and I, I took the less travelled by.
Martin, a Czech guy I had been travelling with since we met in Volgograd, had taken the other road in the dusty Kazakh petrol station and headed into Uzbeksitan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan following the Silk Route across the Pamir Mountains. He asked me to join him, but I did not have the necessary visas for that route, so we went our separate ways.
The road was so bad that couple of hours later, the vibration had shaken loose the bolts that held my chain guard, windscreen and GPS mount.
A hundred kilometres or so down the road, things got so bad that my rear wheel bent and would no longer hold the air in. I was stuck in the middle of the desert with an unrepairable flat tire.
Eventually, I made it back to the Russian city of Astrakhan, where I could find someone to fix the wheel so that I could continue my trip, but I had lost a week and used the only entry on my Kazah visa, so that was that – my plan to reach Mongolia had failed.
I vowed to go back some day and finish the route via the Pamir Highway, which looked to be a much more interesting road than traversing the endless desert plains in Kazakhstan. 6 years went by and lots of things happened in that time:
I retired my faithful V-Strom and replaced it with a Super Ténéré with which I only had time to visit Normandy before it got stolen
I put the V-Strom back into service until I could save enough money for the new Africa Twin, which I imagined as the perfect machine to conquer the Pamirs. When it finally arrived, it was inmediately put to good use with trips to the Balkas, Morocco and the Alps, and a lot of off road routes that made me realise how unprepared I had been when I set out for Mongolia.
A few other things required my attention besides travelling, like some home DIY,
and the sad demise of my beloved V-Strom.
Now the time has finally come, and in less than a week we (yes, we) will be setting off towards the Pamir mountains!
A lot more posts coming soon!