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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

15 April 2015 - 7:59pm
Hi Rogo,

Cycled the Pamir last summer as part of a 12 month tour from Turkey to India and it was without doubt one of the highlights.

The Pamir has 3 commonly cycled routes, the classic M41, the Wakhan & M41 and finally the M41 & Bartang Valley.
The M41 from Kalaikhum towards Khorog is fairly well populated in places, with Kalaikhum being a good places to stock up on essentials such as food and petrol. They are fair sized villages all the way through this bit of the valley with Rushan being the biggest town. The road is fairly busy with local traffic and tourists 4 x 4 between Dushanbe and Khorog and trucks doing trade runs between Tajik& China. There is a strong army presence in the area and you may find them turning up at your camp site to move you on or insist on having an armed guard stay with you over night for your "protection". It is one of the most stunning area of the whole trip.

The M41 is most remote after Murghab, and toward At Baital pass and then from Karakul to the Tajik/Kyrgyz border. Karakul is the last place with home stays and shops, although the shops were pretty barren when we were there, we purchased the last few snickers. Murghab is the most reliable town to stock up in the Eastern Pamir, be aware that food is limited and relatively expensive and not of the highest quality. Khorog is the best place to stock up on food supplies. Having said that we purchased most of our food in Dushnabe on the upper part of Rudaki Avenue there are a number of decent supermarket stocking western/ turkish food stuffs such as pasta, oats and tinned fish and meats, although expensive worth it in my opinion. We had some boil in the bag food shipped over to us to supplement food purchased in Dushanbe. We rolled heavy with all the food but we were fully self sufficient and apart from the coke and snickers bar we did want for much.
Food in the Pamirs is generally of low quality and hard to come by if not staying in home stays on route.

The Wakhan Valley was a real highlight with great views of the Hindu Kush & Afghanistan. The valley is well populated all the way to Langar and has numerous home stays and basic shops. The most remote part is from Langar back to the M41, which is around 90km and nothing else apart from an army checkpoint, so make sure you have enough supplies don't rely on the shops in Langar or the villages before to stock up in. Ishkashim has a small bazaar and few okay shops but nothing special. Water in the valley is plentiful in the right months and mountain fresh, we had a MSR pump but hardly used it as the water drinkable straight from the source, they are more than a few natural springs so keep your eyes peeled.

The Bartang Valley is the most remote part of the Pamir which can be cycled, although we didn't do it our self we met others we did, it takes around 8-9 days over rough tracks and there is very limited provisions on route, you have to be fully self sufficient for the duration. There are some issues with flooding of the road during the summer months.

Regarding distance, this is very much a personal choice of preference depending upon the individual and is therefore hard to judge. I would say the biggest challenges of the some sections of the route, certainly from Kalaikhum to Khorog and parts of the Wakhan were the road conditions, partly gravel, rocks of assorted sizes and sometimes sand which invariable impacted upon the distance achieved. Certain days in the Wakhan we cycled a mere 20kms one day then 35km the next due to the road and the potential for damage to the bike we made slow progress. We did Kalaikhum to Osh in 19 days. On the M41the conditions are better and bigger distances are possible, certainly after becoming acclimatised ( a day in Khorog was good for than standing at around 2500m) check out breaking boundaries website to see how quickly the Pamir can be cycled. The wind is also something to factor in, certainly after Murghab were we faced a constant ripping wind all the way to Osh, the wind was so strong in places it was easier to get off the bike and push. Overall the cycling isn't that tuff on the M41 but road, wind and altitude due play there role.

Other info that may be useful; if you can get your GBAO permit before arriving in Dushanbe then do it, when we were there they had been some fighting between the Pamirers & the Tajik police and number of deaths occurred and the OVIR office in Khorog was torched. Meaning the govt stopped issuing permits and we have to wait two weeks at the Adventures Inn with other frustrated wannabe Pamir cyclists. We finally managed to get the permits through Shargaff at Pamir Silk Travels for $35 per person, even though the permits weren't officially being issued. If they are issuing them to individual travellers then they cost $4 and can be sourced from the OVIR office in Dushnabe, but you would have to check the current situation on the ground to see what is currently happening.
Stock up on Somoni's in Dushanbe as they are no banking facilities (ATMs) from Dushnabe to Osh, have US as back up.
If you are in Tajikistan for more than 30 days you need to official registered at an OVIR office somewhere like Murghab would do, but is a pain and best avoided if possible.
Petrol for multi fuel stoves is available in Kalaikhum, Rushan, Khorog, Ishkashim and Murghab for sure and other places for less favourable prices if you ask around at at village, if I need.
Lastly, the FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the GBAO, therefore voiding any UK based travel insurance, just something to keep in mind if that is something that would impact upon your travels there.
One last thing, make sure you keep hold of your exit form which you are given upon arrival in Tajikistan, the border guards were not the friendly people we came across and this had caused some issues for others we had met.

Have a wicked time and feel free to contact me if you need anything else answered.

Happy pedalling,


Re: Coast & Castles - Recommended sights & tea shops?

15 April 2015 - 7:53pm
ikenbikeit wrote:The barn at Beal is a great place for at least four reasons.

Very useful, thanks. I camped at beachcomer which is on the route but doesn't do camping anymore and I was looking for something else in the area.

Re: Touring bike choice for people with long legs

15 April 2015 - 7:51pm
531colin wrote:buying the wrong bike is costly all right.....which is why its preferable to get the position sorted on an existing bike, with a steerer extender, etc.
Why is a sloping top tube counter-intuitive? If you have a short torso for your height, (the other way of saying long legs for your height) you are liable to want the bars high....which is why sloping tubes are popular anyway.
Sitting on top of the pedals with a long stem....OK if you can manage it...I could, 30 years ago.
Do you have any dimensions of your custom frame? Just off the cuff i would guess short, sloping top tube, from the frame sizes you mention toe overlap shouldn't be a problem.
I don't have a problem with "variations" in riding style, but if somebody is uncomfortable on their existing bike, a conventional riding position is the first thing to try, isn't it? Nobody can guarantee to find an off-the-peg bike which will give instant comfort for a rider who insists on a position way outside the normal range.

Sloping top tube is counter-intuitive (counter to my intuition anyway ) as I would expect a fame to have a longer seat-tube to fit longer legs - but I take your point. I always thought sloping top-tubes were to increase standover height which is not an issue for me. As for riding position - why is "sitting on top of te pedals with a long stem" likely to be problematic? I am averagley fit and 57 and it seems to suit me that way. Maybe I should start worrying?! Could life be easier if I changed position?!! The custom bike was traditional touring geometry but with slightly longer seat- and head-tubes. Haven't got the exact measurements.

Re: Front rack Advice

15 April 2015 - 7:29pm
The Tubus Tara in the link above looks good - and the right colour! Can anyone confirm it will fit with disc brakes?

Re: Front rack Advice

15 April 2015 - 7:11pm
Well I decided to go for the the Tortec Expedition, which I found for a decent price. Came today, look pretty good, but there is absolutely no way they will fit around the disc brakes! Back to square one! Revolution claim that the Vavert fits (but they also said that the discs brakes would not get in the generally, assuring me that most racks should fit), but I can only find the Vavert in black.

Round the World Blogs.

15 April 2015 - 6:30pm
Its around this time of year people head off on their big tours, anybody know of any blogs just starting out?

I'd be great full of a link or two.

Cheers Chaps.

Re: Gloucester to west Wales - any suggestions

15 April 2015 - 6:00pm
The hostel at Rhandirmwyn has been closed for years, but Dolgoch and Tyncornel are still open - if you go through Llandovery you could stop at one of them overnight then across to Tregaron or Lampeter.

From Brecon to Llandovey there are some great roads north of the Black Mountain and through Myddfai.


Re: Coast & Castles - Recommended sights & tea shops?

15 April 2015 - 5:57pm
These are very helpful suggestions.

Thanks very much.

Re: Mark Beaumont is off again

15 April 2015 - 5:34pm
geocycle wrote:He comes across as a nice guy with a really positive attitude to life.

I met him and his mum once and they were both very pleasant and chatty. I follow Mark on Tweeter and he very often responds to my tweets whereas many others don't.

Re: Coast & Castles - Recommended sights & tea shops?

15 April 2015 - 5:20pm
The barn at Beal is a great place for at least four reasons.
1] Good food
2] great coffee
3] you can camp here and have supper and a cooked breakfast
4] Soon there will be an evening bar and you can have a nightcap if you are that way inclined.

It is a mile or so down the Lindisfarne road from the A1.

Will revisit this summer for sure

1st tour advice

15 April 2015 - 5:13pm
I am planning my first tour and would appreciate thoughts on my plans.

Overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff, 2 days to cycle to Quimper, train to Bordeaux, leaving 12 days to cycle back to Roscoff.
The plan is to follow the Eurovelo 1, but not to be rigid in the plan. Camping and B+B when wanted as well.
I would be interested in any other ideas for 2 weeks in France as well.

Re: Round the Coast

15 April 2015 - 3:52pm
PM sent regarding possible Vale of Glamorgan location. Enjoy your ride.

Re: Round the Coast

15 April 2015 - 3:40pm
Warm showers.

Many of us are coastal and are members.


Round the Coast

15 April 2015 - 3:34pm
I'll be setting off on Saturday 25th April to ride around the coast of Great Britain, starting from Worcester, going down to the Seven Estuary then round in an anti clockwise direction to arrive back in Worcester around three months later. I appreciate this is not unique but it's the first and probably only time for me!

I will be raising money for Alzheimer's Disease along the way so contributions to my fund would be most welcome and can be made here: https://www.justgiving.com/Round-the-Coast/

To help keep costs down I would be grateful for any offers of accommodation, somewhere to pitch my tent, or just a cup of tea and a piece of cake, also anybody who would ride with me for part of the route will be welcome.

A few more details and updates will appear here: http://www.round-the-coast.com/

Re: Mark Beaumont is off again

15 April 2015 - 11:07am
geocycle wrote: I really liked his round the world trip which was inspiring and focussed on the journey as much as the record. Since then he has become increasingly professional as travel has become his occupation, his activities have become more contrived and focussed on the end point, and as a result less accessible. When reading these accounts I like to be able to suspend belief and imagine I could be doing the journey whereas these record attempts with fixers and military guards just leave me cold.

Yes I agree with this (though I think on his original trip he had to have a police escort all the way through Pakistan). These TV-series trips are not a genuine reflection of an individual or two-up effort. I think (hazy memory) that on Ewan MacGregor'/Charlie Boorman's motorcycle trip down Africa they bumped into a solo touring cyclist somewhere in central Africa doing the same thing. And I thought that the story of his trip would be more interesting than two blokes on high powered motorbikes, a support vehicle, probably a spare bike if they needed it, camera crew, local fixers etc, etc...

Re: Train carriage - how are bikes secured?

15 April 2015 - 9:56am
chris_suffolk wrote:Thanks for the replies.

To claify my journey, it will be

Ipswich to Stratford, then Stratford to Dover. I know I will need to switch stations at Stratford. Not sure if this means it will be an intercity type or a local train from Ipswich to Stratford.

Seems the Stratford to Dover leg will have a good cycle space, with reasonable fastening, but not so sure about the Ipswich to Stratford part.
Chris don't worry about the Ipswich to Straford part of the journey. If you can, avoid the morning rush hour. All the trains Ipswich to Straford have space one way or another. If you have to be on a specific train they are very helpful with bikes in the booking office at Ipswich. I usually ride up there, a week or so before, just check your cheapest fares first onthe net , but I've never had a problem with them.

The other thing to watch for is weekends they keep closing large part of the line for track upgrades and maintenance , putting on replacement bus services which you will not be allowed on with a bicycle.

Re: Text Only UK Weather Forecasts

15 April 2015 - 9:21am
I think because, looking at my own area, it is so general covering such a large area it becomes useless. As I write this it is raining where I am. It is dry and cloudy 30mls away and what it's like 90mls to the east I haven't a clue. But wouldn't surprise me it was dry and sunny.

Re: Mark Beaumont is off again

15 April 2015 - 8:18am
He comes across as a nice guy with a really positive attitude to life. I really liked his round the world trip which was inspiring and focussed on the journey as much as the record. Since then he has become increasingly professional as travel has become his occupation, his activities have become more contrived and focussed on the end point, and as a result less accessible. When reading these accounts I like to be able to suspend belief and imagine I could be doing the journey whereas these record attempts with fixers and military guards just leave me cold.

Re: Text Only UK Weather Forecasts

15 April 2015 - 8:16am
Excellent - thanks!
+ 1 for wind / direction.
Have popped that in my Faves, next to cycle.travel

Re: Mark Beaumont is off again

15 April 2015 - 7:48am
I think I am more interested in this sort of thing when it is something that, in my wildest dreams, I would like to have done myself. This does not fall into that category. I could imagine wanting to take on all the natural obstacles such as the heat, the distance, the mud and the wildlife, but for much of Africa the main worry is human. And that sort of challenge is not, for me, worthwhile. I hope he comes out the other end safe and well, but I'm not feeling inspired by his choice of challenge.


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