It’s been well over a year since I slung my leg over my bike and drove towards Kathmandu. It’s also been a funny old year for me. After coming home by plane, Bianca (the motorcycle for those of you who didn’t follow the first blog) arrived around a month later by ship and was unceremoniously dumped on my drive in a tired looking wooden crate. She was quickly serviced, before being mercilessly flogged on eBay to the highest bidder, thanks to my less than healthy financial condition! Such cruel treatment for such a loyal companion!
Three days after touching down in Lahn’dan town I was shipped off to the University of Manchester where I fell into a little bit of a depression. Maybe it was the grey sky, the prison like cell I was to be contained in, the lack of freedom or a sudden reality check straight from cloud-9-Himalaya; I’ll never know. I do know that I had a pretty poor year and a constant yearning to be back on the road; it was only the dream of the summer which kept me going. So here we are again, at the start of another adventure.
My bedroom once again looks like Everest Base Camp and every evening I find myself studying maps, polishing spokes, lubing chains and preening tyres. Yet this bike has no engine and I’m the only horse power. Starting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan my route takes me East towards the Chinese border, past Lake Issik-Kol to visit the mighty Tian-Shan range, before turning south towards the Pamir mountain range and following the Pamir highway south into Tajikistan, over the high mountain paths bordering Afghanistan on the long road via the ancient trading town of Osh to the capital Dushanbe.
The Pamir translates in English quitre literally as ‘the roof of the world’ and it is at this western junction of the Himalaya I shall travel. ‘The Pamir Highway’ in its current incarnation was built by the soviets in the thirties, but Marco Polo is said to have travelled along the Panj river valley which the highway starts its journey in the 13th century. It’s those very roads which the northern Silk Road travelled heading for the Chinese capital Xian for hundreds of years and it’s those same roads that me and my bicycle will travel, sleeping under the same star filled skies and next to the same snow capped mountains, unchanged by the comings and goings of the world for hundreds of years. Pedalling along I can again enjoy listening to the noise I crave to hear so much again; that of silence.
I’m leaving Wednesday, be in Bishkek Thursday and in the mountains Sunday. Long live adventure.