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Postcards from the Silk Road

Kyrgyzstan is an incredible, off the beaten path, adventure cycling destination. This small Central Asian nation is defined by its topography, with soaring peaks and dramatic mountain landscapes throughout the entire country. Expect ever changing, jaw dropping views, rugged gravel roads and the warmth and hospitality of a proud, nomadic people.

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“I have a slightly romantic notion of joining the Silk Road with adventures in each country, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan are just the start. I became aware of the Silk Road Mountain Race through the usual channels and reached out to its Race Director, Nelson and we’ve built the trip together. The route we follow is loosely based on the race but we have licence to explore some other areas, that may or may not be used in later editions of the race. Its been a real collaboration between the two teams.”

– Joe Frost, Attu Operations Director

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“The trip will follow some of the same course [as the SRMR] but with a few alterations. It's something like a highlight reel of the race, we'll be taking people to some of the most beautiful spots that the racers also go to but with some of the suffering toned down a little. The aim is to make the wild Kyrgyz back country a little more accessible. We also want to emphasise the connection with local partners, staying in yurt camps where possible and interacting with locals to get a better feel for the life and culture of this little-known destination.”

– Nelson Trees, SRMR Race Director

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“I think one of the biggest appeals of gravel riding is that it allows riders to go to places that were previously inaccessible to them. It widens the field of play for someone with a road riding background. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, heading out onto rougher, unpaved roads is a must, as it's the only way to reach a lot of the most stunning natural landscapes on offer.”

– Nelson Trees, SRMR Race Director

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“For me gravel riding is a balance between the speed and smooth exhilaration of road riding in the traditional cycling heartlands and the ability and confidence to ‘see what’s down there’ and not have to turn back. How many rides have you been on where you see a line in the distance that’s not marked as a road on the map, on a gravel bike you can go an explore it. Gravel or dirt roads literally disappear into the view, they are the colour of the earth on either side, so you get a true feeling of isolation and exposure. Whilst our trips are supported with vehicles, rest assured we are not sitting on your back-wheel grumbling away. We’re there when you need us but invisible when you don’t.”

– Joe Frost, Attu Operations Director

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“Preparation should definitely include riding in conditions that approach what you'll be facing out in Kyrgyzstan. You may not have the luxury of anything like the big mountains out here to train in, but going for rides on unpaved roads, rougher surfaces and trying to get some decent elevation into your rides will help. Altitude is another big consideration. If you have the opportunity to ride up high shortly before the trip for a few days, you'll be more comfortable and struggle less in the first days when you won't be sufficiently acclimatised to the higher altitude. Kit choices are also really important, as this is a big mountain environment, you should be ready to potentially face all kinds of weather conditions. Although it should generally be quite mild, up above 3000m, even snow is quite possible.”

– Nelson Trees, SRMR Race Director

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“The food is simple but hearty and generous. Because of the geography of the country, ingredients are relatively limited, with the nomadic lifestyle having a traditional reliance on meat. There isn't a whole lot that grows above 3000m! One of the national dishes is Plov, often cooked in a giant Kazan, something like a big wok shaped pan, on special occasions. It consists of mutton, rice, carrots, onions and a few herbs and spices. Other than that, for the more adventurous, a must try is Kumis, fermented mare's milk... I've only met a handful of foreigners that can drink it, let alone enjoy it. Food on the trip will generally be local food when we stay at guest houses in towns or in yurt camps. Otherwise it'll be simple, hearty classics, cooked by our local cook.”

– Nelson Trees, SRMR Race Director 

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Kyrgyzstan trip highlights:

  • Ride in the vast, desolate, mountain landscapes of the Tian Shan mountains.

  • Stay in a yurt and experience the proud local tradition of nomadic hospitality.

  • Experience the fascinating blend of influences in this ex-Soviet Republic at the crossroads of cultures.

  • Explore wilderness at its finest, in the border zone with China at Kel Suu lake.

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Our Kyrgyzstan experience will take you on a tour of some of the highlights of this little-known destination. There will be a mix of historical and cultural experiences, all taking place within the awesome natural setting of the Tian Shan mountains. You’ll be taken through high mountain passes, past pristine alpine lakes and onto long forgotten old Soviet roads to the border lands with China, visiting an ancient caravanserai, before finishing the tour on the shores of lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest saline lake in the world.

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Kyrgyzstan: September 2019

Explore the nomadic heartland of the Tian Shan mountains on the ancient Silk Road