Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Tibet

 Bad road after TielongI begin the descent happy as a little boy who has just received his Christmas presents, but soon my mood changes. The downhill according to my notes turns out to be another climb to a pass some 5 km away on a VERY muddy road where trucks are struggling to get through. It is becoming dark as I make my way through this mess (later the gang of two tell how they took hours for just three kilometers in this place). I don't have any food and just want to have a roof over my head and I start cycling without breaks in the darkness now on a long straight road made in what looks like the middle of a long lake. I begin to see some light in the distance after some demanding cycling and cannot help thinking of food and rest while approaching the light. Of course, just 100 meters in front of town is a goddamn river I have to pass and it is nearly too much. But my guardian angel is holding her hand over me in the shape of a soldier suddenly offering his help to carry the bike The official border between Tibet and Xinjiangover a very narrow bridge 100 meters upstream. Problem is the guy seems to like being in a hurry and to avoid the bike falling down into the river because of his hard dragging, I have to jump down into it with my trekking boots on. Jesus - this really completes the day, my boots will now be soaking wet for days. Yes, I still got my SPD - cycling shoes, but they have turned out to be no good for me because of pain in the knees.

The small restaurant is crowded with people escaping the mud hell and I don't look forward to sleeping here. I soon forget that when I see a man who obviously doesn't feel good and it looks like serious altitude problems. The people with him are not sure about this, but I don't like the situation and use one hour to make it clear to them that this guy has to be taken down NOW. The driver, happy of being out of the mud just ignores my advice while the guy is being taken care of by others. I never know what happened to him, because the group had gone by the time I woke up the next day. I could have helped him more than I did, because I carried Diamox against altitude sickness, but I didn't know at that time that not only can it be used as a preventive, but also as a treatment.

Doomed trucksI am very tired in the morning and become really pissed of by the ridiculous 150 yuan the Tibetan owner wants for plain basic food and shelter. I start a huge argument and end up paying an incredible 120 yuan before I leave the place without a word (Warning: the gang of two had a similar expedience with this bastard). Felt a complete lack of strength this morning and have to push the bike up what according to the notes should be a long downhill to Domar. Something is very wrong and a closer inspection of Janne Corax's altitude map makes it clear that the normal excellent road notes got a huge error here. The next hours reveal the highest pass on the southern west Tibet route with an altitude of 5399 meters by GPS (cycled two meters higher just for the sport of numbers). The last pass was bad in terms of stopped trucks, but this one easily beats the former. Tipped-over trucks are lying everywhere in the mud, but my mountainbike easily avoids what the trucks got into days before and I suddenly find myself on a big downhill just in front of a thunderstorm. Wait it out and end up camping some hours later. The goddamn stove is again making life hard, but somehow I manage to boil a pot of instant noodles.

What would Tibet be without the blue truckDomar now looks within reach of one day of 53 km downhill cycling , but as usual in Tibet "expect the unexpected". When one expect things to be easy and it proves the opposite, one tends to end up in bad mood. I felt great in the morning and end up seriously considering catching a truck in order to join up with the gang of two again, but somehow I cannot make myself do it. The promise of cycling all the way has become holy. The road becomes very sandy and washboard like during the day, soldiers photographing me, but I am told not to photograph them by an officious army officer, a thunderstorm catches me and worst off all - the front rack looks like something from the second world war. I wonder if I have committed hubris believing West Tibet was that easily done by bike. I arrive in Domar late in the day and quickly find the best restaurant in town and being told about the gang of two at the same place two days before.

A woman comes into the kitchen with a less than happy chicken. And happy it shouldn't be - it has 15 minutes later become a pot of food for soldiers flowing in from the nearby military base . I fix the Darkness aproaching the Nyak lakerack with a stick while the soldiers are becoming drunk, losing their shyness and everybody wants to talk with the "American". They are funny guys and I like them, but it has been a really bad day and I soon choose to go to sleep in a hard bed.

My eating party makes me feel quite strong the next day while I cycle nonstop 16 km uphill to the pass - according to the notes, 5000 meters. Too easy it turns out, it was only 4664 meters by GPS, but who cares - I am in a good mood and ready for some cycling action. Obsessed with catching up with the gang of two. A downhill ride brings me to the bank of Nyak lake stretching far into Indian Kashmir. I eat watermelon with truck drivers before I decide to use the last hours of the day to reach a fisherman's place opposite the lake, looking pretty close. The joyride ends as dark clouds gather over the lake and strong winds begin to make the ride difficult and I end up cycling in darkness and rain before I find the place.

Dead tired and starving like a Yak in wintertime after 90 km. of cycling, but the fish they serve is really badly made. They don't have a clue how to prepare it, and have just cut it in pieces and made soup of it. I struggle not to swallow the bones, while watching a young Tibetan who looks like he is eating fish for the first time - he cannot understand why it has bones.

PREV | NEXT