Extracts from Will’s diary: Central Asia

My bowels exploded half-way up the final hairpins of the 3000m pass. Squatting over the edge of a cliff holding onto a couple of bushes has to be one of the low points of the trip so far.

During our cycle around the world I kept a diary to record the daily events. Despite all the videos and photos that we’ve already shown you there are some things best captured through pen and paper. Below are some of the best bits from our passage through Central Asia from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Chinese border. The story kicks off in the desert town of Aktau, Kazakhstan…

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DAY 63 – 21 JUNE (Kazakhstan)

By the time we had re-built the bikes outside the airport it was 5am. Exhausted we headed out into the desert and ended up just lying down by the side of the road to get a few hours sleep. People must have thought we were mad or homeless.

DAY 64 – 22 JUNE (Kazakhstan)

This place is incredibly barren. Only the odd camel and gang of wild horses to keep us company. Crawled another 25km into the driving headwind at less than 10kph before calling it a day. Found another culvert to sleep in under the road that gave a little shelter from the wind. Bread, jam and Nutella for dinner – yay!

DAY 66 – 24 JUNE (Kazakhstan)

Found someone’s half-built house to sleep in for the night. Cold watery oats for dinner and breakfast at the moment.

DAY 68 – 26 JUNE (Kazakhstan)

Woke up just as the rain set-in and had to make a mad dash across the desert back to the road before the whole place turned into a concrete muddy quagmire. Mud road for the next 60km and our wheels won’t even go round because they’re so jammed up with mud. Bit stuck.

DAY 70 – 28 June (Uzbekistan)

On the road early to try and make the 150km to the next food and water stop. Arrived in Jasliq at 3pm. Broken and burnt to a crisp we found some shade at a police check-point. First shade from the sun and heat that we had found all day. Johan collapsed into a deep sleep on a door. Pressed on in the evening and ended up doing 225km before dusk. Both exhausted and severely dehydrated despot drinking 14 litres of water that day. Thirsty work. Slept under the stars.

DAY 74 – 2 July (Uzbekistan)

No one is serving plov. Have they run out of rice? Oily mutton broth starting to wear a bit thin now. Both dreaming of fresh salads, home cooked food and a trip to Marks and Spencers. Stocked up on supplies before heading back out into the desert to bridge the 3 day gap to Bukhara. Looks like noodles for dinner and watery oats for breakfast for 3 days then. Lack of good food, really starting to take its toll.

DAY 75 – 3 July (Uzbekistan)

Toasting our campsite of dreams and feeling very good about life, I started preparing dinner. Suddenly attacked by a vast plague of hungry mosquitoes. Within seconds there were about 10 eating me at once. I went delirious and ran around like a headless chicken trying to get the tent up to escape the blood bath.

DAY 77 – 5 July (Uzbekistan)

Started feeling a bit wobbly in the afternoon. Just as we pulled off the road to camp, my bowels exploded again. Appetite gone, feeling sick. Bugger.

DAY 81 – 9 July (Uzbekistan)

Saw a group of men finishing up harvest for the day, so asked them whether we could sleep in the corner of their field. Spent rest of evening being visited by their families and neighbours bringing gifts of cucumbers and a funny hat. Johan befriended a stray kitten that he couldn’t get rid of, so it slept in his sleeping bag.

DAY 87 – 15 July (Uzbekistan)

My bowels exploded half-way up the final hairpins of the 3000m pass. Squatting over the edge of a cliff holding onto a couple of bushes has to be one of the low points of the trip so far.

DAY 88 – 16 July (Uzbekistan)

Had a horribly low moment this morning and it was the first time I seriously entertained the idea of packing it all in and heading home. Thankfully a cup of tea and a Pepsi helped me rationalise things, and I perked up in the afternoon.

Day 91 – 19 July (Kyrgyzstan)

Straight back onto the climb again – average gradient of 12%. Eventually left the tree line and came out into high alpine meadows, where the nomadic Kyrgz bring their yurts, horses, cows and goats for the summer grazing. After another 4 hours climbing, passed the snow line and eventually made the col.

DAY 92 – 20 July (Kyrgyzstan)

We started the descent with trepidation not just because of the ridiculous gradients but also because we knew all our hard work over the past few days was about to come undone in a flash. We dropped 2500m in 2 hours.

DAY 94 – 22 July (Kyrgyzstan)

It was dark by the time we made Ballachy on the edge of the lake. Tried to find a place to camp, but all we could find was a rubbish dump.

DAY 96 – 24 July (Kyrgyzstan)

First cloudy day that we’ve had in weeks and rain started breaking over the mountains to our left just as a big headwind picked up. With weary legs we called it a day and found a nice sheltered spot in a graveyard, where a friendly farmer gave us some petrol for our stove and horse yogurt for breakfast.

DAY 97 – 25 July (Kyrgyzstan)

The road was nearly unusable, ranging from thick gravel to hard cobbles. Unlike the desert there was no escape on tracks to the side of the road, so we just had to rattle and shake our way uphill towards the border.