Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Not a good start. I am sitting on the outskirts of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where my bike is supposed to be. In all my years of travel I have never had a bike go missing en route to the destination. Not only am I frustrated by the valuable days this is chewing up, there is [...]

Despite the travel chaos I had a great 12 hours in Istanbul. I arrived at 5.30am in the morning and Rowan and I headed into Sultanahmet to check out the mosques, palaces and statues.
The trip to Istanbul had special significance for me. It was the first time I had been back since I was drugged [...]

Distance: 100kms
As first days often are, today wasn’t a lot of fun. My bike arrived late last night – to my relief – and so what I thought would be another forced rest day changed suddenly. I was mobile. I got up early to assemble the bike and realised that it was in rough shape. [...]

Distance: 100kms
Severely dehydrated tonight after one of the most brutal, scary days of my life. I got an early start to beat the heat but progress was slowed by the headwind and steady incline up the Shoestring Gorge. I stopped for breakfast two hours in with only 20kms covered. The five-egg omelette with bread was [...]

Distance: 130kms
The litany of disasters continues. I’m sitting in a depressing Cold War Russian hotel (balcony above) in dusty Naryn contemplating whether my bike has suffered a fatal malfunction: the rear hub. When I spin the back wheel it struggles to complete a single revolution before grabbing tight on either the hub or rear disc [...]

Distance: 10km (standing)
Gave myself a checklist for today, in descending order of priority:
1. Get advice on/fix bike
2. Get medical supplies for saddle sore
3. Change money
4. Finally replenish toiletries
5. Get food for coming days
6. Get petrol for fuel bottle
The day started on the Internet with a kind of suspended dread while I tried to get to [...]

Distance: 125kms
A rollercoaster today. Had a light breakfast and was on the road by 7.15am. The saddle sore was unbearable and I was forced to ride standing up for the first two hours. The kilometres ticked by with the assistance of a tailwind and smooth bitumen. The absence of rubbing back brake was also uplifting. [...]

Distance: 105kms
The most gruelling road conditions and terrain I have ever encountered. The fact that I am in Kazarman surprises me as I was absolutely spent at 60kms. My understanding of today’s route was an initial high pass (3000m) and then either downhill or level roads to Kazarman. The first pass was as promised: brutal. [...]

Distance: 80kms
Not only did I strike gold with two guests from Geelong, but one of them turned out to be a doctor. Robin kindly offered to look at and treat my saddle sore, which by now had taken on status as a passenger on this trip. The gauze patch and Betadine I had applied in [...]

Distance: 80kms
A strange, disjointed day with radical changes in landscape and culture. The day would end in the famed Fergana Valley – the most Muslim region of Kyrgyzstan – a lush valley in stark contrast to the desert where it started.
I hatched my plan last night to rescue the situation: find a ride to the [...]