16 Kyrgyzstan

Our arrival in Kyrgyzstan could not have come sooner to us. It has a far more relaxed, peaceful atmosphere than that in Uzbekistan. The breathtaking mountains on the edge of the Himalayas were a welcome change to the deserts of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. We crossed the border into Osh, the country’s second largest city. It was here took quite some time away from the bikes here to let our bodies recover from the onslaught and regain some serious energy.

Feeling revitalised, we left Osh headed for the Chinese border and of course the mountains. It was not long before we left the moderate heat of this city for cooler, fresh mountain air. Under recent funding courtesy of the Peoples Bank of China, the new 350km road from Osh to the border was nearly complete. We lapped up this fast surface and the lovely tailwind (!?). Unfortunately for us, the one section of the road which was not complete was by far the most challenging up to the first of the two big passes. This had countless switchbacks and was in a dire state with huge plumes of dust engulfing us when each truck passed.

Continuing through the valleys, we passed many traditional yurts and were welcomed with ease by the locals.

In Sary Tash, a small town where the roads to the Chinese and Tajik borders meet with an incredible backdrop of 7000m+ mountains, we stayed in a well-known travelers guest house. It was here we ate quality food and met a Swedish couple who had just finished cycling the Pamir Highway.

Our final day in Kyrgyzstan was one of the best of the trip. Riding parallel to the mountain range, we met three more cyclists, an Englishman and a Belgian couple and cycled up to 3731metres which was the highest of the trip to date. We soaked up the benefits of rolling downhill until just 1kilometre before the Chinese border where we camped the night next to the red sandstone river.

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