Exploring the Wilds of Kyrgyzstan by Mountain Bike

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Hard yards in Kyrgyzstan. She doesn’t give up her trails easily, but boy are they rewarding.

Uncovering Kyrgyzstan’s trail secrets

“Cross Kyrgyzstan by mountain bike,” Dan said. I laughed and carried on hiking my bike up a scree slope being battered by gale force winds in the Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. We were on an exploratory trip in the southern-most part of South America, and already Dan was sowing the seeds of another, even wilder adventure… because he knew I was a soft touch when it comes to an adventure!

When asked what they know about Kyrgyzstan, most people come up blank. It is a little-known country trying to shed its recent history of Russian rule and the negative view the western world has of the ‘stans’. A name change to the Kyrgyz Republic, better tourism infrastructure and daily flights from Turkey are all helping to open up ‘Kyrgyzstan’ to the rest of the world.

That said, the country is at the early stages of development, Bishkek and Osh are fairly standard modern cities, with a little of Asia thrown in for good measure. But step outside the cities and venture into the mountains and all that changes. Farmers are still working their land by hand, families are still baking bread in communal ovens in the middle of their village, roads are rustic and horses are the favoured mode of transport for any self-respecting family.

Over the past year we had been planning this adventure, to ride, carry and push our mountain bikes from a remote valley not far from the city of Osh, aiming to get as far up the imposing and impenetrable Lenin peak as we could manage. This was a 10-day expedition that would see us doing a nine-hour hike-a-bike, crossing a number of passes over 4000m, washing in ice cold mountain streams, sleeping in guest houses that are little more than a floor with a rug, dodging afternoon rains, being covered in and eating a lot of dust from the tyre in front of you, all of this while being supported by seven horses and their expert handlers who were thankfully carrying all of our overnight kit.

The team consisted of Red Bull riders Tom Oehler and Rene Wildhaber, local fixer Dmitry Kalinyuk, videographer H+I’s very own Douglas Tucker, and adventure photographer Dan Milner, all pulled together for this special trip by yours truly. It was unusual for me to be setting out on an adventure that wasn’t a new-tour-scouting mission, which also made it a bit special. It was adventure purely for adventure’s sake.

But rather than describing each and every turn of our adventure in Kyrgyzstan by mountain bike, I think we should let Dan’s pictures and our video do the talking. Enjoy the adventure and leave a comment if you would like to see more features like this one.

A local family whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan.
Sleeping in a yurt whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan.

Looking over a canyon whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Rene Wildhaber in front of Tom Oehler on a descent whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Big descents whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Carrying bikes on a craggy ridge whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan

Douglas – “Kyrgyzstan was one of the most unexpectedly beautiful countries I have ever visited. A true challenge but worth every second of effort to experience a culture I knew nothing about and a land not many people can point to on a map.”

On the way to the camp whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
A camp whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan

Rene Wildhaber and Tom Oehler crossing a bridge whilst mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan.
Stormy weather whilst mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan.
Soaking up the evening light whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan

Dan Milner – “Kyrgyzstan is one of those places that leave you rewarded and bewildered at the same time: a heady mix of true, life-affirming adventure experiences and deep cultural, head turning moments. Nothing in Kyrgyzstan is easily won, not least the riding, but that just makes the rewards even more fulfilling.”

Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan had us staying in traditional accomodation.
The interior of a home in Kyrgyzstan whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan

A local takes Rene Wildhaber's Trek Slash for a spin during our expedition Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Easting the local food whilst mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Ridge lines mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Dusty trails whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan.
Feeling small against the landscape whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan
Sunset whilst Mountain biking in Kyrgyzstan

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Source: https://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com

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