For some reason I’ve been having a real craving for pancakes for about a week now, in fact cravings are one thing that I’ve developed a lot of since starting. I’ve never been a huge drinker of Coca-Cola but ever since the weather has started to get hotter I can’t seem to get enough of the brown fizzy stuff. It’s that combination of sugar and coldness that make it such a powerful combination when out on the bike. I’ve also met other cyclists who’ve also commented the same.
As we were about to leave in the morning we met a Dutch guy Pete who was just arriving and strangely enough had been following us for days and said he’d heard all about me over the last few days. I wasn’t aware I’d made such an impression on other people. Perhaps it’s the fact that Kazak people seem to be very good at remembering my name and also seem to be able to pronounce it pretty well unlike in China where people often struggled to get it right.
After 20 or so kilometres of riding in the morning I waived farewell to Paco and Kenta and started on my way to Shu. I’ve still been receiving updates from Kyoichi who also travelled this road and he rather worryingly informed me that it was the worst section of road he had EVER ridden. With this in mind I was a little apprehensive to say the least as I turned off. After the first 50km I was beginning to wonder that perhaps I was on the wrong road or alternatively perhaps he’d taken a different road as the road was pretty decent.
Going past 4000 miles
However after stopping for some tea and bread at a rather busy junction it happened……the road deteriorated and rapidly. Huge sections of the road were missing and massive potholes lined my way forward. It was almost like playing a video arcade game in which the purpose of the game is to avoid objects in your path. In the distance it was easy to see the state of the road as large trucks zigzagged their way across the road avoiding the perils in their path.
......and it doesn't get any better
On arrival in Shu I found a hotel quickly but the 4000 I was quoted was in my opinion way too expensive. In the end I found a restaurant and ordered the local dish of Plov, the restaurant was inhabited by four local guys who had obviously just knocked off work and were sinking a few pints of beer before heading off home. They were massively interested in what I was doing but my lack of Russian, their lack of English and the fact they they’d already made light work of what looked like a large amount of beer judging by the empty glasses on the table made the conversation difficult to say the least.
The owner of the hotel agreed to let me stay in the small circus tent that he had outside. It was hot enough and as it was already under cover I thought I’d dispense with the tent for the night. That changed about twenty minutes later whilst lying on my sleeping bag I noticed a giant frog sitting on the floor next to me and starring at me. The prospect of a frog or whatever else making its way into my sleeping bag during the night wasn’t one I wished to face and within no time the tent was up and ready!