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29th Dec – Riding with the Gods

January 27, 2011

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Last nights’ effort was a noisy and a windy one, but we rose to a fine, if rather cold, day. We started back on the road we had left the previous night and it descended down the mountainside, only for us to be greeted by the next mountain. We trudged slow as you like up the hill, ready to his the pass in a few kilometres, before another truck warned us off the road ahead. There were some guys in a small hut a bit further up who were also as animated as the drivers – we managed to get out of them (I think this is what they were saying) that there was an avalanche up ahead that was blocking the road, making it totally impassable. The only option was to turn back, and take a smaller road that meanders through the mountains – a much more protracted route, but we had little option.

So down we went, a lot faster than we came up. We found the road and enjoyed 10km of amazing cycling down the mountains again, switch back after switch back, through tiny villages full of gawping faces, until we reached the bottom of the valley, that was filled with the construction of a new dam.

The construction site was vast. We reached the end of it and a fork in the road, at which point a toothless old gent beckoned us in for some tea, which later turned into offers of food. We met some of the workforce, who were Chinese, complaining about living in the valley for 4 years (there were 4 engineers and one translator, who translated Chinese into English to the Turkish translator who in turn translated English into Turkish) The kind offer of food was brought to a close with a hefty bill, which wiped out our remaining reserves of cash (‘do you have an ATM in this village?’ was a common question Harry would ask…) He then proceeded to send us down the wrong fork, which we cycled down for 40km until we realised we were heading in the wrong direction. It wasn’t so bad though, as the valley was beautiful, quiet, and epic. Some of the best cycling of the trip, just a shame we had to cycle all the way back up it again. We reached the point where we had lunch by nightfall, but the man responsible was nowhere to be seen. Some of the workers offered us some food and some tea (we also had run very low on food supplies) in their shack, and we made camp just off the roadside near a mountain stream, ready for yet another monumental climb in the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen starting tomorrow.

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