Mt. Kailash

Mt. Kailash

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Khiva, calamities and the Mongol rally

Khiva is nice, very well preserved and a fascinating place to wander around. Most of the old mosques, madrassas and caravanserais have been converted into museums, restaurants and hotels. Quite what orthodox Islam would make of that, I do not know. But the place still has an atmosphere about it.
I have gradualy been seeing more and more cars taking part in the Mongol Rally (UK to Ulaan Baatar); Khiva is obviously a focal point; they were everywhere. There are few roads in this part of the world, so all the overlanders are funnelled down a few routes.
Rumours of a very bad stretch of road (100km of bad!) from Khiva to Bukhara were piling up. So, with some trepidation, we rolled on after a couple of days in Khiva. Iain (English biker) wasn't far ahead of us (only 5 minutes at one point), but we were to arrive in Bukhara the day after him. The first bad signs came when we pulled over to a pair of English bikers (Kev and Nick) doing the Mongol rally on XT125s. Clutch problems meant some roadside repairs on their bikes. They were on top of the situation, so myself and Nacho pushed on, eventually reaching the bad strerch of road. I was quite enjoying it at first, thinking "this isn't too bad". Next thing I know, there was a sickening crunching sound and my rear tyre was devoid of air. Bugger! Now, this is in the middle of the Kyzylkum desert, 40+ degrees, no shade. We set about removing the rear wheel and taking out the inner tube. There was a big split in the tube, but worse still, my new rear tyre had a split in it. Some passing Russian bikers stopped to help and we got the new inner tube in the tyre and pumped it up, but it was ballooning out the split in the tyre. I very gingerly rode like this for a while, until Kev and Nick appeared and overtook us. They stopped soon after and I showed them my tyre. A passing truck stopped to see if we needed help (that would be a YES!). Their bush mechanic skills saw them put a thick piece of rubber between the inner tube and the split, to stop the tube poking out. Very much a short term solution, but I could ride again, albeit in constant fear of a total rear wheel failure and more than a little dehydrated.
We got to the end of the bad stretch of road and caught up with the XT125s again. It was getting late and daylight was fading. After one of the 125s died for a second time, we were still 50 or 60 miles short of Bukhara, so it was time to wild camp in the desert, again!

Soundtrack: Sex Pistols - Problems

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