Leaving the Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan border we rode towards Osh, having decided to bypass Sary Tash this time through. The weather was cold but we suited up in our electrics so the ride through the pass was beautiful and pleasant.
It appeared that the yurt encampments were closing down for the season and people were moving their herds and stocking up on feed for the winter.
The novelty of seeing all the herds on the roads was beginning to wear off as they became a regular labyrinth!
We arrived at our hotel in Osh and noticed five very clean bikes without any gear parked out front. Lindsay surmised it was a tour group.
First chore after unpacking.
The following morning at breakfast, as the guys were planning to get the slow leak in Tom’s rear tire repaired, the tour group arrived. Lindsay ended up talking to their leader, Urs, who just happened to own the well known shop and tour company MuzToo, where the guys were taking the bike. Small world!
Off to the shop to get the tire repaired.
The shop was well equipped and a mecca for riders doing all sorts of repairs. After getting the work successfully completed it was time for dinner out.
The next morning we were on the move again, making our way to Toktogul for the night before riding into Bishkek to see Tracy off.
Confirming the route.
Along the way.
The ride along the reservoir to Toktogul is still a beautiful ride.
Weather has warmed up and we are now looking for shade and cold drinks.
We end the day by lucking out and finding the much lauded……
We stop in and they have rooms for us. Shortly afterwards a tour group arrives….
We are asked to move into different quarters to make room for them. Not a happy time as we are hot and tired and have already settled into our rooms. Now we are to shuttle everything quite a distance in the continuing heat….sometimes the language barrier is a problem! But ultimately it is a great location!
The ride in the morning through Too Akhuu pass is incredibly cold (7 C) and we are under dressed.
Going through one of the small villages enroute Lindsay and Tom are ticketed by roadside police. Tom for speeding…..as we watched them set up the radar camera ……apparently they just knew he was going too fast…..and Lindsay for passing a semi in a no pass area…..once again…..questionable….but no talking our way out of this one…..Lindsay did manage to get the fines reduced from US$300 to 100!!!
Stopped for gas after that to fuel up, warm up and suit up! and lo and behold who should pull in…..
Then it was back through the tunnel,
Over the pass.
And through the craziness of the traffic and road construction into Bishkek where we spent a few days relaxing and shopping before it was time to say good-bye to Tracy.
It was now September 1st and time to continue our journey north to Moscow. It will take us a week of steady riding to get through Kazakhstan and Russia to reach Moscow (about 4,000 kms) with very little to keep us stimulated along the way. The tarmac in Kazakhstan is beautiful, but because of the vast empty expanses we had cross winds for most of the first day as we rode into Shymkent, a growing and modern city.
The next morning the guys decided we will ride to Zhosaly that night to shorten tomorrow’s ride to Aqtobe by 150km. Once again the roads were good but a lot of nothing to see and plenty of wind to deal with.
We arrive at Zhosaly.
We are booked into the Alm-Ata hotel. It is a welcoming, clean and simple place. We have our dinner of chicken stir fry, salad and french fries prepared for us before we retire. Tomorrow 950 km to ride to Aqtobe….and Lindsay is not feeling well this evening after his afternoon lunch…..
In the morning Lindsay is not feeling great, but good enough to keep going.
Early morning start.
Not much to see along the way…..an ageing soviet rocket launching site…..
a little wildlife…..
an endless road….
We arrive late into Aqtobe and Lindsay is not doing well. He started the day poorly and now with the long ride the exhaustion has pushed him over the top. It is decided to stay two nights here to get rested.
Fortunately we are at a good hotel with a coffee shop that makes great specialty coffees for Tom.
We left as planned as Lindsay had recuperated. Next we rode 475km to Uralsk, again through vast empty spaces.
We arrived into Uralsk around 5pm and checked into the Chagala Hotel. Nice place with a great little restaurant, “Hugo’s”, attached where we enjoyed a delicious tikka masal with a cold beer. While eating dinner another rider pulled in but we did not meet him until the next morning. Turns out he was Russian and in Kazahkstan on business. He liked to do the ride, but when he heard the route we had planned he suggested it might be a rough one…..literally…. the last time he had ridden it was four years ago and it was….but maybe it was better now?
We were not to be deterred….how bad could it be….
Well our first obstacle was about thirty clicks before the border crossing into Russia……construction.
And then after crossing into Russia…350 km of this from the border to Saratov where we stayed for the night
Although the roads were a disaster the scenery was improving with vast yellow fields of sunflowers ending their season and many farming villages dotting the landscape. We were back in green!
From Saratov we had a bit of a shorter ride, 378km, to get to Tambov for the night. The road continued to be be a disaster until we were about 100 km from the city at which point it improved
The next morning when Lindsay went out to check up on the bike he found oil leaking from the rear mono shock. Not great news. He was already needing to have the steering head bearings tightened, so now we had to start thinking about getting to a KTM dealer to have things looked at. On that note we packed up the bike and started the last leg of our journey into Moscow. The ride in was uneventful.
Still great views on our way.
A quick stop for gas and a bite to eat before entering the city.
and check into our hotel.
We did not realize that we had arrived in Moscow on a weekend celebrating Moscow’s 871st birthday! We ventured into the city center in the morning thinking we were going to locate Red Square and the Kremlin, the first thing we encountered was security.
Once in the mood lightened and we were treated to a host of events presented for the public.
And to Tom’s great joy, he could once again count on good coffee on a regular basis.
After enjoying the sites we wandered into Red Square.
After enjoying the entertainment, coffee and a bit of shopping it was time to go back to the hotel to watch the start of the moto gp. So off we went in an urgent stride to meet the 4pm start time, our time. But alas it was not to be. In our rush to get back we found ourselves in the middle of a pension protest in Pushkin Square. The Kremlin was passing new age requirements and these people were not impressed.
We tried to find our way back out, but as we were looking the police started to join batons enclosing and moving the crowd inwards. In the chaos Lindsay, Tom and Marian became separated. Marian and Tom met up across the street having crossed through the police line before it became solid. But Lindsay was nowhere to be seen.
Marian and Tom figured Lindsay had found his way out via a underground route, so they went back to the hotel to meet him. Sure enough he was there and had been directed to exit via underground passage. Our bit of excitement for the day!
Needless to say we missed the start of the moto gp and had to watch it later that evening, then it was off to ‘Tilda’s” for a great meal where we discovered Edamame hummus…..delish!
The next day we went back to Red Square and then wandered through the Kremlin grounds.
That evening our plans of caviar and champagne ended up with very good Italian. Our last dinner with Tom as he was leaving in the morning to make his way home, back to England.
We are staying in Moscow one more day before starting our journey into Europe. So the following day we wandered through more of the historic areas, wrapped up a few loose ends and prepared for our departure. Timing was right as the weather was changing and Fall was in the air.
It has been a great journey to this point, and now we are off on our way home.