2 Ride the World - the epic journey continues 2RTW

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by simon thomas, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. tracyprier

    tracyprier Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
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    Auckland, New Zealand
    Amazing journey Simon...more please :)

    Looking at yours and others photos of that region are just stunning... It is the sort of landscape that makes you want to burst into spontaneous applause! the light there is almost unbelievable

    thanks for sharing your journey with us

    Tracy
  2. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Merrickville, Canada
    I guess the big question is where are you going to go once you finish touring the Earth ;)

    As always, amazing photo's. Inspiring would be the best term I can come up with.

    Good luck on your travels, thanks for sharing.
  3. lisa thomas

    lisa thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
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    10 years on the road and still going..back in USA!
    Deadly99, after we've finished I was thinking of sitting naked, backwards on the bike and riding around the world the other way...:evil

    No seriously this is a question we're often asked and I have absolutely no idea, it brings me out in hot sweats just thinking about it.

    tracyprier...thanks for the kind words, but you are right the light in this part of the world is wonderful especially in the sunset hours. Mongolia was our favorite for this.

    Johnny Dakar...as a well known company says..."just do it"! Where are you thinking of traveling and when???? C'mon give it up, we want to know:lol3

    WarLlama...you're almost right! Simon's crazy and I'm just awsome:D :freaky

    OK, I'm off to drink another 'Nepali Ice' beer and kick Simon in the ass and get him to upload the next post.

    Check out our website as I think Simon is uploading a new 'pic of the week' on the homepage, it's a photo we took yesterday of FishTail mountain...beautiful.

    Cheers for now
    Lisa
  4. petefromberkeley

    petefromberkeley -

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    Berkeley, CA

    Useless without pics :deal


    Hey guys!
  5. HighTechCoonass

    HighTechCoonass Living the Dream....

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
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    Location:
    land of the swamps!, Cajun Country LA
    Thanks for the ride!!!! great report!!!
  6. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    18 to 19-10-2009

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    For the last two days we’ve literally just caught our breath. In stark contrast to our arrival the following morning we’d woken to a bright cloudless sky. At the Pamir Lodge (find it at GPS: N37 29.215 E71 33.739) we’re penned in by impressive vertical cliffs. The small mountain valley town of Khorog nestles either side of the striking Gunt river that has carved the valley of a millennium. We’ve sat and talked over breakfast each morning with Ger, a young Norwegian hiker. We’d warmed to him immediately; he’s enthusiastic in a very laid back way. His manner more mature than his years would suggest. Crossed legged on the small red eating rug we’ve scoffed down fired eggs with local bread and gulped down the Tajik tea.

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    Lisa in her tent cleaning garb


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    It’s not all been lying around though, there have been a few jobs we’ve need to attend to; not least of these was seeing to the tent. It took us 4-hours to erect it and wash it down thoroughly inside and out with water. The accumulated dust and dirt from Mongolia and the Stans’ was beginning to show. I checked over both the bikes and of course have sat and written up this diary from the daily notes we now make into the Dictaphone (thanks Danny).

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    With the basic stuff done we also needed to sort out the registration duties. All travelers are required to register with the Kizmat-i-Amniyat (National Security Service, generally referred to as the KGB)

    Today we’ve simply walked the bazaar picking up odds and ends that we’ve needed to replenish our stock. Canned food, batteries and rice; the usual. Neither of us had realized how tired we were. It’s been great to just chill for a day or two. We know we’ve got a few more tough rides before Dushanbe.

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    apparently BMW in Tajikistan our better know for the KTM styled heavy duty plastic bags:rofl

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    what a great name for a washing powder?
  7. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
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    20-10-2009

    On the western side of Khorog we filled our bikes to the brim with fuel, we’d already checked with mapsource and we knew that reaching Dushanbe in a day was going to be a tall order. The distance itself wasn’t the problem but rather the insane mountains between them. We’d thought we’d seen mountains…we were wrong.

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    Our excitement was marred only by the lingering concerns that for two days we’d been riding along the Northern Afghanistan border. It’s hard not to be concerned after all the years of negative media regarding Afghanistan. In fact, to ignore this would just be fool hardy. With winter closing in, the northern Summer-only route via the Tavildara and the Sagirdasht Pass were a no-go. Our route would take us right along the border with Afghanistan to Kulyab.

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    10 minutes after leaving Khorog in bright sunshine our paced slowed, as much because of the onslaught of twisting blind bends and for the sheer majesty of the country around us. I’d read that 90% of Tajikistan was above 3,000 meters (9,900 feet) but only now was it really hitting home. Mile after mile of the most incredible mountain views either of have ever seen. Dry vertical cliffs rose to our right so high that even with our heads turned it was impossible to see the summits.

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    Where the Gunt River meets the Pyanj River we detoured north for 40 miles before again heading west at Rushan. The tar would come and go whimsically but for the most part we were stood on the pegs. To our left the Pyanj River flowed fast and full, swollen from the first of winter’s heavy snow. On the westerly bank, Afghanistan and dozens of tiny settlements that clung impossibly to the rough and dry mountainsides. Local Afghans waved as we passed; often we heard yells of welcome, although the caller was hidden in a cloud of choking dust kicked up by the moving of his herd or flock as he herded them to fresh pastures. Although in truth we have no idea where these pastures were. All we’d seen was rock and cliff. For almost the entire day we watched as a thin path wound its way over the rock and along the vertical cliffs on the Afghan side. Yes, you read that right -vertical cliff. Logs and rocks had been used to create a platform along the more precarious cliffs, but essentially the track was used to move livestock from one village to the next. An incredible feat of engineering and all by hand.

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    In the afternoon the riding had become more challenging. We’d passed dozens of dark painted signs each marked with a skull and bones. We were passing through a once heavily land mined area. Most of the mines had since been cleared, but not all. I resisted the urge to take leak too far from the road. We’d become drunk with the views, the signs had sobered us up quickly. We kept thinking to ourselves “Bin Laden could be in one of those villages and we’d never know, no wonder the US hasn’t found him. This whole landscape is the perfect hiding ground. It would be impossible to find anyone here if they really didn’t want to be found.

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    We’d seen dozens of young and bored soldiers, each with the guns over their shoulders walking. We never knew where they’d walked from or where they were going. We hadn’t seen any kind of base. Several had tried to flag us down. We’d ridden right past them. They have a bad reputation for taking documents and handing them back only after you paid them a bribe. We’d heard only recently that they’d held several travelers at gun point. With one rider in particular they’d taken a few things including his tea bags. The best part of the story is that after letting him go the rider had decided that he wasn’t taking this bullshit, U-turned and so rode back to them and took his tea bags back. Stupid but ballsy…I hope he was a Brit’? We’d heard from a few reliable sources that most of them don’t have bullets and so facing up to them isn’t as fool hardy as it first might appear. In either case I certainly didn’t want the confrontation or the hassle. A half hearted wave of the hand and a twist of the throttle got us past them before they could do anything about it.

    By late afternoon we’d skirted several large rock slides and were getting a little concerned about finding somewhere to camp. We were still skirting vertical rock faces to our right and the river to our left. The earlier relative warmth of the day had gone and it was now getting cold fast.

    In the last light of day and have ridden 131-miles we did (by our standards) the unthinkable. Pulling off the road to the left we’d seen a small area of flat land that ran down to the Pyanj River. Across on the other bank 3 small Afghan villages. We’d camp in plain sight of them all. As far as we could see there was no way for anyone to cross this natural border of water. No bridge or walk way of stones that would let anyone get to us. Still, we’ve never done this. We set up the tent behind a low rise of earth, making sure that the rise would offer us some protection from the eyes of the passing truck drivers and any wandering soldier.

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    It felt very strange to see and be seen by so many. We watched herds of livestock scramble down what looked like vertical rocks. How could anyone live here? There were no power lines or telephone wires and what we were facing was just sheer rock. We still have no idea why these tiny villages had been settled here in the first place. OK, so the access to water was great but the mountains meant that access to anything else was bloody tough. As night settled in we cooked and camped and watched the small fires on the Afghan side burn bright orange into the night. We’d turn our own head torches off when hearing the approach of any truck on the Tajik side. The trucks passed all night and yet we remained undiscovered. We slept fitfully.

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    After note:

    I’ve just checked our camps GPS position with map-source and Google Earth. Both have confirmed that we were actually camped ½ a mile inside Afghanistan. The legal border does in fact cross the Pyanj River. Here’s the GPS location for our camp spot, check it out of yourself. GPS: N38 27.240 E70 57.616. Mmm, scary but cool!
  8. Johnny Dakar

    Johnny Dakar Fuckin' Smartass

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14,860
    Location:
    Just 3 Short Miles North of Baja
    How the hell do you guys pay for this trip?
  9. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
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    5,171
    Location:
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    Awesome ride report and truely amazing photos... keep it up!
  10. greeneggsnoham

    greeneggsnoham Perpetual N00b

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    225
    Location:
    The edge of his seat
    Inspiring. Thank you.

    Again, thank you.
  11. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Simple...we charge $1 for every time we get asked "How the hell do you guys pay for this trip?"...now will that be cash or card sir? :rofl :rofl :evil :freaky :rofl

    The real answer isn't as much fun. Lisa has worked for 30 years and me for almost 20. We then took everything we'd ever worked for and accumulated from cars, furniture to socks and videos and sold the lot.

    There's nothing back in the UK now. No cash nest egg, no home, no old clothes, no pension etc etc. Everything we own is on the bikes. A yes, I'd be lying if I said this doesn't weigh heavily on our minds sometimes. Neither of us are young anymore (Lisa's 48 in June 9th) and neither of us want to live out our days in poverty.

    That said we also appreciate every day we spend on the road. "A short life lived full is better than a long life not lived", I think I just came up with that???

    We have friends around the world that day-in-day-out do jobs they hate have invested for their futures only to have their hard earned investment halved or more overnight due to the down turn in the global economy.

    Right now our money is gone and we get by, by living in a tent and spending as little as possible. ie, Lisa goes to local markets and cooks each day. We make a little money from time to time from Magazine articles and at the moment from selling photographs from our trip. However all this is very much just week to week living. But then no-one said this was going to be easy.

    The problem of cash really comes to the fore when big items are needed to be purchased, like tires or a bike part or for that matter shipping us from Nepal to Bangkok as its impossible to transit overland.

    This is why we try to sell things like our calendars, screen saver and prints. Back home we always wanted something we couldn't afford, all that's changed is the subject of desire. When we were at home we wanted a nicer suit, a newer watch a better car...now all we want is enough fuel for another country. :D It's not a bad swap of priorities.

    All the best
    Simon
  12. blackSP

    blackSP 62 6c 61 63 6b 53 50

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    738
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Awesome trip, thanks for the footage. I'll read into more detail soon as I'm planning a trip east myself in 2 years.

    On question, could you somehow make the pics a bit bigger, these are so tiny, that doesn't do right to the grandeur of your adventures!
  13. Tall Mike

    Tall Mike TAT Rookie (planning!)

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    542
    Location:
    Northeast Oregon
    I first heard of your trip while watching Graham Styles' Brainrotting videos on Youtube. I visited your site and enjoyed your journals as well. I am glad to see you here in the ADVrider forums... You're in great company! Looking forward to your continued adventures and spectacular visuals. Keep on riding and RR'ing!:freaky:clap:clap
  14. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Hi Blacksp,

    glad you like the footage.

    We have problems making the images bigger as we found our photos on so many other websites in the past but also, most of the time we;re using some pretty suspect internet connection and when you're uploading 30-50 images (to our website with the diary) making the images bigger also means you practically guarantee to block what little bandwidth you have. The uploads just stall and you end up starting again...it's painful,

    Hope that explains a little.

    All the best
    Simon
  15. konoplia

    konoplia Rookie

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    Bergen, No
    Gospel truth !!!
    I have nothing to say more...keep this way :thumb
  16. Johnny Dakar

    Johnny Dakar Fuckin' Smartass

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
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    14,860
    Location:
    Just 3 Short Miles North of Baja

    Best answer I ever got, mate. Thanks. Dollar sent. :thumb
  17. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Hay Johny Dakar...really mate a huge thank you for your support, it's really appreciated...again thank you.

    ...................................................


    21-10-2009

    Well, none of our worst fears were realized last night and by 6;00am we were out of the tent packing up and sipping on hot coffee. There was little point hanging around if we wanted to reach Dushanbe by the end of the day. As yesterday had proved, the miles here are not technical but they are earned. Between the roadworks and twists of the mountain road average speeds are low.

    No sooner had we started than the patchy tar ended and the roadwork’s and rough stuff started. The same mesmerizing views we’d gaped at yesterday kept us awestruck today but the ride was proving to be more technical. By mid-afternoon we’d negotiated several landslides and had gently eased the brakes to stop from sliding in the soft fresh earth. A young man in tattered clothes was half-heartedly waiving his warning flag. We’d mistakenly assumed the thunderous bang we’d heard just 10 minutes earlier was a distant thunder storm. It was in fact the workers dynamiting the cliffs. The earth strewn rock and debris that now lay around us was the proof. We needed to negotiate the hole created by the blast not to mention the huge JCB that was now occupying most of the hole. They’d seemingly blown up the dynamite right in the middle of the existing track? I took a deep breath as I leant back over the rear of my bike and headed down the steep bank. To the left a drop of around 500 feet straight into the river. I barely squeezed by the back of the JCB and my heart sank as I could now see what I needed to ride to get back out of the hollow and back to the track. I was, of course, thinking that I would need to go back and ride Lisa’s bike, as the drop off into the river and degree of technicality of the ride would be freaking her out. I’m the first to admit that between the soft earth and boulder sized rocks that I needed climb fully laden was pushing me to the limits of riding ability. Up on the track I pulled in the clutch and redid to dismount. No sooner had I stopped when I heard a shriek and then whoop of excitement. As I turned my head Lisa bounced up the rocky track her front wheel launching a good 3-4 feet in the air as she gassed the last boulder, her face a mixture of fear, surprise and sheer excitement. I yelled out “bloody well done…brilliant”. I was so proud of her, not to mention surprised.

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    20 minutes later and we came to another stop. More dynamiting had completely covered the track and another earth mover was in full swing. This one larger and more antiquated than the last. A truck had pulled up behind us and two old soviet jeeps were waiting on the other side of the mess of rock and earth. This was going to be trickier than the last. The boulders were larger and the vast earth mover was creating deep long troughs that criss-crossed each other, meaning that we’d have to get across a dozen or so 4-foot trenches. With the go ahead given, I took another deep breath got up on the pegs fast and literally bounced, jarred, scraped and forced my way across. Several times I was sure I’d lost it and was going over. On the other side I stopped. Lisa had done well so far but there was no way she….??!!!!##*! “Get out the way, move…move” she yelled as she rode the tough section. The jeep I’d just passed had started to pull away. “What the hell is he doing” I thought to myself. There was no room for him to pass Lisa and she needed all the room she could get as the bike slid and bounced its path. The locals and drivers over here simply have no comprehension of the size, weight or power of our bikes and don’t allow for them.

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    The driver was about to get a rude lesson. Lisa couldn’t stop; she needed her momentum to clear the debris field. I could hear her yelling “no, no, don’t you dare come, no stop, shit no don’t you dare…”! It was too late. As she and the jeep crossed paths, her bike jolted her to the left, her left pannier smashing hard into the side of the jeep. A shriek from Lisa was followed with a girly “Ooohh I think I hit him”. As we got on the throttles I could see in my mirror the irate driver jump from his jeep and inspect the paint damage. In all honesty it served him right. He’d been stupid and reckless. A less experienced rider could have easily been forced to the left and been sent over the edge and down to the river. I know full well that Lisa had absolutely no sympathy for him whatsoever.

    As for me I was just a proud as punch husband who been stunned to see his wife ride what was tough and technical on a 340 kg machine by anyone’s standards. ©

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    We’d put on a brave fight but we’d lost the battle of getting to Dushanbe before nightfall. Like yesterday we’d skirted the Afghanistan border for most of the day and breezed through 3-4 checkpoints. We were again tired and cold as we negotiated the busy chaotic streets of Tajikistan’s capital at night. In the centre of the city we’d managed to find two of the hotels listed in the LP guide book and walked away from both. They been listed as mid-range but had asked for over $100 per night. The last had apologized that there was no water in the room’s bathroom. I’d asked if they’d offer a discount for this and been turned down point-blank. Two hours after reaching Dushanbe we were pulled up on the side of the road and on our last legs, trying desperately to find an accommodation solution. Things were about to get bizarre even by our standards.

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    A local film crew had seen us earlier and had now pounced. After a barrage of questions we were asked to perform and I mean literally. This wasn’t a news team but a crew of 6 filming a Tajik music video. The weird, even slightly creepy looking man in the velvet purple shirt with the massive collar who’d been standing to my right was a well known singer. “You dance, yes…dance…yes, you dance yes…yes…yes…yes…with your bike. Good…boogey, boogey..yes..no problem”!!!???!!! I was near to wetting myself. It was like talking with Manuel from the Faulty Towers TV comedy, only with a different accent and tweaked to the eyeballs on speed.

    After this utterly bizarre and yet brilliant flurry of words I was thrust into the music video world lime-light. The camera men hit the record buttons, and the director plugged two small portable speakers into his mp3 player and placed them in front of the bikes. Now bearing in mind that Lisa and I are still covered in the days dust and muck and we’re still sat on the bikes. “Dance, yes, yes, you dance now…boogey, boogey..please” yelled the director enthusiastically. By now, Mr. famous weirdy, in the purple velvet shirt and suspect chest hair cozzied right up to me, cheek to cheek and started to passionately lip-sync.

    I’m now sat on the bike, swaying it side-to-side and doing what I guess looked like a Mexican waive and a bit of break dancing. Well c’mon…I’ve got a 350 kilo piece of metal between my legs and we’ve ridden for 15-hours. I think we did pretty well. I lowered my arms and signaled I had enough; I was simply out of energy. The desperate yells from the director of “boogey, boogey, yes” had me waiving and moving like a comatosed pillock for another 2-minutes. Lisa had been laughing her ass off the whole time. With that, I told them that she was a professional dancer back in the UK and she’d love to perform. Ahhh, the sweet sight of revenge as she waved her arms half-heartedly between darting scowls in my direction. She didn’t talk to me for a good 15 minutes after that.

    An hour later and just before mind-night found us in the old Dushanbe Hotel. We’d paid $50 for the room and another $5 each for parking. We’ had no choice.

    235 miles, Dushanbe at night and a scary bit part as an exotic dancer in a Tajik music video…not a bad day. Welcome to our life ?


    22-10-2009

    No idea what we did the day was a blur of shopping at the bizarre for bike bits, fiding food, trying to locate all the embassies and writing up the diary and sorting through the photos.
  18. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    110,073
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    The terrain is amazing. Thanks for taking us along. :lurk
  19. 950sm07

    950sm07 n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7
    I know watermarking is ugly but you might need to consider it with the bigger pictures otherwise others are taking advantage of you which is even worse.

    After knowing your "financial background" I wouldn't feel comfortable - and I am sure I am not alone with this - reading your inspirational trip report enjoying your pictures without supporting you with a tank of gas, a night in a hotel or whatever is affordable and keeps you going! :-)
  20. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    950sm07, thanks so much for you words of concern, it's appreciated. At the moment we've got a better connection than normal so I was able to put up a few larger images.

    I could have watermarked them but my thoughts (at the moment) are well if they're taken and used commercially...bugger em'. What goes around comes around.

    Life's too short to go through it trying to protect your best interest all the time in every aspect. It's too tiring. At the same time we get a huge kick out of sharing moments,and landscapes that we never thought we'd be privileged enough to see or experience. If i could I'd post every photo we've taken on the trip (72,000). Somehow sharing it on our website or here in advrider reinforces in my head that we're actually doing this, it allows me to get my head around the things we've done and the places we've seen.

    How could anyone ride to these places and not want to share every moment of everyday with as many others as possible.

    ...well, that's just me?

    If anyone's interested and would like to use our images on their pc, laptop etc, we've put together a 'screen saver' which is available for immediate download from here: http://stores.lulu.com/2ridetheworld

    There's 40 images and we're asking $11.99. Yeah, it all goes towards more fuel etc.

    I'll prep the next post. Many thanks again.

    Cheers
    Simon