Finally back on the bike and it was time to hit the hills. Chris and I headed over the mountains to Lake Issy Kul and the town of Cholpon Ata; "the Cancun of Central Asia" according to Lonely Planet. Well, if Cancun is like Milton keynes on a wet tuesday morning, then Cholpon Ata was it. Bumped into Richard and Lorraine as we pulled in to town. But between us, we failed to find anything exciting in "Cancun".
The next morning, Lorraine headed back to Bishkek to get parts for her bike, while the rest of us headed round the lake to the south side where we bumped into Iain (again!) and camped on the shoreline. A brief storm at sunset made for some dramatic photos.
The following morning, the five of us (Nacho had also reappeared) took the mountain "road" towards Naryn. This was to turn into an epic day. We covered 50 odd miles in 11 hours. The dirt track became worse and worse as we climbed towards a 3900+ metre pass past glaciers. Washouts, landslides, river crossings, high altitude and the inevitable angry dogs made for some serious off road riding. Richard, on his heavy and low V-Strom had a big off over a small cliff. He was a bit shaken, but OK. The bike was a bit chewed up, but still rideable. The "road" continued to worsen as we reached the pass; fortunately, a nice German couple in a heavily modded 4WD van helped us out by carrying some of Richard's luggage (to lighten his load) and making us tea at the summit. As we were much slower than expected, we ended up camping on the far side of the mountains at just short of 3000m. It was a very cold night. The following morning, we thought it was only about 7 miles to tarmac which would continue all the way to naryn. Wrong! The dirt continued for the next 60 miles, but nothing like the previous days trials.
Soundtrack: Yes - Roundabout