This is how I look after cycling like a mad man over the past six days. A five-day Turkmenistan transit visa and almost 500 kilometres to cross desolate stretch of Karakum desert meant there was absolutely no leeway whatsoever, and it was going to be a race against the time.
Day 1 was spent getting to the border and going through needless border bureaucracy at Turkmen immigration control. I could only pedal 20 kilometres against the strong headwind under stormy clouds before I was rescued by a Turkmen family in the desert who gave me food and shelter to stay overnight. Front brakes broke down & parts fell down. Not repairable by myself. Cycling computer magnet broke. Odometer not working.
Day 2: I pedalled non-stop for 10 hours on the most awful road and lonely road I’ve ever toured in my life only to cover 88 kilometres before my body gave up. A slight lapse of concentration caused me to fall down from the road to times, and gave nasty bruised on my legs. Rear mudguard got dismounted due to sticky mud. Managed to mount it again, though. Stayed overnight in a cheap hotel.
Day 3: I started before sunrise, and cycled non-stop for 14 hours without having any meal or snacks in moderate to strong headwind on the flattest of all roads and did 180 km. I spent night in a tent behind a petrol station.
Day 4: was spent battling against stubborn headwind. In 12 hours, I cycled 160 km to reach Turkmenabat.
Day 5: 40 kilometers to reach the Uzbek border, again bureaucracy hassle with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Another 40 km to reach Karakul in Uzbekistan. Spent night at an under-construction building.
Day 6: Headwind continued to haunt me. Yesterday it took me 6 hours to cover 60 kilometres to reach Bukhara.
Over the course of last six days, I took only 6 meals (one meal / day) and cycled 600 kilometres. It is not that I was not hungry, but I was drinking so much water that when the food came, I could eat only half of it. Due to this my cycling trouser which were a tight fit when I bought them are now too loose.
Forget about internet and updates, I even did not have the opportunity to look at myself during the past days. When I saw myself yesterday in the mirror, it took me some time to realise that it was my own reflection. So, I had to take a picture to show it to you. To compare, just go through my “Photoshoot” album which I had posted just before starting the journey.
I am going to stay in Bukhara for two days and will post more updates from here.