Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Georgia, the Caspian and Kazakhstan

Crossing from Turkey to Georgia

Couldn't get away from these guys after I mentioned "Rugby". It's only 1030 am but I can't leave without a drink!

Georgia has some great mountain riding

Love the old Kamaz trucks

This was pretty amazing little ride here up into the mountains

Not a bad place to camp, although I did end up in the middle of a thunderstorm at 3 am!!

Great hosts at a gust house in Mestia

These guys gave me a hand getting a puncture fixed, turned into quite the social event

the road to Omarlo is right up there with the best, amazing country here

Leaving Georgia and hoping for good luck with the Ferry across the Caspian Sea 

The ferry turned out to be not to hard to get sorted, fair bit of waiting around and 3 false starts but got over to Kazakhstan...yippe
The cycle crew that I shared a cabin with on the boat, Josh, Will, Chloe, Carlie, and Lou. Was really good to have some company for the crossing

Western Kazakhstan turned into a unexpected highlight, the scale and remoteness is something else....this route proved too much for me on my own, difficult navigation, unclear fuel locations, sandy riding for what was probably going to be 250km and I didn't have the nerve for it on my own. Shame, as I think it would have been a epic trip across the top of the Aral Sea, instead I took a major detour to the north on what I thought would be good roads....more surprises there!!

You can't take your eyes off the road here!!

Kazakh motorway!!

And not surprisingly you see a lot of this on the road sides

Fresh bread for lunch

Heading out to the Aral sea for a look

.....and no, this is an optical allusion, there are no bends in the roads out here!!

The Aral Sea is an interesting place, once the 4th largest lake in the world it is now only 10 percent of it's original size. Irrigation systems put in place in the 60's are to blame, once supporting a large fishing industry the old boats are now stranded in the desert miles from the sea!!

Captain....I think we've run aground!!!

I rode on along the old sea bed for about 10km and eventually found the sea

seemed a little out of place out in the desert

Out in the Kazakhstan Steppe is the Baikonyr space launch Cosmodrome. the oldest and largest on the planet, I was hoping that it might be possible to visit the museum here but it's all off limits without prior approval!!

When I pulled up outside the Cosmodrome I heard a sickening noise from my engine, sounded like the cam chain was shot or something real bad. Turned out that one of the spark plugs ( the dr although single cylinder actually has two plugs) was loose and bouncing around in the head and leaking air, amazingly at higher rpm the motor run fine and I had not detected the problem until stopping. A closer look revealed the bad news that the plug threads in the head where shot...not at all good and I just happen to be fairly remote in this small town. Frustratingly I new there was probably a hole heap of rocket engineers nearby with all sorts of high-tech tools but it was all of limits. I had a difficult decision...I could epoxy the plug back in and get the bike running again but that would potentially wreck any chances of replacing the plug later, not a good option, in the end I managed to find a good mechanic who tapped the thread out to a 12mm and made an adaptor to take the original 10mm plug, not ideal either but at least we got the bike running and I was able to nurse it 1500km to Osh and try and get a replacement plug or better adaptor made.