08-09 June – Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan – ~270 miles
Out of Almaty (with my mobile phone, safely recovered) – a relatively short ride, to visit Charyn Canyon, and then spend the night camping at nearby Temirlik Canyon. The ride to the campsite was several miles over steppe type landscape – totally flat in all directions, allowing one to get up to 50mph or so on packed dirt/gravel tracks… and then sudden very steep dips into ravines. And when we got to the track down to the bottom of the Canyon – where the campsite was located – it was decided by the riding tour guide that it wasn’t worth riding down… he wasn’t particularly keen on riding down/up it again (had gone down to rescue one of the first two riders who’d tried)… and although I was initially keen to give it a go, his actual reluctance was a major clue that maybe it was a heap harder than it looked. Then – going down in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, creeping along – yeah, pretty happy I didn’t ruin my current pristine record.
(I’m currently only one of 2 riders to not have dropped their bikes yet, although most of those “drops” were carpark drops, or in sand… which are very forgivable).
From the campsite – a quick dash back to Kyrgyzstan – with about 20 miles of that being on a temporary gravel/mud road alongside the highway they’re apparently (slowly) rebuilding – to the border. Quickest/easiest border yet – the customs guy gave my panniers a cursory glance/search – then asked to wear my helmet, and took a couple of photos with me.
Into the town of Karakol – preparing for tomorrow – our last day before China, and what promises to be the longest/hardest border crossing yet.