Day 168 (Tajikistan): middle of nowhere - Ayni (Chinese attacks)
daily distance: 82km
total distance: 10,152km
riding time: 8-9h
The majority of the day was uphill and a bad one at that. The much shorter part was downhill. But first off, tonight’s living quarters.
The area is amazing and extremely beautiful. And it was cold. That coldfront seemed to be hovering over the area for quite a while. But soon after this picture things warmed up and by the time I got to the pass it was warm again.
This is a picture which shows the top of the pass. Take a closer look at the right top on the range in the back. You can sort of make it out.
The way up was nice and smooth until the turnoff to what will be a tunnel …
Until then, Chinese construction crews are busy working on it and not much is done to maintain the road over the pass. Nevertheless, a great many “Ni Hao” was thrown my way on the way up.
Here is the road …
and after a long struggle, I finally made it to the top. A small cry of happiness …
The downhill was similarly atrocious. The road had pretty much been destroyed by all the traffic. It was hard to navigate a way through the remaining rubble, with rocks protruding everywhere. Slight problem: it was getting late. By the time I was at the top of the pass, it was late afternoon. It had taken much longer than I had anticipated. Riding was impossible on parts of the uphill, it was simply too bumpy.
That meant that I wanted to get down into Ayni as quickly as I could. After 15km the road was again a silky black line and I thought that it would be a no-brainer. Little did I know that a Chinese road worker would eventually kick my bike, followed by a slight disagreement. You can hit me, but don’t hit my bike. The Tajiks around us clearly understood that I was in trouble in terms of time, but that meant nothing to him. I tried to reason that with all the Chinese construction workers going up and down the road there was no problem. But his feelings were hurt. He showed me his tatoos, his sunglasses were mirrored and his cigarette he held between his teeth. He reminded me of a dragon (sans the sunglasses I guess) and litterally spewed fire. What I didn’t know was that construction workers are allowed to throw stones at the cars and so kicking a bike is nothing to him. Eventually with the sun gone and it getting gloomy, I could head down the mountain and arrived in Ayni - the town where the German Agro Action is located in this area - just before it became seriously dark. The interesting thing again was that the 30 or Tajik drivers were all on my side. They tried to reason with him long after I had given up. There was no way this would work out I thought. Too many people involved wouldn’t help either and so I waited things out.
I was welcomed by the German Agro Action staff and together we had dinner before I crawled into bed. Tomorrow I’ll be off to Veshab for which the donations that this charity ride is intended for will go. Please consider donating!