We ended up spending a few days longer in Osh than planned as tummies went on strike again. When we left we organised a taxi ride 200km east to avoid some hot, boring riding out of the Osh basin and to gain 2000m up to the top of a pass – lazy, I hear you say!
For this leg to Naryn we were joined by Katie from Durango in the US, who we met in the arrivals area of Dushanbe airport on day 1. She is a super strong cyclist and was keen to have some company for a change. For us It was nice to find a like minded cyclist to pedal with.
We enjoyed a big descent from the pass through rural green landscapes and found a secluded spot by a river to set up camp before the late afternoon thunderstorm.
Next morning we started the looong climb up to the next pass, a gradual uphill all morning followed by a steeper uphill in the afternoon to a lovely campsite just past an ugly strip mine, still 500m short of the Ak-kya pass.
The yellow wildflowers alongside the road on the final climb were stunning and it was great to finally top out and enjoy some downhill time as the previous day’s greenery was replaced by a much drier landscape.
The problems of lack of language were reinforced when a vehicle stopped and a man jumped out waving an iPhone and trying to communicate something to Alan and I. We were confused and thought he wanted to sell it to us and he headed off. Unbeknownst to us Katy had turned round and was cycling back to our icecream village looking for her iPhone! Double duh when she caught up and related her story of losing her phone – damn. Primarily it was her navigation tool as good paper maps are hard to find but smartphone map apps are incredibly accurate and good.
We camped just before a river crossing at the start of a short cut track that looked interesting. It turned out to be a really fun ride the next morning apart from a couple of sections of REALLY thick, sticky, slippery mud and the heavy rain that fell. In the worst of it I couldn’t turn my back wheel. In fact I could barely see my wheel under its jacket of mud and I was having trouble staying upright walking, trying to get thru the quagmire it was so slippery.
When we eventually got to Ugut, the wee town back on the main route, we must have looked so bedraggled and in need of a pick me up, we got invited in for tea and were able to hose our bikes and ourselves off.
The two sisters and brother and offspring were so kind to us producing a table full of bread, biscuits, sweets, fried eggs and tea. One sister spoke pretty good English and she loved meeting tourists so it was fun all round. She was a glowing new mum to a 40 day old baby.
We camped in the peace of a school yard that night before the not so interesting ride up the wide Naryn valley cursing the badly behaved traffic coming into the district capital of Naryn on the now paved road.
Time for a room with a shower and a rest day..