Kalai Khum to Sagirdash Pass 3252m 42km
Cycling alongside the river for four days was a blast. As a paddler, kayaking and rafting, when you hear the distant roar of rapids, and see an horizon line on the river, your adrenaline begins to flow, as you prepare for the up coming challenge. I found, cycling along the bank of the river, I was having the same adrenaline rush, but not having to deal with the challenge of the rapid. Instead, I was able to look down in awe at some of the ugliest, challenging rapids I have ever seen, wondering whether there even was a line that might result in a successful running of the rapids. Often, I was cycling beneath over hanging cliffs, and the roar of the rapids was intense. Yet again a surreal experience, being there, experiencing the thrill, but not getting wet..... another movie?
Climbing the Sagirdash Pass was nothing like a movie. It was ALL very hard work. I'd whipped down to the village and bought some bread, yummy and fresh, tomatoes, carrots, and surprise surprise, bananas, and while I'd done that, Nick had moved all my panniers and trailer up on to the road..... Good lad that boy (he's 31 years old). So it was load up and head out. Immediately I shifted into Grannie Gear.... and stayed there all day. 38km of uphill. 2010m climb. 6hrs 15mins cycling. Hey Craig, you'd only have to do this one four times to get your "Everest". The road surface was mostly rutted, gravel, sand, and stones, and higher up wet clay. Nick was often reduced to pushing, as his thin tyres skidded in the loose gravel. My slightly wider tyres allowed me to cycle the whole time, but no faster than his walking. To say it was a challenge would be to understate the effort needed. Basically it was very very very hard work, and as the altitude kicked in , so did the breathing difficulties. 100m, then stop to catch your breath. But, we did it. We summited, in the clouds and rain, and celebrated with a bar of chocolate, donated by Nicki from Germany. Thanks Nicki. Very very much appreciated.
We saw three cyclists today. Two from Switzerland, and one from Azerbaijan. They were cruising, having climbed the other side of the pass, they were enjoying the downhill. We get to do that tomorrow. We found a campsite a couple of kms down from the pass, out of the rain. We were both a bit concerned about a "safe" spot. There are signs up warning of mines, and obvious areas where the USA and Danish ordinance experts are checking for mine fields...... yep adventure comes in many forms......
I've been thinking about this cycling, and why it is such a compelling adventure. I've always had an urge, even as a youngster, to follow that valley, stream, ridge, river, to see what's around the next corner, and have more often than not been called back, and had to turn around. On this cycling adventure, I get to follow the ridge, stream, valley, river, road. I'm not called back. I get to see what's over the hill, around the corner, and I get to do it every day. Following a dream, sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's really really hard, but it's always compelling. Try it. Follow your dream. My dream is to cycle around the world, and somewhere up the hill today, I passed 23,000km, close to half way. My dream is becoming reality.