Friday 6 June - Bishkek to Kemin (1123m), 108 km
A flat road today, gently rising 500m in al. I managed to keep up with the Reds for 80 km but then got tired and slowed down. There was a following wind in the morning, but later it turned round into a srong headwind. It was a cloudy day, very grey over the mountains, and we feared we would have rain, but didn’t.
Arrived at our school early afternoon, I got a shower in the lorry and washed out my cycling clothes. Sleeping in a classroom with 9 other people. Couldn’t sleep because the person next to me snored loudly and continuously; in the end I took my mattress into the corridor and slept there.
Saturday 7 June - Kemin to Kara Talaa (1620m), 110 km
Today I was very tired when we started out and there was a head wind and bad road surface. As we left a stop by the drinks van I found I had a puncture in the front tyre (my 6th) but 2 of the group changed the tube for me very quickly.
The landscape in the morning wsa lovely - mountainous gorges with a fast
rushing river beside the road; quite hilly.
Late morning we stopped at a café where other people had stopped; I had a bottle of orange drink, a bag of crisps, a hardboiled egg and a freshly cooked doughnut about the size of a small pitta. Some people had dried fish. We reached the lunch stop at 72 km. We didn’t hang about long as it started to rain, though only lightly. It rained all afternoon, with thunder and lightning over the mountains.
Got our first glimpse of Lake Issyk-Kol, second largest mountain lake in the world. Arrived at our school about 4pm, I had a shower in the lorry, we ate outdoors in our dining tent: I had a tin of beans with their rice.
We got the dates for our return flights from Beijing. I return to Paris on 15 August.
Sunday 8 June - Kara Talaa to Kaji Saye (1630m), 78 km
Bad road surface most of the day with some good bits. The Col Keskev-Bel was not too taxing and there was a good run down on decent road, after that it was a long up and down ride along the lake. The lake is very beautiful,
deep blue, as big as a sea, with little beaches and people swimming. Mountains just visible on the other side - 60 km across.
We ploughed our way up a nasty sandy track to a sort of holiday village. There was water in the loo and washbasin, so the place was not too bad. I changed into my costume and went down to the lake - 319 steps! The beach was OK, but overrun with ants. I went for a swim - the water was cold, but not icy. I sat on the beach for a bit then went and sat in the garden of the holiday place and finished my book. Oh dear, only two books left! Back at the apartment did a bit of washing and found the electricity had gone off. The water went off in the night too, but came on again in the morning..
Monday 9 June - Kaji Saye to Lakeside, 28 km
Poor breakfast. Good job I had coffee, honey and milk with me. An easy ride, but bad road surface. Very beautiful landscape by the lake, but there was one very obtrusive holiday yurt encampment which blocked the view of the
lake. I dread to think what tourist development will do to this lovely country.
Karl is not well, they took him to hospital in Bishkek for tests and now he is back, but not cycling in the end he was off till 6 July). We met a couple of German cycle tourists who are doing Almaty to Samarkand in 10 weeks.
We went up a sandy track to a yurt camp, some of us are in yurts and some in tents. Lunch and dinner were cooked by local ladies at a beach kitchen. I put up a tent with some help from Claudia and have it to myself - room for my bed, my bike and my luggage.
I changed and went to the beach - much better than the last one, sandy gravel. Had a swim an d sat around till I heard a lot of shouting. The lorries had got bogged down in the sand and they had to get a tractor to haul them out.
Lousy dinner. Afterwards announcements by the FFCT President, Dominic Lamouller, who has been with us for the last couple of days. There may be some problems with our entry into China due
to French protests against the Olympic Flame.
Tuesday 10 June - Lakeside to Karakol, 97 km
I slept very well in my private tent and had no trouble re-packing it. Good breakfast - rice pudding, eggs and coffee. Quite a good day, a little wind, some poor road surfaces; we are now moving away from the lake. Found a village market and bought plums, apricots, bananas and strawberries. There were tomato and cucumber in the lunch pack which was good with cheese. Two little boys with a horse watched us eat and posed for pictures.
On arrival at Karakol we went and looked at a nice Orthodox church, but it was locked. We are sleeping in yurts at a holiday village in the town. I am sharing a yurt with Francoise, Jean-Paul and Marie, and Michel Helmbacher. There are hot showers and flush toilets. While I was in the shower a big wind storm came up and blew everything about, the electricity went off.
Walked up to the town, but there was not a lot there. Went for a beer with Jean-Marie and met Alain Labeyrie and a local girl who had helped him get some new glasses. She said the power cut was political. I went to the local shop and got muesli, water, juice and smoked cheese. Dinner much as usual, cooked by camp staff and served in the courtyard on our tables and stools. We got Harry Potter biscuits for pudding!
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