July 20 To Song kul 175 km.
Despite sleeping on the pull out bed in the dining room in Kazarman. we actually slept pretty well. The breakfast of rice porridge was a little hard to stomach. There was a small shop in town to get some supplies for camping. We set off for the alpine lake Song-Kul, which is 175 km on gravel/dirt road that is on the GPS, but not on google maps.
The first 20 km were a bit of a drag with washboard and deeper gravel, but then you start to rise up on the mountain road, which is mush firmer.
We had only gone 35 km when Trevor had a flat rear tire. There was a large nail, but a clean puncture and was easily repaired. The tire beaded easily this time with water and laundry power under 40 PSI.
The road rises up to the pass at 2800 m over some very quick switchback, but the corners are banked and smooth.
Dan did a bit of mountain climbing again!
The down side is a snake of switchbacks down to the valley floor. The road here is again washboard and deeper gravel for about 15 km.
We turned north near Ak Tal and stopped at the village to get some snacks. Dan was riding to the shop and a kid about 6 hurled a fair sized rock at him and hit the pannier….Dan hit the breaks and got off. The kid started running and screaming and Dan (looks 3 m tall in his boots suit and helmet) chased him down. The other adults nearby also yelled at the kid.
Initially the road is flat and pretty good.
It rises and is rocky in sections. There are then a series of fairly easy switchback with banked corners and long legs in between. This leads to the summit and a view of the lake 12 km in the distance.
Here Dan did a bit of hill climbing until it got too steep and slick.
The road to the lake is firm dirt and we passed a lot of Yurt camps.
We pulled onto the grass and set up our camp. It was sunny and warm, but black could were looming. We managed to get the dinner cooked and eaten before the rain. We all had to hide in the tents, but only for 20 minutes and then the sun was shining again.
We had a few curious visitors and quite a few horses drop by.
Once the sun was down the temperature plummeted to I need to be in my long johns and in my -10 c bag now! We are at 3000 m and you can feel it. Dan and I were warm and toasty, but the other 2 not so much. Orvar has only a summer sleeping bag.
We set the alarm for 1 am so we could see the stars and WOW it was amazing. Sara was only out for 3 min and back to the bag. There was frost on the grass at 5.
Big Dipper and shooting stars!
July 21 Kaji-Say 273 km
As soon and the sun rose the warmth was immediate and by 730 it was very nice out. We had a leisurely breakfast and packed up.
Today it is 65 km to the pavement and then we plan to see how far we get on the south side of “the big lake”. Setting out the road is again very firm and we were doing 60-80.
There is a choice to be made at the east side of the lake the first right is less km to the tarmac, but has a steep challenging switchback section or the longer but easier dirt road. We oped for the challenge. The first 4 curves are right on top of each other and were a bit hairy with the steepness, rock chunks and camber, but the lower ones are easy. The rest of the road was good firm dirt.
It rises up over a second pass and then drops down over easy switchbacks and finally ends at the paved road.
Here we made some miles. We stopped at a road side place for some lunch and when we were leaving we saw this Korean rider and his son across the road. They are headed to the Pamir.
We spotted some camel off to the side of the road and did a small detour. They were pretty relaxed and let us walk around. They SMELL terrible!
We motored on and ended up on the south side of the lake. A communist era monument.
The town of kaji-Say is small and there are not too many options, but the Art hotel was in the GPS. It did not look like much from the outside, but inside the gate was a very nice courtyard for us to put the bikes. The price included dinner and breakfast so that was a no brainier. The rooms were simple but comfortable and the water hot and plentiful. The bonus was great internet.
July 22 Orn’ok
We were divided about the plan today some of us wanted to “go around the lake” and others did not…Around the lake it is.
Nothing to see and in fact Dan did not take 1 photo all the way. At Cholpon Alta there is about 10 km of dirt, on which they are spraying water from tankers in the construction zone= mud. The town of Cholpon is a mad house of Russian tourist there for a beach holiday. It is crazy and we could not get out of there fast enough. Further down the road we came to Orn’ok and found a “resort” that actually had space as most were full. It is a bit like a summer camp. You check in and the rooms and in 2 story blocks and meals are served at given hours. The beach is clean and the water clear. The food is very marginal at best. It was the best we could do in the heat when we did not want to camp.
July 23 Bishkek
The original plan today was to take a mountain road towards the capital. Stating up the “road” from Orn’ok it is more like a track and very rocky and sandy. This “road” up the first pass is 23 km and after this the route is marked as a track for a further 70. After 3-4 km we decided that it was not worth the time and effort for a scenic detour. The second reason is the shock on Dan’s 800 is making a disturbing squeak and all we need today is to blow that out in the mountains. So we decided to turn back and go on the main route to the city. We had booked into a guest house for 3 nights to get some rest. Orvar had decided to stay one more night at the beach.
The ride into the capital is right along the Kazakhstan border. We had again no trouble with police despite constant warnings by other riders. Bishkek apparently has strict rules regarding which streets motorcycles can ride on. We tried to stay on the main roads and the few police we passed ignored us. The fine is apparently 2000 Com (30$usd).
We had planned to meet up with ADV inmate Allen here in the city. He has lived here and in Uzbekistan for almost 2 decades. They run an orphanage for over 20 kids. He was kind enough to meet us at “the container mall”. This is where Dema and his wife have the only motorcycle “shop” in the city. Dema had gloves for Trevor, some full synthetic oil for us, and a connection to a guy to work on my pannier. I was also able to buy another tubeless repair kit for my bike. The mushroom kit we have has come with the wrong tip and this is why we can not get the plug device to work. Back to old school with the goo ropes. The crash I had in the deep sand torqued the box and the top so the lid closure was a challenge. The Bumot did great as far and the metal, rivets, and welds. Dan and Allen rode over to a mechanic shop where the owner was “one of the biggest humans” Dan had ever seen. He looked at the box for a few minutes and then got out a jack and some 2×4’s and voila perfectly back to square.
Just a few blocks from the hostel there was a restaurant that looked like it could be at home! Good drinks and food. It must get wild here they have an impressive set of DO NOT do rules.
There is also a pretty nice bazaar here where you can buy just about anything.
Hostels can be a bit sketchy and several of the kids where ill here and it is probably from the food. We ended up here 4 days as several of us were sick especially Daniel. He was well enough to go by July 27, which is good as we need to get across Kazakhstan for our Russian Visas. The rear shock on the 800 has been squeaking and we are worried it will blow. There is a KTM shop in Almaty and so we will make a detour there.