Augustus 2017, Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
After I went home to visit my parents who celebrated their 40-year of marriage,
and enjoyed some summer days in the Netherlands,
surrounded by family and friends…
On the 13th of august 2017,
I flew back to my ‘partner in crime’,
and got back on my bike.
Ohhhhh wait… not just my bike…
my brand new bike!
At the one and only ‘Amigo Hostel’ in Almaty I got reunited with the one and only
‘Luke Miller from Ohio’.
And off we go!
‘So this is what we do?’… I ask Luke as we cycle out of Almaty.
‘We just cycle?’…
‘Like all day long?’…
‘Yes that’s pretty much all we do’.
‘All day long’.
‘And then we stop’.
‘And then we eat’.
‘And then we cycle a bit more,
until we get tired
and then we’ll go to sleep’.
‘And then we wake up.’
‘And we get back on our bike,
to start the whole rhythm again:
as we continue our ride’.
‘Really’ I say?
‘We just cycle. Like allllllllllll day?’…
And I look down at this little computer on my handlebar:
27 kilometer done, and many more to go.
I take a deep breath.
We were going to cycle for many more hours,
We just left the city of Almaty behind,
slowly, slowly, we found our way out,
slowly, slowly we were getting closer and closer to the countryside.
We make a quick stop to have some cookies and some bread.
The traffic passes by.
The wind blows in our face,
the sun get covered by clouds and stops shining,
as it start to rain instead.
40 km done.
Many more to go.
So we get back on our bike…
trying hard to make some more miles.
Until the sky gets darker and darker
and the sun goes down….
With a feeling of being slightly worried,
we start to look around.
We look to the left…
We look to the right….
And we see this old man in front of a little shop,
who gives us a welcoming smile,
at the moment we pass by.
And I look at Luke by my side.
with eyes saying ‘I guess this is what we used to do right?’
And so we walk to the old man,
and we ask him whether it would be all right…
whether he has the space to host two cyclists for the night.
One hour later we find ourselves having a marvelous meal in his little shop.
That was the big bonus that came along with this perfect camp spot.
A yurt in his garden to pitch our tent,
surrounded by his vegetables and fruit.
A big meal accompanied with many stories,
about his personal life and childhood.
– in Russian to be precise –
Slowly, slowly, I start to remember,
and before we are about to fall asleep in this cosy yurt under the bright blue sky outside,
I come a bit closer as I whisper,
so… ‘this is what we do right?!’
The next morning we wake up and say goodbye to the friendly old man.
With lots of new energy I get back on my bike,
trying hard to get back in that rhythm of what life was once like.
Offf we go,
on our way to Kyrgyzstan!
‘No this way!’
Alright then…. now we go!
Because – ‘this is what we used to do you know?’
We would cook ourselves some marvelous meals
We would camp outside
We would wash ourselves in the rivers
We would even bath outside
We would protect our little house for the wildlife, occasionally crossing in the night
We would cycle some serious mountain passes & we would feel slightly…. intimidated by those first ones.
We would question ourselves why the * we choose this route?!
Well, because, ‘yes you did!’
‘No you did!’
But then, by the time that the summit was no longer out of reach, there was never a question: we sure understood!
This is ‘why!’ ….
Ready to cruise our way down…
We would stop to get ourselves a beautiful picture.
Or three, four, five!
We would cycle some beautiful dirt roads
We would find ourselves surrounded by all sorts of wildlife
We would make new friends
We would occasionally get shocked by a car in its fast appearance
But I would fall in love with their beautiful little old LADA
Sportscar 2.0 I tell you, this one will make it FAR!
We would bump into a BIG massive lake from time to time.
And we would come up with BIG confessions as we would take a closer look around.
‘Well Luke, I guess, I am just not that much of a ‘lake-person’. I mean, for me, it’s just like a ‘LOT of WATER’. ‘Let’s go cycle some more MOUNTAINS’
This way. Yes, this way!
And that’s where we bumped into three other cyclist that day.
Three out of many more that would follow on our way.
And so we decided to camp all together for the night.
And the next morning, we all got back in the saddle…
All together, we continued our ride.
Together we would stop for some more cookies and some bread
We would stop for some good-looking-camel-pictures
Or we would set eyes on other people stopping to take some good-looking-camel-pictures, instead.
All together we would camp again and cook under the clear blue sky
All together we would cycle some more passes,
and all together we would question ourselves ‘why’? ;)
But then, as we reached the summit,
and witnessed this magical yellow bus by our side,
we knew exactly ‘why’!
We would camp for another night
and then it was time to say goodbye.
‘So you guys have to go left, we have to go to the right!’.
And that’s how we continued our ride.
We would cook some more food to keep the pedals turning
We would eat that overripe smashed banana from time to time
And all was going to be just fine.
We would make many more friends
Especially many ‘little friends’
what do I say: ‘the-coolest-little-friends’
Some with a magical wooden sword, some while riding their badass bike.
we would meet some other grown-ups-riding-their-bike
And we found some adult friends by our side…
Thank you all for being part of the ride
And then, all we have to do was find ourselves another stunning camp site for the night.
After all those passes cycled and a big meal to eat,
we would feel totally happy.
Happy but exhausted,
we would fall asleep.
I am back on the road,
and THIS is what we DO!