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Kolyma Highway Photos – Winter Biking – 2000km Yakutsk to Magadan

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Well, there are many stories to tell from the last couple of months. The 2000km from Yakutsk to Magadan was a fantastic ride, made all the more memorable by the incredibly kind, generous, hospitable people I met along the way. My journal is full!

Winter Biking Kolyma Highway

But this blog post is not for telling those stories with words.…

Too Cold – Winter Biking Yakutia Photos

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Oh where do I start?!
I think for now, I will just show you the photos from the last couple of weeks.
Mostly it was too cold to stop and take photos… sometimes when I did, the camera wouldn’t work anyway. When it’s -40C and colder (when I woke one morning from the bivvy, it was -50C), priorities are about…

Biking to Lake Baikal and Olkhon Island

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Just over a week has passed since leaving Irkutsk… and now I’m back. Briefly. Tomorrow I take a train to Neriyungri to begin the very cold cycle to Yakutsk.
But back to the last week. It seems a lot has happened. Firstly I cycled to Lake Baikal – it took five days. A bit longer than expected. The first 3…

Into the White

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Time for a long-awaited update…
After a few weeks back home, I’m finally back out in Russia – in Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal.
The first 3 weeks at home were spent indulging in the guiltless excesses of good food and drink over xmas, safe in the knowledge that I’ll be burning those calories off soon enough. No New Year’s Resolution…

Home and the things we love and miss

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Each time I return home from an extended time abroad, I am engulfed with a mixture of emotions and impressions. And each time it is different.
Last time, it was the shock at the pace of life so many live in the UK. The Rat Race. I hated it. I had gone straight back into work. And suddenly, every minute…

Take On Asia – Free Photobook and Round Up Part 1

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I am back in the UK! Yes, that happened fast you say.
Indeed, I’d been keeping my return quiet so I could surprise my mum for her birthday.
But now I can tell you about the last days of the journey…
Having cycled back to Moynaq, I hopped in a taxi and left a pool of dirty water in the…

In Search of the Aral Sea – From Khiva to Moynaq, Uzbekistan

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Rather than retrace the direct route to the main road via Urgench, cycled along the smaller roads for a short cut towards Nukus. Riding through small towns and farmland. Uninspiring. But I was quite happy just pootling along. No particular rush. I thought again how this countryside reminded me of Norfolk.
Dusk arrived too fast. The days are short now…

Photos of Khiva

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I pushed on towards Khiva, rather than camp – it would have been the crap kind of camping. Where you have to hide and make no noise and try not to be seen. There were simply too many houses and people from the main road to Khiva. Nothing like the desert the day before. Besides, I thought I could beat…

Elliq Qala – A tour of the 50 Fortresses (well, 6 to be exact)

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Because it had taken three hours for the taxi driver to find 3 other passengers, it was well after dark when I arrived in Tortkul. So rather than cycling out of town and camping, I found a place to stay.

Toprak Qala

From here I was going to start a mini tour of the crumbling ruins of the Elliq Qala,…

Photos of Bukhara

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After Samarkand, came Bukhara. On the route I’m cycling west, at least. It was the same for those merchants from the East trading along the Silk Road so many centuries ago, millennia even.

Well-preserved

Another central Asian city that has changed hands almost as often as I wash my clothes. First it was a vassal state of the Persian Empire,…

Photos of Samarkand

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Samarkand was founded around 700BC by the Sogdians. It became one of the greatest cities in the world at the time due to it’s central location on the Silk Road, connecting China with the East.

The Registan – centre of old Samarkand

Later it became a centre of learning for Islam.

Ulugbek Observatory

In 1220, Chinggis Khan swept through and…

The Golden Road to Samarkand

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Time is flying by. I have so much I could write about, but too little time to do it justice. That has been the trouble with this trip… not enough time to simply sit back and relax. Now I’m in Central Asia and no longer need to rush against the wintery weather, the 30 day tourist visa to Uzbekistan just…

Get On With It – Getting to Dushanbe and Visa Woes

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So this was the plan… cycle through the Pamirs and on to Dushanbe, pick up my Uzbek visa and be on my way to Uzbekistan to see the Silk Road cities, make a brief detour to the remains of the Aral Sea and cycle on into Kazakhstan and fly home in time for Christmas. It didn’t leave much time for…

Riding the Pamir Highway – The Wakhan Valley – from Langar to Khorog

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It was a struggle leaving Langar. After a night in a bed (=mattress on floor), I was more tired than usual. Not much energy either (soup and bread for dinner is not enough calories for a cycle-tourer, even after you wake in the night and eat a Snickers bar).

Wakhan valley village

So I lingered over breakfast and finally got…

Riding the Pamir Highway – Into Wakhan Valley – Murghab to Langar

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I woke up in my dim unlit room in Murghab, went to the window and pulled back the curtains. White light blinded me. I blinked and rubbed my eyes and pressed my face to the window and watched my breath steam up the glass. Beyond, snow was falling gently and the world outside was all white…
Today will be a…

Riding the Pamir Highway – The Cold Way – Sary Tash to Murghab

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My legs and busting lungs screamed for a day off in Sary Tash (that’s what you get when you sit on a horse for a month). But the clear skies were too good to spend indoors. You never know when the winds will change and blow a dastardly-blizzardy-storm your way.
When I finally decided I would go, the lady at…

Osh and Up to the Roof of the World in Photos

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Having lingered long enough in Bishkek while arranging onward visas, I took a bus straight to Osh. From there, it would be back on the bike. In at the deep end – unfit after a 6-week break while horse-riding, I knew the legs would suffer with the endless uphill towards the Pamir Mountains, known since Victorian times as ‘The Roof…

Calendar 2014 – Take On Asia

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This year is galloping on and before you know it, it’ll be Christmas. Well, that got me thinking about calendars recently. So I’ve been looking through all my photos from this past 4 months of cycling and horse-riding in Russia, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan and have selected 12 that I really like.

If you’d like to buy a calendar (or several…

Horse-Riding Kyrgyzstan – Part 4 Photos Song Kul to Sale of Sarala

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After a couple of days rest at Song Kul, it was time to get back in the saddle and leave this chilly, windy plateau. Return to the valley where the sun shines and summer still smiles.

Sarala at Sunset

The ride over and down the Chil-Bel Pass was steep. We had company. Many families were moving back to their villages…

Bike and Gear Set-up for Asia – Downsizing

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Having been on the road a few months in Asia now, I thought it was time to share how I’m carrying all my gear for anyone that’s interested.
As usual, I’ve got my Thorn Raven Tour bike, although during its 40,000km life it has had several new parts at various stages (including cables, housing, chain, sprocket, chainring, internal mech, front…

Alpkit Gear Reviews: Hunka Bivvy, MytiPot, Headtorch and Lantern

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I have a number of items of gear from Alpkit on this trip and they are all getting well-used. In summary, I am very impressed. Especially when you consider the value.
Hunka Bivvy XL
I’ve got the extra-large size to accommodate my huge −40C rated winter sleeping bag and it is just the right size for that. There’s a pull…

Horse-Riding Kyrgyzstan – Part 3 Photos from Family Stay at Song Kul

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It had been a long day to reach Song Kul. As soon as I found some puddles of water in the dried-up riverbeds, we stopped to camp for the night. It took some further searching to find fresh enough water that Sarala would actually drink. Who’d have thought a horse could be so fussy. I just took the puddle water…

Horse-Riding Kyrgyzstan – Part 2 Photos of Naryn to Song Kul Lake

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There is so much to tell from the last month horse-riding here. It has been a refreshing change to travel at a(n even) slower speed. It means more time spent camping in the hills besides rivers and a chance to see all the little details that you simply fly by on a bike. It’s good to travel like the locals…

Horse-Riding Kyrgyzstan – Part 1 Photo Preview

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For those who didn’t know, I’ve temporarily left the bike in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital. And I have bought a horse. He’s called Sarala. He’s a very cool, chilled-out dude who doesn’t make any demands except for grass. But he does that often, and noisily. But that’s OK.

Sarala

Anyway, I bought him from a quiet chap from a village called…

Russian Altai part 2 – Photos of Chulyshman Gorge and Lake Teletskoe

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I finally met someone who likes all the off-the-beaten-track beaten tracks and mud and dirt and gravel… and it was fortunate I met him where I did. A local family I had met had suggested riding up to Lake Teletskoe from Aktash. It would be hard on a bike, but of course it can be done, they said. I was…

Russian Altai – Photos of The Chuysky Trakt

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The next proper blog post will have to wait. I have the time to write, whiling away the hours until tonight’s train to Novosibirsk from here in Biysk. But unable to find a quiet place to form coherent thought, the writing will have to wait.
Noise everywhere. I’m sure Russians aren’t hard of hearing, they certainly don’t speak like it.…

Last Days in Mongolia – Photos and Blog Dirt-Road biking in Uvs and Bayan-Olgii

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[I got a bit carried away with this blog - about time some may say - but if you just want the photos, skip to the bottom]
After a few days ‘rest’ in Ulaangom where my room was once again invaded by drunk locals, it was time to get back to the dirt roads – life is much simpler there,…

Photos of Biking Across Mongolia

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Having made it to Kharkhorin and had a look round the Erd Zuu monastery, I was looking forward to beginning the off-road adventures through Mongolia. Alas, progress has been made and the tarmac extended for a couple more days’ ride… I lingered longer than anticipated in Tsetserleg as their Naadam festival was just beginning. So I watched the ceremonies and…

Things are Looking Up – Naadam and Road to Kharkhorin – in maps

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Having made the decision not to do a big packrafting trip, the relief was tangible. Finally I felt like I could do things I really wanted to. And I wanted to see some of the Naadam festival celebrations and competitions of archery and horse-racing. Since there were a couple of days before the festivities began, that gave me time for…

The Road to Ulaanbaatar – A Little Less Cycling – in maps

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It’s time for a round-up of the last few weeks… you may have noticed, there hasn’t been an awful lot of cycling. I had great plans, but sometimes they don’t quite work out the way you expected.
The plan. Get to Ulaanbaatar quickly to extend my Mongolian visa and get visa for Kazakhstan for onward travel. Speak to guides about…