About Recovering, Beautiful Roads and Destroying Bicycles

“Hmmm… no not yet… no”

The sound of birds have just woken me up and the sun is already relentlessly hot. I’m lying on the tapchan (sorry no English wiki article) in the garden of my hosts. My head felt alright which is a wonder concerning all the empty bottles lying around. I vaguely remembered that we danced in the garden until the police came and hammered at the door until we were quiet. Police - party poppers as always.

So this was the beginning of my recovery week in Dushanbe. I did this and that. Cooking in a proper kitchen was a highlight for example. So far on the trip it was seen as an insult if I wanted to help in the kitchen even though I stressed that I would love to learn some local recipes.

After I had done my stuff for the day I went to the hostel and helped my fellow cyclist with their bicycle repairs. I somehow made myself a name as a handyman with everything that has to do with bicycles. So I spent my afternoons fixing broken wheels, finding spare parts, welding frames and fitting bicycles to the rider's anatomy. I really enjoyed this especially because the payment was in form of beer.

So when I finally left for the mountains I felt relaxed, motivated and full of energy.

From here on I will let pictures do most of the talking - they just capture the magnitude of this place much better than any writing.

My sleeping place - including fountain that is misused as a pool.

My sleeping place - including fountain that is misused as a pool.

One of my hosts enjoying the "pool"

One of my hosts enjoying the "pool"

One of the many spectacular bridges - or what remains of them after the snow melts.

One of the many spectacular bridges - or what remains of them after the snow melts.

We decided to cycle the so called northern route via the Saghirdasht pass from Dushanbe to Khorog which is infamous for being in bad condition and steep. The beauty of this route is that it is momentarily not passable by car. So no traffic to worry about - what a treat!

Buying honey and cheese from the locals - probably the best way to get some money in this remote place.

Buying honey and cheese from the locals - probably the best way to get some money in this remote place.

Blue Lake - The perfect place to swim in relatively warm water. Or in other words one of the nicest bathrooms I know!

Blue Lake - The perfect place to swim in relatively warm water. Or in other words one of the nicest bathrooms I know!

Camping under the stars on the Khingob river bed.

Camping under the stars on the Khingob river bed.

One of the makeshift bridges that allow us to do the northern route to Khorog.

One of the makeshift bridges that allow us to do the northern route to Khorog.

After 1'600m in very steep terrain we reached the Saghirdasht pass that brings us to the border river Panj.

After 1'600m in very steep terrain we reached the Saghirdasht pass that brings us to the border river Panj.

Sometime one just has to stop to take in this amazing landscape!

Sometime one just has to stop to take in this amazing landscape!

Nothing to say about this one.

Nothing to say about this one.

One of the many beautiful Afghan villages. There are these moments where I would love to cycle on the other side of the river.

One of the many beautiful Afghan villages. There are these moments where I would love to cycle on the other side of the river.

Sand dunes at the entry of the Vanj valley.

Sand dunes at the entry of the Vanj valley.

Temperature reached up to 40°C in the shadow. As a result the little tarmac that is left on this road melted.

Temperature reached up to 40°C in the shadow. As a result the little tarmac that is left on this road melted.

Construction site of the road on the Afghan side. The stones of the explosions often reach the Tajik side of the river. So don't mistake the waves of the worker for a friendly sign. It means: "Get the f*** out of here!"

Construction site of the road on the Afghan side. The stones of the explosions often reach the Tajik side of the river. So don't mistake the waves of the worker for a friendly sign. It means: "Get the f*** out of here!"

Another reason we are not so fast on these roads :)

Another reason we are not so fast on these roads :)

Sunset over Afghanistan from the view of my hosts' place in Khorog.

Sunset over Afghanistan from the view of my hosts' place in Khorog.

The roads are hard for our fully loaded bicycles. Here a local welder is trying to repair the rack of a fellow traveller.

The roads are hard for our fully loaded bicycles. Here a local welder is trying to repair the rack of a fellow traveller.

Old spokes are very good to scratch your back. Upcycling at it's best!

Old spokes are very good to scratch your back. Upcycling at it's best!