Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 187 (Tajikistan): Ak-Balyk - Murgab (kidney problems?)

daily distance: 98km
total distance: 11,260km
riding time: 5-6h

It was only supposed to be a small pass. But it was cold all the time. And windy. It came from the back which made it much better, but it was bitterly cold. At least all those local predications proved to be untrue … “There will be tons of snow in the morning” and so on.

At least these guys weren’t cold …

And on we go, straight into the sun …

Landscape still all thumbs up. But again, it seemed that I wasn’t running at full steam. Or even half of it. I had pain around my left kidney area, something I had never had and couldn’t place. It bothered me practically all day long and started to abate only late at night. If kidney stone feels a bit like it, it’s not funny at all.

The road continues along the same plain (with much less yurts now) and then heads up Naizatash Pass. It isn’t a hard pass, it climbs rather slowly over a good number of km. But I had to fight to get over it. Others didn’t make it …


That done and out of the way though, the rest of the day was downhill to Murgab. One slight exception: what has been described as a small ridiculous climb. It was. Just before getting to Murgab, you cross one more hill, which is intense and steep, but after that it is all good for Murgab, which is coming up in the distance.

I was determined to take a break there for a day, being ahead of what could be a 10-day schedule for riding all the way to Kyrgyzstan. You may ask why I don’t do smaller chumps. I could, but there isn’t much there and so far things have turned out to be pretty well.

Murgab greats you with a checkpoint and another registration requirement. Then you’re out for a place to stay. Things are easy enough and some other travelers had told me about the house of Apal and the family is great. And Apal cooks great food. Really, she does - and lots of it. She must have seen the hungry biker coming - and what she cooked up would have been enough for two. It all went down though in addition to lots of other stuff that I had bought at the local and very uninspiring bazaar. But things are good and I will stay here for another night, no need to rush things.

A bit of a strange feeling though … it must have to do with not feeling 100% and the whole visa thing with Bishkek. Sometimes I have the urge to head back and out of here. But I am sure that once the Bishkek visit is behind me (hopefully successfully) and I am in China things will be OK again. The ride is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. I am catching myself thinking that this is the Pamir and I am riding here, have the privilege to do so … and that’s really what it is. It may be toughish at times, but it is always a privilege.

Even with no light up here due to lack of electricity …

1 comment

1 Rob Thomson { 10.06.08 at 6:20 am }

That’s dumb about your kidneys. Really not cool.

Loving the photos though. What a place, huh?

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