We met cyclists coming in the opposite direction with tales of the worst road ever. Some had pannier racks being held together by cable ties, one had major disintegration of his wheel and some opt for a taxi ride to avoid the terrors of the Wakhan road and Kargush pass. We were peddling along waiting for the road to deteriorate. We did have the advantage of fatter tyres, and we were not carrying the kitchen sink, and we have a high benchmark for what constitutes rough as we tend to seek out these roads.
From Langar the road remained pretty good as we headed towards Kargush Pass. We had an entertaining tea break on the side of the road when a bottle of Kefir yoghurt exploded out the top as Alan was removing the lid. We had filled up the container the night before at the homestay, added sugar and then we had gained altitude. The live yoghurt culture, fed up on sugar just couldn’t wait to get out of the bottle. The saving grace was that we were not in our tent when it happened!
The climb to the pass the next day was steady but on a good surface. The weather deteriorated but we managed to keep ahead of the worst of it as we bumped our way down the pretty rough descent. It felt harder work than the climb keeping our bucking bronco bikes from throwing us off.
We reached the junction with the paved Pamir Highway and had two options for our very tired selves – 24km of paved road and tail wind to Alichur or 16km of gravel road into the wind on a detour to Bulunkul village and lake. For a while we thought we had made the worst decision of the trip battling our way to Bulunkul but it was worth it in the end.
Bulunkul village recorded -68 degrees one winter which was cold enough to kill yaks. It is a beautiful spot (when it is not -68!) and we had the thumbs up for a homestay from the kiwi family who were staying there. We arrived and were invited into the family yurt for tea, Kefir, bread and watermelon – the days hardships were fading fast. We pitched our flimsy tent across from the yurt.
The next day we had a fantastic 40km of dirt road riding to Alichur on a back road and then the following day were blown 100 plus kms along the highway to the large town of Murghab where we are taking a well earned rest.