After our first loop in Kyrgyzstan (read more about it here) we stayed in Bishkek for a week, organised our visa for the upcoming trip to the North of India, hid in our hotel for 2 days because of political issues that luckily settled quickly, slept lots and enjoyed having a "real" kitchen. After this break we felt ready for a second loop. This time we took the minibus from Bishkek to Naryn and started from there.
Stage 1: Naryn - Baetov (123 km, 590 m elev. gain)
Today we were spoilt with 120km of tarmac. Of course there's tarmac and tarmac, but it was quite rideable all the way, even the #doughmac (as Andreas called bits of tarmac that were almost as soft as dough because of the massive heat). We were also spoilt with the most delicious Kyrgyz fries and snacks by the most friendly guesthouse hosts, the best shower & water pressure in whole Kyrgyzstan and the very lovely encounter with two heroes that are going to participate at the upcoming @silkroadmountainrace (many kudos to #srmrcap128a and #srmrcap128b). Plus we had astonishing views of the desert and temperatures way beyond 40 degrees. What a day to be thankful for!
Stage 2: Baetov - Backside of MELS (49 km, 1510 m elev. gain)
We knew we wouldn't find many possibilities to refill our bottles after leaving Baetov but we thought we'd be faster and so we almost ran out of water on the climb to the MELS (Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin) Pass. Luckily we met two Austrians in a car who could refill our bottles. Real road angels! On the evening we camped at one of the most beautiful places so far. Kyrgyzstan, you're awesome!
Stage 2: MELS - Middle of nowhere aka. Chinese Highway (60 km, 1100 m elev. gain) and Stage 3: further on to Torugart / Krygyz-Chinese Boarder point (46 km, 500 m elev. gain)
Our plan was to ride some of the route that is on the menu of the @silkroadmountainrace. So we headed south towards the Kyrgyz-Chinese border checkpoint Torugart where we wanted to enter the Ak Say Valley. Not having the chance to resupply for around 4 days we carried quite some food with us, not knowing that we wouldn't need it: after pushing against some awful headwind and motivational problems for quite a while we realized uppon our arrival in Torugart that we would not be able to pitch our tent because of the wind gusts. We kindly accepted the offer from some locals to sleep in one of the rather filthy containers that seem to form the 'village' Torugart, together with the boarder control and a gas station. It's only shop sells water, beer, energy drinks, cognac and - of course - a variety of vodka and cigarettes... The next morning we woke up to a more or less flooded camp ground and very low temperatures. We decided not to ride on due to the heavy rainfall and the forecast for the next days. A little frustrated we took a taxi back to Naryn, where people told us that it had rained heavily all over the country and especially where we had come from: apparently the Ak Say Valley was not even rideable with 4x4 cars and roads and bridges had been washed away nearby. Our decision not to ride on as planned (we don't like to quit plans) now made even more sense.
Stage 4 and 5: Naryn to Kochkkor (124 km, 1310 m elev. gain)
Somehow I (Sara) was more frustrated than Andreas to have had to change plans and get back to Naryn by taxi instead of riding the Ak Sai Valley: Actually I was in a very bad mood when checking in at the guesthouse, which IMMEDIATLY changed once I met the owner's kitten. It resulted in staying there for two instead of one night and having a restday to plan our upcoming trip to India. On our last two stages from Naryn to Kochkor over Dolon Ashuu the weather - once again - was very unpredictable: rain, then hail, then sun mixed with either tailwind or headwind, we had it all. Sceneries - once more - were stunning.
In Kochkor we took a taxi back to Bishkek where we had another three days before boarding the plane to Delhi, India. Leaving Kyrgyzstan we were pretty sure that this had not been our last cycling 'holidays' in this wonderful country. Rahmat, Kyrgyzstan, for your hospitality 🖤