The Stans 2019

Day 1 – Wednesday 31st August – Barcelona to Bishkek (2240km – by plane)

So here I am, back on the road again. Or, to be accurate, in the air, as this trip did not start on the bike.

For a long time, I wanted to go back and finish my trip to Mongolia, and this time, instead of crossing Kazakhstan, which is mostly a vast expanse of desert, I wanted to go through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan following the Silk Road across the Pamir Mountains. The problem was that a route like that was going to take longer than the first time around, and I could not afford to be away from my job (or my relationship) for such a long time again, which meant somehow planning the trip to fit in a span of five weeks.

The first idea I had was to take the bike to MotoCamp in Bulgaria in Easter, leave it there until the start of my summer holiday then set off via Turkey and Georgia to join my old route in Astrakhan, do the Pamir route, go on to Mongolia and then send the bike from there and take a plane home in time to go back to work. Doable? Yes. Enjoyable? Nope.

It would mean being constantly in a hurry and missing out on some great routes and places, so I looked at plan B.

The more information I found about the Pamir Highway, the more attracted I was to that route, and I also came to the conclussion that Mongolia deserved better than crossing it in a week, so I decided to focus on the Pamir region.

I talked about my plan to some friends and this time it didn’t take much to find a travelling partner – Marc my (now former) neighbour, who I met just before the Route des Grandes Alpes in 2017. We had been on some trips together, including going back to the Alps to do some of the legendary offroad routes (I promise to post about that soon, it’s been a busy year) and he was very excited about the idea.

We had our bikes shipped to Bishkek (the capital of Kyrgyzstan) via Warsaw with AdvFactory, and booked our flights – so that we would have four weeks to do our route.

First stop – Istambul, Turkey. We were supposed to connect flights only here, but the flight for the second leg of our journey was pushed one day later, giving us 24 hours to visit the city.