We enjoyed much better weather for our second day of riding and we set out west around the lake, this time with Aitbek’s nephew.
He takes us to the small nursery school where there are some very cute rock animals outside a yurt brightly decorated inside with the children’s recent art work.
It’s a nice ride but by 3pm the weather starts to roll in so we start to head back to the yurt.
Song-Kol to Jalal-Abad
Day 1: 66km
The next morning we head off into very stormy, cold and wet weather. It’s not a long climb up to the pass out of the lake but the hail doesn’t stop for a good 2 hours and by the time we reach the summit we feel pretty battered.
The weather is incredibly localised and as we make our way down the other side via a spectacular switchback road the sun appears.
The scenery is the nicest we’ve seen on this ride so far – pine forests and deep green valleys.
The road gets worse as we head down with some very bumpy washboard sections. It’s impossible to get up to any reasonable speed but at least the weather holds out despite some very moody cloudscapes to our left and right.
We camp near the village of Ak Tal where we’re able to stock up on food and diesel.
Day 2: 48km
We’ve lost a lot of height so it’s much warmer the next day giving us a chance to dry out the gear. The road continues to be a bumpy gravelly track.
On the long straight stretch before the climb up to the town of Kok-Jar we notice that our back rack isn’t sitting right which is affecting the back brake system. The bolt holding the rack has sheared off. Paddy spends a long time getting the bolt out and then coming up with an alternative to the spacer we’ve lost along the road somewhere. He ends up using a number of washers and nuts.
We get going again and reach Kok-Jar by 2:30pm. We meet a nice Swiss girl cycling in the opposite direction and she tells us we have a big climb ahead.
We push onwards hoping to get to the top before calling it a day. A long, hot, steady incline leads up to the climb proper which consists of a series of steep switchbacks.
By 7pm we round the first mountain and are suddenly faced with this humdinger of a view. It’s breathtaking!
Although we have a few more switchbacks to complete we can’t resist stopping to camp in front of these amazing rock formations. We can see for miles. It’s one of those genuine ‘is this real’ moments!
We’ve a long way to go still until we reach Osh but views like this make all those bumps and climbs worthwhile.