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Irgiz turn off – 20km short of Karabutuk (Qarabutaq) 173km

sunny

It’s been a while since I put in a really long days ride on the bike but I set off this morning with a real determination to make some headway through this bare landscape.

I was a touch envious of the Poles as we posed for pictures outside the café in the morning. They were already talking in terms of how many hundred kilometres they were going to cover today while I knew I still had a good three days possibly even four till my next destination of Aktobe.

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Do zobaczenia my Polish friends

I wondered how a ride on a motorbike would differ as opposed to one on a bicycle. In areas such as this I think it would be more preferable to travel via a motorbike as there is very little to see but in other regions I came to the conclusion that the more gentile pace of the push bike would be better. It’s hard to say without trying I suppose; mind you I’ve never had very good experiences with motorbikes so perhaps I’ll stick with human powered means for now.

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This looks familiar!

As I rode through the day the scenery did begin to change and I began to see more and more in terms of life. One amazing thing about riding across the steppe is the incredible and vast array of wildlife one can see and especially birds. One of the emblems to be found on the national flag of Kazakhstan is that of the eagle. the eagle has appeared on the flags of Kazak tribes for centuries and according to my good friend Wikipedia represents “freedom, power, and the flight to the future”. Over the past month I’ve seen so many different kinds of birds of preys. Occasionally it seems as if there are actually flying with you side by side. They are stunning creatures and I wish that I only had a more advanced camera so that I would be able to capture one of them in full flight.

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The road has also gone from being mostly flat to small rises followed by short descents. I knew that I wanted to cover about one hundred miles today and basically just kept riding. It’s the first time that I’ve really ridden late into the evening but despite being in the saddle since early morning I felt good and just decided to keep going.

It was incredible to ride and also watch the sun go down. It’s one of the things I’ve most enjoyed about my trip so far, watching the sun set at the end of the day. I knew I was reasonably close to the next major town of Karabutak but at the same time knew that I’d soon be riding in complete darkness if I didn’t stop. Thankfully as I rode over one more brow of a hill a small village appeared to my left and I made the short ride downhill before wheeling my bike onto a small dirt track and into the village.

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Taken one handed while riding, very late on in the evening

I always try to make sure I go very slowly when entering a village as you’ll sometimes attract the attention of some people as you pass by; in this situation what you are looking for is a wave and this is exactly what I got from one guy and his young son as they ventured out of their gate to take a closer look at what was passing. I took this as an opportunity to go over and introduce myself. Furthermore as it was now nearly dark it was impossible for them to refuse my request to put my tent up in their backyard. It wasn’t long before the grandfather also appeared on the scene, he’d quite obviously sank a few vodkas by this point of the evening but if anything this just enhanced his hospitality.

The young boy of the family I guess around 6 years old was incredibly taken with my bike and insisted on touching it, especially spinning the peddles. I laughed in that ever so, hahahaha very funny way but please stop doing that.

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My hosts......"don't touch it!"

It wasn’t long before I was invited inside the family house for dinner and we dined on delicious homemade borsch and bread. They must have thought I hadn’t eaten properly for a long time because every time they put a new bowl down in front of me I devoured it in an instant, mopping up any remnants with bread to leave a perfectly clean bowl. I think I must have gone through three bowls of the stuff before I finally decided I was full.

I retreated to my tent, tired but in a good way and with my appetite firmly satisfied. Hopefully I’ll be able to repeat today’s ride tomorrow as I edge nearer the city of Aktobe.

Posted by Ontheroadagain 06:40 Archived in Kazakhstan

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