Three days before I fly I get my passport back with the last visa. Puah, that was timing - but now I am ready to go!
The Kyrgyz visa should be possible to get right at the airport. Will they be aware of that in the morning at 5 o'clock? The office is really open and so I get my visa and can enter. There were only about 20 other passengers on the plane, so all the taxi drivers waiting outside come after me. When I finally can make them believe that I don't need a taxi because I have a bicycle they start to help me getting the bike ready.
It is just getting bright outside when I start cycling. The sky is dark grey. Just when I reach the town, it starts to rain - what a welcome. No time wasting finding a guesthouse.
On the first evening I already meet Ariane and Oskar who work here for IKRK/UN. They can give me a lot of useful tips, what passes are already open and what is already possible. Of course I knew that I could not go into the very big mountains in april already.
Just the day I start cycling it gets warmer after some rather cold and wet days. I want to take a slow start. After leaving Bishkek I can see the mountain range south of town for the first time. Wow, should I have brought my skis with me?
And then I stand in front of the Töö-Ashuu pass. 2400 meters to climb... well what was that about a slow start? I am suffering quite a bit until I reach the top. My preparations were rather gaining some extra-kilos then cyling. Atop at 3100m there is still quite some snow. On the other side I can see the Tien Shan mountains for the first time - what a view!
I cycle through a beautiful canyon. Here it is already very hot. The road has some surprises ready too and everything is getting shaked quite a bit - perfect to find out whether all the bolt are really ok.
There are no yurts on the meadows yet. The people in the villages all seem to get ready to spend their summer on the Jailoos (summer pastures).
When I cycle through little villages like these in other countries, the boys on their bike often follow me for a while. Here in Kyrgyzstan they come riding with their horse next to me!
I cycle to the Issyk Köl lake. It is the second largest alpine lake after the Titicaca lake. The landscape changes very dramatically: in the west I cycle through a dry steppe and in the east there are huge, fertile fields.
Actually I want to go into the mountains from Karakol. But one view is enough to see that this is not possible yet: everything deeply snowed in. Ok so we continue our little ride around the lake, supposed to be good for the fitness anyway...
The view over the lake into the giant mountains is breathtaking even from here.
The potential for flat rides is now spent, so off into the mountains. The Dolon pass on the way to Naryn is just over 3000m, just below the current snow line.
But I don't get over it without a little snow storm...
In Naryn they tell me that the pass to get over into the Fergana valley is not open yet - bad luck. The valley after Naryn is already the last before the Torugart pass. The view of the At Bashy range is breathtaking. I cycle to Tash Rabat, a Caravanserai (15th century) of the silk road.
In the evenings shepherds often come visit me when I camp with my tent. Today it is a father with his son. I can impossibly stay here for the night they tell me. I try to explain that this is what I do every night and so far no wolf has come yet. But I take the invitation to go to their house. The family is very friendly and we have a long evening sitting together looking at photos.
Song Köl is a mountain lake at 3000m. From june to august herders come here with their animals because of the lush pastures all around. Most access roads to the lake are still closed because of snow. On the way in I already tried to cycle up here, but had to see that there was still too much snow.
Now on the way back I want to give it another try. There is a road from the south that might be possible already. It is going to be a very nice ride through alpine valleys. There is even forest here! But the last climb is very difficult. OK with a mountain bike but with a 50kg touring bike a real challenge. Atop there is a still frozen lake surrounded by beautiful landscape - totally deserted.
In Kochkor there is supposed to be another nice lake, Köl Ükök. When I ask at the tourist information whether it is possible to cycle there they simply say: "well, it's never been done..." I only take with me what I really need. It is a true mountain bike trail but I manage to get almost all the way to the lake. It is still frozen und there are some fantastic glacier covered mountains around it.
So, the first month is almost over and I go back to Bishkek where I enjoy some days in town before I hit the road again.