It’s always a little difficult to get back on the bike and more so today after my stomach problems in Aktobe. I didn’t feel 100% as I cycled out of the city but told myself just to take it easy and everything would be okay.
The traffic out of the city was a little heavy and the roads slightly narrow. I’ve yet to have any trouble with any motorists in Kazakhstan and come to think of it on the trip in general but today I felt as if I could have been given slightly more room by a few cars. Part of the road had that horrible characteristic when the road has become sunken and it creates two tracks where the tires go. What this also does is create a situation where small banks then form. If you’re on a bike and get stuck in the tracks it can be very difficult to ride up the small banks. This is what happened a couple of times today with speeding cars right behind me. A couple got a little too close for comfort.
I’ve been used to some pretty good roads in Aktobe province but that soon changed today. I think I’d have to say that it was 65% bad 25% okay and 10% good with regards to the surface.
Not a lot happened on the ride. I stopped after about 60km at a café and had one of those tremendous large pots of milky tea that they do so well here. A father and son stopped and gave me a bottle of my favourite new tipple ‘Maxi tea’ which was nice.
As I’d had Internet access in Aktobe I was able to update and uploaded all my favourite podcasts
so I had plenty of listening material today. In particular I was inspired by the 12 episodes of
the Tour de France podcasts and am really pleased to see so many British riders doing well. It all bodes well for the upcoming Olympics which I’m sadly going to miss most of.
I planned to ride to Kobda and arrive around six, pick up some extra water and then head on a little before camping. I was well on track to do so but the last 15km of road to Kobda were simply awful; a nasty combination of gravel and sand in which my tires simply sank into. The fact that it was all mostly downhill too meant that it was extremely hard to ride and at the same time also somewhat dangerous. I opted on a few occasions to simply get off and push. What made matters worse was that I could see the small town in front of me but was going at a painfully slow pace.
By the time I arrived at the small truck stop hotel on the outskirts of the town I’d abandoned my plans to camp for the night and was just happy to sit down, have something to eat and grab a bed for the night.
It’s been a while since I ate Plov (rice, carrots and lamb) but I tucked into a very nice plate, albeit a little small for dinner in the company of a three very friendly truck drivers. The ladies in the hotel were very friendly and were eager to look through my photos of my family; it’s always a good ice-breaker I find.
I wasn’t expecting a bed for the night and then warm shower was an added bonus but the guard dog chained up outside the hotel might need to put a sock in it for the night!
Less than 600km to Samara in Russia now and it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Kazakhstan for nearly two months now. I will certainly miss the people once I leave but not those roads!
9000 up and still going strong.