Too often, as a society, we are quick to dismiss things as ‘impossible’ or ‘foolhardy’ – especially when they go against the conventional wisdom of what is ‘smart’ or ‘sensible’ to do.
Start planning a big bike expedition, and you can run up against this attitude quite a lot. So, when we got an email recently from Henry & Jamie, telling us about their recent bicycle tour across mountainous Kyrgyzstan in February – an adventure easily thrown into the ‘foolhardy’ category – we were intrigued.
They sent us a link to the video of their 8 day crossing – a small but intriguing part of their bike tour from the UK to Australia.
“Hopefully the video captures what was at times nothing short of savage, thanks to the Medusa landscape (totally jaw-dropping but with the ability to take your life in an instant…only these beauties turn you to ice not stone), arctic conditions and vodka. I hope it also captures how two happy-go-lucky vagabikers armed with little more than scraggly ‘windbreaker’ beards, a plentiful supply of fetching pink socks, local good-luck hats and an albeit questionable sense of humour succeed in achieving what many deemed impossible.”
Watch. Enjoy. And be sure to read Henry & Jamie’s written impressions of the journey, below the video.
“When we set off from London nearly 16 months ago, we had not really planned on tackling the heavy snowfall, -35C temperatures, blizzards, altitude sickness and 9,000m+ of winding passes that a mid-winter excursion in Krygyzstan so attractively offers, but upon entering Central Asia it became starlingly clear that it was our unavoidable destiny to attempt this (dare I say it) ‘epic’ challenge. There was an understandable absence of support from the cycle touring community (we couldn’t find anyone who had done this before at this time of year, most riders are opting for the warmer southern route through UAE and India), and this helped to induce both dread, fear, but paralleled excitement as the mountains approached.”
Photo courtesy of The Blazing Saddles
“It must be said though that the unbelievably kind hospitality of the Kyrgyz people (who appeared to feel deep pity for us, taking us into their homes on 6 of the nights) and the mystical appearance of an ‘Into the Wild’ style Magic Bus near the top of the desolate third and final pass, made the crossing significantly more bearable. I guess we’ll never know who lives in that bus but if you happen to have found our flyer (we left one inside for you), located an internet connection, speak English, and are therefore possibly reading this…Thank You. Sorry for the dribble patch on the pillow.”
Photo courtesy of The Blazing Saddles
“Aside from being well prepared in terms of kit, having the right attitude when undertaking something like this is extremely important, whether you’re travelling solo or with others. As crazy as it sounds, Jamie and I always tried to laugh in the face of adversity (which reared its ugly head at nearly every corner), and so this made handling the ridiculous situations much easier.”
“What else have we learned from this rather testing adventure? The answer could be an exhaustive one: the importance of listening to warnings but taking them with a healthy pinch of salt; that snow makes a refreshing alternative to toilet paper; that urine acts as a cost effective alternative to de-icer; always packing a plentiful supply of fetching pink socks no matter what the challenge; that getting paralytically drunk on the second morning of a week long physical challenge may be ruddy good fun but not generally considered a good idea….and everything between. However, it could simply be summarised by the immortal words of Jamie King (Nike’s biggest alternative unofficial spokesperson) coined in his infamous Serbian TV Top Gear appearance: Just do it.”