After spending in total 4 days in the flatlands, the time has come to cycle in the mountains again. Today, the weather was great and therefore I could start my trip through the backcountry towards Kasarman. I however still don’t know about the road conditions after the Kaldamo Pass, but I asked several locals that came from the opposite direction by car, and all of them said that the road was open. I will see tomorrow if they were right.
40 km through fields
In the morning, I still had to cycle up to whole valley at which end Jalal Abad is located. This means, cycling through dozens of kilometers of fields. However, the valley was continuously climbing, and after 40 km of fields I also gained 400 m of altitude. Given the altitude of the pass of 3000 m, this aspect is not unimportant. After 40 km at Taranbazar, I finally arrived at the foot of the mountains I want to cross.
Vodka for seniors
On the way to Taranbazar I had a short rest in a village, when two old guys approached me and were begging for money, with which they want to buy Vodka. As I was having my well-deserved break after 2 hours of cycling, I just wanted them to leave me alone, but they insisted. So I went to the next shop with one of them and bought them a bottle of Vodka… for a bit more than $1. Even though it was really cheap, I probably should not have bought them alcohol…
Climbing towards Kaladmo Pass
After Taranbazar, the climb finally started. I was at 1200 m back then, so this means I still have to climb 1800 m to the pass, excluding all the small descents and climbs in between. Having some experience by now, I realized that this is too much for today. Still, I wanted to progress as much as possible so that tomorrow I have less work to do.
After the initial climb, I was invited to a tea, or actually more like lunch. As I intended to take a break anyway, I accepted and had a nice lunch break with an older guy, with who I talked about the various presidents (Trump, Putin, etc.), travelling, and so on.
After lunch I followed the road through a 25 km long narrow valley, past dozens of farmers and their animals who reside in this valley in the summer. It was a really beautiful valley, and due to the remoteness, there was almost no traffic, which was a big relief to me. Again and again I could already spot the pass far away, and whenever I looked up to the pass, I realized how far away it still is.
There were several witnesses of landslides in the valley. One of the landslides actually was quite fresh and there were heavy machines trying to fix the road. For now, I had to push my bicycle through deep mud, but I could continue. Also, it was clearly visible from the way the road was laid into the landscape that every now and then parts of the road slide down and have to be prepared again at a lower elevation. I am really glad I waited in Jalal Abad for dry weather, I would not have felt safe in this valley if it had been raining or everything had been wet.
Sleeping along the road
After climbing to 2200 m, I decided to stop for today. Theoretically, there would have been enough time to reach the pass, but I preferred to put up my tent lower than at 3000 m and less exposed to the winds that blow over the pass. As there is not too much space next to the road, finding a suitable camping spot was not easy. After looking for quite a while, I found some good spot under a powerline with grass, and the ground was even. What I did not know is, that as soon as I put down my stuff, a farmer brought all his sheep to exactly this location. Luckily this was just an intermediate stop, because I really did not feel like spending the night with hundreds of sheep around my tent.
Max elevation: 2173 m
Min elevation: 777 m
Total climbing: 3911 m
Total descent: -2517 m
Total time: 10:15:46