Weather extremes

Day 19 – 18th August – Osh to Sary-Tash (179km)

Today we started riding in near-40 degrees heat and by the time we were in Sary-Tash we had all our clothes on and it was snowing.

It took me a long way today to get the bike ready to go, I had stuff scattered all over the room after almost a week there and didn’t want to forget anything. Once on the move, it felt weird and wonderful at the same time to get back on the motorbike and we were lucky to leave the on a Sunday, as we did in Bishkek, so we avoided the worst traffic.

It only took about half an hour for the road to start climbing and the temperature to start dropping. The day was a bit cloudy and once we reached 2000 metres we had to put some extra layers on, so we stopped near a building that looked empty but turned out to be a roadside café.

From there on the road went through a first mountain pass at 2800 metres and then really started climbing up to Taldik pass, at 3615 metres.

From the top of the pass we could see the amazing valley we had come from and, not far on the other side, Sary-Tash, our destination. Beyond the town, the Pamir mountains rose like snow-covered giants.

Despite being on a main crossroads – both the Chinese and the Tajik borders are just a few kilometres away – Sary-Tash is a wind-blown collection of small buildings scattered between the bottom of the pass and the Pamir mountains. Facilities are limited, and the guesthouse where we were staying reflected that. It was a combination of guesthouse, farm and workshop, with a half-dismanteled truck, hens, cows and our motorbikes sharing the same space in the yard.

We did have electricty and wifi, but no running water nor showers, other than a room where you could throw a few buckets of warmed-up water over yourself, and the toilet was the classic latrine. The best thing was that we had an electric heater in the room, which we immediately turned on.

The weather had been deteriorating quickly since we got here, and by mid-afternoon the Pamir mountains had dissapeared behind thick clouds and snow flakes were dropping on our bikes. It was crazy to think that a few hours ago we had been sweating inside our suits in Osh.

We cooked some soup that went cold almost immediately and retired inside the house to chat with the guests who had arrived during the afternoon – a group of cyclists from New Zealand, a couple of German hikers and three guys from Chicago on a Skoda doing the Mongol rally.