clubhouse on the outskirts of Istanbul. Yoshi was there to having flown his bike from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt last summer.

So what was I doing back in Istanbul anyway???

…read the rest of Chapter 31


Chapter 30 – 2012: A Year in Transition

February 16, 2013

Indian Summer

 

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Delhi International Airport where the time is 0320 and the outside air temperature 36°C (97°F)” …WTF!!!

I was on my way to Manali, set amongst the foothills of the Indian Himalaya where I was to spend the summer working with Blazing Trails Tours as an outrider and ‘trainee’ tour leader.

Happy to be back in Ladakh?….I was on top of the world! (Damon I’Anson photo)

…read the rest of Chapter 30


Chapter 29 – Welcome to the Jungle…

May 22, 2012

…”we got fun ‘n’ games”. The bugs ate me alive, I broke my speedometer, tent, laptop, sleeping pad and got stuck in Brazilian customs. Oh…and then there were the snakes…Fun ‘n’ games? Oh yeah…

100% Deet!? Hah…the bugs laughed in my face!

What did I find poking around in this Venezuelan swamp?

…Read the rest of Chapter 29


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