[The blog yesterday went out accidentally before I’d collected all the information from the boys on the road. They’d been out of contact for 3 days! This is an update. More photos, updated maps and diary entries. Apologies: Ed]
How Far Have They Got?
Many thanks to those that have donated.
Week 7 Summary: Desert Camping
This week: 588 miles, 3,923ft and 43:33 hours riding
Accumulated totals: 4255miles, 80,161ft and 322:25 hours riding
Day 45: Sunday July 28th: First Camp
Fair play to Linney his chosen camp-site was excellent, free from camel poo and gerbils Ed will check the correct collective noun but we went for a sentry of gerbils. [A sentry sounds fine: google goes for horde: ED]
After a pasta meal expertly cooked by Linney and with Keith keeping a vigil on the portions it was time for bed. Keith had put the 2 man tent up with all the fly sheet stuff, Linney had just the mesh tent. I only lasted 10 mins in the tent as it was too hot, so I took my sleeping-bag and liner outside under the stars nothings – could go wrong.
It did get cold so I sacrificed my sleeping-bag pillow and got in the bag. Then it rained! In the bloody desert! I expect the camels loved it. Linney and I just covered our faces and slept through it. I quite liked it.
We all slept quite well. Breakfast was cornflakes and coffee after which we packed all the gear up. Just before we left Keith changed another bolt on his panniers.
We were on the road just after 7am, and as we are getting used to the rough roads we just took it all in our stride. Our main concern was water as we could not see anything along our intended route. With no WiFi it was just a case of carrying as much as we can.
After 4 hours of riding we did not come across a single shop, truck stop or anything. Not even shade, though thankfully we had been riding at a reasonable pace. So we sat down on a sand dune with warm water, peanuts and sunflower seeds – budgie food – Trill! Living it up and dreaming of Ice Cold in Alex.
With around 25 miles to go we rode on. As a lorry passed Keith waved and lifted up his water bottle. The lorry stopped and replenished all our bottles – good man. As we closed in on our destination Keith tried his luck on a building that looked like it was a cafe, in fact it was some sort of customs post, though the guy was really helpful and directed us to the hotel about 3 miles up the road. However lo and behold the water-seller across the road also had some chilled beers, obviously I had planned this, so we sat on the wall with a beer with the plan to ride to the hotel, eat, book a room and shower. and then plan the next few days riding. Think as it is a Sunday a few beers will do too.
We have no WiFi so we will try and and source a SIM card tomorrow. Linney will need it.
Day 46: Monday July 29th: Hitching
It was a bit of a quiet night last night mainly due to the road stop being miles away from anywhere. We just cleaned all the camping gear had a meal then went to bed.
We planned on an early breakfast in the morning, though the place was pretty busy at 6 in the morning. As we have nearly 70 miles before the next shop we stocked up on water and food (sadly, as it turned out, not enough) and set off just after 7am on roads that were on the whole pretty good. More importantly we had a bit of a tail wind.
After about 4 miles Keith’s back-pannier fell off. We all hoped it was not too serious as the road was pretty smooth. Luckily it was just not clipped in correctly. We were making pretty good time, when in the distance a could see a lone cyclist coming towards us. We pulled over and waxed lyrical on how mad we all were. He was from Shrewsbury (Jimmy Ritson counrty). After 10 mins we were back on our way.
Linney called a stop at around 40 miles where we sat on the edge of the road and had a drink and a Snickers bar. Linney is in charge of the biscuits so he gave Keith and I a couple each. We moved on after 10 mins happy that in the fact that we only had 30 miles to a small village with a shop and then another 14 miles to our hotel.
Within 10 mins the familiar shout went up. Linney had a blow out on his rear tyre. The tyre was split in two places. We managed to to patch the splits with bits of rubber and started off again unsure how long the tyre would last.
We did manage another 15 or so miles when the tyre blew again. Linney was all for patching the tyre up again and pushing on, but as we were taking the tyre off Keith flagged down a car. In fact two cars stopped full to the brim we people and luggage. We explained the situation and before we knew it Linney’s bike was on the roof rack of one car while he was squashed into the other car with his knees around his ear against a 40″ TV.
Off they went. Keith I carried on the remaining 17 miles to the hotel – with no biscuits! As the roads were good this took just over the hour including an impromptu stop in a workers canteen for a cup of tea.
When we got to Kunkhodzha Linney was already into his 1st beer. I also noticed two Surly touring bikes outside the restaurant. We eventually got chatting to the couple and they had started from London in May on the way to China. They seemed like a nice couple as we exchanged route information etc. It looks like we will probably bump into them along the way.
Day 47: Tuesday July 30th: Crossing the Oxus at Nukus
We all decided to have an early start in the mornings at dinner last night. So Keith set his alarm for 05:00.
Well that did not work, I got up just before 6, all I heard Keith say was FFS why did my alarm not go off, Linney quietly sniggered, I think he may have altered Keith’s alarm.
Anyway we were up and had the normal fried eggs and an extra treat of rice pudding for breakfast. With Linney’s new tyre we were full of confidence: just hoping the tyre lasts. On flat clear and smooth roads we smashed the first 30 miles, stopped for a camels milk coffee and then carried on until just outside Nukus had a little break and a bowl of potato and yak soup, while we decided on the plan for the night.
We roll into Nukus and stop at a bike shop and get a spare tyre and inner tubes for Linney. Then we go to a phone shop for a Uzbekistan SIM card and a bank. Well we managed the SIM card, the ATM at the bank did not work and the cycle shop was not there!
Linney had chosen a hotel on the right side of the city for tomorrow, so we just took our time rode to the centre of the city had a nice meal in an air conditioned restaurant and then set off for the banks and bike shops.
We had no luck with the bike shop and the bank was a bit of a palaver, none of the ATMs would work, in the end a kind bank lady directed us to the national bank, in parliament square, all a bit daunting. Anyway we manged to change some money into the local currency Som & get some US dollars as they seem to work best.
We just had the final couple of miles to go to the hotel and some well earned beers. Without wanting to tempt fate it was a good days riding with no mechanicals. Happy days.
Day 48: Wednesday July 31st: Following the Oxus
We had a meal In the hotel last night. Just a little meal as we had eaten quite well throughout the day, still no ice-cream so we had a water-melon.
We arranged to get up at 5:30 with a view to getting going around 6. Linny not to pleased as we’re going out without breakfast or water, though we stopped after about 2 miles for water and chocolate. The guy was really good and gave us three extra bottles. Great! Just a bit difficult to put on our bikes, but we managed it, and it cheered Linney up.
So we carried on the road which was a bit weird as it was a dual carriage-way but traffic was going both ways on each side! We carried on for a while on the correct side of the road, but the road seemed better on the other side, so we changed over.
We also met up with Hanna and her partner (will get his name later). At our first stop, they were having a coffee and soft drink as we pulled in and we had a nice little chat as we ordered our breakfast. Then they moved on. After the normal fried eggs and bread we moved on too.
The road was not great but least the wind was in our favour. We knew we only had about 50 miles left so we were in no real hurry. As we pulled into the next stop Hanna & partner had just ordered their meal so we had another little chat as we had coffee and chilled water. We knew we would be bumping into them all day, which is quite nice.
The road did not improve throughout the day, but thanks for small mercies, the wind stayed in our favour although the temperature crept up to the mid 40`s humidity was not that high so all was good.
My front pannier came adrift again so a quick replacement fixing was needed. It seems like we will have replacements in around 6 days time so hopefully we can manage till then. [They got posted today: Ed]
As we carried on riding we missed the stop we had arranged to have a meal in, so we just carried on to the outskirts of the town. Linney spotted some umbrellas so we stopped a few miles from the only hotel in town.
No beers! So we made do with an ice-cream, then a young guy came over who spoke really good English and offered his parents place to stay, though it did sound a bit crowded. We ended up going to the hotel and arranging to meet him for dinner later.
After we had showered, sure enough he was there (Zafarqrek) he took us to a restaurant which was OK, but not really good for me, ended up with a bag of peanuts, crisps and tomorrows cake.
Day 49: Thursday August 1st: Mosquito Camp
Well a bit of a disappointing meal last night. We had met a young Uzbek lad who wanted to practice his English, at first he offered us to stay at his house, but his shower was broken. So we booked into the only hotel in town and arranged to meet him for dinner. We just went over the road nothing special, but least he tried.
The room was baking hot, so I slept on the sofa outside of the room with the A/C on. This did actually cool the room down to.
We had breakfast in the room but I had my first dodgy stomach of the Tour. I just had a bit of bread and water.
We left just after 7 with the plan to crack 20 miles out then have a coffee and more breakfast. The road was really bumpy and uneven and it made it even worse as it was rush hour and market day in the town of Beruni. We stopped at the first place but it was not open we so moved on and eventually found a mini-market so we had ice tea and a Snickers: living the dream. We knew we had another stop in 25 miles and then a long stretch with very little showing on the map
The road did not get any better but thankfully the traffic calmed down and we had a bit of a tail-wind: thanks for small mercies. After another coffee and cold drinks and we moved on. Linney was a little concerned that the ‘Maps Me’ app he had downloaded did not show this road! We soon found out why! The road was virtually brand new, smooth as silk with a tail wind: happy days.
We soon hit the lunch stop where we met Hanna and her partner. Keith and Linney had a plate of meat, I just had a drink and dry bread and a lie down. My front pannier was playing up again so I replaced the tie wraps and tightened it all up. It did seem better. As it was so hot we had an extended stay at the restaurant and we finally moved on around after a couple of hours. With the plan to carry on for just over 25 miles, have something to eat, and then find a place to camp. Within 15 mins of setting off Linney had a puncture and we all had a go at fixing the inner tube but it was so hot the adhesive just evaporated. We ended opening the valve hole up on the wheel and putting an inner tube in with a schrader valve rather than a presta valve.
We soon completed the 25 miles once we got going. We stopped at the first place and Linney and Keith had a coffee while I had a chat with some guys repairing the Armco barrier. I managed to get a 6mm bolt from them for my panniers.
We moved on a few mile down the road, had a meal to save us cooking and a few beers and then set of to find a place to camp. With a view to camping before we came to some shops about 5 miles away. We settled on a half built house, not a good idea as we found out that it was infested with mosquitos and it was red hot. Just before we settled down for the night we spotted a lone touring cyclist, we shouted out, but he just waved at us.
Day 50: Friday August 2nd: Meeting Gavin
We were up really early mainly due to the mosquitos: never seen Linney move so fast in the morning. We were going at 6,and in fact it was quite a nice bit of a tail-wind and cooler. Within a mile Linney spotted the touring cyclist from last night just packing up his camping gear. On straight smooth roads we were rolling, but fair play within 15 miles he had caught us up. He introduced himself as Gavin from Plymouth. A nice guy and we ended cycling all day with him and owing him some money for beers! Bit of an Aylesham trait. We had dollars but not enough Uzbekistan Soms.
On really nice clear smooth roads we did over 100 miles. No mean feat on fully laden touring bike in 40 degrees plus heat and high humidity.
We finally pulled into a truck stop with a hostel and shower. Gavin expertly haggled the price down to 45 dollars for the four of us, but it was hot. A cold beer and a shower was calling.
We had quite a relaxing evening sitting outside in the shade talking about the experiences we have had on our travels and what we would be going through in the next few months.
Then to bed: it was not worth the $45 bunk beds as they had a wooden mattress. Hey ho probably means another early start in the morning.
Day 51: Saturday August 3rd: Skint in the Desert
Four of us shared a room (Gavin joined us) but it was a pretty crap place: no mattress. We may have been better off camping again. We were up at 06:00 and on the road by 06:30, good to get out of the place really.
We did have a bit of a cash flow problem this morning we had 50,000 Soms, sounds a lot but it’s about 5 quid! So we had to be a bit careful with our spending.
The road was really good for the first 5 miles and then we hit the bad roads again with a bit of a head-wind. We stopped after about 20 miles, for water bread and some tomato stuff we had in our panniers: once again living the life.
It was pretty tough going on with the road getting worse and it was just a matter of pushing through and enjoying the scenery (desert). We stopped again just after the 40 mile mark. We could only afford water, but Gavin did get us a snickers bar each, top man. I also manged to blag 2 bottles of ice water from the shop owner, once again top man. The ride was getting a bit harder as the day wore on, especially as we had not eaten very much.
With the final 24 miles to go we stopped again. I tried to change a 20 Euro note, but the Russian guy (truck driver) tried to rip us off, so we said no. Though I did blag another small bottle of ice water. On we went to Bukhara. We blew the rest of our money 10 miles out on 5 litres of water and a water melon. Really good how little things please you.
Rolled into Bukhara, sorted an hotel out pretty quickly, and Linney also sorted out the money and SIM card so hopefully we should be ok now, well as best we can.
Everyday and ALL the Details
Overland To India
See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here.