Drive-through service at the bazar

Day 18 – 17th August – Osh (0km)

Marc was due to arrive today sometime early afternoon, if the time Katja and I got here was anything to go by, and we were leaving tomorrow so I wanted to get an air compressor replace the one that died in the Ak-Bashy mountains.

The guys at Muztoo had given me the location of a place where they sold bicycle spare parts and the like, but it was about four of five kilometres away, so I decided to get a taxi. I stopped one on the main street outside the hostel and showed him the location on the map. He didn’t seem to understand it, but told me in gestures that I should look at my map and point him left and right, and he’d do the driving.

He set off, and I noticed that he had a strange contraption on top of his steering column – kind of like a paddle shifter. He had welded two metal plates to a bar behind the wheel, and was pushing and pulling on them. The car was a Honda Fit with a CVT, so I was wondering whether he was overriding the automatic transmission somehow, until he saw me looking at it, smiled, and pointed down at the pedals. Then I saw it – he had no legs! We had already been driving for over 15 minutes and I had not noticed it. He had a long metal stick fixed to a bracket under the steering wheel that he slid with his right hand to push the brake pedal, also.

When we were getting close he realised we were going to the bycicle bazar and asked me what I needed, as I had told him earlier that I was travelling by motorbike. I told him the russian word for ‘pump’, and pointed at the 12V socket in the car, enquiring whether I wanted and electric one. I sad yes, and then he started driving in a different direction. I understood that he was taking me to a better place to buy an electric pump and, sure enough, we got to a bazar even further away that sold car parts. Bazars are huge mazes and I had no idea where to go, but he just drove straight into the bazar and right up to a shop he knew. He rolled down the window, talked to the guy, who handed us a compressor, unpacked it, plugged it in the 12V socket to check that it worked and I paid for it, all without getting off the taxi. He then drove me all the way back to the hostel and only charged me about three euros.

I had no news from Marc yet, so I went to visit the main park in the city, which was not far. On the way there I had a chance to appreciate the wonderful soviet architecture and I also saw some kids swimming in the river that crosses the city.

The park itself was beautiful, probably the best taken care part of the city, and there was a memorial to the war in Afghanistan. Not the one in which American drones bomb schools, mind you, but the 1979 one, when the Soviets intervened in Afghanistan against insurgent muslim groups that had revealed against the government and the US decided it was a great idea become best friends with and arm those insurgent groups just to fuck with the Russians (and we all know how well that turned out decades later).

Kyrgyzstan was one more republic in the Soviet Union at that time, so it sent soldiers to the conflict, as it also sent people to work as liquidators in the Chernobyl disaster, for which there was another memorial in the park.

There was also a Lenin statue in the park, believed to be the tallest one in Central Asia, and near it, the only Geocache in the city (and in most of the country, for that matter).

honda

Shortly after getting back to the hotel, Marc arrived. He was completely covered in dust, sweaty and exhausted after the ride from Kazarman, but it was good to see him on his bike again!

Heidenau K60 Scout and Kazakh visa

Just a short post to tell you that the tires I ordered are here. It’s a set of Heidenau K60 Scouts, and I am now going to spend the weekend figuring out how to carry them on the bike all the way to Volgograd, where I will have them fit while the bike is being serviced in preparation for Kazakhstan.

I decided to take this ones because I have had good references from other riders, they seem to be a good compromise – not to radical on the road, grippy enough off road, and they seem to last much longer than other knobbly tires, important since I expect them to last all the way back to Europe.

I will also be taking a puncture repair kit and a compressor but I have my doubts about taking tire irons. I have never tried to replace a tubeless tire, and it seems to be very hard to do on the roadside, especially breaking the bead. Can anyone advise me on that?

IMG_5883

I was hoping to carry them lying flat on the passenger seat and the back rack, but I also have to carry a rather big Ortlieb Rack Bag (I did not want to have too many little bags attached to the bike, they might easily get stolen in short stops to get supplies), so I am not very sure how to position them. I will experiment this weekend.

On a side note, this week I gave my sister (who lives in Madrid) the application forms and paperwork to get a Kazak visa. I do not have a hotel reservation or an invitation letter, but it seems that there is a simplified application process for Spanish citizens. Let’s see if we get lucky.