First legs…then more legs

The first question everyone wants answered is how many kilometres will you ride. There are many questions that should proceed that. Lets start with …..1.How much are you carrying?

About 30kg (we think we bought too much food). On the first day we were given lunch and dinner so the chance to eat what we bought is minimal especially as we are often not only fed but also often given food to take on our way, so we seem to have even more food than we started with! (Plus the fuel we had to buy burns black and dinner can smell a bit like it was cooked by a diesel mechanic who is doing a bit of painting on the side – so it’s fine when you are really hungry but not otherwise!

2. What are the roads like?

We started initially on small back road with potholes the size of bathtubs and sections like a riverbed, lots of loose flat stones. Then we finished the day on an expressway, with cars and trucks zooming by. (If there is a speed limit here it certainly isn’t obvious!). While the roads are very busy the traffic does have a feel of well organised chaos. The road is shared by all those on it with equal respect shown to all vehicles truck and bicycles and donkey drawn carts and shiny new cars all have the same value. I was carefully shepherded across a very busy intersection by a thoughtful truck driver. That would never happen in Sydney!

3. What will the weather be like?

Hot mid 30s, not much shade and much heat coming off the road. There’s an occasional sandstorm thrown in just to keep you focussed. But then there’s rivers and waterways to cool off in or have lunch by. Then there’s the wind – how strong is it? Is it a tail wind or a headwind? So far we’ve been lucky – not much wind either way though one afternoon a very hot dry headwind did feel like it was scorching the tonsils.

4. What’s the terrain like? We’ve done our first big hill – it wasn’t a mountain but did take a couple of hours. Apart from the weather, the other benefit of starting in Uzbekistan is it is relatively flat – especially compared to Kyrgystan and Tajikistan.

We had many options to top up on fuel at many fuel stands they sold both petrol and honey!

5. How many times a day will you be invited in for tea, for meals, to stop for selfies, to chat and make real this vision of two women with loaded bikes in Uzbekistan. Many many times. It was very hot riding so we were constantly looking for shade to take a short break. We stopped under a big shady tree 🌳, nodded hello to a local and were invited in for Chai. Israh – (well actually his daughter in law) made us a feast fit for queens). Two different types of freshly baked homemade bread! We were also invited to stay for the night – but it was too early in the day.

6. What will you see along the way that will make you stop? Multi story stork apartments, donkeys at work, mulberry trees.

The back roads were a mulberry fest – every kilometre or so we could stop and feast, staining our lips and hands with sweet, ripe, mulberries- ours for the picking.

Having stopped late on our first night to make camp we decided to started looking for somewhere to camp by 5pm. We asked a few people – with our newly acquired, extremely limited Russian.

Boris roasting his freshly dug up new potatoes

Maria and Boris to the rescue. We were briefly invited to put up our tent in their garden but almost before we could answer we were taken inside given a room. Then more treats – a sauna and wash, food and then lots of chatting each in our own tongue but with warmth and laughter we somehow understood each other.

Separating the milk and cream
Fabulous sauna and washroom

Boris gave us “spirit”as we had politely refused the vodka – mental note – next time accept the vodka!

It seems many people grow their own food both our lunch and dinner were from the garden.

Leaving Marianna and Boris

After a few days riding we have finally figured out the 4 types of horn blowing. 1. A short blow – for awareness only 2. Two short beeps – wow its people on Bikes. 3. One – two longer beeps – you are in my way and you dont seem to realise you shouldn’t be doing that. 4. Four – six frantic beeps oh my god I just saw two woman riding bikes oh my good they waved oh my god!!

Even out of the cities there are beautiful majits

Of course every journey has its challenges too – we have had to learn to say no – there are so many offers of chai, food, somewhere to rest, we could easily not move very far at all. There was also the snapped seat post screw (for the non bikers amongst you – a seat that swivels as you ride and that can’t be adjusted for the right height!). Adrienne was whisked away in a car by locals with almost no English only to return a while later with not one but two screws, one of which was promptly tested and put in place before they disappeared as quickly and quietly as they had appeared.

Knights in shining armour

It’s so hot in the day we start early then take a break for a few hours in the middle of day before continuing in the afternoon.

Even politely saying no – people go out of their way to help. After explaining we didn’t have time to go to his house (via a very helpful app) we were asked to wait for a short moment while a friend brought cold water to us!

We couldn’t go to water so water cane to us!

There are usually little roadside stalls popping up regularly .. except of course when you need it and water is running low…. late in the afternoon we turned off the main road in the search for water. I asked if they was a shop close by? At that the garage door opened and there was a shop 🙂 After buying water we then given Airon – a cooling yoghurt, pickle and dill soup and also a jar of kefir to help us on our way. Such warmth and generosity can at times be overwhelming.

Airon helps cools us off before setting off again

After an early start – packing up our campsite under the walnut trees – we were on a mission to reach Samarkand. We weren’t exactly sure how far it was but thought it was within reach.

Many many hours later, with stops and gifts along the way, we rolled into Samarkand, though the old stone streets at 9pm. 102km – big day and we felt it.

Across the bridge to Samarkand
We have arrived!

Friends we met along the road.. first leg

Paying to weight
Every vehicle equal value
They were very interested in the bike 🚲
Australia – kanGAru

Now to explore Samarkand…here’s a taster

35 thoughts on “First legs…then more legs

  1. Wow and Wow, Wendy and Adrienne!! Love the pics, love your vignettes into your daily experiences and interactions with folk on the way! Such kindness and fascination from people, wonderful! my legs ache at the mere thought of what you are both undertaking! Very best wishes always, and enjoy your Samarkand explorations ! xx Ruth

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  2. Oh wow Wendy, how amazing. The people sound so lovely and generous…having to say no must be hard but like you say, you’ll never get anywhere otherwise! Keep the stories and photos coming, you are so brave and reaping the rewards xx

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  3. Wow indeed! Fantastic pictures again, we really get a feel for what you are doing this way.
    I know it’s very difficult for Adrienne to say NO! You will probably have to drag her away from all these well meaning people 😂. Have fun & enjoy!!!

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  4. Fabulous Wen. Great to read the stories and see the visuals. And ain’t it grand that despite language differences you don’t seem to be having any probs communicating.
    Friendliness is an international language !
    love to you and regards to Adrienne. xx

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    1. Hi sweetie – yes friendliness definitely international! Loving, loving the trip. Feeling very happy and grateful. Look forward to catching up at some point. Much love to you and to the girls xxx

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  5. Amazing stories, I’m blown away. The locals sound awesome, such generosity and kindness to strangers. Loving your adventures.

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    1. Made me smile – I’ve been thinking exactly that – 100 days feels like just a dip n the ocean, a thread in the tapestry of Central Asia. Some days we are so bright eyed its a bit like rabbit in headlights – being overawed at what we are seeing and experiencing! X

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  6. Thanks for your enormous generosity in putting this together Wendy. It’s almost certain that I’ll never visit these countries so your detailed, thoughtful commentary gives me an insight into the geography and people that I’d otherwise not have. And pretty cute getting the occasional glimpse of you in situ too xx

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  7. Hiya from Perth at the end of the earth.
    I’m in awe of you…..an amazing adventure unfolding before our eyes.
    Loving the blog.
    Xxx

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  8. Thanks Wendy, thoroughly enjoyed reading the answers to the myriad of questions. Gotta say Bukhara I think will have some beautiful rugs. I spied some pretty damn fine homemade cushions in your pics and the fabrics I zoomed in a few times. The Samarkand turquoise is just as I have seen in the books but better! You rock with your photography. Stay safe and keep pedalling Love Karen and Nes xxx

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    1. So lovely to live chat – have checked with Adrienne and the other things they use for the natural dyes are madder (which is the root of a small shrub), indigo and sometimes cochineal. Off to explore again shortly. Big hugs xxx

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  9. Hi Wendy. I am blown away by the experiences you are so beautifully conveying! The effort you two have and continue to put in, equals the experiences you are receiving in return. You both deserve such riches. So happy for you!

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  10. Koodamarlungarri !! (oh my goodness in Arrernte!! 😉 )what an absolutely amazing adventure of getting to see another part of our beautiful world and it’s generosity of spirit from so many people who live life happy and well in their communities, culture and country.
    Looking forward to reading all about your continued travels and adventures. Love Carol xo

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    1. Ah lovely to hear from you sis, its a special special place – but as you say – i think the warm and generosity comes from the sense of place and culture these people have. Have been a guide the last couple of days – so interesting to bring to life stories of Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan and then learning about new people Amir Timur and Mirzo Ugulbek. I’m really loving it. Xxx

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  11. Wow, what a life experience, isn’t it so reassuring to be greeted so warmly by complete strangers Keep pinching yourself to remind yourself to take in the moments, saying”am really doing this” Take care, Kevin and Sandy

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    1. Yes if you need faith in humanity restored here’s the place to do it! There are so many moments here – I think that’s what is so overwhelming- it just doesn’t stop! Head off today for Bukhara. No idea what to expect. Very much looking forward to being on the road again. X

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  12. I remember that the two cousins story of travels in the region saying the same thing about the amazing friendliness and generosity. Love your blogs and think it’s wonderful what the pair of you are doing xxooxx papa

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  13. This is gorgeous. Can’t help wondering what goes through these people’s minds when they see two western women (grandmothers possibly in their lingo) cycling towards them in fluro vests and reflector glasses. Perhaps not surprising they all want to chat.

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    1. They want to chat but also feed us feed us feed us. The latest treat is bread with egg white whipped with sugar – that’s right uncooked meringue as a dip! There’s quite a sweet tooth here. 🙂 so we won’t starve – it’s quite the opposite- everywhere we go we are over fed.

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