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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by CJ, Sep 28, 2015.
You can't see it but this is my "impressed face". So far so good
Impressed that the two most unorganized bikers in the land managed to meet up on the other side of the world on time? Me too!
Super happy it's going great well
Small world department.
Guy I bought my replacement bicycle is from Uzbekistan.
Doctor Mom engineer dad and four kids up stakes and moved to Canada about 15 years ago.
I happen to mention your trip and he said " that was my hood"
He's now following your ride reports.
Wow, great read! Embarrassed to say that I'd somehow missed this RR until last weekend, but now I'm all caught up! You guys are cool and all, but not half as cool as CJ's wife--loved her post.
Looking forward to following along this year's trip.
Still following along. It's great to see you guys back out there.
When we emerged from the trail we got word from our third team member, his bike has had even more transit delays and will be another week at least before it arrives. He had since landed in Bishkek and was left there with nothing to do. John and I decided we would ride back to town so we could keep him company for a couple days while we worked out our "Plan C"
After we checked into our hotel and shed our crap we walked over to meet Walter. Although we've been pen pals (WhatsApp pals) for some time now, we've never actually met. This was a good chance to get some beers in and break the ice etc.
I really hope the next photo I have of this guy, he is geared up and piloting his freshly pimped bike! In the meantime he's flown home to kill time while his bike travels over 6000kms to get here.
While we were back in Bishkek John and I realized that our poor planning skills would sting us again... Most of the areas we plan to ride in are in "restricted border control zones" all of which require a permit (of course we had no idea about this). A special permit is required in each territory of Kyrgyzstan. We had to spend a day on the phone and running around sending money here and there to different offices to get the permits ASAP. During all of this madness, I managed to leave my passport at a Bank and didn't notice it missing until 2 hours later and then that evening John left his fanny pack with all his most important items at a restaurant and didn't notice until we were back at our hotel, twats. A very stressful day indeed.
We did manage to meet a contact here who has agreed to store our bikes in Bishkek when we have completed this ride. More info on that when it all happens.
After 2 nights back in the dreaded city, we ran for the woods. We had permits, and a game plan.
We ripped toward Lake Issyk Kul. After provisioning in a small town we headed up a valley to find a spot to set up tents and get some beers in.
While back in Almaty we met a local guy who owned a shashlik restaurant. (If you hadn't noticed this is one of our favorite foods and we eat it almost wherever possible!) Anyway, we asked him if we could buy a few metal shashlik skewers and he generously gave us a few! So we found a butcher and bought some meat to make our first attempt at our own camp fire Shashlik "GREAT SUCCESS!!"
It was a really sweet spot, and as we enjoyed our huge beers and massive meal, we were blissfully unaware of the storm that was brewing in the mountains.
That night it rained, and rained... and then rained more. After so many months of abuse my tent is not exactly water proof any more. So every once in awhile I am awoken with a big drip to the face. After a questionable sleep I woke up, put tea on and welcomed clear skies.
John had been complaining his bike felt a bit waggly in the rear for the last day or two. While he was giving it another inspection I heard the unmistakable cry of a man who's found a fault with his bike "C*&T!!!!!". He's found a crack in his subframe. It''s not severe but it is definitely responsible for the extra flex he was experiencing and it needs attention ASAP. We decided to ride to the next town where we know of an Italian biker named Memo who runs a guesthouse there. Fingers crossed we can find a welder in town.
On the ride back down the valley we found a cool bridge
A freaking sweet eagle
And a baby eagle
The rest of the day was a cold, windy, boring, rainy 150kms of pavement. When we finally arrived in Karakol. Memo greeted us at his guesthouse with chai and biscuits. He told us stories of his enduro adventures and his terrible accident which ended his riding career when a driver cut him off while he was riding his 690. Memo is expanding his guesthouse and is doing many renovations, as luck should have it, he has a welder! Mint!!! John set to stripping his bike down to prep for the repair while I set to supervising and emptying beer bottles.
Here you can see the crack. This is where the pillion peg mounts to the subframe. We made our rack mount directly to the pillion peg mount so the added weight finally stressed the factory welds to failure.
Johns poor bike has spent a lot of time sleeping on the job during this leg!
Johnno laid a couple of beefy welds to strengthen up the cracks. Job done!
No explanation of the birds? What's the story there?
The area we camped in was some sort of national park. On the trail up there were some yurts where people seemed to live, some farmers and cowboys etc. As we rode out of the park in the morning the big eagle was sitting on a rock right next to the road, I pulled over, stunned to see such a massive bird standing on the ground, not seeming to notice or care that I was there. I stopped to take pictures of it and a guy came out of his yurt and offered to let me hold it on my arm. He asked for a 2 dollar "donation" for me to take the photos with it. As far as I understand they train the eagles to hunt fox up in the mountains. The smaller, younger eagle belonged to a young boy.
The big one was heavy... Maybe 20 lbs or so and at least two and half feet tall. It's pretty terrifying being up close and personal with such a fierce animal!
Ha! I think I would have been tempted to wear my helmet for that pic.
That was $2 well spent. You'll never forget that. Thanks for the explanation. Cheers
I am glad to hear they are trained for hunting. It would be a shame if it was just for tourist amusement like I saw in another RR. Yours is a great pic of a healthy, vibrant creature in a symbiotic situation rather than the sickly, caged example in the other RR. Thank You for sharing.
What happened to Colebatch and what is planned c.
Good to see John can still stick weld.
Colebatch has had delays getting his bike delivered, hopefully we will be meeting up with him in the next few days.
I've been honing my welding skills more than I'd like so far on this trip.
We spent a day resting at Memo's and then picked up our permits for the border area. Walter drew us a track heading from Enilchek in the south to Karasai about 200km away. There was no fuel along the way and a 7km section with no marked track and at least 3 BIG river crossings. I was here many years ago and we were also turned back by impassable roads then so was keen to give it another try.We'd asked around in Karakol for advice and the general concensus was that it wasn't going to be possible because of the unusally wet winter they've had here in Kyrgystan but we figured it was worth a shot anyway. We provisioned up and strapped an extra 10 litres of fuel on the back and headed over the mountain pass at 3700m or so. Naturally it started to rain and then snow as we headed up so we were freezing by the time we got down to Enilchek.
The soviets built a tin mine here in the mountains but had abandoned it many many years before and there is just the skeleton of a town left behind being guarded by a couple soldiers that wanted to see our permits.
Enilcheck in 1995
From there we headed down a small track hugging the river with a large cliff of small boulders on one side. because of the rain boulders we dropping as we rode along giving us a real sense of urgency to get through before we were clobbered by one of the projectiles.
We came acoss the first small river and decided to camp and attack in the morning when we were fresh. We set about building a massive fire and tried to keep dry. The next morning the sun finally appeared and we crossed the river after walking it first to find the best line. It wasn't deep but was moving fast.
The track led down a beautiful valley for another 40km before the first big crossing.
Unfortunately this one would defeat us as it was too deep for us to even walk across let alone get the bikes through.
So nothing to do but to head back all the way to Karakol through the snow once more.
Back in 1995 my family and I spent the day doing laundry and servicing the Land Rover next to this rock with a bulldozer on it and a commemorative plaque detailing how the bulldozer had built the road over the mountains to the mine. It always been a memorable place for us and is dubbed "bulldozer rock" in our family for obvious reasons. I was excited to see it on the way there but missed it. On the way back it was clear why, for some reason they had taken the bulldozer away but left the plaque.
We headed back to Memo's freezing cold and wet. CJ needed to weld a bracket that he had cracked in the accident back in Kazakhstan.
The next morning was sunny days and we headed along the lake looking for our next adventure.
A few more photos of our ride to Englecheck, (AKA Kyrgyz Challenge #2) These are mostly duplicates of John's photos but from a different perspective.
An impressive valley with suspect looking weather.
We set up camp before our first crossing and managed to find a decent spot with good wood and shelter from the rain.... beers up!
It cleared up in the early moring and gave us some nice views of the mountains. This wouldn't last long though... the clouds filled in a hammered rain for much of the day.
This crossing wasn't deep but it was pushing very hard. We decided to unload our top bags and spare fuel just in case.
It was ashame to be turned back from 2 challenge sections in a row. Here's a shot of the river that we decided would be a little too serious for us without support.
As far as we've heard, not many people have ever made it through this old road that has been long abandoned. At least 2 crews of pedal bike tourists and possibly one solo pedaller have crushed it but have used boats and or ropes and line to get gear across the fierce water.
After being defeated, we pushed back over Chong pass towards lower ground, more supplies and some warmth. It was cold!! Visibility was almost zero, feeling the controls was out of the question... a grooling 1 and a bit hours for sure!! Sometime during this leg, one of my fairing brackets snapped, causing it violently shake around. We decided to hightail back to Memo's guesthouse for some warmth, dryness and use of his welder.
Colebatches Kyrgyz Challenges = 2 MotoMavericks = 0
That water looks deep enough, especially carrying all that stuff and having gear on, must be some fun just wading across
Love the report, thanks for sharing!
I am truly amazed at your sense of adventure. Hopefully your third compadre and his bike will be ready to roll soon.
Good to see you back on the road.. we're following along! Happy trails.
Kyrgyz Challenge #3 (AKA The Hillclimb Challenge)
The third challenge would to be to attempt an unridden track that Colebatch drew up for use using his jedi track drawing skills. We set off from Memo's nice and early and ready to complete our first difficult challenge on this ride. A quick sprint down the highway before provisioning with food and beer. Just before hitting the dirt we came across one of the cooler Niva's we've seen.
As soon as we turned into the valley the scenery was mind blowing! This felt good right off the bat, rolling hills, red rock cliffs, mario brothers like green pastures, a combination that equals unbelieveable riding.
I'm not sure why they have so many horses in Kyrgyzstan, but they seem to have more than they have people.
As we climbed the valley more we would cross some super wide river beds... these areas must see a serious amount of water during the spring melt.
The track began to gain elevation quickly and become more and more faint. We even started to question... "What the hell sort of vehicle has ever driven here?!"
The first obstacle we came across was a very strong river. There obviously used to be some sort of bridge across it. The river had eroded the crossing, so riding through was out of the question. It looked like a bike swallowing hole of strong current. There were a couple of boards left intact that spanned most of the crossing, and of course there was certain death on the downstream side of the boards. My camera was playing games around this point so hopefully John can add to some of the images here.
Immediately after the crossing the track turned to shit. It was the rockiest, steepest, most relentless, scary, miserable, lumpy, rocky, steep shit we've possibly ever encountered. After a few slow kilometers we were faced with the real challenge. A massive rocky washed out section that made everything we'd just come through look easy, it also had water flowing down its entire surface just for good measure.
John took a couple attempts as I looked on from below... shaking in my boots and gasping for air at close to 4000 meters.
The approach began with a 90 degree left that made carrying any momentum up almost impossible.
John failed at 4 or 5 attempts. I climbed up to his last highmark attempt and started pushing as he laid a beating on his clutch. We would get a few feet by a few feet. It was pretty miserable gasping exhaust fumes and getting showered with rocks and muddy water as I shoved his bike up with every throttle and clutch slip, meanwhile Johnno was giving it everything he had to balance, push and leg pedal his bike up inch by inch. We got to a bit of a crux after an hour or so.... maybe a hundred meters of elevation in an hour. At this point we could see the track ahead up the switchbacks, and it didn't seem to ease up. John decided to investigate so I set to hauling up our riding gear and top bags.
20 or 30 minutes later he returned with news of the climb only getting worse. He said that his clutch was beginning to feel a little spongy and figured it would take hours of effort and potentially crippling punishment to the bikes to reach the pass. We had a pow-wow and decided that we should turn back once more. FACK!!!
Even the decent was a trick! I had to tie a line to the back of his rack and act as a human anchor so his bike wouldn't slip away from him. Because of the river running down the whole climb, it made the ground incredibly unstable. Rocks were being dislodged and rolling down the hill everywhere you looked.
This is when my camera really gave up, I used John's while he was riding so hopefully he has some good ones to put up.
We rode back down to reasonable breathing elevation and found a beautiful campsite in a treed area next to river. Gear down beers up!
Another frustrating defeat. But with a great campsite to sit back and reflect on the day.
Kyrgyz Mega Impossible Never Done Before Challenges = 3 MotoSissies = 0